Tuesday, 18 October 2016

My Experiences On The Pill

I'm aware that this sort of post isn't up everyone's street, but a couple of people have asked if I'll write about my experiences on the Pill, so I've tried to put together a brief outline - bearing in mind I was on the pill for around seven years, and tried five different ones. The pill has been getting some bad press lately in relation to links with depression, and I have to say it hasn't been a happy journey for me for a number of reasons, but let's start with why I went on the pill in the first place...
My experiences on the contraceptive pill
I first went to the doctor about going on the pill a few months before my 18th birthday; I was in my first long-term relationship and didn't want to depend on condoms. I was also hoping that going on the pill could help with my horrendously heavy, irregular periods and the accompanying migraines that I got - I started my period at 11 and six years later, my "cycle" varied from about 21 days up to about 90 - which was as inconvenient as it sounds. Anyway, long story short, I ended up on my first pill, Microgynon, and around a month later I moved away to uni.

Microgynon was an unmitigated disaster for me; I was sent away with a three-month supply and told to go back for a review once I'd almost finished my three months... So that was what I did. Unfortunately, the migraines that I'd previously suffered once or twice a month became almost daily, and at my review the nurse checked my blood pressure and was horrified - she took me straight off Microgynon, told me I couldn't use the combined pill as it was putting me at risk of a stroke, and put me on Cerazette instead.

A Progestogen-only Pill (POP, or the Mini-Pill), Cerazette suited me much better for the first few months; whilst I'd had to take a break once a month on Microgynon (in which I'd had a period which was every bit as bad as they'd ever been) with Cerazette I was period-free, and therefore migraine-free, which was brilliant... At first. After about six months (I think - this was about six years ago now so forgive me if my memory is a little fuzzy on the finer details!), I started a period - which was fine, I didn't mind occasional periods if I could have six months between them! Only, I'd started to bleed... And I just didn't stop. It wasn't heavy or painful, but it was definitely a period rather than spotting, and it went on and on and on. I went back to the doctors after a few weeks and they decided that the solution was to take twice the usual dose of Cerazette - one in the morning and one in the evening. This seemed dubious to me, but I did as I was told, and sure enough, the bleeding stopped... For a few weeks. And then it started again and, after nine months of pretty much constant bleeding save a few weeks in the middle, I went back to the doctors and put my foot down.
Experience of the contraceptive pill
Enter Micronor - another Progestogen-only Pill, I loved this one for about 18 months. I had occasional periods which, whilst still quite heavy and painful, were nothing compared to what I'd suffered before starting taking the pill. And then, the inevitable happened - my body had had enough of Micronor, and once again I started bleeding and just didn't stop. Back to the doctors I went, where I was referred for an ultrasound which showed up a big fat nothing. So the doctor switched me onto another pill - Femulen. For a while, I thought all my issues were fixed. Except when I went back for a review and to get a repeat prescription after three months, I was told that Femulen was no longer available on the NHS, and so I was switched back to Micronor. Hurrah. [/sarcasm]

Thankfully, the break seemed to have done the trick, and I managed another couple of years on Micronor before I started bleeding again. As I wasn't in a relationship at the time, I thought I'd just take a few months break and see what happened - and so I did. Typically, I started seeing my current boyfriend about three weeks after coming off the pill... But anyway, a couple of months later I started taking it again, and a couple of months after that, I started bleeding again. Hurrah. [/sarcasm]
Experiences on the contraceptive pill
Soooo back to the doctors I went, where I asked to try a different POP - they always seem keen for me to have the implant, but given that it uses the same hormones as the pill, I don't want something that permanent in my arm, thank you very much. So this time I was prescribed Norgeston. I gave up on that before the first month was out as, once again, I was bleeding constantly, and so I just stopped taking them. That was about two months ago and I've just finished my first period since coming off it... Which wasn't as bad as I remember them being, so we'll have to see how I go on. Thankfully my boyfriend has been really understanding about my reasons for coming off the pill, and is happy to use condoms instead.

Since coming off the pill, I've also noticed that my mood is a lot more stable; it wasn't something I'd noticed as a side-effect at the time, but looking back my mental health really suffered as a consequence of being on the pill. Essentially it was like PMS month-round - I'd have horrendous mood-swings where I'd be fine one minute and the next I'd be tetchy and tearful, as well as completely paranoid at times, and whilst I'd always struggled with my mood (since around the age of 13 or 14), looking back now I can see how much of an effect the pill had, although I didn't link the two at the time. I've never been formally diagnosed with any mental health problems, and I'm not trying to self-diagnose or say The Pill gave me depression or anything like that - but for me, there was a definite impact on my mood which I do strongly suspect would be clinically significant - basing this off several years of studying and working in Psychology.
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[Photo credit: Ivorymix.]
Wow, this post got long! So I hope you've found this interesting - although remember, I'm just one person, and I'm apparently absurdly sensitive to hormones, so please don't let my experience put you off if you're considering going on the pill! I consider myself very lucky to live in a country where the contraceptive pill is freely available, and for many, many women it's a brilliant option. There are plenty of women out there who are perfectly suited to hormonal contraception and never have any issues with it, so it may be worth a try for you - I'd say, just bear in mind and be conscious of any possible side-effects, including those on your mental as well as physical health. If you have any questions do feel free to ask either in the comments, on Twitter or by email, I'll do my best to answer! Have you ever been on the pill? What has your experience been like?

xo
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26 comments:

  1. This is so interesting! I've only been on 2 pills for the last 9 years (Microgynon and Cerazette) and I've not really had that many issues with it! Microygnon was HORRENDOUS - It made my mood so low and I was so unstable that it actually scared me... That then kicked off a whole load of antidepressants and counselling (not because of the pill, but it just triggered off a load of crap) after that they put me on cerazette and I've not had any issues on that. I bleed very occasionally and I can tell that my moods fluctuate a bit, but nothing to write home about.

    It's so funny that it affects everyone so differently <3 xx

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    1. It is, it's so important to find what works for you! Glad you've found Cerazette so much better than Microgynon :) xo

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  2. I struggled to deal with Microgynon too! It made my periods even more heavy and painful than normal, and wasn't making my mood swings any better. I'm now on Gedaral and it is much more suited to me. My period are slightly less painful, but the biggest improvement is in my mood, and so I'm much happier with this one!

    Steph - www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

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    1. Ah I'm so glad you found one that works for you, Steph! It's a minefield really xo

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  3. This is such an interesting post Jess, I had no idea it was so complicated! I've never been on the pill but I have the mirena coil, it's not perfect as I still get period pains (which is mostly leg cramps for me) without bleeding at random times rather than as a cycle, but I can deal with it. I do love not having a proper period though, kind of dreading the moment I have them again!

    Kirstie | Behind The Scent

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    1. Thanks Kirstie, glad you enjoyed it! I wish I could face the idea of the coil but it makes me feel so queasy even just thinking about it, blergh! xo

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  4. Such an interesting post & an important topic to write about! XX

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    1. It is, I'm so glad people are becoming more aware of the mental health side effects! xo

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  5. This was interesting and helpful to read. There really needs to be more research on so many drugs that are given. The onus is on the manufacturers to provide "safe" products, fortunately we have a lot more access to hearing about what real people say about products on the net.

    www.thesundaymode.com

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    1. I totally agree that drugs need to be safe and honestly, for the vast majority of people they are completely safe - it's all about making educated decisions, I guess, and being aware of possible side effects and people who might be more vulnerable. Thanks for reading! xo

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  6. After over 10 years on the pill and a story not too disimillar to yours (though ended wit me on the implant and getting progesterone related cysts on my ovaries...yep they're a side affect they forget to tell you about) I'm hormone based contraception free and LOVE IT! Wish I'd come off sooner!

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    1. Oh gosh, I've not heard of that as a side effect but if I needed another reason not to try the implant, that was it! >.< So glad you're doing better now :) xo

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  7. The pill didn't work for me... I fell pregnant ON the pill. (I know, I couldn't believe it either).. That was over nine years ago and I haven't taken it since. My moods were horrendous when I was on the pill though, not good! I can't take any hormonal contraception now because I was diagnosed with a rare brain condition a few years ago and hormonal medication can make it worse (It wasn't the pill that caused my brain condition by the way) Great post, very informative! xx

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  8. I definitely agree that certain kinds of pill can be linked to depression, I didn't get on with Microgynon either.

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  9. I'm not sure I ever thought about the side effects of taking the Pill but I stopped taking them about 10 years ago and never felt happier.

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  10. I can't believe how many issues you had, I definitely would not have thought it was worth it. I didn't want to go on the pill as I knew I'd forget to take it so have been on the contraceptive implant for about 7 years now and fortunately I've had no issues *touch wood*. It's just such a shame it can affect some people so badly x

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  11. Such an interesting post. I never use pills but I suffer time to time from PCOS and then I get contraceptive pills and I hate that time. These pills definitely wreck you emotionally. But it is very easy to get tagged by people as being over sensitive while only we know what we are going through. Glad you are doing okay now.

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  12. God poor you, I was on the pill at first and it was not a good match for me. I then went on the implant which for the duration of the three years I spent 60% of it on my period which is as painful as it sounds. Before I was on contraception I would have 8 day periods and now they tend to be three weeks which is a bit of a pain!

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  13. This is so interesting - my eldest daughter suffered terrible depression on the pill. It was awful for her. I took Microgynon years ago and I really suffered too. Kaz x

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  14. Posts like these are so important, so thank you for writing this. Thanks for highlighting the importance of going by your own experiences. Our bodies all react differently!

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  15. Interesting post. It's been about 7 years (on microgynon/rigevidon) and I'm contemplating coming off as I'm sure it does affect how I feel. I seem to feel perkier during the break week and it makes me wonder what I'd feel like if I stopped altogether.

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  16. Interesting post. It's been about 7 years (on microgynon/rigevidon) and I'm contemplating coming off as I'm sure it does affect how I feel. I seem to feel perkier during the break week and it makes me wonder what I'd feel like if I stopped altogether.

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  17. What an interesting post and very informative. I used to be on the pill (Micerogynon) but it was terrible for making me a moody sod, so i'm now on the implant, 6 months later, so far so good xx

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  18. I was on Microygnon when I was really young, like 14 and it was fine, I'm on the implant now and LOVE it xxx

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  19. oh no, your story sounds terrible. I'm glad you decided stop taking it. I've never used it because I know it's not good for many people, and I don't want to see if I'm one of those lol x

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  20. Really interesting post! I've thought about coming off it (currently on Cerazette) but unfortunately the issues on it seem to outweigh the issues off it. Funny how everyone reacts so differently, can be so hard to find the right solution. Glad you've found coming off it to be helpful. Great post, so important to share this information x

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