yasmin package

Does it feel like you have pressure from every side to be on hormonal contraceptives? It’s often the fact that doctors, partners, and maybe even your parents want you on it and if you say anything otherwise you would think that you were swearing on your granny’s grave.

Maybe you just don’t want to try them, or maybe you have tried them and decided to get off because they weren’t working for you. Yeah, your doctor wants you to try different pill formulations and different methods of administration (such as the patch, ring, shot, implant, IUD, etc.).

You probably feel pressured into needing to be on hormonal contraception (or an IUD), to be a responsible “contraceptor” (I like to make words up, so?).

Why in the world is this the case?

You are taught to believe a few things about contraception, such as:

  1. The most important about the method you choose is that it’s effective.
  2. The benefits (not being pregnant) you are getting outweigh the risks and discomforts you have.
  3. It’s “temporary” (seriously, I have heard of clients doctors say that since it’s only a couple more years until they want to get pregnant it’s ok. First of all, no it isn’t, second of all, what if their patient never wanted kids?).
  4. If you have any menstrual cycle problems, like heavy bleeding, cramps, or PCOS you need to be on the pill, there is no other way to fix it.

My biggest beef with the list is probably number 2.

If you can get the benefits from some other source, how does it outweigh the risks involved? The only hormonal methods that are more effective than the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness (when both are used properly), for instance, are the long acting reversible contraception such as the hormonal IUD and implant.

Which also serves to negate number one. Hormonal contraception is not the only effective method of birth control!

Now, I know that most people are very focused on how safe hormonal contraception is, but more women than not have side-effects that affect their life, there are deaths (however rare), and for some there will even be more serious complications somewhere in between death and slight side effects.

While some people may be comfortable with the risks and unpleasantness, others are not.

Just because you don’t want to potentially put your body in jeopardy does that mean that you are being irresponsible? Absolutely NOT.

It takes more than doing what a lot of people want you to do to be responsible with your birth control. Many women can take the pill irresponsibly, get their shots irresponsibly, or even change patches and rings irresponsibly.

The type of birth control that you are using is not indicative of how responsible you are being with it.

I was interviewed last week and asked: Do you think this is a viable family planning method for most women? I said YES. And I explained that even though it does require user diligence, I believe that it’s actually one of the easiest methods to practice perfectly.

You can compare the method most easily with the pill, because both require daily action. While with the pill to be a perfect user you have to take it at the same time every day, charting your cycles you can do at different times. If you forgot to write something down and notice the next day you can probably still remember what you needed to write down and do so.
Not only that, but if you do truly forget or are totally unsure, it’s right in your face. You aren’t thinking that maybe you did everything, or you’re probably ok anyway. You are thinking: Damn, I might be in my fertile time, better not take any chances.

It sounds weird, but it’s true. Many people using fertility awareness, once they get the hang of it, find it simple and know exactly when they should not be taking any chances. Yes, it takes a couple of cycles to get to that place, but overall you get it down very quickly and then can enjoy having the skill for the rest of your reproductive years.

(Psst, I’ll be honest, I haven’t taken my temperature in about 2 weeks and haven’t charted for over one and I am at absolutely zero increased risk of pregnancy because of the time in my cycle. While I don’t normally do this because I think it’s easier to keep a daily habit, it’s absolutely possible to only chart part of your cycle after the learning period and be fine.)

But, back to this responsibility stuff. What about if you have some kind of hormonal imbalance and the doctor recommended taking some kind of hormonal contraception? While it is 100% your choice what you want to do with your body, I will tell you one thing: That hormonal contraception is NOT curing your hormonal imbalance.

It is causing your body to run off of the artificial hormones, which can be great for some women and a welcome relief, but for most women these imbalances can be cured in other ways that actually get to the root of the problem. So the question is whether you would like symptoms relief or to try to get to the root of your problem.

If you do want to get to the root, I will say this: Most people can make diet and lifestyle changes that will fix or greatly reduce their problems. Will it work for you? I can’t say for sure. I recommend talking to your doctor and ideally a naturopathic doctor that specializes in hormonal/menstrual health to see what options you have.

So what are your feelings and associations around hormonal birth control? Do you feel pressured into taking it or “bad” because you don’t? Let me know in the comments.

 

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Comments

  1. I think it is irresponsible to just blindly accept someone’s word–anyone’s–about a pill or medication that you may not even need. To quote the other side, “It’s my body and my choice.” Interesting how they always use “choice” to mean only one thing, just like the White Queen in ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

    Consider this: The people who tell us it is irresponsible to not take these pills are the vegan no-testing-on-animals no-BPA nonfat all-organic pesticide-free Fair Trade don’t-pollute no-nukes advocates. How is putting artificial hormones that change your biochemistry any different than everything else they oppose???

    • Thanks for the comment, Kristen!

      Well, I think it depends… It’s definitely different people who say it’s irresponsible, and tends to focus on doctors. I know many people think it’s irresponsible to TALK about not taking the pill or your reasons for not taking hormones because they don’t want you to make other people “distrust” the pill/other hormones, which is sad.

      I actually had someone tell me that it made them sad that I never even tried hormonal contraception, even though I told them how happy I was with fertility awareness, had never been pregnant in my life, etc. Imagine that, sad for me?

  2. I’m a 22 year old college student. When I was on high school, I went on the pill because I was naive and didn’t research it fully before going on it. The doctor I had at the time was more than willing to put me on it, and I just thought “hey, it will balance out those pesky hormones, many of my friends are on it and seem to be doing great, and it’ll give me some peace of mind if I do become sexually active, etc” Wow, worst mistake ever. The first two years were fine, and then into the third and fourth and fifth years of being on a few different types of the pill my body revolted in many different ways but the most extreme example was by developing cervical ectropion that basically made me bleed all the time and I had to get cauterized – TWICE. I was sick of it, my boyfriend was worried, and I had finally smartened up and was getting more into the holistic side of life and I looked into my options for alternate forms of BC. I knew for sure that hormones were off the table for good, and I was wary of the side effects of the IUD . Somehow I found out about charting and the NFP method which led me to LadyComp. I’ve been using LadyComp for about 7 months now (cross checking with a charting website/software so I can see the chart in addition to listening to LadyComp’s three light colors) and it’s been awesome – no babies, so that’s a win in my book. I was a little afraid to take the leap but I’m so glad that I did as I know a lot more about my body now, I understand the nuances of my fertility and I’m healthier without the hormones. My gyno – who is European, and a different one from the original doc that prescribed me the hormonal BC – is totally on board with it and thinks it’s a great idea, and I was really relieved because I knew it was the right choice for me and I was glad that he didn’t push me back on the pill. However, during a recent trip to an urgent care facility for a UTI I had a nurse practitioner who’s eyes practically popped out of her head when she asked if I was on the pill or not and I replied “no.” I could SEE the judgement just whirring around in her head but I didn’t take the time to explain to her my situation – she didn’t seem like she would understand. All I wanted to do was be like LOOK LADY I MAY BE YOUNG BUT I PROBABLY KNOW MORE ABOUT MY CYCLE AND FERTILITY THAN 90% OF WOMEN EVER WILL. Okay, maybe that’s a little much, but that’s basically what I was thinking. I wish more women knew that there are safe and effective alternatives to hormonal BC.

    • Thanks for the comment, Bettina!

      I’m sorry you had such a terrible experience with the pill, but awesome that you have something that is working well for you now.

      I haven’t been to the gyno in a while, but luckily the last time they didn’t give me a a hard time. They couldn’t stop offering me condoms, but other than that I didn’t have anyone trying to tell me what to do, which was a total win if I do say so myself.

  3. I have to say I find this article fascinating and right on the spot. It seems that women(especially those in my age range) are so mechanically wired that birth control is just a way of life that half the time I bring up any FAM nethods or natural fertility awareness tips I get the deer-in-the-headlight look. I’ve also had a couple of friends make cracks and say “Oh, well call me when you get pregnant again,” after telling them my intentions of using exclusive breastfeeding as birth control after my son was born. After all women have been using this method to naturally child-space forever, but apparently now it’s a long-buried myth according to most people. I’m wanting to try giving LAM a shot myself since my son is 6 weeks and I got the green light from doc, but I have to mention that I was afraid of bringing up this method to them for fear that they’ll say “That’s foolish. Here, take this XYZ birth control. It’s the only way!” As a result I simply told the doctor in the hospital I was just going to use condoms to avoid any conflict.
    It saddens me that doctors don’t mention FAM, especially because the body(at least mine anyway) has clear cut signs that tell you when you’re fertile, but women my age are in the just-gimme-the-pill mindset, because they blindly just follow all doctors’ advice. When did women my age become so dependent on these things? After all they’re not without consequences. I know that first hand. I was on the ring for five years and became obese, moody and had migraines on it, but so blindly believed birth control was just the way to go I didn’t make the connection. I’ll never get the five years back that the thing destroyed my body, and only wish I would have learned sooner.
    Thanks for this article. I plan on showing it to my friends, especially the next time I get a comment that I should try such-and-such birth control. Wouldn’t want that junk going in my breastmilk and turning around and giving the hormone-filled stuff to my little boy.

    • Thanks for comment, Jessica. Love it!

      I’d love if you let me know what your friends think if you do show it to them! It’s hard when people think they have the answer for everyone.

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