Just as faces are different, yet the same, so it is with fertility. Every woman’s fertility is uniquely hers. Hormonal contraceptives stamp uniformity onto a woman’s cyclical individuality. They are designed to affect fertility. The list of hormonal contraceptives includes, amongst others:
- The ‘Pill’
- The mini-Pill
- Depo Provera (the ‘Needle’)
- Mirena (IUD)
Post hormonal irregularities
The effects of hormonal contraceptives can still be present for a while after stopping them, particularly if they had been taken for some time. An immediate return to normal cycles is the exception rather than the rule. The disorders that hormonal contraceptives cause usually disappear by the sixth cycle, and may include:
- prolonged follicular phases (or delayed ovulation)
- unusual mucus patches
- persistent vaginal discharge
- shortened luteal phases
- abnormal intermenstrual bleeding
- prolonged amenorrhoea (no periods)
- persistent fungal infections (such as Thrush)
These irregularities may be caused by the extra oestrogen and progesterone stored in the women’s tissues which may take several weeks to leave. These extra hormones impede the chemical mechanisms, which trigger the regulatory centre and the ovaries, thus producing a ‘stop and start’ situation in follicular (egg) development.
Of the two fertility signs, the mucus symptom is the most affected and basal body temperature the least.
Hormonal contraceptives attempt to regulate cycles. In so doing, they can mask and leave untreated:
(a) Undiagnosed pathologies
Women with persistent vaginal discharge, frequent or unexplained intermenstrual bleeding, inadequate temperature shift, very long and irregular cycles, persistent out of phase mucus peak & temperature shifts and amenorrhoea beyond six months should see a doctor or specialist.
(b) Undiagnosed subfertility
Couples trying to conceive should see a specialist if the woman has recurrent short luteal phases, very long cycles, amenorrhoea for four months or more, anovular cycles or inadequate temperature shifts beyond four cycles or more, difficulty conceiving after trying for three months or more with apparently normal fertility cycles and appropriately timed lovemaking.