Weight Loss Support - women's health issue - quitting the pill




3Beans
11-13-2007, 12:56 PM
I'm thinking of quitting the pill after 10 years of steady use. I'm 35 this year, and although I haven't smoked at all for almost five years I used to be a regular pack a day smoker. I've been getting increasingly concerned about blood clots, heart problems, and other risks.

Anyway I'm wondering what to expect not only in terms of weight but also other physical and emotional changes. Has anyone been through this?

Also I'm thinking of getting a Mirena IUD. Anyone have info or experiences with it to share?

Thanks!


Beach Patrol
11-13-2007, 01:07 PM
My experience is that I am 44yo and I was taken off the pill (Yaz) by my doctor because I'd developed pulmonary embolism. Blood clots in the lungs. LOTS OF THEM. The kind of thing that can sneak up & kill you & you'd never know it until the autopsy.

If birth control was an issue I would have gone with the Mirena IUD. But b/c is not an issue with me. I was on the pill for "female problems", not for b/c.

At any rate, I'm convinced that it's not good to stop the flow of blood, just let it do it's own thing! I'm in perimenopause now, anyway, so it's all the same (sorta.)

As for any change in my weight? No - not before, nor after the b/c pills.

3Beans
11-13-2007, 01:17 PM
I know, Beach Patrol, your recent post about the blood clots was sort of a 'last straw' for me. I'd been thinking about quitting for a while.

I originally started taking the pill to regulate my cycle, which was all over the place due to what later turned out to be thyroid problems that I've since gotten under control. However, now I need it for birth control. I'm in a long term relationship and we live together. Going back to condoms after four years isn't a pleasant idea for either of us, so I have to explore other options.


baffled111
11-13-2007, 01:27 PM
For what it's worth, I'm a heavy smoker with a family history of heart disease. My docs have always put me on progestin-only pills. They work in a completely different way to regular pills (they don't, for instance, regulate your cycle) and they don't cause blood clots, heart disease, etc etc. The only hassle with them is that you have to be really careful about taking them at the same time each day, but other than that, they perform the same function as regular estrogen based pills without the same sorts of health risks.

midwife
11-13-2007, 01:34 PM
The Mirena IUD does a great job with PMS symtoms, reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer, and is, statistically, the most effective method of birth control available (besides abstinence). Total blood loss is reduced, so you have a reduced chance of anemia.

My patients have not had weight gain as a side effect, and I have a lot of women who are pleased with the Mirena. The main side effect that is bothersome is irregular bleeding and spotting, but many women report stopped menses after a year.

The more we learn the more apparent it is that unregulated monthly menses come with increased health risks. There is a reason that breast cancer was considered "the nun's disease" and it is related to a lifetime of unregulated cycles.

( I should add: talk to your local midwife, nurse practitioner or doc for more info, but if you have any other questions, I am glad to help).

lipidful
11-13-2007, 01:41 PM
I'm interested in something like Mirena, but I keep reading that it's best if you've had at least one child. I don't have any and don't want any. Is it because it's easier to insert that way?

almostheaven
11-13-2007, 02:06 PM
I quit at 35. I gave up BC rather than give up my smokes. Two years later, I gave up the smokes anyway. Then got healthy. And the only side effect of giving up the pill I ever experienced? I got pregnant at 40. LOL

I never gained weight from giving up the pill or experienced any problems at all. I did noticed my TOMs weren't AS regular, but they weren't erratic or anything. Just not the exact clockwork I'd experienced for so many years.

SexySagittarius
11-13-2007, 04:12 PM
I was on the pill for 20years off and on....mostly on, getting an IUD was the best thing that I've ever done.....the insertion is a little uncomfortable but well worth it and almost immediately reversable. Apart from light spotting here and there, there is no bleeding. No weight gain for me either. lipidful, the only reason they want you to have had children is because of the length of time they will have to have you "clamped" open as well as the cramps and other discomfort you may feel during insertion because anyone with kids will tell you that, after a few kids...... you can deal with whatever else has to go on "down there". However, I'd suggest you take some tylenol before hand to help with the cramps.

tamaralynn
11-13-2007, 04:33 PM
I was on Depo Provera for almost 3 years (worst thing I had ever done to myself). I couldn't lose weight, I was continusouly sick, I couldn't sleep properly. My kidneys were always hurting, I was getting really nasty ovarian cysts. My hair was falling out, and I would bruise from what seemed like a touch.

After quitting, I dropped almost 40 lbs just like that. Then I went back onto B/C, this time the pills. Again I gained a bunch of weight. But this time I'm not going to use the BC pills as an excuse lol.

I did quit smoking. and Have contemplated the idea of other bc options. I'm just curious if stopping the pills will help me lose the weight better... as my doctor suggested.

3Beans
11-13-2007, 04:49 PM
First of all, yay for all of us ex-smokers! Kicking that habit was the best thing I ever did for myself.

I'm not anticipating losing any weight just from quitting the pill (although I'd be okay with it!), since I don't think I can attribute any weight gain to it from the start. It's good to hear that weight gain isn't associated with the Mirena.

I heard that too about the Mirena being suitable only for women who have had kids. I haven't had kids either, myself. If it's just about the discomfort of insertion I think I can live with that, with a couple of advil.

Thanks for all the helpful comments!

chick_in_the_hat
11-13-2007, 06:40 PM
I have the Mirena - and I haven't had any kids. It was a little crampy for the first couple days. My doc gave me some prescription pain killers (like super heavy duty tylenol?) Now I forget it's there. As for weight gain - I got the mirena about the same time I changed how I eat and started exercising. Lost 100 pounds...dunno if the IUD helped or slowed me down, but I have no complaints. :D

Azure
11-13-2007, 07:59 PM
I'm 22, have never had a child and I had the Mirena put in at the end of August. I LOVE IT. I wish more Docs would recommend it to women in monogamous relationships who haven't had children. It took me asking twice at the OBGYN, but I got a doctor who was willing to insert the IUD. It hurts like **** during insertion, but after that and a couple days of achey/crampiness, I felt fine. I got on Mirena coming off of Depo, and I feel less psychotic for one thing. I also have only had one "period" so far.

I give Mirena a thumbs WAY up! Can't beat 5 years of BC for a $40 copay (my health insurance covered the cost of the IUD, all I had to do was pay for a "specialist" visit to go to the OBGYN) :D

baffled111
11-13-2007, 09:33 PM
Midwife, could you explain how it can be possible that unregulated (ie, natural) periods are dangerous to the health? That seems completely counter-intuitive to me. Surely the female reproductive system can't have evolved to require hormonal birth control through the use pharmaceuticals. That makes no sense to me at all. In fact, I understood the idea of a regular cycle to be a by-product of use of the pill and other late-civilization developments, and NOT a natural biological process.

JayEll
11-13-2007, 10:08 PM
Like baffled111, I am also curious about that statement. I'm afraid it strikes me as another one of those blame-the-female-reproductive-system arguments.

Jay

murphmitch
11-13-2007, 10:56 PM
The more periods a woman has, the more exposure to estrogen. Thus women who cycle less due to pregnancy, breastfeeding or use of BCP, have a decreased risk of estrogen-induced cancers (breast, endometrial, ovarian).

MariaMaria
11-13-2007, 11:13 PM
Cycle less due to use of BCP?

murphmitch
11-13-2007, 11:25 PM
You don't ovulate when you are on BCP. You have a period when you take the inactive pills, but this is not the same as the normal monthly cycle.

katie3181
11-14-2007, 12:37 AM
I just stopped the pill 3 weeks ago (after over 7 years of use) and I haven't noticed any differences in my body (weight, mood, etc). I was kind of hoping that the weight would come off more easily (even though they say the pill doesn't contribute to weight gain) but my weight loss is the same.

Today is the day I would normally start my period if i was still on the pill, but it hasn't come yet. I hope it comes soon! (I'm not ready to be pregnant!)

midwife
11-14-2007, 09:02 AM
Part of the theory is that until recently, women only had a handful of mentrual cycles before they began a pregnancy/birth/extended lactation cycle (and yes, some of this will be gross generalizations). The average number of monthly cycles for women throughout history was in general very very low. In today's era, with delayed childbirth, increased formula feeding, and fewer pregnancies, we are seeing increased rates of breast and ovarian cancer. This is likely due to many many factors (dietary and environmental, in addition) but what is interesting is that (across populations) women who have fewer cycles have reduced chances of these types of cancers.

So, a part of it is reevaluating what you think of as "normal", because biologically, is it "normal" for a woman to have a lifetime of hormonal surges and drops? Or is it "normal" for an adult female of a mammalian species to be in a reproductive/lactation cycle for most of her life. (This is the theory folks, I'm not implying that I think women should be continuously pregnant!)

Pregnancy and breastfeeding suppress the monthly hormonal surges of unregulated cycles. Hormonal contraceptives mimic this suppression and appear to offer similar protection from certain cancers.

Suppression of cycles offer other benefits as well. I touched on two of them: reduced PMS and reduced blood loss.

I did not say that monthly cycles are "dangerous", but we do know that limiting cycles offers benefits other than contraception.

How often is there a PMS thread on 3FC? How many days do women and girls miss from work and school due to massive cramps and bleeding? I agree with the literature and the theories that it doesn't have to be this way.

But a huge part of it is rethinking normal. How many lifetime cycles for an adult mammal is normal. It used to be a lot lot less. Now it is a lot lot more....

The hormone-free week on birth control pills/patch/ring is not a true period. The hormone-free bleeding week was put in the original formulations because the scientists could not imagine that women would not want to give up a week of bleeding each month....not because it is a true cycle or important to women's health.

Suppressing cycles through continuous cycle birth control or the Mirena is not for everyone, but I do choose it for myself (based on the huge body of literature) and many of my patients also choose it.

I fear that I may be getting close to offering medical advice, however. There is a very interesting book _Is Menstruation Obselete_ and you can google noncontraceptive benefits of birth control for a look at some of the literature.

As for the Mirena for a woman who has not had children, the main issue is the size of the uterus. A woman who has been pregnant has a slightly larger uterus than a woman who hasn't, and if she dilated at all before delivery, her cervix is softer and a little more open. THerefore it is easier to insert, and it is less likely to be expelled. I've had variable results for women who've never had kids. Sometimes they are thrilled with the Mirena and sometimes it bugs them so they have it out.

midwife
11-14-2007, 09:08 AM
The more periods a woman has, the more exposure to estrogen. Thus women who cycle less due to pregnancy, breastfeeding or use of BCP, have a decreased risk of estrogen-induced cancers (breast, endometrial, ovarian).

Bingo! ;)

murphmitch
11-14-2007, 09:19 AM
I lost 30# and stopped the pill at the same time. Took me almost a year to have a period afterward. My Dr. was concerned and checked my prolactin level during this time and gave me Provera but that didn't work. He was concerned that I might have trouble conceiving (I was getting married soon). He needn't worry. I had my first child 9 months after our wedding!

baffled111
11-14-2007, 09:55 AM
Thanks for the explanation, midwife. That is something to think about, and it's quite interesting.

JayEll
11-14-2007, 10:26 AM
Sorry, but exposure to estrogen is not the same as "unregulated menstrual cycles."

I have no argument with empirical observations of data. Where I get skeptical is when Western medicine in concert with the pharmaceutical industry takes an observation and provides us with The (Drug-based) Answer.

But this is off topic.

Jay

djstorey
11-14-2007, 11:14 AM
I stopped taking the pill due to my smoking, (now quit :)), and had no weight loss, but did lose most of my migraines! I got a mirena IUD last November and love it! No more periods, cramping or headaches at all since last January! Yes, having it put in hurt, but it was totally worth it in the end for me.

Ready2ShedLBS
11-14-2007, 11:35 AM
Sorry, but exposure to estrogen is not the same as "unregulated menstrual cycles."

I have no argument with empirical observations of data. Where I get skeptical is when Western medicine in concert with the pharmaceutical industry takes an observation and provides us with The (Drug-based) Answer.

But this is off topic.

Jay

Amen.

midwife
11-14-2007, 11:59 AM
:hug:

I don't want to incite twinkie attacks. You don't have to believe me or agree with me. I just believe that women have a right to as much information as possible when they are making health care decisions.

I will bet the one thing we can agree on is that people should not get their medical advice from an internet message board. I usually ignore erroneous advice given on 3FC about women's health, but this time I didn't. Perhaps it was helpful to some, but it surely isn't worth any tension. From now on, I should probably just save my advice for the women who pay me for it.

Back to my regularly scheduled program.

Beach Patrol
11-14-2007, 12:38 PM
Suppression of cycles offer other benefits as well. I touched on two of them: reduced PMS and reduced blood loss.

I did not say that monthly cycles are "dangerous", but we do know that limiting cycles offers benefits other than contraception.

How often is there a PMS thread on 3FC? How many days do women and girls miss from work and school due to massive cramps and bleeding? I agree with the literature and the theories that it doesn't have to be this way.

All I know is that while on Yaz b/c pill, I had a period every 3 months. It lasted about 2 days, & was so light, I barely needed to insert a tampon. I had NO pain. No cramping. No headaches, backaches... no mood swings! It was like a miracle drug to me!

I've been on/off different b/c methods since I was 15, trying to stop the ungodly bleeding, cramping, mood swings, etc. I've been on 4 different pills - and only Yaz helped me with the craziness of the monthly curse. It did everything I needed it to do! - but in exchange for blood clots in my lungs? Sorry - not a good trade! Granted, I am 44, and my body has changed since I was 15, 18, 24, 30 years old.

Even still - I was taken off Yaz in late August. I just had my first period since then November 6th. My last period was in May. (I was due to cycle when we discovered the blood clots.)

As far as actual BIRTH control goes, we use condoms. (Right now we're using abstinence, because the doc said DO NOT under ANY circumstances, get pregnant while on Coumadin!)

Even still - throughout my life, I've never noticed a weight gain or weight loss while on or off the pill. BUT! .... it DID clear up my zits! :D

MariaMaria
11-14-2007, 02:02 PM
I don't want to incite twinkie attacks.

Twinkie attacks?

Care to define that one, please?

baffled111
11-14-2007, 03:34 PM
I have no argument with empirical observations of data. Where I get skeptical is when Western medicine in concert with the pharmaceutical industry takes an observation and provides us with The (Drug-based) Answer. Jay

I'm with you on the skepticism, Jay, but I don't think I'd be any more pleased if the solution involved keeping women in a cycle of pregnancy and nursing from the age of 15 through menopause. That doesn't sound like a good solution either. :)

JayEll
11-14-2007, 04:15 PM
Nor would I, Baffled111! But what was the problem, again? ;)

Jay

GatorgalstuckinGA
11-14-2007, 07:09 PM
Midwife...i think its great to hear different opinions. It makes me think. Also, it makes me relate it to veterinarian medicine some. Dog's who are spayed before their first heat cycle pretty much rarely (if ever) develop mammary cancer. So I can see where you're going with that.

as for the twinkie attacks...it might be fun. We could catch our firing power (twinkies) than smash the creamy filling LOL.

I think educating people is important...and yes you do have to take everything found on the internet with a grain of salt. This discussion has made me seriously think about getting off b/c. I've thougth about it before...but wit this i'm more concerned...and really think an IUD would be better...definately will be talking to my gyno about this in a few months (3 more months until i have the wonderful glory of my annual exam...ugghhh LOL).

murphmitch
11-14-2007, 09:19 PM
[QUOTE=GatorgalstuckinGA;1930333]Midwife...i think its great to hear different opinions. It makes me think. Also, it makes me relate it to veterinarian medicine some. Dog's who are spayed before their first heat cycle pretty much rarely (if ever) develop mammary cancer. So I can see where you're going with that. [QUOTE]

I remember the vet telling us this when we got our dog spayed before the first heat. I'm sure glad we don't do this to young girls!!

baffled111
11-14-2007, 09:57 PM
On the other hand, I heard from my vet, among others, that dogs spayed before their first cycle are more likely to become incontinent when they get old. We opted to get ours spayed before she ever went on heat for reasons related to our living circumstances at the time, but probably if there hadn't been an unneutered dog in the house we would have waited.

But now we really have wandered off topic. :)

Azure
11-14-2007, 11:47 PM
Midwife...i think its great to hear different opinions. It makes me think. Also, it makes me relate it to veterinarian medicine some. Dog's who are spayed before their first heat cycle pretty much rarely (if ever) develop mammary cancer. So I can see where you're going with that.

I remember the vet telling us this when we got our dog spayed before the first heat. I'm sure glad we don't do this to young girls!!

It's part of my "theory for a better world" that in an ideal world we WOULD be able to do that to young girls...and then reverse it at an older age. Provided that they are ready for children and can take a parenting competency test, and have proof that they can provide financially for a child. But that's REALLY off-topic. :D

GatorgalstuckinGA
11-15-2007, 09:07 AM
lol at azure and mrphmitch...well at least we wouldn't have to worry about early teen pregnancy...but yes very off topic

baffled- fyi...very few dogs spayed early become incontinent...some people believe it...but hasn't been scientifically proven yet (: (even more off topic)

so where's the twinkies i heard about LOL

JayEll
11-15-2007, 09:45 AM
Still doing research on the Twinkies...

Jay