So you’ve had your weight loss surgery, you’re staying on track and you’re losing weight. You finally get that 100 pounds down and something weird happens, you get your period twice in one month even though you haven’t been regular in years.
~~ Kelsey Payumo, Admin of Bariatric Eating Support Group on Facebook
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Contraception is essential after bariatric surgery. As an obese woman starts to lose weight, her chance of getting pregnant increases – obesity has negatively affected fertility for many women – to the extent that many believe they can’t become pregnant. The dramatic weight loss that follows bariatric surgery leads to improvement in hypertension, diabetes and can also lead to resumption of ovulation and normalization of menstrual irregularities.
Estrogen also has another job – FERTILITY.
Our bodies store estrogen in fat and when that fat starts to come off, we are flooded by that estrogen release. Estrogen is what causes the body to release eggs and that is where the periods suddenly come from. If you’re a new post op just months out of weight loss surgery – it is not medically the optimal time to get pregnant but your body thinks this is the BEST TIME since it’s coursing with estrogen and eggs are coming more than once a month.
Prevention is key.
Many of you are like me and had weight loss surgery to be able to have a baby and you are both anxious and hopeful to get started. The majority of patients undergoing bariatric surgery are reproductive age women – we are strongly advised to avoid pregnancy for up to 2 years after surgery. If you are planning bariatric surgery and you are of pregnancy age, please talk to your medical team about different forms of birth control and means of preventing pregnancy until it is medically safe for you to carry a pregnancy to term or to avoid one entirely if that is not your intention. It is best for you and the baby you’ve wanted for so long if you are at a stable weight before attempting pregnancy.
A balanced diet for a healthy baby
It’s also very important to let your body heal where you are in a condition to be able to consume the proper nutrition and the right foods to support a healthy pregnancy. It’s a bad idea to try and nourish a baby while you are losing weight through forced surgical malnutrition. Accidents happen but you must do your part to proactively avoid the circumstance.
No one told me my pills won’t work!
It is believed that because gastric bypass surgery causes malabsorption of nutrients and some medications, the effectiveness of birth control pills could be diminished. If you have a lap band or sleeve there is little impact of the surgery on your choice of contraception. Doctors familiar with the malabsorptive procedures – gastric bypass, duodenal switch, and biliopancreatic diversion – warn that the potential risk of failure of The Pill, outweighs the benefits. They often recommend the birth control patch and ring as they are absorbed from the skin or vagina and bypass the intestine altogether.
Eggs are flying again!
For those of us who are losing bariatric regain – lighting can strike again! Estrogen is stored in long term fat cells and as we shed that long term regain fat – once again the extra estrogen is flooding our bodies. So if you’ve had your period twice in a month while on Back on Track, rest assured that it is normal, however it is a great time to once again talk to your team about updating your family planning or prevention methods.
The more you know, the greater success you’ll have when the time is right!