My stupid birth control

This is going to be one of those posts that may contain too much personal information for some of my readers – and not in a sexy way either.

I’ve mentioned before that I am not a great producer of hormones; if I was, we wouldn’t be here in the first place, because I wouldn’t have a ten-year-old PCOS diagnosis, never would have used “potential infertility” as my only method of birth control, never would have gotten pregnant in the first place.  My body naturally runs on a very low level of hormones, and we do just fine with that: left to my own devices, I ovulate infrequently, get periods rarely, and exist in the body of a skinny 15-year old: small breasts, narrow hips.

I like myself best in this unaltered state, but ever since 1) that PCOS diagnosis, and 2) I became sexually active, doctors have seemed to be intent on altering me.  They claim that keeping me from ovulating altogether will give me the best chance of conceiving later on, and they seem to believe that I actually want things like regular periods and more curves.

I took birth control pills for six years, a habit that left my digestive tract completely ravaged, and resulted in me marrying a man I wasn’t attracted to.  (Yes, I believe this – and even if I didn’t, it’s so much easier to blame the hormones than my own stupidity.)  Then I spent a good two years au naturel, during which time I split with the mismatch and found a better one, enjoyed some amazing sex, and conceived something that wasn’t a baby.  All of this is repeat information, as is the fact that when I then went in for birth control, knowing now that “potential infertility” wasn’t going to work for me per se, I asked for something without hormones in it.

They gave me Mirena, because all the hormone-free options (condoms, diaphragms) were, according to the OB, “a pain in the ass.”  And since Mirena has all the hormones it needs to work for five years, in a such a tiny package, it followed that I would remain low-hormone, even with it in place.

Well, I passed the two-year mark earlier this month, and I call shenanigans.  I no longer have irregular periods; I now have no periods at all, but get random, always inconvenient, bouts of cramping and spotting.  For the past few months, I’ve been breaking out along my jaw-line, which location, my aesthetician once told me, is significant of a hormonal breakout; and I’ve also been breaking out on my lower back, which, at least for my body, is a weird and totally uncharted place.  Also for the past several months, I’ve been bloated – even when I eat all the right things and drink the right amount of water.  The other night, my stomach was upset, and as I held my swollen, angry belly, I told myself that if that becomes regular again, so help me, I’ll pull the damn IUD out myself, with tweezers if I have to.

No wonder I don’t want to have sex – besides the fact that I think it entirely possible for the “tiny” amount of hormones to be fucking with my libido as well.  There’s always something weird going on, and how can I feel sexy when my body is being all rebellious?

It’s a catch-22.  I’m not really ready to take the thing out until I’m ready to start trying to conceive, especially if using non-hormonal birth control could hurt my chances of conceiving later on, but I’m not sure how much longer I can live with being this uncomfortable and feeling this – artificial? dishonest? – either.

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7 Responses to My stupid birth control

  1. runnyyolk says:

    I can’t even imagine how frustrating it must be to have your body be so uncooperative. And I think it’s perfectly logical to blame your past transgressions on hormones. That would hold up in any court 😉

  2. Me says:

    Disclaimers: 1) I am not a doctor. 2) Don’t panic.
    Yesclaimers (???): 1) I have PCOS and am quite good at doing research. 2) Please listen.

    – Hormonal birth control is evil if you have PCOS. Non-expert doctors are obsessed with giving PCOS ladies the pill etc. because it masks a number of symptoms, but 1) they will come back with a vengeance when you stop, 2) it may aggravate PCOS (via insulin resistance) and 3) it may cause other unpleasant/dangerous symptoms.

    – ‘Keeping you from ovulating’ will *not* increase your future fertility. Even if you ‘save’ your eggs (it doesn’t work that way, but anyway) there will be other problems if you leave your PCOS untreated. Our fertility problems do not have to do with an insufficient egg reserve. Those problems will still crop up in the future even if you don’t ovulate on purpose to ‘save’ eggs.

    – With a PCOS diagnosis doctors tend to make you have periods (real -> ovulatory or fictional ->hormonal: via the pill, progesterone deprivation…) to minimize the risk of endometrial cancer. If your lining keeps proliferating and thickening but never or only rarely sheds, there is an increased chance of cancer cells beginning to grow in your endometrium.

    – Barrier contraception plus lifestyle changes work best for PCOSers who aren’t trying to conceive. Yes, it is a pain in the ass, but so is brushing your teeth.

    – PCOS is a ultimately a metabolic disorder. Gynecological problems are just a side of it (and a consequence, not a cause of the metabolic problem, by the way). You shouldn’t focus on them only. They will probably get better if you adopt a wider approach.

    If I were you I would take the coil out asap.

    • Marie says:

      Thanks for giving me more fuel for my “take it out” fire. Next time, though, feel free to take off your anonymity and stay a while 🙂

      • mommyodyssey says:

        I have PCOS as well and I agree that birth control is evil! I was diagnosed at age 21, and was on a low level pill for 7 years that made all of the symptoms worse, killed my sex drive, and made me have to wax places I have never had to wax before. There’s even some early research that says that the pill may actually INCREASE the chance of M/C.
        I hate condoms. I get it. But hormones are only worth it if you need them to regulate your cycle to conceive. From my experience, anyway, I feel a heck of a lot better without them.

  3. Pingback: Put a cap on it | Bakery Closed Until Further Notice

  4. Saundra says:

    This is not all that relevant, and our situations aren’t that close, but I wanted to show solidarity for “WTF are my doctors thinking?” experiences — I went off my preventative antibiotic (the one what makes sure I don’t get UTIs) because it was too expensive. My urologist put me on a generic, which turned out to be a ridiculously strong antibiotic rarely used for prevention. I immediately came down with a raging yeast infection, which I enjoyed through the holidays/a long drive home. I couldn’t participate in lovin’. I couldn’t really contemplate lovin’.

    And in the end, my mother was horrified by the antibiotic I’d been put on (keep in mind I’m supposed to be on this preventative until I’m done having babies, so I was being bombarded with a strong antibiotic).

    • Marie says:

      Thank you for the solidarity. I’m sorry about the yeast. I’ve had two in the past two years, and never had one before. So I blame Mirena for that, too.

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