Big of warning to you menfolk: there may be a bit more information here than you’d care to know about me and/or the subject of women’s bodies and their monthly ‘cycle’ in general. You’ve been warned.
I was skimming through the headlines on the MyFoxAL blog feeds and ran across this one: “Study: The Pill Protects Against Cancer.” Thinking that sounded familiar, I looked through the archives over at That’s Fit to find this article, “Taking the Pill reduces cancer risk,” from back in September. They weren’t exactly the same in content, but both conveyed the same general idea: women who take the pill lower their risk of developing cancer later in life.
YAY! Good news for folks like me! :)
While there is some dispute over which cancers are prevented and which ones aren’t differ, it is good news overall. Given my family’s medical history (cancer on both sides), I’m willing to take this as a plus. That said, it helps to know what to expect when going on ANY kind of birth control. I know some girls who would read the above mentioned articles and go ask for the pill right out!
Ladies, you first need to really know what you are putting into your body. While this is sound advice for any medication, it is essential when we’re talking about birth control. Think about it, people: these are hormones! These products are made to intentionally interrupt and re-arrange your body’s natural timing. Some of these products may be dangerous! For instance, most commercials I’ve noticed on tv nowadays aren’t for “the ye olde pill,” it’s for the newest super-pill, or a patch, or a ring. Has anyone ever wondered how safe those products are? Remember the Nuvaring commercials? That product died a quiet death after studies had shown that its users were experiencing ‘severe side effects’ — yeah, I’d say the deadly kind!
Hello, can we say: Pulmonary embolisms? Strokes? Anyone? Bueller?
What’s worse, many women are completely unaware at the side effects that may come with birth control. I personally ran into a whole stint of problems and my gyn at the time put me through several different drugs. For whatever reason my ‘plumbing’ stopped behaving as it should. I stopped getting periods. After 3 months, they ran a pregnancy test (of course they never believe you when you tell them you’re “not pregnant” :roll: ), and when it came up negative, they ran all sorts of tests and ultimately told me, “We have no idea why it’s doing that. Just wait another month and we’re sure your cycle will correct itself.”
Three months and a whole myriad of tests later, still no period. I went back to see the doctor and he put me on Seasonale. It was a little weird. I was told to expect to be on a pack for 3 months, then have a short period. Ok, no big deal, right? On the third month of the pack, I kept having really painful cramps and more headaches. I called the doctor, was told this was normal. I completed the pack, and was told by my doctor that I didn’t have to have a period and could start right away on the new pack, skipping the sugar pills. Two weeks later I started hemorrhaging. Alarmed, I called the doctor. He told me that break-through bleeding was “normal” and not to worry.
Me: This isn’t just a little spot or two. This is full on gushing blood here. How the hell is hemorrhaging normal??
Dr: Is there a possibility you’re pregnant?
Me: Not unless you’re expecting another Messiah.
So I’m told to come in for another exam. They find nothing wrong and I’m told that I’ve lost a lot of blood.
No shit, Sherlock!
After this point, I’d had enough and went to see my GP — who, honestly, I should have seen in the first place. I told her what was going on and told her about the various medications I had taken, and about the problems I’d recently had with Seasonale. She told me that she wasn’t surprised, and that Seasonale had just gotten their fannies smacked by the FDA (pdf), and she’d heard from several other women had experienced the same thing I had just gone through.
Note: I was told by several sources it’s been pulled from the market altogether, but can’t find anything in print right now.
Anyways, she switched me to a low hormone pill. When I asked about the other kind of rings, patches, etc. She told me she didn’t trust them, and they increase your risk factors for blood clots and certain types of cancers (among a whole horde of other things).
I’m on Loestrin now. What pisses me off most was that when I was put on all those other meds before by my gyn, I asked if there were any side effects I needed to be aware of. I was never told about the cramps, the bleeding, the headaches, or the extensive list of other side effects I could possibly encounter. All in all, I’ve learned that yes, having a period is a pain, but it also serves a necessary function, and having one every few months is better for my peace of mind.
Anyways, the whole point of this rant is: ladies, talk to your doctors! Whether you’re a user of a patch, a ring, or a pill. Find out if you need to get more calcium, if OTC medicines or one of your prescriptions could counter-act it (as well as various drug treatments), if you may gain weight (a biggie with EVERY woman I know, myself included!), … There are a lot of myths about the pill that have been around since our mothers and grandmothers were on it, and it amazes the hell out of me how many doctors DON’T talk about this sort of thing. (And too many women either don’t know, or are too scared, to ask.)