I have anxiety attacks over my girlfriend's period

Postby Dleet3D » Sun Sep 13, 2020 6:45 pm

Hi everyone. I need some help. A couple months ago my girlfriend started to feel morning sickness, headaches and extra sensitivity on her breasts on the middle of her cycle. That same month her period was late for 1 or 2 days. Naturally, when her period didn't come, we panicked.

I'm 26 y/o, she's 22, she takes the pill and we used to use condoms all the time. However before that incident we use to have a little playtime before putting the condom.

During those two days I completely lost my mind, anxiety ruled over me. I was shaking and vomitting. We did a pregnancy test, which came out negative, and eventually she had her period.

Still, that episode has been haunting me ever since. Everytime that time of the month comes I panic and have anxiety attacks. We always use a condom since the first minute things get intimate, after that. However, she recently changed her pill and skipped 1 month during summer (by not taking the placebo pills) in order to be able to go on vacations more comfortably. Those two things are now giving me anxiety, since her period is, again, somewhat late.

Rationally, since we use pill + condoms, it would somewhat unlikely that she's pregnant. But I can't shake the "What if" loop from my head. It's running my sleep and I worry that it might ruin a relationship with a girl that I truly love. I've talked to her and she's fully aware of my concerns.

Is there something I can do to ease my mind, or this is it?
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#1

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:23 am

You are experiencing "anticipated regret". You can see a future where your girlfriend has an unwanted pregnancy. It is normal and healthy to be experiencing anxiety.

Being that it is normal and healthy, it means your mind is not supposed to be at ease. Accidental pregnancy is a huge deal...at least it should be. You are supposed to suffer the pain. It's okay. If your mind was at ease there would be an issue.

Seven ways we regulate regret:

-1- Delay or avoid the issue (worry about it later).
-2- Transfer responsibility (blame someone else, i.e. blame her).
-3- Justify the decision (the risk is low and you were reasonably responsible with the use of birth control).
-4- Reframe (if she gets pregnant it was meant to be, you're in love and it will be a blessing).
-5- Make sure decision is reversible (in this case that would mean abortion).
-6- Avoid feedback (not an option for you guys).
-7- Make better decisions (no vaginal sex until ready to deal with potential outcomes).

The seven ways come from a number of research articles on the science of regret. Regret is a painful emotion that is adaptive. It helps modify decisions in the future. The seven ways are not intended to completely mitigate regret, but rather help regulate it, i.e. maybe some of these will help ease your regret.

If I were you, dependent on your personal beliefs, I would focus on methods 3,4, and 5. Cut yourself some slack. You guys used protection. You guys are in a committed relationship. You have multiple options.
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#2

Postby Dleet3D » Mon Sep 14, 2020 11:16 am

Wow, I never expected such a scientific answer, this is exactly what I was hoping for, thank you so much!
we've been trying the solution number 4, for sure. We jokingly said that after using condoms and the pill, if a baby comes it's superman, we might need a reinforced steel crib. So yhea, that had been our strategy, but still, everytime her period come around, I can't help but feel anxiety.

It is not voluntary or rational.

Thank you, this has helped, i will try to come back to this post whenever i'm feel anxious about this issue.
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#3

Postby Candid » Mon Sep 14, 2020 11:53 am

I dunno. how about making sure is doesn't happen? The Pill (as it was capped then) kept me safe the whole of my reproductive life. Surely it must be doing the job now?

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/50595195797533755/
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#4

Postby Dleet3D » Mon Sep 14, 2020 2:08 pm

It is, it should be. But people always say that it's 98% effective, even less in normal day-to-day use, so ... That's where the irrational anxiety comes from.
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#5

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Mon Sep 14, 2020 2:46 pm

Dleet3D wrote:It is, it should be. But people always say that it's 98% effective, even less in normal day-to-day use, so ... That's where the irrational anxiety comes from.


It is not "irrational" anxiety.

It is like going on a plane. Chances of a crash or getting hurt are slim to none, but it is normal to have a bit of anxiety. I'm assuming you have been on a plane and experienced anxiety during take-off and landing. I do. It is normal. It is not irrational. What would be irrational is refusing to fly.

You are using birth control. It is highly effective, but it doesn't mean pregnancy isn't a real possibility. The anxiety is rational. What would not be rational is to stop having intercourse...unless...

...unless you are not at all ready to accept the risk of 'super baby' then you should not have intercourse. If you are 100% sure you do not want an accidental super baby, then your anxiety is rational, while your behavior of having intercourse is irrational. If you accept the 2% risk then both the anxiety and intercourse are both rational.
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#6

Postby Dleet3D » Mon Sep 14, 2020 2:50 pm

i understand. So I just deal with the anxiety, as being unavoidable? I'll try using the tips offered on the first reply.
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#7

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:26 pm

Dleet3D wrote: So I just deal with the anxiety, as being unavoidable?


Exactly.

You are supposed to experience anxiety. You are taking a risk.

Not you specifically, but there exists a thought process or philosophy that whenever we experience pain or discomfort we should eliminate the pain, regardless of what purpose the pain might serve. It is natural to want to eliminate pain, but it is important to also understand why the pain exists and when the pain is healthy.

The anxiety is apparently not debilitating. It might be distracting and uncomfortable, but it is prompting discussions with your girlfriend. That is a good thing. The anxiety isn’t stopping you from having protected sex. Maybe you lose a bit of sleep, but that is the healthy trade off for the benefits. You’re being prompted to consider the risks, not simply dismiss them.
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#8

Postby Dleet3D » Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:35 pm

I agree. Thank you.

Altough some nights, it does seem debilitating. But I understand that that's just how it is. It made us be extra careful, that's for sure.
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#9

Postby Candid » Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:10 am

I'd be curious to know whether your girlfriend is as worried as you are.

I suspect it's a gender divide. Far from feeling any anxiety about take-off, I (and many other women, I'm told) absolutely LOVE the feeling of being thrust back in our seats just before the plane leaves the ground.
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#10

Postby Dleet3D » Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:10 am

She's not. She's much more confident and secure on the effectiveness of the pill+condom combo. She also says that she feels "normal", even if the period didnt come, she feels the symptoms that it will come in 2 ou 3 days, so she relaxes. And this is a good thing, she has been supportive and reassures me that everything is fine. Overall this doesn't affect me 90% of the days, just that week I get a little bit more nervous.

P.S: I also love taking off and landing on airplanes, even more on rainny/windy days, for some reason. It's the adrenaline and I'm 100% confident that the pilots have done that 100 times and it's fairly routine for them.
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#11

Postby Candid » Tue Sep 15, 2020 4:56 pm

Dleet3D wrote:She's much more confident and secure on the effectiveness of the pill+condom combo.

Is it possible she was testing you to see whether you're marriage shy? Or is that just me being old-fashioned?
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#12

Postby Dleet3D » Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:17 pm

No, we've talked about marriage and kids, we both want those, just not now.
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#13

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:25 pm

Dleet3D wrote:P.S: I also love taking off and landing on airplanes, even more on rainny/windy days, for some reason. It's the adrenaline and I'm 100% confident that the pilots have done that 100 times and it's fairly routine for them.


There is a slight difference between flying on a plane, jumping out of a plane, and pregnancy. Choice.

You can love taking off/landing in a plane, because it is not really a choice. It is something that happens, not something you do. When bad things happen people will often struggle with the decisions they made, but a rational person will conclude the plane crashing was not foreseeable. If a person is hurt jumping from a plane the ability to reverse justify the decision is more difficult. Sex is a decision. It is something under your control.

What is interesting about regret is it is associated with making a decision. This is different than disappointment. Using fMRI you can see different areas of the brain activate when a person experiences regret vs. disappointment.
Last edited by Richard@DecisionSkills on Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#14

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:27 pm

Candid wrote:I suspect it's a gender divide.


I agree there is probably a gender divide. I think the anxiety of an unwanted pregnancy is generally greater in females than males. Why? The perceived consequences are generally much more significant for the female.
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