Female Cycle – Part 2
Let’s talk about contraception.
This article with definitely have a subjective feel to it, as I am a woman myself and I personally feel that there is not enough information on the long term effects on taking contraception when it’s being presented to you as an alternative to “safe sex”.
I was personally only 16 years old when my gynaecologist casually first asked the question. At that point I kindly declined, but at 19 years of age I started using the NuvaRing.
There are many different kinds of contraception, all which has one purpose – to avoid the conception of a child during intercourse.
There are pills, patches, implants, IUD’s and other options. Some will have synthetic estrogen as the dominant hormone, others will have synthetic progesterone, while some will have a mix of the two.
Regardless of which the dominant synthetic hormone is, the outcome will be the same.
Simply put, it stops ovulation from occurring, which means there is no egg to be fertilised.
When there is no egg, there is no REAL period coming. The blood that comes every month is just a withdraw bleed from the 7 days where you stopped taking aa hormone pill and took a sugar pill instead. This is why when you are on the pill you can decide to “postpone” the period. But I say it again, it’s not a period, just a withdrawal bleeding.
The issue with both synthetic hormones and the lack of ovulation is that your body will stop producing these hormones itself – so basically your ovaries are shut down for business.
What’s even worse is that the female reproductive system itself is delicate and to put a teenage girl who just reached pubity on birth control is like getting your driving license but still always take a taxi everywhere. Eventually when it’s time for you to drive on your own, sometimes after years and years of being in the passenger seat, you will struggle to drive well on your own.
There is one other options which is a copper IUD. This is the only option that doesn’t disrupt the ovaries own production of sex hormones and therefore also it does not disrupt the ovulation. But the copper make the uterus an inhabitable environment for sperm to survive as well for a baby to grow. This is an extremely painful procedure to put in, and while being one or the more reliable contraceptions it does have some potential side effects too.
When we talk about side effects, there are both short term and long term potential things to consider. Usually the long term is never properly discussed in the consultation process.
Potential short term side effects:
- Mood swings
- Weight gain
- Decreased libido
- Increased risk of blood cloths
- Increased risk of high blood pressure
Potential long term side effects
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
- Increased risk of certain types of cancer, especially breast cancer, cervical cancer and benign liver tumours
Unfortunately it doesn’t stop by those side effects. What’s more pressing is that women seem to think that then can just stop the pill when they decide they are ready to start a family.
Of course, for the lucky few it might be the case. But many women are struggling to conceive for years after they stopped birth control. And they will have no idea why and think that there is something wrong with them.
But the reality is, that if you started taking contraception in your teen years and “been on them” until you felt ready and stable – there is going to be a period of your life where you might need time to heal. Remember, your ovaries didn’t produce these hormones, they were pumped into your body year after year.
To share my biggest frustration when it comes to contraception is when gynaecologists present the contraception as an alternative to solve a problem that has to do with young girls having surges of hormones.
Small breast, puberty acne and irregular menses are ALL natural when a girl starts to become a woman. The solution shouldn’t be to try to fix things with a pill.
I have the same issue when the same solution is presented to women who have PCOS, extremely heavy periods or Endometriosis – conditions that are both very common and not easy to live with. But giving a pill is unfortunately not fixing the root cause to the problem – just patching it over so that day to day life is easier.
I want to finish this by saying I have no issues with women choosing to use contraception, everybody is free to make that choice. But I wish that the big picture would be presented before that choice is being made – as I know that the 19 year old me would most likely have made a different choice.