Q:I got the Paraguard IUD post-abortion in May, and I've noticed that ever since, my period is a lot redder- as in, bright red instead of my normal darker/brownish red. Should I be worried?
You all want to know a secret about vaginal blood? If it’s bright red, that means it’s fresh, it’s new bleeding. If it’s a darker more maroon or even brown, that means that it’s old blood. Now, definitely not that old, but maybe a couple hours or at most a day old.
So why the change? The Paragard IUD is made out of copper.
See how there is literally copper wire wrapped around that plastic T? It’s the copper that prevents pregnancy in a few different ways. If you want to learn about that go here. However, one specific thing it does is that the copper essentially irritates the lining of the uterus, which is why the periods tend to be heavier and crampier - if you think of a bull, it’s going to be way more pissed if you irritate it all month before you ask it to run at a red flag.
So it’s not surprising, then, that when you have a period you bleed more and you do it more quickly. When you were having a slower period before you got the Paragard, the blood would sit for a little while in your uterus before being expelled, since it wasn’t being forced out as quickly by heavy cramping. Now that you have a Paragard dancing inside your uterus taunting it, your uterus will expel more blood more quickly in order to try to get rid of it. Thus: redder blood.
Q:I'm 16 and have had my period for 4 years now, it's never been regular(2-3 month cycle) and have recently discovered a rash between my legs. I've never been sexually active, and upon having found it i tried a different brand of liners. My mother suggested zinc ointment, which hasn't worked, and i've never taken birth control. Should i go to a regular doctor, dermatologist, or obgyn? Would you suggest something over the counter?
Sorry to hear about the rash! I’d recommend going to your regular doctor or a dermatologist. The rash doesn’t sound related to your period.
Maybe even call your regular doctor and see if they would prefer you to see a dermatologist? That being said, in some places it can take LONGGG time to get an appointment with a dermatologist. So if your regular Doc will you, go to them.
While you’re waiting for your appointment, you could try some over-the-counter hydrocortisone if it is really itchy. (Be sure to read the directions and if it isn’t helping, don’t continue using it)
A general note about rashes, they can be caused by changes to our ordinary schedule. New soap, new diet, new lotion. When you get a rash, think if there’s anything you’ve added to your life and try re-eliminating it.
Good Luck! Amanda
Q:Hi there- I am so incredibly frustrated: I have had, for almost a year now, what the doctor at first said was cystitis. Symptoms: VERY frequent urge to pee, and what seems like tightness or something making actual peeing difficult towards the end (like, there always seems like a bit left over). At first, antibiotics seemed to help, but it would come back within a week, then they did nothing. New doc says it's overactive bladder but the meds are making the symptoms worse. What could it be?
That sounds incredibly frustrating. I actually reached out to nursing school friend, Julie, who was had a similar story and ended up using alternative methods of treatment, primarily diet. She sent us a long email with her experience, which I will include this this post.
I wanted to start by explaining the difference between “cystitis" and "interstitial cystitis”.
Cystitis is defined as inflammation of the bladder. This is usually caused by a bacterial infection aka urinary tract infection aka UTI. Treatment is a course of antibiotics. They can be recurrent, but there will aways be abnormal levels of bacteria in the tested urine sample.
Less common cystitis can be a reaction to certain drugs, radiation therapy or potential irritants, such as feminine hygiene spray, spermicidal jellies or long-term use of a catheter. Treatment for this would avoidance of irritants and comfort measures until the irritation subsides.
Interstitial cystitis (IC) a chronic condition in which you experience bladder pressure, bladder pain and sometimes pelvic pain, ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain.
Your bladder is a hollow, muscular organ that stores urine. The bladder expands until it’s full and then signals your brain that it’s time to urinate, communicating through the pelvic nerves. This creates the urge to urinate for most people. With interstitial cystitis, these signals get mixed up — you feel the need to urinate more often and with smaller volumes of urine than most people.
IC most often affects people with vaginas and can have a long-lasting impact on quality of life. Antibiotics might provide short-term relief, but inevitably are not adequate treatment because the underlying problem is not a bacterial infection.
For me info on IC the Mayo page does a really good job, including a variety of treatments! (You may notice that some of my explanation came from their website.)
Feel free to write in more questions and we can get into the topic further. I figured this post could be a good start. ~ Amanda
Read about Julie’s experience with IC. You’ll find out how she became symptom free using alternative treatment methods.
Thanks for reaching out about this. It does sound like interstitial cystitis symptoms. For me, the frequent urge to pee and feeling like my bladder was never really empty was also paired with a kind of unfamiliar “pressure/awareness” of my bladder.
In terms of treating the symptoms, yes diet was the way that did it for me. I am literally symptom free now and back to baseline. I just dug up the books I bought when I was figuring out whether I had interstitial cystitis and how to treat (forgive the melodramatic titles of the first two…):
-“To Wake in Tears” by Catherine M. Simone
-“Along the Healing Path” by Catherine M. Simone
These first two books are written by a woman who had a really severe case of IC. The writing is pretty sensational, but also genuine. Once you get past the intensity of the writing, she does have a lot of helpful advice scattered through about how to treat symptoms and heal the bladder. It was in her books that I learned about drinking marshmallow root tea to help gently detoxify and heal my bladder lining (and she gives the good advice not to drink too much of it too fast, so as not to shock your system). She also talks about the big diet no-nos for IC like caffeine, chocolate, alcohol. And, this woman becomes symptoms free too after having had a really bad case which is really encouraging.
-“The Interstitital Cystitis Survivial Guide” by Robert M. Moldwin MD FACS
This book tries to be more scientifically based. It also has a comprehensive list of foods that can cause symptom flare-ups (p. 176). And, he also adds that everyone with IC has a different make-up of foods that aggravate them, so not to assume that all of these foods will irritate them.
For me, I did a big elimination diet at first — removing all foods that could be potentially irritating (chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, soy products, processed foods, vinegars, acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus, fermented foods, etc). I think I followed his list. It was very restrictive, but I also felt much better pretty quickly. Then I slowly integrated formerly withheld foods back into my diet. At this point the only things I never have is caffeine. I try to hold out on chocolate too, because if I eat too much I can feel some symptoms coming back, but I still do eat some chocolate. I think the big initial elimination worked for me because it gave me symptom relief really quickly which made the annoyingly restrictive diet tolerable, and it also allowed my bladder lining time to heal I think.
Sorry that might have been too much info…. I just remember how uncomfortable I was before figuring out what was wrong, and I am so happy to be able to pass on what I learned to help others relieve their symptoms also.
Q:If my partner and I are both virgins (neither have had any kind of sexual contact), is there any reason to get tested (or get a pap smear for me- I'm 19) before having sex with each other? I mean, I know technically, STDs could be transmitted through bodily fluids from another person entering your bloodstream through an open cut, for example, but I'm pretty sure this has not happened...
Thank you for sharing your process with US!
There is NO NEED for a pap smear or HPV test until you are 21 years all.
As far as other STIs (gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV…) go, the recommendation is for individuals to be tested if they’ve had oral, anal, or vaginal sex.
If you’ve only had oral sex with this one parter, but they’ve have oral sex with other partners, only they would need to be tested. If they are negative, I couldn’t have it. Make sense?
If you are each other’s firsts, NO NEED to be tested at all.
One other thing to consider, though, is that if either of you experienced sexual abuse as a child, there is the possibility that you were exposed to an STI at that time. It doesn’t hurt to get tested, but if you feel confident that there’s no possible exposure for you or your partner, don’t stress, you don’t need to get tested.
Q:Hi there! Since a couple of days I haven't been feeling so well. My belly feels bloated, tired all the time, I'm feeling nauseous. I should have gotten my period two weeks ago but I didn't got it. My boyfriend and I don't use condoms or anything but I don't feel pregnant. Could I still be? Or is my period just late and are my hormons acting up? I really hope you can help me.
I’m sorry to hear you’re not feeling well. I’d recommend taking a pregnancy test at a first step to figuring out what’s going on.
If the test comes back negative, it could be hormones out of wack. But take a pregnancy test to make sure that’s not the cause of you feeling weird.
Just FYI: I hate how expensive pregnancy tests are at drug stores. The ones they sell for like $1 at the dollar stores are just as effective!
Let us know how it goes. Amanda
Q:Do you have to take the placebo pills when on birth control? I generally don't and just don't take anything for a week and start the next pack the next week, I just want to make sure this is safe and not putting me at any risk. Thanks for the info!
It’s totally up to you if you want to take the placebo pills. Some of them contain iron which don’t hurt and can help if folks are iron deficient.
The pills were created to keep us in the habit of taking pills, so we wouldn’t forget. All that’s important is to remember to start the next pack on the right day!
Q:How is it possible to ovulate but not have a period, or have a "period" but not be ovulating?
Can I Ovulate Without Having A Period?
After ovulation, a period will occur. But since a person releases an egg 12-16 days before their expected period, it is possible for someone to get pregnant without having prior periods.
People who are not menstruating due to a certain condition (i.e.…low body weight, breastfeeding, perimenopause) risk the chance of ovulating at any point even though there’s no period to tell them it has happened. So, the take home message: once a ovulation occurs a period will follow, but you might not have one before.
Can I Have A Period And Still Not Have Ovulated?
Having a period does not necessarily mean that ovulation has taken place. Some people may have what is called an anovulatory cycle, (meaning no egg is release aka no ovulation) and can experience some bleeding which is mistaken for a period, but it is actually not a true period. This bleeding is caused by either a buildup in the uterine lining that can no longer sustain itself or by an estrogen level drop. Another example of a “un-true period” or withdrawal bleed is for people using combined hormonal birth control (Nuvaring, combined pill, the patch). They will have a “bleed” every month, but will not have ovulated, so it’s not considered a TRUE PERIOD.
Responses adapted from HERE
Hope this clears it up! xo. Amanda
Q:The other day I took 2 pregnancy tests and they both came back positive. I went to the local health department the next day and it came back negative. I'm really confused and don't know what to think. I scheduled an appointment with my gyno so hopefully that'll confirm whether I'm pregnant. I'm just wondering if there's anything else other than pregnancy that can make a test positive?
Sorry, this sounds very confusing. I’m going to start this post with a review of types of pregnancy tests and then what can cause false positives and false negatives. Hopefully in the process we’ll figure out what happened for you.
Types of Pregnancy Tests: All pregnancy tests detect HCG (human chorionic gonadatropin), a hormone that is released by the fertilized egg.
- Urine Tests: This is the most common method for diagnosing pregnancy at home and in the clinic. Standard urine pregnancy tests detect an hCG level of 20 to 50 IU/L. All home pregnancy tests are urine tests. A positive home result should be confirmed in a clinic.Because the urine hCG concentration can be much lower in urine than in blood, urine pregnancy tests may be negative when blood hCG is positive.
- Blood Tests: This is the most sensitive method to confirm early pregnancy. Blood pregnancy tests typically detect hCG levels of 5 to 10 IU/L. This disadvantage of this tests is 1) you have to give blood and 2) the results take much longer to come back.
How do you get a False Negatives (negative test when you ARE pregnant)?:
- The test was performed too soon after conception; hCG concentration isn’t high enough yet to have a positive test. It is usually recommended to wait a week or 2 after a missed period to take the pregnancy test. If you think you might be pregnant but you get a negative result, retake the test in 1 week or get a blood test at a clinic.
- Operator error: Always read the instructions very carefully. There are SO many different tests out, sometimes we get wrong results from not following exact directions.
How do you get a False Positives (positive tests when you AREN’T pregnant)?:
● Operator error.
● A pregnancy loss very soon after implantation (“biochemical pregnancy).
● Interference from hCG administered as part of infertility treatment. For example Clomid, a common fertility drug.
● HCG secretion from a tumor (very RARE and you would have a positive test also in the office)
● Pituitary hCG secretion, typically in perimenopausal women (ALSO, very RARE and you would have a positive test also in the office)
Hope this helps! xo. Amanda
Q:Hello! I was wondering if you could discuss a little bit about the pros and cons of a female condom vs a male condom? Thank you!
Pros and Cons? I’m going to have to go with preference. But let’s talk it through a bit.
I made up this little chart, I hope it’s helpful!
Q:I know that birth control pills can help control acne and facial hair growth, but do other forms (ie NuvaRing or the patch) also help with this?
Yep! One cause for facial hair and acne in a DFAB person is either high testosterone or low estrogen. Because of this, taking birth control with estrogen can even out the balance a little.
There are a few birth control methods that use estrogen:
- Combined birth control pills (estrogen and progesterone)
- Birth control patch