Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Too young to soca (Menstrual Manipulation Memoirs)

Allyuh will real laugh when you hear this one. So I gone in a pharmacy earlier this week to buy birth control pills....Now I know people in Trinidad are shy when it comes to buying "embarrassing" items like condoms, pregnancy tests, birth control etc. But I doh business.I asking for 1 pack of birth control, 2 pregnancy tests and a economy pack of condoms.(boldface so, and remember its always good to double up!). So I tell the woman I want one pack of Alesse. She watch me with one screw up 'pan and is to tell me that "This is the last one you will be getting". Well first I want to know why she telling me that like I too young to soca. All kinds of things running through my head. But I can't possibly be looking so young! In the U.S you need a prescription to get birth control and as we all know you can get most prescription drugs over the counter (normal,normal) in Trinidad without so much as a blink of an eye. So I want to know since when ppl following the rules. She is to tell me that the supplier is no longer bringing in the product so the mas making done. So I tell her, "Well in that case let me get a box." (oh gorsh is only 3 packs in a box). You know the woman is to watch me and tell me NO???! She telling me that she only giving me one to "hold me over" until I can go to the doctor and get a prescription for something else. You know I ask her if she is a birth control Nazi to restrict how much of a product I can buy.STEUPS. (And still watching watching me like I too young to soca)

Well I bun she out and left with my one pack more because I rough up the same woman the week before for selling me drugs that was both expired and labelled 'not for resale'.But this situation put me in a connundrum. One, I have no birth control when we can only risk getting pregnant in the months January -April (so we won't have a big belly to play mas). Two , we all know that having your period during Carnival is the WORSE thing that could happen and having the pills is CRUCIAL in getting the timing right.Three, If its not broken then don't try to fix it. Meaning, Alesse has always worked well for me (i.e never got pregnant and never had negative side effects ) so I have no reason to want to take chances on something else.

So I went to another pharmacy and they were sold out. I got the same story, that it may be YEARS before the product is brought back into Trinidad. I went to a third pharmacy and tested the waters first, asked for two packs. Then I said, what the hell make it a box. While standing in line to pay, I did the math, this would not get me to Carnival. So I went back and got another box. Of course by now the male phamarcist was quite amused. He said, I guess you heard they are not bringing it anymore. I said yep. He said (with a smirk on his face), "Well this should get you till Carnival". To which I responded "Correct is right!" He gave me one last parting word.."Enjoy" Yeah so I ended up with a total of 8 packs in stock. By then I will work up the courage to switch brands.

Ok so when you stop ketching kicks off of me I will further elaborate on this Carnival period timin' thing. Controlling the timing of menstrual periods is sometimes called 'menstrual manipulation.' What, exactly, does that mean?

Menstrual manipulation refers to changing the way you take birth control pills (oral contraceptives) so that you delay or stop menstruation. This is good news for women who are able to take oral contraceptives and who want more control over their menstrual cycles. Now there are several reasons a woman may want to do this. Most women live comfortably with monthly menstruation and even appreciate the predictability of a cycle that reassures them their bodies are working as they should. But for some, menstruation is so painful and debilitating that it disrupts daily activities.

For our purposes we talking about postponing your period so we could wine and jam on the road whole day worry free. I actually read in a women's magazine that women do not "need" to have a period.I cannot IMAGINE playing mas with my period. The very thought causes anxiety. As blessed as I am, I never had that happen to me prior to being on the pill. After being on the pill I had to tweak the schedule once or twice. I did not even KNOW about menstrual manipulation until several years after I started on the pill. In Trini you always hear about these pills you get in the pharmacy that you have to take 5 days before Carnival that will prevent your period from coming. I STILL have no idea exactly what those pills are.However the same postponment can be done with the regular 28-day oral contraceptive. In case you did not know, the pill works by ingesting 21 days of active (containing estrogen hormones ) pills to prevent your period followed by 7 days of inactive pills (placebos/reminder pills) to allow you to have your period in a regular fashion while preventing pregnancy.According to CNN Health:

To delay your period using a typical 28-day oral contraceptive, you might follow this schedule:

  • Take active pills six weeks in a row.
  • Discard the placebo week in the first pill packet.
  • Take the inactive pills and have your period during week seven.

ASIDE : If you did not get that, basically, instead of taking the active pills followed by the inactive pills (when you would get your period) you take the active pills continously. When you reach the point where you would take the inactive pill you skip them all and start a new pack of active pills. You don't take the inactive pills until you are ready to have your period.

If you don't have any unpredictable bleeding or other significant side effects, you may be able to take the active pills continuously for nine weeks in the next cycle and 12 weeks in the next.
However, if you do have persistent unpredictable bleeding or other significant side effects, go back to the previous schedule. Until you stabilize on your new extended oral contraceptives schedule, regular follow-up with your doctor is important to address any problems or concerns you might have.

There are also some other fairly recent options available ..

Seasonale is a 91-day oral contraceptive regimen designed to give you only four periods a year. You take the active tablets continuously for 84 days — or 12 weeks — followed by one week of inactive pills (week 13). Your menstrual period occurs during week 13, about once every three months.
Seasonique, approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006, is a similarly formulated oral contraceptive regimen. As with Seasonale, you get your period about once every three months. You take active pills for 84 days followed by seven days of pills containing a very low dose of estrogen, during which you experience menstrual bleeding. Using low-dose estrogen pills instead of inactive pills during week 13 could mean less bleeding, bloating or other hormonal side effects.
A new extended-use oral contraceptive — Lybrel — is also currently being studied. Lybrel is a low-dose combined oral contraceptive, meaning that the pills contain low doses of both a progesterone and estrogen, designed to be taken continuously for one year. That means you would take one pill daily for one year, with no breaks for hormone-free intervals.

I am not sure whether any of these are available in Trinidad and obviously I'm locked into my current prescription for the next 8 months. But obviously it begs the question ..Is this safe??

Not all doctors think it's a good idea to delay your periods.Limited studies have shown that for a small number of women, extended oral contraceptives have the same side effects as conventional oral contraceptives, such as breast tenderness, nausea, headache, mood changes, leg cramps, acne, bloating, weight changes and dark spots on the face. The two biggest downsides to MM is

  1. Breakthrough bleeding. Sometimes even when you working to stop your period from coming, your body is still going to do what it is internally programmed to do. So you may still get some spotting in between packs even if you not taking the break to have your period.
  2. You really don't have a guideline to know if you are pregnant or not.As you should know its still possible to get pregnant while on the pill. So if you have concerns or want to be sure, regular birth control tests are recommended while holding off the period. (Note to all: "Clearview" brand tests are crap! My ob-gyn and my pregnant friend told me so)

So I did ask my ob-gyn about MM directly. His advice was that if I wanted to do it for a special occasion e.g vacation, wedding(!!!) or Carnival (yay!) it should be ok. However since there are no long term studies he would not recommend it for an extended period of time . i.e several months or more. I can live with that, when I was in school I used to tweak the schedule a lot but since I've finished up I just go with the flow (no pun intended) and tweak when necessary. My one personal recommendation is that if you are going with a regular 28-day contraceptive pill like Alesse which has one of the lowest hormonal dosages of most pills on the market , you need to start taking the pills continuously at least one cycle before your target cycle that you want to skip. i.e if you getting your period Carnival Monday in February, you need to take the pills from the end of your bleeding cycle in December so you can skip January's period and then February. This is to allow your cycle to re-regulate itself and prevent breakthrough bleeding. There is a higher likelihood of breakthrough bleeding with low-dose pills such as Alesse.

Please!!! I strongly advise all interested parties to consult with a doctor before starting on this program.


Anonymous said...

Wait...no more Alesse? But I have been using that for years.
What am I supposed to use now?
(two doctores recommended Alesse to me by the way. I use it for mensrual cramps and it works GREAT!!)

Carnival Jumbie (Diva) said...

Well yuh should go by KAPPA and stock up before you run out. I find they should give a public service announcement, a ad in the papers or something to let people know. The pharmacisttellmeis the whole of South America get ban off from the makers, which include the Caribbean

Jamette said...

Oh lawd. Steups. if is not one ting is another. Kappa yuh say? And i going and try all dem little pharmacys up and down the Eastern Main road too. Steupppppsss

saucydiva said...

Diva I have used that other pill to stop my period, I forget the name but my druggist knows it. You take it 3 days before it is due and 3 times a day for as long as you want your period NOT to come. Thing is that only works if you know your cycle like clockwork or if it comes like clockwork. Taking the pill too late will not stop a thing!

It did work excellent the times I have used it, the shortest I used it for was two days and the longest was about 9 days (when I went on honeymoon).When you stop the pills it takes about a day or two for your period to come.And then the cycle has to regulate again, so it does not come when you are expecting it the next time and you have to be on the lookout! After that it is back to normal.

Carnival Jumbie (Diva) said...

Yeah, taking the regular pills has the same effect, it just requires a little more forethought in planning to prevent the spotting.

buublenut said...

I well calculate my period for the road from time :) I have my pills scheduled so that my period where be nowehere in sight while I'm on the island

I take Alesse because the pills aren't that strong and they go well with me.

Hottie Hottie said...

But you eh easy! Good post though!

Bagogyul said...

lol...great post.
I did this 3 years ago for Miami Carnival...and i was on the patch then...funny thing is up to now i'm alway's good when a carnival rolls around. I'm menses free.
Don't you just love Birth Control

Carnival Jumbie (Diva) said...

Buh hottie,is all these things you have to think of!! How you mean !lol!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for writing this one, I am not on the pill, but I will be passing this on to my friends who may run into this scheduling conflict with Sister RED! Thanks again gyal!

The Wonderer said...

I ran it this same predicament yesterday...lol and I well tell de woman she talking shit. Alesse has been a major saviour with me with having ovarian cysts now i have to readjust and get something new by WEDNESDAY and I on one island and my doctor on de NEXT! Steupssss

Carnival Jumbie (Diva) said...

Well wonderer, i guess i should apologise for trying to buy out the whole stock in Trini lol!My bad!

The Wonderer said...

Lol... is ok man... I found a place who still had a box (watch me like a dam vagrant searching)...but I still need to find a replacement pill

Anonymous said...

Well, I bought 3 packs from Kappa drugs, and 3 packs from bhagan's Drugs!!!...so, I am good to go.
Sorry for you guys who still looking.
But you can try those pharmacies.