Some time ago I wrote a column talking about what it was like for a woman with cerebral palsy to seek birth control. I mentioned a few symptoms, like ankle pain and swelling of my breasts, and I expressed frustration at the lack of information I could find about my specific birth control (Xulane transdermal patch) and how it affected women with cerebral palsy. At that time I was only beginning my second month on birth control. Now that I’ve been on it for five months, I will share my experience.
Just about every doctor and woman I know tells you that you need to properly use your birth control for three months before any symptoms you have subside. Although this time may be uncomfortable, as it was for me, it’s been worth it. My doctor recommended that unless any symptom I was dealing with was a disruption to my life, I should try to wait out the three-month period.
I will be honest, besides the ankle pain and sore breasts, I dealt with pretty extreme nausea every day. Luckily it would go away as the day went on, but it was still there. I dealt with mood swings and a really bad period my first month. (I believe this was because I skipped a period when I started my birth control. I’ve never missed a period in my life). Things slowly got better as time passed.
When I hit my third month, those annoying symptoms all but disappeared, and I don’t deal with any of them now. No more ankle pain, no more nausea, and my period got shorter and lighter despite the fact that my second period on the patch, while nowhere near as awful as the first, was longer than a week and uncomfortable. (Remember: I’ve been on Xulane for five months now.)
Something I think is important to note is that I started my birth control in July, and in August I was diagnosed with anxiety and I struggled immensely with it. I don’t know if I struggled more because of the Xulane, but Xulane is not suggested for people who struggle with depression or anxiety. I have a history of depression, as well, but my anxiety was a huge struggle. I have not seen my OB-GYN to discuss this, but I do have an appointment later this month when I will be sure to bring all this to his attention. I also should note that two months ago I got on medication for anxiety and have been doing much, much better. So, overall, things have worked out. My partner and I still have hardly found a resolution for my vulvodynia, but we’re making progress. Slowly, but progress.
I wish to stress in this column update that you, as a woman, know your body and know what you need. Fight for it, whatever it is. You deserve to be validated. You deserve what you need.
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.