Saturday, August 16, 2014

My Side Effects: Menstrual Changes

I decided to write about my crazy menstrual cycle because 1) it's the most recent side effect I've endured, and 2) because of its relationship to my two previous posts about fatigue and the blood transfusion I received during my seventh chemo treatment.

I am not going to censor this post. The only images provided will be created through words alone. You have been warned.

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After my first chemo treatment in early May I went nearly two months without a period. Fine by me. Chemo suppresses blood cell production, so I was kind of hoping/expecting to skip out on my monthly cycle for a few months. Alas, twas not to be.

My period in mid-June was fairly normal. All right. Normal I can handle.

One month later, come mid-July: Menstrual Cycle from Hell!

From the day of my fifth chemo treatment up until just prior to my seventh, I bled for 28 days: two weeks of light to moderate spotting, then for one week the flood gates of the Nile opened and there was no stopping the flow, followed by another week of moderate spotting. No wonder I was so fatigued during the days following chemo #6.

On my heaviest day I went through a dozen super absorbent tampons. That's more than an entire week's worth of menstrual blood for a normal person! And yes, I know that tampons are technically a no-no during chemo because of the increased risk of infection. Meh. Pads didn't necessarily help my situation. I bled through an entire pack of 32 super absorbent pads in the following four days. Oh yeah, and washed several loads of laundry. I had to place a towel under me every time I sat on a chair or sofa just in case I bled through my pad and pants. I felt like my uterus was hemorrhaging, not to mention the gargantuan blood clots I was giving birth to (I'm talking way larger than a quarter in diameter, and many larger than a silver dollar).

My Solution

Tell my oncologist!!! I mean, seriously, what else is there to do? I probably should have called the cancer center and informed my doctor sooner. I already had an appointment scheduled a few days after my super-heavy day, so I waited it out.

Her eyes went wide as I told her about my lovely little period. By the time she and I met, I had been bleeding a total of 22 days.

Her solution: She prescribed me birth control to regulate my oh-so-crazy menses. Yay! Another drug to add to my collection! 

It didn't help that my pharmacy was out of stock and I had to wait five more days. Luckily, my period had started to calm itself down. By day 27 I started the pill and I am very glad I don't have daily laundry any more.

All of this unsurprisingly led to my needing a blood transfusion. Two units of lovely red blood cells. I swear it seems like my uterus bled more than that.

On the plus side, I feel über better now. 

Further Reading

CancerCare: Menopause and Chemotherapy
CancerCare: Vaginal Bleeding

Every person is different and their experiences will differ from mine. Always discuss your particular symptoms and concerns with your doctor.

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