Wednesday, February 17, 2016

How One Woman's Body Responded to 12 Years on Birth Control

When I was 16 I was in love with my first boyfriend and thought it would last forever. We professed our love for each other, promised to marry each other right after high school and live happy ever after. It wasn't until he started mentioning having children as soon as possible that I snapped out of my fairy tale. I thought I was ready for a lot of things but I knew having children at a young age was not one of them. Getting married, sure, but at that point I wasn't even sure if I wanted children, the idea of childbirth scared the crap out of me. I was also determined not the be a statistic, a young Black girl living in the projects, pregnant before out of high school was not what I had in store for my life. Some friends at school had told be about a place called Planned Parenthood which was a place I could get a free birth control that was discreet and best of all I would not need my parent's permission. So, I used my friend's Cell phone during lunch and and made my first appointment for the following Saturday.

I remember being so scared! I told my Mom I was going to a friends house and hopped on the train to downtown Brooklyn for my appointment. I filled out some paperwork, they ran some test and gave me my first pelvic exam and tested me for STDs and HIV. The doctor went over my options for hormonal birth control and within a 2 hours I had a 6 month supply of birth control pills. Initially starting Birth Control was just to prevent pregnancy, but it also had an added benefit it made my Heavy sometimes unbreakable Menstrual Cycles lighter and more manageable and cleared up my skin. For me that was a win, win! I was on the pill for about 2 years before looking into other more convenient options. I switched  to the patch which was short lived because it gave me rashes and it was later revealed that the patch gave women blood-clots. I eventually went back to the Pill but this time decided to try something different, A birth control brand came out named  Seasonale and it advertised that you could have just 4 periods a year. I was super excited about the prospect of not getting my period every month but decided to go speak to my GYN about its safety which she advised that there was no medical need for a period when you are on birth control and that it was indeed safe. 


Seasonale was great  to me and having 4 periods a year was amazing, yet  I found myself forgetting to take the pill everyday, I was working rotating schedules and was rarely up at the same time each day. A friend of mine told me about a new form of birth control named Nuvaring which was a form of birth control you inserted in your vagina on a monthly basis. It was comfortable and if inserted correctly you would not be able to feel it. Don't get me wrong, at first I was like there is no way that

 1. this could be comfortable or that 

2. I would want to stick birth control "down there" 

but for the sake of my sanity I decided to go to my doctor and see what her thoughts were. She advised that it was very effective and could be a better option for me since I was forgetting to take my pill daily. So I made the switch and decided to try it. My first reaction "How the hell do I get this thing in?" kjh fumbling in the bathroom with it and the instantly regretting my decision to give up my good 'ole pills but alas, I got it in and admittedly it wasn't that bad. I mean it definitely took some getting used to but for the most part I completely forgot it was there and after a few months I didn't even notice it and for 3 years me and the Nuvaring got along just fine.

Fast forward a few years I was moving into a new apartment with my then boyfriend now husband and it was both stressful and exciting. So stressful in fact a few weeks into our move I landed in the hospital with intense stomach cramping, dizziness, headaches and nausea. I went to the hospital and the first time was dismissed, given some painkillers and told to take it easier. I assumed it was stress related although my blood pressure was normal. I rested as I was told and after another few days was once again curled up on the bathroom floor with debilitating cramps. I went to primary care doctor the next day and he suspected my appendix had burst and sent me back to the ER this time with a note saying to give me a thorough check up. I was hooked up to an IV  and I had doctors do everything from assume I had an STD (which was confirmed NOT to be true with an exam) to try to tell me I had a Gluten Allergy (also not true). 

Test after test and everything came back normal, No cysts or any abnormalities in my ovaries or reproductive system. Cat Scan showed no blockages and all my organs were in great shape and I once again was discharged with pain medicine and no closer to knowing what was actually the cause of my pain. I spent weeks out of work and had good days where I felt fine and days where I barely got out of bed. Over time my symptoms kind of went away and I was able to function again like a normal person. However there was still times when I would be hit with the being nauseous, feeling lightheaded and headaches. I went to my doctor over and over only for them to tell me that there was nothing wrong, I was officially diagnosed with unexplained stomach pains. It would come and go without to much of any explanation or warning. After not finding many answers from doctors I decided to turn to good old Google just to see if anyone had similar experiences as me. I stumbled across this forum of women who were all on Nuvaring and having the exact same issues. I decided to research the Nuvaring and saw that these side effects are listed but that they believe in most cases they are rare. Unfortunately I seemed to be in the small percentage of women that experienced this.

 I decided to address these concerns with my Gyn who advised that my Nuvaring probably wasn't the issue, I explained how I saw multiple doctors  and they can't seem to find anything else wrong with me. She explained that these symptoms CAN happen but it is so rare she doubted it was the cause of mine. However after almost 3 years of issues with no resolution I had to try something. So after having a long discussion with my Husband three months ago I stopped taking hormonal birth control, after being on some form of birth control for almost 12 years. I knew it was the right decision even though the doctors kept telling me I was fine, I had to listen to what MY body was telling me which was that something was not right. 

Since I stopped taking birth control I have not had an issues, no stomach pains, and no headaches. Overall I felt much better!! It wasn't all peaches and cream though, my skin started to break out and my PMS was on 10 but as my body adjusts and regulates its hormone production again this should subside. I definitely miss being able to skip my period, avoid mood swings and messing up my good panties, but for me the trade off just wasn't worth it. I cannot say it was all bad, being on birth control allowed me the freedom not to worry about unplanned pregnancies and to keep my wish of waiting until I'm married to have children. However the long term effects of how it made me feel didn't out weigh the pros of staying on it.

The moral of the story is listen to your body! When you know something is wrong listen to it and don't let someone tell you what you are feeling isn't real. Even if that person has a medical degree.

Have you ever had adverse reactions to Birth Control?? Let us know in the comments below!!!

Electa is a self proclaimed foodie. She is a wife, a domestic goddess, and aspiring chef in training, and a Writer/Blogger from Brooklyn with serious Wanderlust. follow her on twitter@emazing17, instagram @emazing17 and snapchat @Emazing1787 

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