Erin S: Learning to love her body, and her cycle

This story was submitted to Kindara by Erin S.

My story is not a particularly unique or inspiring story . . . but it is mine and I am happy to share it in the hope that it might help someone else learn to appreciate her own body.

When I was 13 I abused my body and starved it of the nutrients it needed. I was never officially diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, but that's because like many struggling with anorexia, I was an expert at keeping it a secret. I wanted to be thin and I wanted to be the fastest runner on my cross country team. I accomplished both of those goals, but what I wasn't prepared for was the emptiness and depression it would lead me to. I was miserable and I was not treating my body with the respect it deserved. It's no surprise then, that my cycle completely disappeared. At 13, I didn't realize the significance of this and I didn't really care. The pediatrician suggested that I start taking birth control pills to regulate my period. I thought this was strange, but we trusted his opinion. I was required to have a pap smear prior to starting the pill, which was quite traumatizing at my age. I started to take the pill and my "cycle" returned, or so I thought.

I began to recover in high school, physically at least, but mentally I still struggled everyday. I ate better overall and gained back the weight I lost, but I still didn't respect my body. My true recovery came when I went away to college and had the chance to start over. I was in a new place, I made new friends and I felt like a different person. For once, I started to love my body. It had been a long journey, but I was getting there.

As I recovered, I started to ask some questions. Why was I still on birth control? Why was I put on birth control in the first place? It had been 5 years! Now that I was 19, did I still need it? Had I ever needed it? I felt ashamed that I had never even asked myself those questions the whole time I was taking the pill. I had a good friend who had gone through a lot of the same struggles share with me that she been on birth control since she was 12 and now had been off it for a year and hadn't had her natural period return yet. That very day, I threw the pills away and decided I was better off without them. I couldn't believe I had been taking them for so long without even understanding why. I did a little research and found that they are often prescribed to balance hormones in order to support good bone density in amenorrhea. But once I realized how birth control pills work, I didn't understand why taking them was a good treatment for me. What I needed when I was 13 was better nutrition, not oral contraceptives. This was truly a wake up call for me and I realized how little I knew about my own cycle.

Thankfully my natural cycle did return, though it was very irregular throughout college. Looking back, I'm sure many of my cycles were annovulatory cycles, but I didn't know the difference back then. I met my husband, Peter, in college and as we became more serious and eventually got engaged, I started to think about what my options were for contraception. None of the options thrilled me. The pill was out! I understand that the pill can be a good option for some and I recognize that not one method works for everyone, but for me, I was never going back to the pill. In fact, I wanted to stay as far away as possible from any form of hormones, which doesn't leave many options. An IUD sounded pretty scary to me and constantly using condoms didn't seem like fun.

When a friend told me there was such a thing as the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM), I was immediately interested. I read, "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" by Toni Weschler and at first I was completely overwhelmed. I was blown away by how fascinating the female body is and realized I had known so little for so long. I was eager to start charting, but had no idea how. The blank charts in the back of the book were confusing to me and I didn't like the idea of having my fertility charts lying around for all to see. Plus, I had a hard time remembering to even take my temperature, let alone put it on a paper I was trying to keep hidden. I'm not sure exactly how I came across Kindara, but I tried a few different apps and most of them seemed difficult to use or they didn't have what I needed. By now I felt confident in my ability to interpret my own data, I just needed a good place to track my data. I feel sort of ridiculous saying it, but finding Kindara really has made a difference in my life! I found it easy to get in the routine of taking my temperature and then plugging the numbers into my phone right away. It takes all of 1 minute and I can view all my data online too! I love how it allows me to customize the data to fit my needs. I've recommended it to so many people and I've become passionate about letting people know that there is a natural and easy way to prevent pregnancy. I have become so much more confident in my body through this process and I want others to know they can too.

Now my husband and I are transitioning into using FAM and Kindara to try to start a family and regardless of our success, I know I've started out on the right foot! Thank you Kindara!

Erin

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