How going off birth control and taking a fertility hormone test helped me reconnect with my body

How going off birth control and taking a fertility hormone test helped me reconnect with my body

Fertility could be top of mind or on the back burner for now — but it has the power to impact everything. We’re sharing your stories to both celebrate and create space for the many ways we navigate our careers, relationships, and finances in relation to our reproductive health. If you have a story to share, get in touch.

Writer and reiki healer Jenna Schreck always knew that kids were in her future. But after going through a health crisis and realizing how powerful her body really is, she has a new appreciation for her fertility.

When I first went off birth control at age 24, having a kid wasn’t on my mind —in fact, I was actively trying not to get pregnant with my live-in boyfriend at the time. I was focused on figuring out what was going on with my body after experiencing some severe gut health issues. As I got more in touch with my body — learning when I was in my follicular phase and when I was ovulating — my fascination with optimizing my life around my energy levels and hormonal patterns was born. I realized how incredible my body was and my primal desire to have a baby became more forthright.

I had been on birth control since I was 15 or 16 because of irregular cycles and severe cramps. My mom had never experienced issues while taking birth control, so neither one of us thought twice about it when my OB-GYN wrote up a prescription. Up until three years ago, I never had any big issues on it, other than some bloating and mood swings when I switched brands.

When I was 24, I had a big gut flare-up and went to the gastroenterologist. He ran tests and diagnosed me with IBS and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Now, I’m a Virgo, type-A overthinker who over-analyzes everything — I’m not one to make rash decisions. But I knew instinctively that the gut issues were tied to my “idiosyncratic” NAFLD and exacerbated by my birth control. I personally wasn’t comfortable taking birth control when so much other stuff was happening with my body, so I decided to go off the pill. I also tried a low-FODMAP diet and tried gaining weight — but, in the end, getting off hormonal birth control, balancing my hormones naturally, and learning about my cycle is what worked for me.

Since I had been seeing a functional medicine doctor for my gut health alongside my gastroenterologist, as I decided to go off my birth control, she was able to catch imbalances as they happened. She discovered that I had high copper levels, which can cause issues like depression and anxiety. My liver disease also meant that it was taking longer for my hormones to regulate. My period stopped and I went through secondary amenorrhea for over nine months — which kicked off a whole journey of navigating different ways to get my reproductive system up and running again.

I decided to test my hormones with Modern Fertility and found out that I also had a hormonal imbalance. This helped me understand how my body was functioning and what treatments might work best for me. I also went back to school to study nutrition. Once my gut health was under control, I started exploring other options to deal with my menstrual cycle. I eventually went to an acupuncturist, spent some time with an Ayurvedic practitioner, and became a reiki practitioner myself. I finally, finally have a normal (for me) cycle — between 29-32 days, month after month, with a two-day bleed.

I believe that everything that we go through happens for a reason. My experience encouraged me to become a reiki healer and to share more personal aspects of my story on my blog. Being able to share what happened to me has shown me how many other people are going through the same thing — and how many people need healing. Connection and healing are helpful for anyone, no matter what they’re going through. Telling my story and what’s worked for me feels really special and like I have found my calling.

Throughout the years, I’ve learned to trust my body more than what someone else thinks. Now, I’m really tuned in to how I’m feeling — I know what it’s like when I feel good and when I don’t feel aligned in my body. There’s really nothing more powerful than that. I went from a place of feeling like my body wasn’t working and not understanding it to knowing why I feel the way I do every day — and having actions in place to help my body get back into balance when it feels off.

Raghav

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