My Gyno Told Me I Needed Birth Control To Balance My Hormones — Here’s Why I Refused

My periods have been awful for years and I was desperate for a solution. Every single doctor I saw urged me to take birth control but I declined—here’s why.

  1. My symptoms are pretty extreme. I’ve actually been hospitalized for my painful periods—that’s how bad they are. If you’ve never experienced a painful flow like this, thank your lucky stars because it’s truly debilitating. Not only do I feel dizzy, my stomach starts turning in knots, I have cramps, and become so tired I can barely move or do anything for the first couple of days.
  2. I’ve sought second opinions on my second opinions and they all said the same thing. Eventually, I decided to go to a gynecologist to see if there was anything that could be done. I was tired of having to put my life on pause for a week every month. After lengthy examinations and tests as several different doctors, they all told me that I had two options: take birth control or suffer forever.
  3. Birth control couldn’t possibly be the only answer, right? The idea was that birth control would balance my crazy hormones and allow my body to have regular menstrual cycles. The doctors always offered to get me started on a particular pill and said we could keep trying different ones at different dosages until we found one that fit. I really don’t want to put synthetic hormones in my body and I knew there had to be another answer, but the doctors were having none of it. There was no more advice, no sage wisdom, no knowledge of what if anything could be done to help me heal any other way. As far as doctors were concerned, there was no other cure.
  4. I did consider it but eventually realized it wasn’t the right option for me. No matter how I tried to convince myself that taking the pill was a good idea, I couldn’t convince myself to get on the bandwagon. I don’t like putting any synthetic or man-made products into my body if I can help it. Also, I didn’t comfortable knowing that I could take this drug and it would completely shut down my flow, which is a natural and healthy function of the female body. I highly respect western medicine, but having a healthy menstrual cycle should not be something we need a cure for. We shouldn’t have to stop our periods because they’re too painful to handle. I couldn’t get the thought that there had to be another way out of my head.
  5. There’s a lot that doctors won’t tell you. There are two reasons that doctors never mention alternative treatments. The first is they really don’t know—doctors aren’t trained in herbal medicine or natural healing and therefore aren’t able to recommend any treatments besides prescription ones. This doesn’t mean they don’t want to help you, it just means they don’t have all the answers. The second reason is that they have a practice and run a business. The sales of drugs are a huge part of that business, so even though there may be some other holistic or natural way to heal your issue, chances are they want to sell you some medication so they can make money.
  6. I got in touch with myself and found solutions that worked for me. After many years of being in the dark, I learned that stress, anxiety, depression, and my mood play a huge role in my menstrual health. When I’m under a lot of stress, my period suffers. The only thing I can do is try to feel less stressed and in a better mood, and meditation helps with this. As much as I don’t feel like doing it sometimes, I know it has a huge impact on my health if I don’t. If I cannot meditate for whatever reason, I practice yoga or I take a walk or listen to some relaxing music.
  7. Essential oils are also a massive help. Essential oils are my “drug” of choice. I douse myself in lavender oil and ylang-ylang before and during my period like it’s moisturizer. I put it on my stomach and lower abdomen, on my chest and throat. Both oils are known for their calming properties. Ylang-ylang is also known to balance hormones and relieve cramping. I’ve noticed a big difference from using these oils and I won’t ever stop.
  8. I’m on top of my diet and lifestyle, which makes a huge difference. This was a biggie for me. When I ate like crap, I felt like crap. When I cleaned up my diet, I started feeling better. I now eat an abundance of whole plant foods and some protein. I also go to bed at a reasonable hour, especially before my period. Getting those eight hours of shut-eye a night have been a godsend.
  9. I’m not 100% better but I stand behind my choice. Do I still suffer from painful periods and occasional nausea? Yes, but I now know that when I start feeling very nauseous during menstruation, it’s no one’s fault but my own. If I meditate, eat well, an include yoga in my weekly workout schedule, I feel immensely better. Over time, these little baby steps I take will slowly reverse any hormonal dysfunction my body still has, I’m sure of it.
Rachel Galperin is a Writer, Producer and Performer. She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in Advertising and Marketing Communications and has worked in Production, Casting and Development for a variety of TV series and networks including National Geographic's Brain Games, The Real Housewives of the Potomac, HGTV's Dear Genevieve, The Cooking Channel's My Grandmother's Ravioli, and others. Her writing has appeared in The Ground Magazine and Yogi Approved. She lives in New York City.