26 February 2014

The Birth Control Pill


I guess I'm in the mood for a good discussion today! I know this could be a sensitive topic. Not sure. But here goes...


You guys, I hate the birth control pill. I mean, I really, really hate it. I know it's "supposed" to be liberating to women, but I am convinced this pill is actually harming a lot of women - and therefore society at large including marriages, relationships, friendships, families, and work places. And it's not just me that feels this way. I have spoken to LOADS & LOADS of women who feel the same...and many of them have had even worse symptoms than me.

The birth control pill was part of my IVF protocol and the Dr. had me take it prior to starting the IVF injections. I used 3 different brands at different times due to the various stops and starts during the treatments. It turns out that the IVF injections didn't affect me emotionally, but the birth control pill sent me for a loop. And yet this is a pill that a huge number of women take daily - often times for years.

I hadn't been on the birth control pill for about 11 or 12 years, so I could tell immediately that there was a change to my system. Here are some of the things the various pill brands did to me:

-Lack of intuition & creativity - it's like it just numbed everything.
-Inability to handle life situations that normally I could handle with grace and strength and wisdom.
-Numbed spirituality.
-SEVERE, ACUTE pains in my heart (with one of the brands). This scared the heck out of me and I actually thought I was having a heart attack (!!) I called my Dr. immediately and she said to drive over right away for an EKG. Luckily, everything was fine. But holy crap.
-Reduced sexuality. It may have been very subtle, but I could tell that this part of my life was affected negatively with one of the brands. I could tell that things got back to normal soon after I stopped taking it.
-Anger...like ANGER over some unfortunate circumstances I had to face around that time. These days I'm pretty good about not going there, so it felt awful to feel that.
-Shame and guilt from behaving in a way that was SOOOO not me!
-Remorse for being such a crabby wife around the most loving, patient husband in the world.

Anyway, I luckily didn't have to take that wicked pill very long and I couldn't be happier about it. But it pains me so much to hear of story after story of women going through symptoms like this on a daily basis. I fear that some women don't even know what's up or down anymore as they've been on the pill for so many years, many since their college or even teenage years. I can only imagine that so many women are so out of touch with their true selves, their inner feminine power, strength and wisdom that they don't even realize what they're missing. I know some say that the pill has no effect on them. I know others take it to mask other symptoms that they have from other illnesses. So the whole issue is tricky and so, so very unique to each person's situation and health. But I guess I just want to put it out there that while the pill may "liberate" you in some ways, it may send you to hell mentally/spiritually/emotionally/physically. And it may near destroy your marriage and family life. It's a lot to consider. And I'm sad that it's an issue that women face. If you ask me, true liberation comes when we are able to gain greater control of our bodies and our emotional and mental state. I'm all for that kind of liberation!

Let's do a poll here: What has your experience been while on the birth control pill?? Did it change you? Have you found another alternative? Maybe this is too personal for you to discuss. But I guess I tend to think people don't discuss this enough. Anonymous comments welcome.

And for anyone interested in this subject of birth control and what it's doing to women, this article by Dr. Kelly Brogan (via Dr. Frank Lipman's blog) was extremely enlightening.

--
UPDATE: Reader Rachel Hunt let us know that there is an upcoming documentary by Rikki Lake regarding the dangers of birth control - it's called Sweetening the Pill (I loved Rikki's first documentary on birth.) And, I just found out that Dr. Kelly Brogan, the one who wrote the article I linked to above, will be featured in the documentary. Can't wait to see it. I also highly, highly recommend checking out Dr. Brogan's blog, Holistic Women's Health Psychiatry- Caring for the Whole Woman Naturally. She is doing amazing things for women! I applaud her work.

127 comments:

  1. I had awful side effects, and so did many of my best friends and relatives. After 5 months of being on 3 different types, I quit. It was completely not worth it for me. I had everything from an allergic reaction to mood swings that made my poor husband want to cry. Also, I had a period every 2 weeks. The doctors kept telling me that I just had to find the right dose, but I couldn't live like that until they found one, (if one exists). One of my friends at church ended up in the hospital early last year after a stroke at 22 that was linked back to her birth control! Thankfully she's fine, but that scared me enough to never take it again.

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  2. I was a raving lunatic on any and all birth control pills before having children. When I started taking it again 2 years after my first child was born I sunk into the deepest depression I have ever had (after only 2 days on it). It was scary and I was literally thinking that I might have to commit myself to a pysch ward. Stopped taking the pill and it cleared up almost instantly. Never again. 5 months after my 3rd and last child was born, my husband had a vasectomy. I always just thought it was me.

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  3. The first six months of our marriage were pure hell. I felt like I was going crazy. And I was a b---- . My mother had a terrible experience on the pill back in the 60's and 70's. She was the one who suggested maybe it was the pill. I went off it and our lives were 100% better. I swear, my husband could have easily divorced me after those first six months for deceptive advertising or something. It was brutal. After that, we just used condoms until he got a vasectomy.

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    1. Me, too!! I was on the pill for a short time during my first marriage and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I would cry over so many things but when my husband tried to find out why, most of the time I couldn't even think of a reason. I also gained weight for the first time in my life and went up 4 sizes. That in itself brought on it's own level of inner turmoil. None of my clothes fit anymore. I finally decided to stop taking it and as my life and my marriage could not tolerate it anymore. Within days of going off the pill, my jeans nearly fell off they were so loose and my mood and emotional state changed drastically.

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  4. I think it is nuts too. I don't think I had super crazy side effects, I only took it about 10 months, but it took 9 months after that to get pregnant. (not long I know, but it seemed long) and I haven't gone back on it. We use condoms or track my cycle. The next two pregnancies happened way faster. I has a friend who took the same pull as me and had suicidal thoughts!!

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  5. I never went on the pill because of the stories I have heard. Hormones are such a delicate thing and I certainly did not want to mess that up! My husband and I track my cycles and it has worked out really well. No weird side effects, and I've been learning how my body actually works!

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  6. I can definitely say that I have been much happier during the times in my marriage when I wasn't on the pill. Unfortunately I can not afford to risk getting pregnant because I take medication for rheumatoid arthritis that would have devastating effects on a fetus so, right now, the pill is a standard. The one that I'm on right now doesn't bother me emotionally but sex drive = zero and that's starting to become a problem so I will probably have to have a conversation with my doctor about it at my next appointment.

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    1. Jenny you should get on hydroxychloroquine if you can instead of methotrexate! It works the same and is safe to get pregnant on - I was on the pill for the same reason until I made the switch and life has been a gazillion times better! Good luck!

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  7. It actually really helped me! I used to suffer all month long. First during ovulation, then I had terrible PMS then extreme tiredness and pain during my periods + swelling and so forth. It took me 6 months to find the right product but I now feel liberated. Which is also good for my sex life ;-) And I lost weight without any effort and went back to my average weight. And I have more time and serenity to concentrate on my inner growth and spirituality and to read good stuff such as your blog (that I do really enjoy by the way :-)

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    1. I'm curious! Which pill are you using?

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    2. I'm French and living in France. The name of my pill therefore might not be useful to you. It is actually not a pill but work well as a contraceptive. This is what a quick research told me about it in English :
      http://www.wordsense.eu/promegestone/
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6366037
      Hope it helps!

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  8. I have been on birth control for many years, mostly because I have PCOS. It really helps control my symptoms, including acne, extra hair growth/loss, and irregular/absent periods. I'm not sure that "mask other symptoms" are the words I'd choose to describe what it does for me. Whatever it's doing, I'm happy not to have a face full of painful acne or a period that lasts for 2 weeks.

    But I have experienced some of the things you talk about above...I think that the brand makes a huge difference. I was on one brand for many years, and felt just fine--loved it, actually. But after I had my twins, my doctor put me on a new brand, which I was on for about 2 years. I was depressed and had crazy mood swings where I was mean to my husband and couldn't stop myself from crying hysterically. It took me a long time to realize that the birth control was a problem. I assumed it was the stress of twin babies and the sleep deprivation, which I'm sure was a huge part, too. Anyway, as soon as I switched back to my original brand, I felt so much better.

    I have experienced both the benefits and problems of birth control, and I'm still taking it. It may not be for everyone, but I feel that this post was a little extreme--yes, the side effects can be bad. If people are having problems, and the only reason they are taking it is for pregnancy prevention, they should try another method. But if they need it for a medical reason, like I do, if they work with a doctor to get the brand and dosage right, it can be so helpful, and I think it can improve quality of life, not ruin it. Just depends on the individual situation.

    Thanks for bringing this topic up! It's always good to hear about other people's experiences with this type of thing, especially since we aren't always open about it.

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    1. I am also on birth control for PCOS! I have been on three different brands, and one of those brands REALLY messed with me. I quit taking it only after a week because I was so emotional and couldn't handle anything. The brand I am on now, I LOVE. I actually feel like it helps me handle my emotions a lot better, I don't have PMS at all, my periods don't last as long and are definitely not as painful, and it is magic when it comes to helping me handle my PCOS symptoms. My facial hair growth is significantly reduced and my acne completely disappeared.

      I am getting married next week, so I can't say anything about sex drive, or whatever, but I guess we'll find out. :)

      Side note: Mara, my fiance kidnapped me and took me to New York to propose on top of the Empire State Building (we live in southern Utah), and I thought of you the entire time we were there, and how much you love the city - I LOVED IT!!!

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  9. I'm mixed on the pill. I took it for about 5 years before getting ready to conceive our first baby last year, and I did have a bunch of great side effects from it- my skin was finally clear, my periods were lighter/no cramps, and I never gained weight or felt like I was emotionally affected (I was in a great mood all the time those 5 years!). I also loved not having to worry about condoms or getting pregnant before we were ready. When I finally stopped taking it, I started ovulating within 6 weeks, and got pregnant my 2nd month trying (5 months after stopping the pill- I gave my body a few months off of it, using condoms, before we officially started to 'try').
    However- I did have terrible headaches every month during the 'period week' (pill/hormone withdrawal?). And I do feel like it affected my sex drive in a very noticeable way. In fact, I haven't had much of a sex drive at all the past few years. I've had to really push myself mentally to want to do it, and get into it. Now that I have a young baby & am breastfeeding, my hormones are kind of different anyway and sex drives notoriously dip while breastfeeding-- but I am SO HOPING that once I stop (and I probably won't get back on the pill), my libido will return to what it was several years ago. Fingers crossed that it didn't cause long-term damage.

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  10. I think that the birth control pill is just like any medicine-- it serves a purpose, and sometimes a very important one (e.g. addressing some of the issues people have mentioned here like PCOS and challenging periods, etc.). But like most medicines it has side effects, and we don't talk about those enough. Personally I am happier not on BC. But I was taking it just for the convenience not to address any other issues.

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  11. I took it many years ago, and had similar experiences. I HATED it. I felt like I was going to burst into tears walking down the streets of NYC (maybe we passed each other, but we were both too depressed!). Anyway...I did recognize what was happening, and went off very quickly. After my son was born, I had an IUD which was awful I had it for a couple years, but my periods were terrible, and I think it tanked my sex drive. UGH! No easy choice, is there?

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  12. I took it for three months and was an absolute mess. Life was 100x better the moment I stopped. I use a cool phone app that tracks my cycle so I know which days I'm fertile. I've been able to plan both pregnancies and they're even spaced four years apart.

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    1. Using an app is genius. Even more genius is asking your partner to use it, too. When baby making was on our minds, somehow Danny always seemed to know what days I was fertile and I can't even tell you how nice it was to have him in the loop and to not have to always be the one explaining to him that I was fertile. But an app would have been even better for him.

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  13. I have a love-hate relationship. The pill KILLS my libido -- major problem. But when I'm on the pill, my horrible cramps practically disappear. And my skin is much clearer. I guess I have to choose, clear skin or good sex!

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  14. I had the Mirena IUD and I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it! I never had any side effects w/ it, I never had any periods, and when they took it out, I started my period 2 days later.

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  15. As with many medications, it has very different effects on different people. There are also several different types of pills out there with different levels of the hormones, so making a blanket statement that "all pills" are terrible is not exactly valid because they are all quite different.

    I have had many patients (I'm a doctor) and also friends who feel similarly about the pill. They just didn't like it and felt that it made them feel miserable and out of control. It's also tedious to take a pill each day. For those patients and people, there are several other non-hormonal options, the most popular being the IUD, which is nowadays very safe. Several people I know are on the Mirena and find it convenient and unnoticeable. Once removed, I've not personally known of anyone with issues getting pregnant, although I know this is listed as a possible risk.

    As for me, I started the birth control - Ortho Tri Cyclin Lo (low levels of progesterone) - when I was 18 for bad period cramps. I stopped it when I was 24-26 and I can't say I really noticed a difference in who I felt like, my moods, or my weight. It didn't feel different. I re-started it again when I was 26 and still on it. For me, the pill has liberated me by making my career and relationship and traveling with my husband possible. Without out, I'm quite sure I wouldn't have had the chance to discover so many wonderful things in the world about who I am, what I love, what my relationship with my husband means or what a fulfilling career medicine/surgery is. It's a very personal choice and for me it's been a wonderful one. I do intend to have children as well, but when the time is more right. To each their own!

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  16. The pill is so destructive. Millions of women peeing extra hormones into the water supply is destroying our Earth.

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    1. Yes - actually, very, very good point. I've been told by a water researcher that hormones cannot be extracted/filtered from the water supply. Isn't that scary? So it's really something that affects us all, including men and children! When you think of how different puberty is now (it's starting at a much younger age for many young girls) you have to wonder if it's related to all the hormones both in water and food (meat, milk, etc.) Also, thyroid problems are sometimes started because of exposure to hormones. And it seems thyroid issues are just rampant. It really makes me wonder.

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    2. I agree with everything you said. It is so scary and unfortunately the Pill is seen as some kind of 3rd rail we shouldn't talk about. For the environmentally conscious,
      you are allowed to talk about hormones in meat but don't talk about how women taking the pill are ingesting hormones their bodies do not need. Hormones are basically powerful chemicals our bodies make/use to keep it going. Adding more or messing with the ones you have is so dangerous.

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  17. I learned recently that Ricki Lake is making a documentary on this very thing, i.e. hormonal birth control pills, and its effects on women. (http://www.deadline.com/2014/02/ricki-lake-abby-epstein-push-sweetening-the-pill-birth-control-doc/)

    I have chosen not to take birth control pills because of the stories told to me by loved friends and sisters. Instead, I choose a combination of other methods, including, but not limited to tracking my cycle. Like anonymous above, I have had success in pregnancy planning.

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    1. I didn't know about this documentary. THANK YOU for sharing! I loved the other documentary she did- The Business of Being Born.

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    2. I just found out that Dr. Kelly Brogan (the one who wrote the article that I linked to at the end of this post) will be featured in Rikki Lake's documentary about the dangers of birth control. So cool. I can't wait to see it.

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  18. Truthfully, I love the pill! Specifically nuvaring. It keeps my skin really clear, I never gained weight on it, and I never had any of the emotional side effects. I don't really think it affected my libido either! I think it just really depends on the woman. I certainly have a few friends who really hated it!

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  19. I'm so glad you are willing to take a stance on such a controversial topic! Thank you, thank you!!! There has to be other women who are suffering because of the pill unbeknownst to them.

    My health journey sadly includes nearly a decade of taking the pill and the horrible symptoms connected to it. My gyn put me on it my very first visit at 16 to help with painful periods. I wasn't even sexually active. It did the opposite acne-wise for me, it actually cleared up my skin. But that was the extent of good it brought.

    The next 8 years were physical and emotional hell for me! I do not say that lightly. For whatever reason the pill caused me to experience almost constant hypoglycemia and as a result a myriad of other terrible related symptoms (constant brain fog, exhaustion regardless of the amt of sleep I got, depression, itchy skin, exhaustion (did I mention that before?) every cell in my body felt fatigued and I could hardly function, anxiety etc. etc.). It was so bad I felt I was a prisoner in my own body and there were times I prayed I would get better or die.

    Because I started taking it so young I was unable to connect my huge decline in health with the pill. Maybe it was because it was cumulative over several months? I don't really know. But I do know that around 9 years later when I stopped taking the pill to try and get pregnant, my symptoms almost immediately disappeared! Within a couple of weeks I was feeling amazing, better than I had in as long as I could remember. It felt like a miracle!

    After nursing my daughter I convinced myself that maybe the pill wasn't the culprit to my very bad health previously. Almost as soon as I began taking it again all those symptoms began to come back. You better believe that I stopped taking it and haven't looked back!

    6 years later I have 1 more daughter (that was planned). When there is a will, there is a way! Oral birth control is not necessary! Maybe others have had good experiences. My relationship with the pill was horrific. It robbed me of so much over nearly a decade of what is supposed to be the best years of your life.

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    1. Lauren, your last line made me shudder. :(

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  20. It's not all about pregnancy.
    17 years of marriage without the pill led to zero pregnancies (though I have two babies due to the miracle of adoption) so I thought that I was in the clear and could avoid that particular pill completely. (I avoid all Rx.) Then last year I was suddenly diagnosed with endometriosis--no overt symptoms, but massive cysts inside. Since they were concerned about the sudden growth of grapefruit-sized cysts, I faced a scary surgery situation that could have resulted in everything from a partial hysterectomy to a full with cancerous results.
    The surgery went better than expected and they decided to call my endometriosis asymptomatic, since I didn't seem to have any of the real frustrating parts associated with it. They did decide to put me on continuous birth control, because they wanted the bleeding (and cysts) to stop.
    I avoided it for three months and talked to my very forward-thinking, very trusted family GP, who recommended it for someone in my situation. And my bleeding and emotional crazy seemed to be getting worse. So I filled to Rx and started in. And it's been a ridiculous ride. I had three different generics for the first three rounds and each came with it's own brand of anger and panic. And "break through" bleeding that lasted for 10 days. I finally called to yell at my surgeon (I don't yell at doctors, but she wasn't returning my calls and I was a extra crazy) and she changed my Rx to brand name with three packs at a time, only to have the pharmacy tell me that they couldn't supply me until next month. That was last week.
    Whatever generic I'm on this week, is doing okay so far--it has me nervous for switching to brand name next month. And there isn't a day that taking the pill doesn't feel like a slap in the face--I would like nothing better than to be pregnant. And there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about stopping. Hoping that this is the right choice. Hoping that eventually it will level my hormones rather than pull them out of kilter. Hoping that I can keep at bay another surgery that might find something more than benign cysts.

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  21. I didn't notice very much of a change when I went on birth control or when I stopped taking it. My moods didn't change very much. Cramping was better at first, but then it went back to my normal painful cramps. I think they were a little bit worse on the birth control, but that is the only bad thing I noticed. My skin did not get any clearer, though. I was hoping it would. (Although what does work is olive or coconut oil! :) I stopped taking it because of expense. My insurance made me get the brand name and it was close to $50. Too much! As well, intercourse is too painful for me right now, so the pill wasn't really being used. (I took it, but there wasn't anything to prevent.) In any event, it's nice to not have to take it anymore.

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    1. I agree - $50 is too much. Just recently when I had to take it, some of the brands weren't covered by insurance for some reason and they were $60. Ugh.

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  22. I couldn't agree more! I tried three different birth control pills and I HATED all of them. I was grumpy, I had no sex drive, I gained weight, I went from naturally clear skin to horribly acne-ridden skin, and I didn't treat my husband very well. After a year of this I switched to the copper IUD - no hormones! - and I'm back to my normal self. I could not recommend that IUD enough.

    I think many women have great experiences with the pill and other types of hormone birth control, but I had a HORRIBLE experience!

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  23. Mara, it's quite a leap--and a fallacious argument--to go from saying that you personally hate the pill to concluding that it's harming society at large. While it does sound like you many others have had hellish experiences with it (and we are all so fortunate to live in a time and a place where safe and effective non-hormonal birth control is readily available), on the whole, the pill has been life-changing and life-saving for women and families. It's certainly important to make women aware of the many possible negative side effects, but, given that the risks associated with sex and pregnancy can still be life-threatening in some parts of the world, it's equally important to avoid the spread of misinformation.

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    1. Thank you for so eloquently expressing what I am thinking.

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    2. I was scrolling the comments and I'm glad somebody finally said this. It is certainly every woman's choice whether she wants to use the birth control pill or not, but the choice itself is critically important. For those women for whom the pill did not work or had too many bad side effects, I'm glad you can choose something different. For many other women, myself included, I'm very glad to have the freedom to choose to use the pill.

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    3. Hi ladies/anon, I certainly know the pill has been good for many women over the decades, but I also feel that for many, even the "good" (not having baby after baby, having freedom, career, education, etc.) has come at a great cost. It just seems to me there's a better way. There may be some that have ZERO other options than taking the pill. Those situations make me sad, esp. if they experience side effects. There may be others who LOVE THE PILL and have no side effects. But, luckily today, there are SOO many ways to prevent pregnancy without succumbing to harmful hormones (afterall, they are linked to cancer risks!). It's just a matter of education. I think it's worth discussing and thinking about - and hearing of other's experiences, since you can't really get that in a dr.'s office.

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  24. Interesting post. I was on the Nuvaring for years (is that very different, chemically speaking, from the Pill, BTW??) and didn't think about it too much. Then I got pregnant and haven't really had a desire to go back on birth control, though I haven't noticed that much of a difference in my physical and emotional well-being. I do think that it depends on the individual. My sister gets terrible PMS and birth control has really helped her symptoms. On the other hand, one of my best friends has refused to go on birth control not only because of the effect it has on her, but just a general wariness of putting hormones in her body. And artificial hormonal regulation does seem a little bit suspect to me, but who knows. I do think it's something that should be discussed, though. The fact that I don't even know how the Nuvaring is different from the pill says to me that there's a lot I and others don't know about what we're ingesting each month.

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  25. I was on the pill for almost 10 years (starting at 18) - Yaz, Yasmin, Ortho-tri-cyclen Lo, and Nuvaring, briefly, and I noticed I was more emotional on all of them. I also got yeast infections a lot more easily. (Yuck!) Some were worse (Nuvaring made me feel absolutely crazy), some were better (ortho-tri-cyclen lo was the best, relatively), but the real pain came later, when my husband starting trying for a baby. It took me almost a year to get to having regular periods (thank you B6 for finally helping me get back on track), and two years to finally conceive our little boy (my husband ended up having some issues too that we didn't know about). I wish someone had told me that birth control would have so much of an impact on my life, even after I stopped taking it. Now, not everyone has this problem (I have a friend who got pregnant a month after quitting), but the issue is that you don't know how it will affect your body until afterwards... :( Since Felix was born, I've decided I will never go back on any kind of pill. Ever. I'll chart and monitor my other fertility symptoms, or condoms, whatever...and take whatever comes our way (and we would happily welcome another child). I feel so much more emotionally stable when I'm making my own God-given hormones, haha.

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  26. I never took the pill, before we got married I was contemplating it, but my mom said something to the effect of you'd be crazy to put those chemicals in your body, and that she would never do that....I guess it scared me enough that we just used condoms until we were ready to have a baby....and despite what people said condoms were not bad at all, plus they are cheap, and for me there is peace of mind knowing I am not messing with any crazy chemicals.

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  27. Mara, what would you suggest as a birth control method for those who are not sexually active before marriage? I think the pill can act as a safety net for those who are getting used to having sex and dealing with condoms, etc. I took the pill for about a year after I got married and then it took me a long time to get pregnant after that. I know of many others who have been on the pill and then dealt with infertility. I am just speculating, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a connection between the pill and infertility.

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    1. I love the book called "Taking Charge of Your Fertility." It's like the bible of natural methods for sexually active women. Many women have had great success using temperature + tracking other physical signs of fertility (cervical fluid and cervical position.) There are apps to help track these things. I would even recommend that all our husbands and partners have these apps, too! I love the idea of them knowing when you're fertile,too, instead of it all being on your shoulders. Others have had success with sponges, films or condoms. The key for any of this is diligence. When you try to channel respect and honor for your body and sexuality, I think it helps you to follow through. Choosing to be with a man who respects and honors your body is also part of that.

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  28. I was on the pill for 6 years in my early 20s. I have been off for about 8 years and never look back. For anyone considering going off the pill and looking for alternative birth control, I recommend looking at eco contraception method such as the Justiss Method (see red tent sisters website) or other similar methods.

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    1. And for those wanting to get pregnant; this method will certainly help be in touch with your body and increase chances to get pregnant.
      PS: I not affiliated with anyone teaching this method but I use it and I find it enlightening and the best method for stress free (no pill) contraception method.

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    2. SO happy to hear about these methods. I also love the natural methods suggested in "Taking Charge of Your Fertility."

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    3. I learned so much from reading that book. It is amazing what you can learn about your body when you chart.

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  29. I was on birth control for a year before I stopped to try for a baby. After my daughter's birth it seemed that my post-birth appointment was focused on what birth control I wanted next. The doctor recommended the mini pill since I planned to continue nursing. It didn't really occur to me that I didn't need to take anything! When my daughter was about three months old I had a distinct impression that I should stop and not take birth control again. I stopped immediately and haven't used any for the past 7 1/2 years. I have learned more about my body and know how I function. I have charted and monitored and my husband and I have been able to plan and have welcomed two more daughters. What has infuriated me is the attitude I have occasionally encountered especially by an OB who mocked my decision not to have birth control. He kept asking me why not. I didn't feel that he even really listened and although he acknowledged that my natural planning method was effective he still mocked it and pushed birth control.
    I have lived abroad and was not pressured as much as I have been in the US by professionals to use birth control. It is too bad this topic isn't talked of more and people told that they don't have to use birth control.

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    1. This is the same reason I wanted to go "natural" when I had my first child, and started seeing a midwife instead of an OB. I'm all for medical science, but I am not for the atmosphere of fear and the stonewalling that happen to me all too often when I am at the gynecologist. More often than not, I have met doctors who are simply interested in drugs to solve the problem. In this particular case, it comes with a lot of fear-mongering, like I'm going to end up pregnant (which would be the worst thing in the world) unless I get on birth control, stat. Not like I'm saying an unwanted pregnancy would be a good thing, but I'm just tired of all the worst-case scenarios that seem to be behind every doctor's advice. Why not have an intelligent conversation with your patients about the options and what they really entail? Have many gynecologists even done any research into the side effects of the pills they are prescribing?

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  30. I agree! The last time I tried the pill was almost 6 years ago. I asked the doctor for a prescription for the smallest possible dose. This was about a month before my wedding and once I began taking them I started having major anxiety and I am not an anxious person at all. I felt like I was falling apart and I nearly called off my wedding. Yikes!!! I went to the doctor to try and get a different prescription, but when I told him that I was having anxiety attacks and I was about to get married he told me that my anxiety was due to the wedding, told me I should call it off, and walked out of the room without helping me with a new prescription. It was awful, I had never been treated like that by a medical professional before! Luckily my fiancé was super patient with me and didn't take any of my craziness personally. We talked about it and he was very supportive of me stopping 'the pill.' I'll never take it again. Maybe some women are able to get through that "adjustment" period and do just fine with the pill, but for me it isn't worth it. I also agree that we don't discuss topics like this enough.

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  31. I was on the nuva ring for the first few years of my marriage and I HATED it. I had all the symptoms, crazy emotions, moodiness, and weight gain. It took me quite a while after being on it for things to return to normal. I never want to go on birth control again! I'm nursing right now (just had my first baby 6 months ago) but I think I'll just track my cycles/use condoms in the future.

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  32. The way I see it, the less hormones I ingest the better. Plus the fact that the pill is on the WHO( world Health Organization)'s list of carcinogens in the group 1( same group as asbestos) is another deterrent for me.
    monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/ClassificationsGroupOrder.pdf
    For other ways, 'Taking charge of your fertility' by T. Weschler may be a good starting point.
    Allie



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  33. I am not good at remembering to take a pill everyday, so I've tried the patch - it was good for a few months, till I got really bad rashes. Next I tried the ring but I had bad mood swings and lots of unexplained crying and low sex drive. It took a while for me to figure out that the ring might be ther problem, but once I did and quit using it, those things improved a lot. After having a baby (planned) I tried the Mirena IUD, but that did the same thing as the ring did (although I loved not having a period for a long time!) A very understanding nurse midwife told me she couldn't do any level of hormonal bc either (I was really worried she wouldn't understand because my regluar doctor had been so adamant that the hormone levels were so low that they wouldn't have an effect.) She said I could stick with condoms or I could try a diaphragm. I went with the diaphragm and am so glad I did (although it's hard to track down and I had to order it online from the UK.) I've wondered why more people don't use it, I love itit!

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    1. glad to have this shout out for the diaphragm. I hope others will see this. Thank you!

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  34. I have tried dozens of different birth controls over the years, they either threw my cycle for a loop or sent me on an emotional roller coaster. I finally quit them all together! Just my two cents :)

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  35. Great topic Mara. I like that you are talking about this because so often birth control is advertised as some sort of saving grace for women and the real and serious side effects are down played or not even talked about. (though I know birth control can be almost a necessity for some women with very complicated female issues, so thank goodness they have help). My experience with the pill is very similar to what has already been expressed. I went on the pill around age 18 (to regulate too frequent of periods, every 2 weeks) and it helped a great deal to even out my cycles. I didn't notice any issues in the beginning. I was on it until about a year after I was married (age 22). I just felt a sudden shift in my ability to handle life as I normally did. I acted out irrationally all the time and had terrible anxiety. And then one day, the thought occurred to me that it might be the pill I was on. I have never liked the idea of putting unnecessary chemicals/hormones into my body. I hoped that my cycles just needed a jump start in getting back to normal and I didn't need to be on the pill anymore (this was the case). So I stopped taking it and felt better, almost instantly. I haven't gone back since (7 years). I feel like I am better off just not adding any hormones whatsoever to my body. I am very curious about some of the natural birth control methods though (charting, temperature, etc) and would love if you did a post on that. Maybe if you found some women who have had success using these methods and don't mind sharing their experience????? Thanks for bringing up a topic that isn't really discussed and many women might not even realize is currently a problem they are experiencing.

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  36. I was on the pill for about 4 years and I absolutely hated it. For the past 2 years I have been practicing fertility awareness method and I love it! It makes me feel so much more in tune with my body and much happier!

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  37. The pill sent me to hell and back as well. I had EXTREME anxiety, like the type of anxiety where you literally think the world is conspiring together to kill you. I was incredibly unstable emotionally, and almost anything would set me off. I blame the pill for ruining my wedding day, when something didn't go as planned (as happens in all weddings), I just couldn't handle it. I cried and snapped at my husband that day . . . He probably wondered what he had signed up for in marrying me! To me, having a baby before I was ready was worth the risk, much better than spending another day on the pill, so I just stopped all together, and we used a combination of the rhythm method and condoms. It took me a few weeks to get back to normal, but I will NEVER use BC again. I'm so grateful to my patient husband during that time, I still feel horrible about the way I treated him.

    I'm glad you're bringing this sensitive topic up for discussion. Like you, I've heard innumerable stories about how badly BC has messed with people's lives. Also worth mentioning are the physical side effects . . . I had to get my gallbladder out after taking the pill for 2 years. Apparently, this is a common side effect

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  38. I may be the only one, but I loved it! I have PCOS, and I was deficit some hormones consequently. This restored so many things I was missing- periods, clear skin, weight, etc. A progesterone based one really helped me for years.
    But I can see where if you're pretty darn normal in the hormone department where it would be awful stuff. I just think everyone is different and finding the right chemistry of hormones for you is key.

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  39. Tried the pill for a few days after getting married and thought I was going to die. A few months later, I found myself pregnant. Four babies in five years really messed me up. After baby number four, I had postpartum depression and then the painful, heavy flow periods started. When baby was 13 months, dr. suggested the pill. Wow! What a difference. After 3 years, I switched dr.'s and the new dr. suggested a new brand of pill even though I was fine with the old one. After 6 months I had had enough. I didn't feel like myself and decided it was time to go off and see how my body functioned on its own. It felt wonderful! I got a surprise and found myself pregnant two more times. After 6 pregnancies and 6 babies, I said enough is is enough and had a tubal ligation done the day after baby number six was born. I feel great and don't regret a thing. If you know you're done having kids, a tubal is the way to go. No more BC worries!

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  40. I was prescribed the Pill when I was in my twenties because of acne and painful periods. I had no tolerance for any of the brands or dosages. At one point I couldn't go into work and burst a blood vessel on my eyelid because I was vomiting for days nonstop. When the nausea was finally under control, I suffered from severe depression, anxiety, and bloating. Horrible -- I gave it up and never looked back. I do think insurance should cover it, but there isn't enough discussion of the negative side effects.

    Kristin

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  41. Personally, I'll never take the pill again, and I agree with both sides of the argument. Conditions run in my family to where two cousins and my sister have all been on BC in their teens with wonderful results. BC is also how my family discovered that we have a clotting disorder in our genetics, both cousins having pulmonary embolisms while on BC.

    My experience was that I didn't realize that it messed with my serotonin until I had to stop taking it to clear up some blood clots forming in my legs. The first week back on the BC, I came home from the grocery store with 2 bags FULL of chocolate, ice cream and other junk. My husband at the time asked why I'd bought all of it, we'd been doing so well on eating right. I had to stop and think about what had changed from the past month to that week. It was the BC. The lack of serotonin caused some serious depression that I wasn't aware of too (thought the issues of addiction in the marriage were the cause).

    Anyway, never again for me. But am grateful for the good that it does for others.

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  42. Would love a follow-up post that talks about alternatives to the pill. I'm not thrilled with the pill, but feel kind of stuck on it without any real-life stories/opinions about the other options.

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    1. Check out Mirena or other IUDs. Diaphragms and condoms work too!

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    2. I know my very fertile sisters have used a contraceptive film successfully. I used a vaginal foam and also didn't have any surprise pregnancies.

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    3. I have had several friends who have had problems with IUD. One friend got pregnant with one, another had it fall out (she didn't realize) and she got pregnant, and then another had a tubal pregnancy with one-I will never have an IUD! I feel like my OB pushed it big time after my last baby but I don't think I will ever get one after 3 of my close friends have had these experiences. What I am grateful for is the science/technology we have that give us options. I am glad that for some the pill helps with their painful periods, for others I am glad the IUD works, personally I praise whoever invented the condom! But I think it is wonderful we have options!

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  43. I took it the first 6 months we were married, and that time for me was one of the most difficult of my life! I was a lunatic! I cried and screamed about everything, I was angry at the world, and I gained at least 45 pounds while on the pill. When I stopped in order for us to conceive our first child, the change was remarkable. I felt like my self again! I've been off for almost 8 years, and I'll never put those pills and hormones in my body again!

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  44. Thank you so much for writing this post. The birth control pill conversation is one that needs to happen more often. I'm in my early 30s, and when I was in high school, I was one of the only girls I knew NOT taking it. It was considered normal to start taking it as a teenager, whether you already were sexually active or not. I think it's unwise to start it so young, when you're still developing and growing. But, to each her own.

    I didn't go on it until my junior year of college (so, age 21) and was on it on and off until I was 29. When I was on it, the pill altered my emotional state completely. It altered my ability to FEEL, if that makes sense. It caused my hormones to go haywire, made me nauseous on a regular basis, and overall, I wasn't myself when I was on it. I will never take it again, for any reason.

    When I was 29, after suffering a range of physical and emotional symptoms, I found that I had a severe thyroid problem, and my doctor (who practices integrative medicine) suggested I stop taking the pill. He had me fill out several questionnaires, one of which asked for a timeline of my physical symptoms over the past decade, and another a timeline of periods of depression or anxiety I had experienced. Both corresponded with time periods that I had been on the pill. I've wondered if the pill exacerbated my thyroid problem, or if the existing but undetected thyroid issues contributed to my bad reactions to the pill. I don't know.

    Beyond the emotional and physical impact it can have, I agree that the pill has social implications. I used to be in the camp that equated the pill with sexual "freedom" for women, but now I realize that's a very naive outlook. There's nothing freeing about a medication that alters your hormones from their natural state. Additionally, both when I started taking it in college and the last time I went on it in my late 20s, I felt pressured to do so by boyfriends at the time. There's nothing freeing or liberating about that.

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  45. I've never been able to tolerate any sort of birth control. It made me nauseous, and my depression and anxiety went through the roof. There was a period of time in my early twenties that I went through many, many ssri's to help with the mental issues, only to figure out that it was the birth control making me crazy. Literally crazy! After that I have done natural family planning- figuring out when I'm fertile and abstaining on those days. It's worked, I've never been pregnant. Many of my regular dr.'s have frowned heavily on my choice- they always, always pushed birth control pills on me with every visit! I hated it! I'm just here for a sinus infection, stop judging me! There are a lot of women that can take BC without any side effects, and that's great- but I'm not one of them. They turn me into a monster, someone I don't recognise, and it's just not worth it for me. I use a period app on my iphone to keep track of my periods, I also periodically use fertility prediction tests to make sure I have my days straight because even though I'm very regular, sometimes my fertile days change. You have to get to know your body and be hyper aware of your cycle in order for it to work as a birth control. Honestly- I don't think I am a very fertile person so this method works great for me. But if you are a really fertile person- it might not work.

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  46. I went on the pill in college long before I got married and started having sex because of how my period would effect me each month. I would get really light headed and occasionally also pass out...once when I missed a few days do birth control it happened again. So, for the most part, I d just always been grateful to my birth control for less dramatic periods, but reading this post and the comments makes me wonder if it's affecting me emotionally! May be time to talk to my husband and doctor about my options.

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  47. I got on the pill right before I got married, because everyone told me too. I had my son three years later and I'm never getting back on the pill again! Or using any kind of contraceptive besides the occasional condom. I really think natural family planning is pretty easy once you learn about your body and cycle. But I'm also at that stage where a surprise pregnancy wouldn't be hard for us.

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  48. I love the pill. I made sure to insist on the lowest hormone dose possible. During the first month I was on it, I had pregnancy symptoms, but nothing after that. I just started the pill again after having a baby and haven't had any issues. I think the BIGGEST issue with pill is finding the right fit for you. Not all women will find a good balance, but there are so many options, it's worth trying a few (I think).

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  49. i agree with you 100%! i first went on birth control in my late twenties to help alleviate some of severe cramps that i would get from my periods (i wasn't sexually active at the time, and so this was the only reason i was taking the pill). while i did notice that it helped to make my periods less severe, i also noticed an immediate change in my psychological/emotional well-being. my gynecologist changed my prescription three times to find a dosage that was better suited for me, but none seemed to make a difference. during this time in my life, my husband and i got engaged and were planning our wedding. what should have been a time of complete happiness and excitement was dampened with my getting depressed, having mood swings, and getting unjustifiably angry with my husband (then fiancé) over trivial matters. i was definitely not myself. i went off the pill shortly after we were married because we were trying to get pregnant, and i have not gone back on it since (it's been 5 years now). we have used condoms and i have used a mirena IUD and even though it had hormones, i never felt any of the same negative symptoms that i felt with the pill. i'm glad there are other alternatives to the pill!

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  50. On balance, the pill is HANDS DOWN liberating. Go talk with women who lived during a generation where they had no predictable, reliable way to control their own fertility. The pill has given needed control to women over their bodies and fertility, and it has prevented countless unwanted children from being born or abortions from happening. Most of my girlfriends are on the pill, and they all seem content with it. Those who have had problems simply try other pills until they find one that works for their body.

    That said, I have chosen to never go on the pill. It's sort of an intuitive thing... I have never wanted to ingest synthetic hormones or mess with one of the body's most fundamental systems. I also avoid all pharmaceutical drugs as much as possible, so maybe I'm just inclined that way. However, I'm also fortunate in that I've only ever been with men who respect my body and my choices, and they have always worn condoms religiously (not all women end up with men who comply and not all women always have control over when and how they have sex).

    I think there are viable alternatives for women who wish to avoid the pill, and more people should become familiar with things like IUDs. I also hope that science also continues to work on a pill for men - there's no reason why women's bodies should bear the brunt of health effects from birth control.

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  51. I didn't realize so many people felt this way too! I've had a hard time finding treatment for my ovarian cysts/endometriosis because the standard protocol is birth control but I hate how I feel my depression and acne gets worse, also the number of migraines I get is not even funny. One time I was even invited to leave because I asked if there was another way of treating me besides birth control because I didn't like how I felt. So weird how stuck in this black and white thinking some people can be, but I guess that's why it's important to find what works for each individual and to go with it.

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    1. Don't let any doctor fool you into thinking that birth control pills are treatment for endometriosis/ovarian cysts. Treatment eradicates disease. This disease doesn't "go away" with the pill. It is simply a way to attempt to manage some of the effects. Pain management is at the core of what ob/gyns suggest. Much more needs to be researched to determine cause/origin of this and many gynocological diseases without the default to prescribe birth control pills.

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  52. I took the pill for 6 months when I first got married and NEVER again. Up until my husband got the snip, I used the hormone free IUD and it was worth the peace of mind and the extra money. Ultimately I hated the way it made me feel - like I wasn't myself. And having been through thyroid cancer and back (and the very depths of hormone imbalance during treatment) - I'd have to argue that the feeling the pill gave me was rather similar in tone. :)

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  53. my gut feeling was that the pill was a bad idea. read too many little things here and there about it and now reading all these stories - wow!! we've stuck to condoms as a married couple and it has been just fine. we've always had the attitude that if "something happens" ie. an unplanned pregnancy that would be ok with us and it would just be baby time....

    i am concerned what we may learn in the future about the pill as more studies etc. are done.

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  54. This is something I have been talking about so much lately as I recently switched to an IUD after 6 years of taking the pill.

    The pill gave me crazy emotional highs and lows but I'd been on it since I was 18 so I had kind of just assumed that it was normal. Then I went off the pill for a few months before getting an IUD and realized how much birth control had been affecting me. I would routinely sit down at my computer and intentionally watch movies and youtube videos to make myself cry because "I just felt like crying." As cliche as it is, it really did feel like a dark cloud was hovering over me and now that I've stopped taking the pill it's gone.

    Thank you for writing about this topic, it's a conversation people feel uncomfortable having for some reason even though learning what works for other people and educating ourselves pretty much benefits everyone.

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  55. I think that there are pros and cons with every drug, diet, and vitamin/supplement available. Personally, I have to be on birth control..and not because I am sexually irresponsible, but because without it, I have an abnormal cycle. I first started having abnormalities with my cycle while in my 20s and my OB/GYN told me that birth control would help regulate it. Failing to regulate it would cause lining and inflammation of my uterine wall which could lead to tumors. Once I re-started on the pill and stayed on it faithfully, I didn't really note any other side effects that others had, but I did notice that every 28 days, I had a normal cycle. Some years later, I was not sexually active and I stopped taking the pill. Because of this, I had fewer and fewer and then non-existent periods for months at a time. In my early 30s, I was diagnosed with a fibroid tumor, which grew to the size of a baby head. Thanks to a wonderful surgeon at UNC, my tumor was removed while keeping my uterus intact, but I just wish I would have stayed on the pill while sexually inactive..and I wish that while I was on the pill, I would have taken it daily instead of sporadically. I know there are many causes for fibroid tumors, but, my first OB/GYN warned me of this possibility. Since my surgery this past spring, my cycles have been normal - and I wasn't taking the pill. However, the last 2 cycles were later and later in their arrivals, so back on the pill I am! I don't notice any changes, my sex drive is strong..I think my moodiness is just due to stressful life circumstances we all face, but I don't think the pill is to blame..if anything, I see it as a necessity to keep fibroids at bay. My own personal experience..I agree it is a sensitive topic and we are all genetically different, but with so many changes and advancements with women's health, I think all avenues should be thoroughly investigated and explored and then a woman can make a decision which works best for her lifestyle. My two cents! Great discussion!

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    1. How very, very sad that in this day and age anyone still associates the pill with being "sexually irresponsible." Making an adult decision to be sexually active is not sexually irresponsible, and choosing to avoid pregnancy with birth control is the definition of responsible. You don't need to justify your decision to be on the pill based on grave illnesses like so many in this comment section have done. I'm amazed by how many women still live in the dark ages.

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  56. I was on the Pill for about three years. At one point, the doctors found out I had cholesterol of 7.9 despite having a low BMI and being fit and healthy. If it reached 8, they were going to put me on cholesterol reducing medication- at the age of just 25! If you know anything about these medications, they can have some nasty side effects and something you don't want to be on for the majority of your life. After trying various different methods over the space of a year, the cardiologist suggested I come off the Pill...and what do you know, my cholesterol dropped down to 3.6. I will never, ever, ever go on the Pill again- I cannot believe it almost led me to being on cholesterol reducing medication. While generally I didn't notice any psychological differences on the Pill, I sure did used to notice if I missed one- to the point of being suicidal. Thank goodness I had enough common sense to know that it wasn't 'me' thinking these thoughts and made sure I was in a safe environment while my body readjusted. Scary stuff. Doctors really are too eager to prescribe the Pill without ensuring the patient is truly aware of the potential side effects.

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  57. Most doctors DO and SHOULD educate their patients! Most of the people commenting on this board really have not much of a clue about medicine, doctors' practices, or the birth control available to them. The pill isn't for everyone, but it's certainly not "wicked." And saying that you feel sorry for all the "poor misinformed" people out there is a tad condescending. The truth is, the majority of patients are warned about side effects and SHOULD be screened for a history of hypercholesteromia in the family and/or blood clots. These types of patients shouldn't be placed on any kind of hormone therapy. Smokers too. It upsets me to see so much misinformation, miseducation, the perpetuation of grossly wrong stereotypes and emotional claims veiled as facts. There are doctors out there who don't take the time to talk to their patients, but they are the minority. And at the end of the day, you need to choose what's right for you. I love the pill and it has definitely liberated me in many ways.
    http://www.aafp.org/afp/2010/1215/p1499.html

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    1. Thank you for this comment. I totally agree with you.

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    2. Yes, thank you. I was disappointed by the tone of this blog entry.

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    3. I disagree. I think many young women go on the pill in their teens as a matter of course and doctors don't educate them about the side effects. The side effects you mention are quite extreme--what about the ones that Mara has brought up that are harder to quantify? In that case I think many of us start to think that our reactions are all in our head, and it is surprising to hear that many others have felt the same. I think this topic has struck a nerve precisely because many women believe they "should" see the pill as a liberating force for good in their lives, when in fact it may be doing them real harm.

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    4. The only time in recent memory I've heard of the pill constantly being referred to as "liberating" is in this blog post! It's offered as a medical and elective option to those people who either have medical indications or elective need for such. As I said, the majority of doctors do educate their patients. I do feel that the readership response on this blog is skewed quite a bit, due to reasons that I think are probably obvious to everyone. No one I know in my medical training, or at the hospital I work at, thinks of the pill in terms of "liberating." That's like saying antibiotics are "liberating" to the people with bacterial infections. Sure, you could say that, but then that's coloring the science behind it with emotions and premeditated judgments. Antibiotics are a form of therapy, just as the pill is a form of therapy. No one is forcing it on anyone and there are a number of randomized controlled trials that quantitate the symptoms and side effects. I understand that there will be a segment of the population that doesn't agree with it or respond well, such as those who experience diarrhea with the initiation of antibiotics, but this doesn't mean it's evil or forced upon those who wish to take it. It's funny how the pill is wicked and terrible when used for anti-fertility purposes, but when it's used as part of a very synthetic regimen to induce fertility, people seem willing to suffer through it!

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    5. Mara, I am with Marlene above. Where to begin ... Do you consider yourself a feminist? Do you believe in women's rights? If so, before you declare one of the most significant developments in the past 100 years in the women's liberation movement--the invention of the birth control pill, which allowed women to control their fertility and hence, not get saddled with more children than they could handle--emotionally or financially--and also allowed women live a more balanced life, working, freedom to pursue personal interests and travel, and have a family at a time right for them. I would have had far greater respect for this discussion if you'd framed it in those terms--ie, "we have this amazing modern medial development at our disposal, the opportunity to control our fertility ... it's life changing and something our grandmothers likely did not have, but it can often have some undesirable side effects. What do you readers think?" Declaring the pill "wicked" and saying you're "convinced this pill is actually harming a lot of women - and therefore society at large including marriages, relationships, friendships, families, and work places" makes me question your intelligence, your depth, and your social and cultural awareness, to be honest. I'm sorry to be harsh, I've been a loyal reader for about 6 months now, but this very emotionally charged, reactionary blog entry just stopped me in my tracks and made my jaw drop in disbelief. Society at large would be better off if women were having more children than they could handle and had less control--less precise control--over their own fertility??? You must know that there are many, many different types of pills with varying degrees of hormones so most women can find the pill that's right for them by talking to their doctor about side effects, their bodies, their needs, etc. Rather than condemn the pill, maybe promote the need for women to advocate for themselves and their own health to find the best option available for them--amongst the many versions of the pill on the market or other forms of birth control, if the pill isn't right for them. Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but I wonder if the pill was used in conjunction with IVF to deliberately *elevate* your hormone levels--and you only took it for a short time, so your body didn't adjust to it. So, your experience, I wonder, may not be a true experience (ie, you were not taking the pill everyday for months on end and working to find the right pill for you; you were taking it for a separate reason, short term).

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    6. Marlene -

      Mara and I both appreciate the views that you've offered here. It is clear that you take your work seriously, that you truly care for the well being of your patients, and try to do what is best by them. That is wonderful.

      But it seems as though your focusing on parts of the post and ignoring the very real experience that Mara had, and now clearly a large number of readers have had.

      I'm not sure where you read that the pill is wicked and terrible "when used for anti-fertility purposes." Mara used the word wicked because the effects of the pill each time she took it were entirely detrimental to HER personal health and well being. Not because we believe birth control is wicked, or medicine is wicked.

      In fact, I'm not quite certain I do know the reasons you said this "I do feel that the readership response on this blog is skewed quite a bit, due to reasons that I think are probably obvious to everyone." I can only guess it's because you think we are taking a religious stance on this or something of that matter, and that our audience agrees because some share the same religion. Are you aware that Mormons don't object to birth control? Are you aware that we don't object to birth control?

      I'm guessing most of our readers don't object to it either.

      What people here seem to have a problem with isn't birth control itself, but the side effects of the birth control pill. I hope you can see that. I hope you can see that while you might take a lot of time with your patients and help them understand potential side effects and find out what is right for them, many others have a different experience, where a doctor simply says "take this, and if you have any troubles we'll just try a different dosage or a different brand." That's hardly a discussion of side effects, and it makes it so that many who begin taking this medication before their brains are fully developed (by that I mean they start taking it before they are 25) and then never truly know if some of the emotional side effects they experience are just who they are, or are amplified because of side effects.

      Seriously, if you read the comments on here you'll find very few if any objecting to birth control itself. What people are saddened by is that they spent years using a drug prescribed to them, only to find that it played a chief roll in ongoing problems.

      I hope you won't make this about religion or anti-fertility. It's not. It's about a human being's emotional/mental well being. Mara's experience has been terrible with all brands, just about all of our closest friends say the same. That's why the post was written. If it was only Mara who had experienced the problems, we probably never would have written about it, but because the issues were so widespread amongst those we know, we hoped that people in a similar situation might benefit from knowing they are not alone.

      There are plenty of hormone free options available. Readers have posted a few of them here. Maybe someone out there who has been having problems that were related to drug side effects will be empowered to move in that direction.

      As Mara said, this cannot be a cut and dry issue. It is tricky, and each situation is unique. That some have benefited from it is wonderful. Our experience has not been positive, nor has the experience of those we know. We are happy your experience has been positive, and don't judge you for using it or prescribing it.

      I mostly felt inclined to respond not because I disagreed with what you are doing or saying, but because you seemed to make some conclusions about our reasons that just aren't true. We truly wish you the best, and appreciate the perspective and differing opinion that you've added. Your experience is just as valid as anybody elses. I'm sure there are others who have appreciated it as well.

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    7. Danny,
      I am "anonymous" above your reply, who responded and agreed with Marlene's comments. I think Mara would not have offended me if her discussion was less histrionic--the pill is wicked and responsible for ruining lives--and more balanced. I don't get the impression you and Mara are opposed to birth control itself, but I think it's unfortunate Mara did not acknowledge the importance of the development of the pill to women--and in fact to speak so dismissively of its contribution to women's improved independence, when she said "it's 'supposed' to be liberating to women" ... She's not doing any women any favors by whitewashing the significance of the development of the pill--and by also making such grand sweeping claims about the negative impact its had on all of society (whether she's speaking about the impact of the hormones on women's moods and experiences or not).

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    8. I didn't mean religion. I meant people who were interested in natural lifestyles, health foods, gluten free etc to begin with because many of the posts on this blog center around the rejection of chemicals (along with a lot of posts about emotional health). It's only obvious to me that the people on this board would have been drawn in by the previous health and chemical-free posts, thus you are soliciting opinions from an artificially pre-selected group of individuals. It's like asking PETA what they think about leather shoes. You pretty much know the answer you're going to get! I also agree with the poster above in that the original post was written with leading questions and more emotion than science. Like I said, I've never known of the word "liberating" used in the medical field in regards to the prescribing patterns of the pill. If patients around here are having negative side effects pertaining to the pill after a few months of trial, or less if it's lifestyle-limiting, what doctor would insist that they keep taking this without offering them other options? It's interesting to me that some people on here speak as though they felt like they had no other choice. There are many choices and it's up to physicians and to patients to educate themselves on them. Some people have side effects, others don't. Saying that many women out there are out of touch with their inner feminine strength because of the pill seems like an exaggeration. If you're on the pill and it's not working for you, find something else. If you're on it and you like it, that's great. No one said it was the end-all-be-all. When I started the pill when I was 18, my doctor told me that it was apt to cause mood swings, weight gain in some people, some nausea and some problems with sleep. I had some issues at first and they went away. I'm very surprised that the majority of people aren't told these things when they're initially presented with it, because it's standard of care to offer this information. I did not mean to suggest that this was a spiritual or religious issue.

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    9. Marlene, maybe you believe that it the "standard of care" to educate patients, but I don't think that happens much of the time, especially with teenage girls and their parents.

      Also, I could care less about the gluten-free/alternative medicine posts on this blog, but I do think that this is an important issue. Please don't assume that all readers of this blog are part of some hive mind. It sounds like you are a doctor or other health care professional. Have you considered that your point of view might be skewed towards the perspective of health care providers, who don't always understand why patients might be suspicious of a pharmacological solution or take the time to listen to their misgivings and address them as much as possible?

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    10. I didn't assume all reader were of the same mind. What I said is that the sample population may be skewed. Rather than a random assortment of people chosen off the street, it's a self-selected group of people interested in personal and emotional health. This creates bias on behalf of the responder. Nowhere did I ever state that all readers think as part of a "hive mind." I do also agree that some people are not educated about the pill and its side effects. That's true of every medication. Anytime you see a medication being touted on the internet, television, or online, you are bombarded with an almost comedic list of side effects. No conversation can ever be all-inclusive. My point is that the information is out there, the majority of physicians do feel responsibility to educate the patients and public. I'm not discounting the stories or experiences shared here. Yes, they are all valid. They are all their own truths. However, making sweeping generalizations about the pill harming society, relationships, and women's femininity based on anecdotal experiences taken from a pre-selected group of people is, well, completely illogical. While there are a lot of first-hand emotional stories here, there is very little science or data. There are many randomized controlled prospective trials regarding the combined oral contraceptive pill, but no one has mentioned them in their discussion because emotional rhetoric has taken over rational rhetoric here. We could be having the very same discussion about antidepressants, as many have the same effects on people - mood swings, depressed libido, weight gain. But people's experiences are all different and the data is there to show that they are efficacious in a certain patient population. Please read the words I'm writing before you make assumptions about what I'm talking about. The initial post riled me because it made sensationalist claims about the pill while discounting its scientific, medical and social validity. That book Sweeting the Pill does much of the same. I understand several have had bad experiences, but this doesn't come into play when rationally discussing and generalizing the pill's effect on society at large.

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    11. Thanks for clarifying Marlene. I again appreciate your view here, and I think you make some very important points.

      I'm glad that you've been willing to express them and expound on them.

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  58. I had problems with my period as early as 18-years old. I was put on birth control as a way to regulate my periods. I was on it (although I didn't take it super regularly) for several years. I noticed that it really affected my mood and weight. During that time I had moved and had to see a new doctor to get my prescription refilled. The new doctor actually tried to figure out what was wrong with my hormones. She diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS.) She said that I could keep taking BC to regulate my hormones or we could fix the problem. I was all about fixing the problem. I started taking metformin, a diabetic medication, even though I didn't have insulin resistance--which is usually the cause of PCOS. I have had a regular period ever since and that was 14 years ago. I no longer take the metformin and have been able to have four children--because a doctor tried to fix the problem instead of just medicating for the symptoms. Thankful everyday for her!

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  59. It's been a long time since I used the birth control pill and I don't remember much of the emotional effects that it had on me, but what I do remember is that my skin looked absolutely horrible and I felt like I was trapped in a body that didn't feel right to me. My husband and I have been married for 15 years, we have two children, and have used condoms as our primary form of birth control. I am firmly in the camp that the birth control pill does more harm than it does good, but it's a hard stance to take because it means having to think about birth control, which I know a great many people don't enjoy doing.

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  60. I'm on the patch preparing for IVF and I'm having HORRIBLE symptoms, similar to yours. Intense anger, chest pain, anxiety attacks, migraines, etc. I've taken different forms over the years, but this has been the worst. I agree with you, the bc is horrible, and often masks infertility problems in young women. I wish I had known sooner that I wouldn't have a cycle without the pill.

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  61. I cannot handle extra hormones at all. I had the most terrible postpartum depression after my second child. It happened within 2 days of me going on the pill at weeks pp. I did the Copper IUD for a while and was quite happy. It worked well for me. I went on it again after my daughter was born and I am wondering if they changed something in it just a bit because I had an allergic reaction to it. I know there is nickle in the Copper IUD, we were wondering if it was just a teensy bit exposed and it caused an allergic reaction. NOT a place where you want to have an allergic reaction!!! We decided to go with what people have done for years, engineering. I remember a saying from an older and wiser lady "If the train engineer wants to make sure the engine does not pick up extra cars, he makes sure he pulls out of the railyard on time." A girl has gotta do what she's gotta do.

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  62. Mara I am totally with you on the Birth Control Pill I feel like it made me into a whole other person, one in which I did not like. I would cry over the dumbest things I gained weight, I was mean and annoyed and it just felt awful. I felt like I had no control over my emotions. I was on the pill for the first few months of our marriage and it was rough. I switched to the ring and that was just as bad. I talked with my Doctor and he said it was probably me just adjusting to marriage and the changes in my life... I knew there was no way. Once I got off the pill I felt an immediate difference. I was going to do an IVF but we just decided to use condoms until we wanted to start trying to have kids. I don't think people realize what it does to their bodies unless is drastic. I am glad you brought this up. You are AMAZING!!

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  63. I can honestly say that I LOVE the pill. I have endometriosis and terrible pain on my period and other symptoms like, skin reactions, hot flashes etc. when I'm not on the pill. I was on the pill from about age 17 to 23(I took Yasmin).. And sometimes I so wish that I could go back, but can't for the moment. Honestly I don't think I ever had one bad side effect from it, because of the pill I had little to no pain during my period, decreased flow, no hot flashes and great skin. Since coming off the pill almost 3 years ago I've made some changes in my diet etc. to try and manage the symptoms - they've gotten better, but sometimes I still have excruciating pain even with strong pain killers. Life was a lot less drama filled for me when I was on the pill. I'm giving my 2 cents worth in favour of the pill - obviously every woman is different and needs to manage their own health the way they see fit. My homeopathic doctor tells me there is research to support that after coming off the pill it takes a while for the body to get back on track with normal cycles, like any drug, it has it's side effects.

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  64. Ha, when I have a tough coworker or random woman on the subway, I wish there was a way I could know if they were on the pill ;)
    I've used a COPPER IUD (not Mirena, which uses hormones) and you never know it's there and can leave it in as long as you like. I also got pregnant when I took it out. If you decide to use the Mirena, then my midwife says that the hormones are going straight to your uterus instead of traveling through your entire body (oral - pills) so the hormones should affect you less.

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  65. I'm so glad you wrote about this! I've never been on the pill because I've known so many women who had been on it, and then got off, only to have serious fertility problems and not be able to conceive. I just don't trust it, and didn't want to do anything to mess up my body or hormones so that I wouldn't be able to get pregnant when we wanted to start our family.

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  66. I understand and agree with your concerns with the birth control pill, but I also think we should not demonize something that can be very helpful in some situations.

    I was raised Mormon and with good values, but I did begin having sex at a young age. Birth control was not an option in my household.. And so at the age of 16 I became a mother. I adore my child and cherish her, but I should not have become a mother at such a young age. Yes, birth control can cause many side effects, but having been on birth control as an adult, I can tell you the side effects were no where near as difficult to deal with as was becoming responsible for a human being while still being a child myself. Is birth control ideal? Probably not. But I do absolutely believe that birth control is a better option than becoming a parent before you are ready to do so. I was raised with morals and values and yet I still chose to make impulsive decisions. Birth control would have protected me.

    As I said, I understand your concerns regarding birth control, hormones, etc. but let's not turn birth control into a black and white issue, because it is not black and white and should not be treated as such.

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    Replies
    1. It's pretty clear Mara was talking about the birth control PILL, not all birth control. She didn't demonize birth control in general. There are many other forms of birth control other than the pill with fewer side effects.

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  67. Sorry, but I have to vehemently disagree with this post.
    The Pill has been a massive liberation to millions of women since it was first developed in the 60s, and has helped the lives of the vast majority of these women. Yes, some women have reactions to the Pill...same as some women (and men) have reactions to other medications...or vitamins...or foods. Nothing is perfect for everyone, but for the vast majority of people, the Pill (backed by years and years for proven SCIENCE) has been a godsend.
    My personal background - I spent many years on the PIll, and for both my pregnancies, I went off the Pill and got pregnant immediately (both times within 2-3 months). Post-partum, I was off the pill a full 12 months as I was breastfeeding and, frankly, was mentally crazy. Both times, cue kids turning 1, I went back on the pill, and I was a significantly saner human being.
    If this argument is to be won by personal anecdote (as set out by your post), my conclusion is that the Pill works. OMG.
    But stop and think, and let's back this discussion up with empirical reasoning and scientific thinking: the Pill works for the overwhelming majority of women. If it doesn't work for you specifically, please please explore other options. But don't vilify it as a "wicked pill" that "may near destroy your marriage and family life."

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  68. Yes, of course it can affect everyone differently, but I agree with Anonymous above---this post was a bit extreme. I'm been on and off the pill and being on greatly helps my marriage and family life--with peace of mind and spontaneity in my sex life. For my marriage it works better to be able to have sex whenever we feel like it and not have to track--and when I wasn't on the pill and we had to use condoms, neither of us wanted to be as sexually active because without is so much better...being on the pill definitely helps my marriage. I'm on a new pill Lo Loestrin Fe--my doctor said it has about half the hormones and is still as effective. It's been great--haven't felt any different.

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  69. Mara,
    What a fantastic topic for discussion and great way to approach an even bigger topic, but one that is critical. Playing a key role in your own health care and being your own advocate is so important. I find that having a list of questions ready and researched before an appointment always helps me stay on track and helps the doctor know what I am interested in as a patient. Asking what side effects to watch for when prescribed drugs can also be helpful, along with learning to pay attention to your own body.
    I have tried several variety of the pill with different results. One brand made me feel great and cleared my skin while others made me break out and moody. I was only on it for a couple of years before deciding to just use condoms and using the method found in the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility. That worked for years. Now, at age 35, my husband and I have spent the past two years trying to get pregnant. My doctor wants to send us to a reproductive endocrinologist if nothing happens in the next two months. I really don't like the idea of bypassing the problem and forcing pregnancy through IVF while injecting myself full of chemicals. I respect women who choose this as their path, but don't think it is for me or my husband. I was recommended to try the Creighton Model and NaPro Technology. Looking into it, the whole concept seems to fit more with my comfort level. Have you heard of it or tried it?

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  70. My personal experience with the pill was horrible. The first month I bled 21 of 28 days. The next month the bleeding wasn't as bad but my moods got worse - mood swings, anger, general freaking out. The 3rd month I was crying for an hour every day just because my husband left for work. Then one evening I realized that I had spent my downtime at work that day composing suicide notes in my head - what I would say in the letter to explain why I did it. That was it for me - by nature I have always loved life and I had no reason to be thinking those things. I called my doctor and she changed the form of the pill, but my moods were still so terrible that I quit. I've never gone back and that was 16 years ago. I will not, on purpose, risk enduring those thoughts and those moods again.

    Some commenters have made this a women's rights issue, when all Mara was asking was whether our experiences with the pill have been good or bad. Mine were bad. I have a friend whose experiences with the pill are good. We each are different. But I think it's important to understand the bad experiences, because there are women going through horrible things because of the pill, and they need support to know they aren't crazy, that they are not the only one feeling like that, that it's just chemical and they can find a solution. We should support each other regardless of our personal birth control choices. Please don't assume that if someone is against the pill, that they are therefore against others taking the pill, or against women's rights. The pill is not for everyone. For those who are so miserable on the pill that their brains start thinking suicide would be a viable solution, I say: Yes, it is harmful! Yes, it could destroy your marriage and family life, if you let it. And yes, don't take it if it harms you. We have other options.

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  71. Birth Control is so complicated because it affects every woman so differently. I'm married and recently just had a 2nd baby. I go a little bit crazy when I'm pregnant. I get really bad pre-natal depression and it has been a struggle in my marriage with both pregnancies. My husband is a disabled veteran who has been struggling with PTSD and an opioid addiction from his injury so our marriage is a little fragile right now to begin with and if I were to get pregnant again, it WOULD be the end of our marriage. (sad to say but hey, what doesn't kill you makes your stronger right?) so I definitely need to be on some kind of birth control (i'm allergic to the latex in condoms so that's not a good option for me) so I am trying the implant. I've been on it for 2 months and it has been wonderful! I had a couple days of being extra sensitive but other than that, I haven't noticed any change. BC is such a personal decision and I think alot of women don't realize how it affects them so I feel really grateful this method has worked out for me so far :)

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  72. dear Mara,

    I have been married almost 12 years, 4 kids in 5 years and thank the Lord have never been on The Pill. I think that it is the big lie society believes. Now days everyone is so concerned about what we consume and what we put on our skin -- why has The Pill never been questioned. Just think about all that chemical build up in women's bodies -- can we say cancer? What is the residue doing to our environment when it goes down the toilet anyway? Thank you thank you thank you for using your voice to draw attention to this issue. I am looking forward to this documentary.

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  73. I think that the pill is NOT a perfect option. That said, it has been a huge lifesaver for so many women. Have you read or watched Call the Midwife (amazing by the way!) The women had virtually no control over their families and lived in horrible conditions, pregnant year after year until the pill was invented. I DO think the pill has side effects but for people (like me) whose husband's dislike condoms, having hormonal birth control available keeps me from getting pregnant every year.

    I know there are other methods and it can be tricky to find the right fit. But I don't think it's worth dismissing the entire method of birth control because it really works for some people. I can imagine my hormones would also be pretty messed up if got pregnant every single year (and I would, because I can't nurse, and seem to be getting pregnant faster and faster with each baby). Everyone's experience is unique. At this point, I'm not willing to write off this method of birth control even though it's not perfect. People should do their research and be communicative with their doctors, but I think it can work and I am glad to have the option and ability to take birth control into my own hands.

    I know these topics can be hard when you are trying to conceive. It took us a while to get our first child and I know it can be so heartbreaking, the other side to this coin. I just think there isn't one answer for everyone.

    Anne

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  74. I have never been on the pill b/c of the bad experiences my friends had. Tracking my cycle or the rythym method seemed too chancy to me so I did a little research and found something fantastic. It's a fertility computer call the LadyComp. Here's how it works: every morning it wakes you at the same time to take your temperature. It tracks your basal body temperature over the course of your cycle. It then gives you either a green light (not fertile!) or a red light (fertile!) to let you know where in your cycle you are. On the red days you have to make sure you use a condom. It also takes into account your fertile window before ovulation. It's a wonderful device that takes all of the guesswork out of tracking your fertility. And NO SIDE EFFECTS!!

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  75. This is certainly a highly controversial topic, I and I know it touches a lot of sensitive areas for women. I personally have not taken birth control for years and years because of the wild, unpredictable mood swings I had while on it. I just knew it wasn't right for me - and this was long before I made the decision to live a much more natural lifestyle.

    A few years ago, I came across an article in Scientific American detailing how and why the birth control affects women's choices in partners.(http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/birth-control-pills-affect-womens-taste/) I also recently found lots of follow up articles in which it was recommended that women on the pill should go off it before marrying men they met while on the pill, because many women found they suddenly were no longer attracted to their partners while off the pill and trying to start a family (one of them: http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/04/05/birth-control-may-affect-long-term-relationships/). Needless to say, studies like those have certainly reinforced my choice to never be on hormonal birth control.

    That being said, I tend to react to the introduction of synthetic chemicals very sensitively, and I know all women may not be like that. It seems I'm pretty susceptible to estrogen imbalance, and I think many women are these days without realizing what's making them feel particularly tired, moody, depressed, prone to hormonal acne, etc. etc.

    About 3 months ago, I started taking a DIM supplement to regulate the breakouts I get during my cycle. I've never experienced such a positive reaction from a supplement before. As I understand it, DIM is an antioxidant and phytonutrient found in cruciferous vegetables.

    Since beginning DIM, I've had hardly any breakouts and there are fewer and fewer each month. But the biggest effect has been my mood. I am so much more even keeled, it feels like I was living in a haze before! I've read countless reviews of various DIM supplements, and it seems like thousands of other women feel the same way about DIM, which purports to flush out the bad, synthetic estrogens we're exposed to on a daily basis.

    To the women who take birth control to regulate PCOS, hormonal acne, or your mood: please check out DIM. 2 popular brands are Nature's Way DIM Plus and Estroblock. I don't suffer from PCOS, but lots and lots of the reviews I read were from women who do and who cured it completely naturally.

    According to this Berkeley study (http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2007/08/20_broccoli.shtml), DIM also boosts the immune response in a major, cancer-preventing way.

    I'm not a doctor, so obviously, I can only share my anecdotal experience with DIM, but for me, it's been absolutely fantastic.

    Mara, thanks so much for broaching what is a very tough topic.

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  76. I've only ever taken the pill once. It made me sick for a whole month and a half (severe pain and some bleeding.) until I ended up in the hospital because of it :( Luckily all I needed was hydration and to go off the pill.) I haven't taken it since.

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  77. OMG! I took the pill as birth control when I was younger and it to awful things to my system. Recently I was put back on the pill to try as a treatment for endometriosis. My life has been in an upheaval physically, mentally, and emotionally since I started treatment. I have been injected with so many "let's try it" drugs, all of them hormonal based, over the last year. I went to my doctor a month ago in tears and begged for her to just stop and give me my life back. I'm having a hysterectomy on Monday. I actually feel like this is the light at the end of the tunnel. My heart goes out to woman in child bearing age that have this problem. I'm fortunate. My kids are grown. I'm a grandmother. But yes, the pill has done awful things to me and my life!

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  78. I tend to be the complete opposite of you physically. I love milk and crave it and go crazy without it. I need red meat to function. And I couldn't be happier with my oral birth control. I chose a generic from my insurance formulary (so I'd have the cheapest possible copay) that met my requirement of being a low dose. I started exactly three months before my wedding as recommended. I had spent the previous years entirely unmedicated other than the occasional over the counter pain med for headaches and cramps. Between the ages of 25-30 my PMS symptoms began to intensify to the point I didn't even recognize myself. My flow was freakishly heavy, my cramps made me nauseous and would get so far out of the reach of ibuprofen that I had to miss work because I couldn't get out of bed. None of those things had ever been a problem for me growing up so I didn't know where it was coming from. I finally went to the gyno and had an ultrasound, thinking maybe I had developed fibroids or something. All clear. Labs were prefect. No structural abnormalities. Since I wasn't sexually active, that was my first pelvic exam but everything was fine.And emotionally, I had two modes. HIGH HIGH and low low. My mom was the first to define that for me. They guys I had dated knew exactly where I was in the month. Talk about not being creative or feeling numb-I was a slave to my cycle and just trying to survive for weeks at a time became my only goal. By the time I did start birth control, it had been recommended by my previous two doctors to help my symptoms. And it did. The first month I was prepare to feel sick, or loopy, or cranky or anything. But it was great! I lost weight, felt like a normal person, had a lighter and easier period, which continued to lessen over the next several months and things have been g-r-e-a-t in the marital intimacy department, though I admittedly don't know any different. I'm very pleased with how it all worked out for me, but I know it is different for everyone. Just wanted to put it out there. I suspect that if my norm had been light flow with little to no emotional or physical symptoms it would have been a different story. I'll go out on a limb and say that being older had a lot to do with it. I was told recently that a woman's cycle changes every 10 years. I started when I was 13 so after 23 things started to change. It made sense. I used to joke that it was my body telling me it was time to reproduce and I was being reminded forcefully. But then again, remains to be seen how my cycle would have been different if I had been in the phase of life to have children earlier. It's gotten to the point now that I am nervous to go off the pill when we are ready to try to start a family. I've been so grateful for the relief. There's my take on it.

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    1. If and when you do go off the pill (or decide you want to try something not synthetic), I highly recommend DIM! I used the have the same sort of dramatic emotional ups and downs you describe, and now I don't. It's pretty unbelievable.

      Great to hear different perspectives on this issue! Everyone's physiology is so, so different.

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  79. i took the pill for about 9 years and it did wonders for me. i had issues with hormonal acne so i took it from around like 19 years old. didn't like the first stuff and i went off but sometime later my hormones change, as they do regularly in my body, and i got hit with the worst acne on earth. i wouldn't leave my house for several days and was embarrassed (i was like 20). so i went to a great dermatologist and esthetician who gave me recommendations and off i went. had perfect skin after about 6 months of treatment and i slept better and felt better overall.

    one of my best friends, though, had horrible reactions to it and it left her with health problems. super healthy girl (she even went a full year without refined sugar, she was super woman) but once she went off that pill and her body had to make its own hormones again...she had a horrible time.

    it's different for everyone. no one should rule it out simply because of their friend's experiences - even family members' experiences. every woman's body is different and there is not a one-size-fits-all solution for birth control.

    birth control in itself should be the liberating factor. the pill is just a form of it.

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  80. Hi Mara!

    Just discovered your blog today, and could not find it more awesome! Thanks for taking the time and energy to share your experiences with all of us out here, and especially for being authentic in doing it. I'll keep coming back for more! :)

    On the BC, yes, been there, with all the extreme mood changes, a lump growing in my right leg just below the knee, almost no libido, and even a sun shock (vomiting and skin rash comming out of nowhere) atributed by my gynecologist to having been to the beach when I started on jasmin. So a couple of years ago I decided to stop, and I'm very happy with my decision, except for the fact that the painful and never ending periods got back. Yet, I feel I am me now, and that's actually empowering.

    Great that you adress this topic, because I feel, just as you do, that it is not easy to talk about the downside openly. I am southern european and in my mid-30s, and I've only discussed this once with an old friend - in the end we were both a bit embarassed, as if we had some kind of problem that explained why the pill would not work on US! So I am grateful that you brough up the topic and also that so many women out there (whether it works for them or not) are sharing their experiences on this in a most straightforward way - thank you all for that! :)

    I've recently met younger women from northern europe that, from their teens, have been on IUD and just love it. Sadly, this is not even an option in my country of origin, teenagers are presented only with the pill. So I guess that the problem with BC starts with the options that women are presented with, which can be very diferent from country to country, and it gets worse with no explanation on the longterm effects it can have on our bodies.

    Best!
    Maria

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  81. I was on the pill of some sort for almost a decade when I was young (too young to be having sex or making babies, really) but when I met my husband and decided to go off of the pill I was shocked to find that I no longer menstruated. Like zero cycle at all. I was convinced my body was broken and was given a false diagnosis of PCOS even though I had ZERO other symptoms. I was told the only way I would conceive would be through the use of clomid. 2 years (and still no cycle later) I was not okay with this scenario and sought out Ayurveda fertility treatments. Within 3 months my cycle was back on track and I conceived right away. I attribute all of my infertility problems to being on the pill for such a long time (that and stress.) It wasn't until I discovered ayurveda that I learned there was other ways to heal my body and that I didn't need synthetic hormones to mess with my system. I know it might not be for everyone but I am such fan of ovulation tracking and natural family planning methods now and I really wish I would have been taught them at a younger age. Thanks for letting me chime in with my birth control gripes. I've had several friends with "pcos" and difficulties with their cycle after birth control as well so I am convinced there is something to this. I think women are up against enough in life without added hormones to deal with. Rant over. Amen!

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  82. I hated having to go on the pill before the start of each IVF cycle! I always tried to talk my way out of it (never worked). I definitely will never go back on the pill. I was on it for pretty much 10 straight years prior to trying to (unsuccessfully) conceive. I can't help but wonder if that's a huge reason why I've been unable to conceive after actively and aggressively trying for the last 4 years but still have no "reason" why.

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  83. This is sort of a late reply, but I stumbled across your blog while reading about birth control.

    It's such a relief to know that someone absolutely hates hormonal birth control as much as I do, and views it as a something that is brainwashing women into feeling liberated, when it's actually teaching women that the way we were created needs to be changed to fit our patriarchal society's needs... Have acne that "won't go away"? Eat healthy to balance out your hormones, you absolutely don't need to add synthetic hormones to "balance" things. People have been told all the wrong things by doctors, who are so eager to give you a "quick fix", also benefitting drug companies that sell birth control...However, we should be trying to find the root of the problem. I can tell everyone firsthand that birth control affected my quality of life, as well as my friends' lives. It's heartbreaking because my best friend started birth control when she was 15.. I do recall when her personality changed. She became angry very easily and was very rude and blunt, and didn't care about sex with her boyfriend at all, and she became depressed and started taking anti-depressants on top of that....she's 26 now, still on birth control and anti-depressants. I wish I could help her regain her quality of life back that she doesn't even realize she's missing. What do most humans live for? Moments and memories that affect our hearts. Well, birth control definitely warped the memories that I have from the time I spent taking it because I was under the influence of hormones that were not intended to be in my body....Our bodies can almost always cure themselves when they have proper nutrition. Women were DESIGNED to have the hormonal ups and downs throughout the month.. every living thing on this earthy is designed a certain way for a reason! I was 19 when I first tried the pill (and stayed on it for only 3 months) and immediately noticed that everything about me changed - my reactions, my sexual attraction towards guys was gone...If I talked about guys being attractive, it felt forced because my body didn't send me the signals it usually does when I think a guy is attractive. I'm 25 now, and 2 years ago when I started dating my current boyfriend, I decided to try the pill again after being against it for years. Well, nothing had changed, my body reacted exactly the same way. Off the pill, I am very calm, rational, very sensitive to others, and patient, and I had very good control over my emotions. When I'm on the pill, I would find myself in fits of rage, directed towards anyone that rubbed me the wrong way... my boyfriend, family, customers at my job...I remember thinking "Wow....I've changed. The old me would NEVER do this.....". After a year of being on the pill, I switched to the copper IUD which I am completely fine with. I get cramps but they are totally manageable with Midol (although I try to take as little painkillers as possible). I am very sad about what's happening to women, and I wish more people could learn that hormonal birth control isn't a cure-all wonder drug that we make it out to be.

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  84. I've been married for 25 years. Last month I told my wife I cursed the day she began taking the pill (20 something years ago). I also told her I wanted a divorce. The pill killed her sex drive (no matter what brand) and she rejected even my attempts to hug or kiss her. It is a nasty thing that changes a person into an object without emotions. Fortunately she decided to ditch the pill. Not only we did not divorce but now she sleeps a lot better and her health seems to be much better.

    There is research out there showing changes in the liver, molecular reasons for decreased libido, twice as high levels of cortisol and increased blood sugar levels. None of these will kill you or make you sick in the short term. But in the long term you will develop conditions that doctors will tell you have nothing to do with the pill. And their solution will be to prescribe other pills.

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    1. Great post! I think the high levels of cortisol are a huge problem-they damage the digestive system. High cortisol (can be caused by other things too) is also part of the gluten intolerance/celiac problem that is becoming so prevalent these days, and there are 3 times as many women than men who are gluten intolerant. Women on BP are more likely to develop IBD too. I really wonder if there isn't a direct link for gluten intolerance to taking hormones.

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  85. Wow!! Such an inspiring post this is. I think each & every woman must read this post for the sake of their well-being not just for the immediate results but for long term peace in their society, family & above all in their own life.

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