Written by Brey Fuhrmann and Edited by Justice Fuegen for Sharktooth Living
“Many moons ago, when the Gardasil vaccine was brand new and 'necessary,' I bravely walked into the medical clinic and got my last HPV vaccine (of 3). This was around the time the "C" word was oh-so-prevalent and people would have done anything to prevent cancer in their loved ones. Even as a child, I still remember the doctor telling me that HPV causes cancer and this vaccine was going to prevent it! Seems like a no brainer, huh? What that doctor didn’t tell me was that while HPV causes most cervical cancers, the HPV vaccine does have negative side effects (as with anything). And this folks is where my journey of amenorrhea (absent periods), PCOS, and infertility began. Can I prove my reproductive struggles were caused by the HPV vaccine? No. Do I wish I had been better educated? Yes! I can’t tell you how many hormones and medications I have consumed to force start my period. And how many more medications and hormones I’ve consumed to get pregnant. And how many, many more medications and hormones I consumed to stay pregnant. Surely, it shouldn’t be that hard, right? After all, aren’t our bodies made to do these things? Sure! But there are a lot of factors working against us. Now at the mature age of * nearly* 30, I am finally starting to figure it out.” -Brey
Today, many women still get this vaccine and we’re proud of you for making that decision for yourself. Seriously, only you know what is best for yourself! As women, we need to be able to say “yes” to things we want and “no” to things don’t. We need to feel empowered to make decisions for ourselves regardless of what our society tells us. Our body, our choice right? From what type of birth control we decide to use (or don’t decide not to use) to how we want to have your babies. It’s our choice. Once more for those in the back! It's! Our! Choice!
Period, menstruation, vagina, uterus. There. Now we’ve made it good and uncomfortable, we can continue.
We want to start this by expressing how important women should take their cycle. Our period is the window to our reproductive health. For many of us, our cycle starts at an early age and runs pretty smoothly throughout our lives. For many more of us we tend to struggle. It’s important to realize how much our environment- the medications we use, and nutrition we consume- can affect the way we experience our period.
Take our blogger, Brey, for example. She has dealt with an absent period for years. She experienced the constant brush off by medical professionals because of it, finally finding a diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome, and eventually dealing with infertility and high-risk pregnancies. So what can be done to help women who have similar experiences to Brey? Well there are a few things that we can do to help ourselves. The most obvious of these is getting into the good habit of eating cleaner! But less obvious are the things we are putting into our bodies. For fear of turning this into a vaccination debate, Brey would like to just gently remind you of the Gardasil vaccine from her experience mentioned above. Aside from that, we recommend searching for a holistic approach for common ailments before resorting to modern medicine.
We owe our lives to doctors and modern medicine, so we are certainly not against it! But we acknowledge that it has an appropriate place and time. Brey also stopped using tampons and store bought pads and is now a moon child who cares for her menstrual cup lovingly. Not for you? That’s ok! May we recommend another favorite- the cloth pad?
We recently reached out to a friend, let’s call her Betty (the love for Riverdale runs deep, ok?). We knew she had a less than positive experience when it came to feeling in control of her body and we wanted to share it with you.
“As an individual who will treat as much as possible with natural remedies, there are a few times when I've still had to go to the doctor. Every doctor's office I've visited in my adult life has set the stage for feeling like a number, not a real person with real pains. Rushed 'solutions' in the form of an easy script for a medication left me feeling discouraged and still in pain.
A looming UTI caused a trip to urgent care after 2 weeks of trying to treat naturally, I'm very sensitive to my body and knew that it was a UTI. After taking blood samples and a urine sample I was told, 'You're healthy as a horse! Make sure you're sleeping well, eating well and drinking lots of water...if you don't feel better in 10 days come back and see us.' Only to be called four days later when my urine culture came back positive for a UTI. It's moments like these where I don't feel truly heard or cared for.
My journey with birth control is another story entirely, but six months after starting it, I was in more pain and experiencing more side effects than it was ever worth to begin with. My body is still healing from that experience.
It's crucial to find a doctor (homeopathic or otherwise) who you can trust and express your symptoms to where you're heard and respected as a patient, not just a number.“
Please, do your best for you and be mindful to how society effects your decisions. Try not to feel the pressure of the world forcing your decision to do the “right” thing. After all, what is right for many of us certainly may not be right for you. When you go to your gynecologist for a birth control consult, ask questions! And if you aren’t ready to make a decision, then don’t! Gynecologists are glorious and we love the work they do for our female population. However, we do feel that as a whole the medical world is failing women at times. The rate of non-emergent cesarean births is unnecessarily high and the amount of accessible education for women in need of birth control or experiencing unwanted pregnancies is totally lacking.
Another friend, Anna, definitely understands the frustration of not being truly heard in the clinics. Her story may resonate with many of us.
“'And are you sexually active?'
'But you’re currently dating?'
'Yes, I am!'
'And you haven’t had sex?
'That’s very uncommon for your age.'
While yes, being almost twenty and still being a virgin is uncommon, the way my gynecologist asked me these questions about my sexual health and experiences was frustrating. I would have understood her questioning more had my mother been in the room. Perhaps it’s common for young women to lie about their sexual status with a parent present. But I was alone during that visit. I was there by myself, of my own volition, taking control of my health.
But instead of feeling in control and empowered, I felt accused and slighted.
That was not the only time either. Over a year later I went back after my wedding.
I wasn’t there to talk about birth control (of which a conversation about was forced on me even after my objections, because any kind of additional hormones mess with my health) or to talk about sex. I was there for a routine exam and to make sure a recent growth on my left breast wasn’t something to concern myself over.
While she was examining me, she told me my vaginal walls looked inflamed and that the discharge was a little strange.
'Oh, I’m ovulating right now!' I responded. 'My discharge changes drastically when I ovulate!'
'Are you sure? Would you like me to test you for STD’s?'
'No, that’s not necessary. My husband is the only person I’ve had sex with and I’m the only person he’s had sex with.'
I tried to remain calm while I felt like I was being questioned about my honesty. Or doubted for the fact that my husband and I were each other’s firsts.
'Are you sure? It could be an STD.'
No, it couldn’t. But she wasn't listening.
Perhaps it’s uncommon for twenty year old women to know their cycle and their body, or maybe it’s the fact my husband and I waited that really threw her off. But what I’ve come to realize is that to most doctors (and even nurse practitioners), I am a number. I am another person who doesn’t know themselves and their ailments and must be educated with catch-all answers.
But I am not. Despite all of her recommendations, I knew what was best for my body. I know that hormones mess me up and steroids make me sick. I know these things because my body is my vessel! She carries me where I need to go and tells me when something is wrong.
While doctors may be good resources at times, in the end, every decision made is up to you! You are your own person and body, so take care of her.” Anna
It doesn't matter if you believe in birth control or not. To us, it doesn't matter if you've had an abortion or if you rally on the street corner against the thought of one. We don’t care if you opt for a C-section over a vaginal birth.
What we do care about is your ability to make an educated decision for yourself and for your future. You have the right to your own health and happiness! No matter what, you should be able to make the best decision for yourself and not feel pressured into doing something you’re not comfortable with.
As women, we are supposed to have a little extra fat in our midsection. It's okay that occasionally we get hormonal and emotional! We are supposed to have a period, and we are supposed to make inconvenient stops at the gas station to relieve our period-induced cravings (and maybe change tampons.) These things are normal. They are all things that quite literally help populate planet earth.
Our best advice is to listen to your gut (we actually mean your uterus.) That little voice inside your soul is telling you what you need- listen to her.
Happy Menstruating, the Sharktooth Team!