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women's health issue - quitting the pill

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Old 11-13-2007, 01:56 PM   #1
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Question women's health issue - quitting the pill

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!
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Old 11-13-2007, 02:07 PM   #2
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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.
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Old 11-13-2007, 02:17 PM   #3
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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.
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Old 11-13-2007, 02:27 PM   #4
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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.
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Old 11-13-2007, 02:34 PM   #5
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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).
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Old 11-13-2007, 02:41 PM   #6
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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?
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Old 11-13-2007, 03:06 PM   #7
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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.
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Old 11-13-2007, 05:12 PM   #8
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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.
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Old 11-13-2007, 05:33 PM   #9
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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.
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Old 11-13-2007, 05:49 PM   #10
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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!
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Old 11-13-2007, 07:40 PM   #11
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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.
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Old 11-13-2007, 08:59 PM   #12
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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)
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Old 11-13-2007, 10:33 PM   #13
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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.

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Old 11-13-2007, 11:08 PM   #14
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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.

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Old 11-13-2007, 11:56 PM   #15
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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).
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