A.B. asks from Falls Church, VA on February 21, 2009
Looking for Birth Control Options Other than Pills
I've been married for 3 1/2 years now and have been on the pill ever since(Mercilon, and now the mini pill since I'm still breastfeeding). I'm worried about the hormones in the pills messing up my system and of any long term damages it might do to my body. I've heard it decreases your fertility and screws up your body's ability to produce its own hormones. FYI I've also noticed that it decreases my sexual desire as well, which is not good for anyone who's in a serious relationship. So my question is, does anyone have a better contraceptive to recommend?
1 mom found this helpful
So What Happened?™
Thanks everyone for your support and all the responses. I have convinced my husband to use a condom so that I can go off the pills for 3 months or so. I've got a doctor's appointment in April and am considering the little insert under your arm - depends on how much is covered by my insurance. I would really love to try NFP and am going to read some books on it in the meantime!
D.K. answers from Washington DC on February 22, 2009
I'm with you A., I don't like the idea of taking hormones. There is also some info to suggest that hormonal bc can make women more prone to certain cancers and set them up for a worse menopause than they would have had otherwise. So anyways, I have the Paragard Copper IUD. Since you've had a child, they should be willing to give it to you. It has NO hormones and it's good for 10 years. It's also totally removable for when you want another child. I love my copper IUD. I feel that it's very convenient and dependable. The hubs and I have put it through it's paces and never had a problem in the 1 1/2 years I've had it. It's just about as effective as the pill and with NO hormones to worry about. Truly set and forget birth control.
I hope this helps.
M.S. answers from Washington DC on February 22, 2009
I can understand your frustration with hormonal birth control and the adverse effects it has on your body. What you are describing are very common complaints among women using hormonal contraceptives. Things such as blood clots, decreased libido, increased risk of certain cancers, mood swings, etc. are all side effects. The reason many women feel decreased libido, get bloated, have mood swings, etc when on the pill is because the pill tricks a woman's body into thinking it's pregnant, thus all those symptoms are symptoms of pregnancy. And personally I believe when you're on the pill for month after month, year after year it can't be good for a woman's system to be subjected to such high levels of estrogen/progesterone for such long periods of time. It's not a natural state for a woman's body! All hormonal contraceptives subject you to this to some extent and for example on the Depo shot women can go a year or more after getting off it before their fertility returns, so yes some hormonal contraceptives can have an adverse affect on fertility.
Because a previous poster seemed to indicate that the pill seems to have more beneficial effects rather than adverse, I'd like to counter that with some additional information that many people aren't aware of. For example, the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) part of WHO (World Health Organization) put out a press release in 2005 stating estrogen-progestogen oral contraceptives (OCs) were carcinogenic. They placed OCs in their their Group 1 classification, the highest classification of carcinogenicity, used only "when there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in humans." Here's the link to read further: http://www.iarc.fr/en/Media-Centre/IARC-Press-Releases/Ar...
Also, another study by the Mayo clinic showed an increase in premenopausal breast cancer risk. Here's the link: http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.com/content/81/10/1290.f...
Not to mention that all the hormones in BC pills that are secreted in women's urine into our water system are wreaking major havoc on the environment (polluting the water, causing aquatic species to change sex, etc.). Here is one article: http://www.pnl.gov/news/2003/03-20.htm , but there is a lot of info on it, just search “oral contraceptives and water pollution.”
In any case, there are natural methods of spacing children based on fertility awareness. One poster mentioned NFP (Natural Family Planning) and the Couple to Couple League and that is what I use. In fact I am a certified teacher of the method and love it as it doesn’t put any artificial hormones in your body and is based on observing your own fertility signs in your own body in each particular cycle. It really does work! In any case the other poster was incorrect in that we teach both married and engaged couples, and on a case-by-case basis we will teach unmarried women as well because the information is awesome information and all women (regardless of marital situation) should learn more about how their bodies and cycles work. If you are interested, you can learn more at www.ccli.org (or just google NFP) and you can find a teacher near you or can even learn at home with their home study kit. If you’re near College Park or Bowie, we even have two classes in those locations starting up the first week of March. Please send me an email if you’re interested or want to know more about NFP.
Well sorry so long, but I hope that helps!
1 mom found this helpful
M.J. answers from Dover on February 21, 2009
After having my 2 kids only 17 months apart I was on the depo shot for several years. I never had any problems with it, but my dr. wanted me to take a break from it for a while. About 18 months ago I switched to Implanon which is a small implant inserted on the inside of your upper arm. It stays in for 3 years & then can be replaced with another one if you want to. I have had a little bit of weight gain, and I do not have normal periods, I only spot once in a while, but I prefer that because my periods were always pretty heavy & uncomfortable. My insurance covered the entire thing so all I had was my regular $20 office co-pay to have it inserted. Might be worth you looking into anyway.
1 mom found this helpful
V.M. answers from Norfolk on February 22, 2009
I do not have any suggestions for you but am in the same boat and will be interested to read your responses. I was on the pill for over 15 years, now have a 2 1/2 yr old and a seven month old - bc is something I am now looking into but feel like I have been on the pill long enough and noticed when I got off that my sexual desire was better and dryness/yeast infections were better. Because I had been on the pill for so long I did not realize that it was impacting my health in those ways and who knows in what other ways. Best wishes and I hope you find something good.
D.S. answers from Washington DC on February 22, 2009
Try reading Katie Singer's book "the garden of fertility". She really lays out how to do fertility awareness (aka natural family planning) from a perspective that makes sense for your own health and well-being (non-religious). Most discussions of fertility awareness focus on religious perspectives and/or how to get pregnant. Her book takes you through the same method but is more supportive of understanding your fertility as a way to understand and listen to your body and is supportive of using the mething to NOT get pregnant! I love the book and I found it very helpful!
T.B. answers from Dover on February 22, 2009
I've been using the Ortho Evra patch for about 5 years now and I like it. I was terrible about taking the pill everyday so my doctor switched me to this and now its only a once a week thing. The only bummer I found is that it collects lint from your clothing around it. Overall, I plan to use it as long as I can.
D.B. answers from Richmond on February 22, 2009
There are some questions to ask yourself to decide what's best for you & your partner. How important is not becoming pregnant at this time? How much spontaneity do you want? How much is your partner willing to be responsible? What does your insurance cover? Even the questions would vary depending on your situation. An IUD requires almost no work once it's inserted, and is highly effective, but if you want to have another child in under a couple years it may not be the best match. Or other reasons may rule that out for you. A diaphram or cervical cap requires a little planning of intimate times- but if you have kids you probably have to plan ahead anyway. They're not as effective as a hormonal birth control, but when used properly every single time they are pretty highly effective. The sponge has similar pros & cons as the cap or diaphram but you don't need a prescription for it. Condoms may be a good idea while you try other methods & find the best match for you. Learning natural family planning- not the "rhythm method" but actual body awareness, charted, learned NFP can be as effective as hormonal birth control IF you are committed to charting & abstaining when you are fertile. There are a couple of great books(a few of which are carried at the library) like "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" which explain NFP pretty completely and sometimes you can find classes offered by the Catholic program "Couples League" but just so you know, they will only teach married couples.
Best of luck finding the best match for you.
K.L. answers from Washington DC on February 22, 2009
I have been on the pill in the past and am currently on depo. I was on depo a couple years ago and then switched to the pill right before I got married knowing that my husband and I would be wanting to start a family shortly after getting married.
I've never had any problems with the pill or with depo. The convenience of depo is that you don't have a period, however, I find that I am a bit freaked out about that now because I just keep wondering "what if I'm pregnant and don't know it". When I started depo I didn't have the option of taking the pill because I was breastfeeding. At my annual visit this summer I am going to switch back to the pill.
An IUD is something I won't consider. For starters, I know 3 people who have gotten pregnant with the IUD in and ended up having to have a d&c because it was an ectopic pregnancy. The risk of permanent damage to the uterus from the IUD also scares me.
You could try Natural Family Planning where you track ovulation and avoid or use condoms on fertile days. This only works though if you have a regular - to the day - cycle. There is a lot of room for error with this method. I honestly wouldn't suggest this method unless you would be able to handle it if it fails to work for you.
T.T. answers from Washington DC on February 22, 2009
It really works and is good for your body and your marriage. I don't have time to write a long explanation right now, but check out the links, and I'd be happy to answer questions.