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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Safer Sex & Birth Control » Is it wise to come off the pill?

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Author Topic: Is it wise to come off the pill?
Miss_Stress
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Hey there, I'm looking for some information related to a change in contraception due to one particular side effect of my pill (Zoely, monophastic pill, 24/4 regimen) and every other pill I've been on (previously prescribed Yasmin and Yasminelle).

I've been on the pill for almost two years now, and in that time I've had a steady decline in libido and am pretty much suffering from a severe case of female sexual dysfunction. I have no sex drive, am literally unable to self-lubricate or become aroused, and as a result sex is very, very painful both during and after to a point where myself and my long term partner almost never have it anymore (no amount or type of lubrication makes any difference). I never presented with these problems until about a month after I went on the pill. For that reason I suspect the pill is the cause. Annoyingly this is my only side-effect to my knowledge and it's starting to have a strain on my relationship and I can see why.

For a long time I've been contemplating coming off the pill and I believe now is the right time to do it. I have changed pills in the past and absolutely nothing has changed, it appears to only have gotten worse over time. I read on a medical website that only 20% of users who switch pill brand will regain full sexual function and sometimes it's better to come off the pill entirely if a woman presents with these symptoms. I've considered other options and really want to stay away from hormones because I don't want to go through months of the same problems. I'm thinking seriously about either an IUD (copper) or the use of a double barrier method (diaphragm with male condoms).

My problem is that I'm worried about the side effects of the copper IUD like heavy periods because my periods were heavy before going on the pill. I'm scared of the mirena because libido changes are listed on the leaflet as a possible side effect. My other problem is that if I go with a diaphragm with male condoms I'm essentially swopping a very effective method of birth control for something not as effective - and for that reason I'm unsure about my decision to come off the pill. Maybe I should just switch brand again? I'm at the end of my tether and don't really know what to do.

I hope to book an appointment at a family planning clinic in the next week or so but want to have thought seriously about this before I go in. Pregnancy isn't an option for me right now, maybe in five years or so. I'm a very good user with any contraception I've used and have never forgotten a pill in my life, so I want to be just as protected with whatever option I chose. So really I'm looking for your advice on if coming off the pill is a good thing to do in my situation.

Thank you in advance.

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Dee x

Posts: 34 | From: Dublin, Ireland | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
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I think at this point it makes sense to see what happens if you stop using a method with estrogen, too.

To be clear, libido issues, as well as vaginal dryness, when they are due to contraception are understood to usually be about estrogen. So, any combination pill (same goes for the patch or ring) could have these side effects. I think it sounds like you've tried a bunch of things, so a next step of see how things go for you without those methods makes sense.

That still leaves you a lot of different options, including the Mirena IUD, if an IUD sounds good, but the copper_T, not so much. Mirena only has a teeny amount of localized progestin, not estrogen, so it changing libido is possible, but highly unlikely. That also leaves you with options like the implant, combining condoms and a cervical barrier method (which, combined, are not less effective than your pill, combined they are just as effective), or a couple more options. Who don't you discuss them with that clinic, talk through them there, and see what you and your provider come up with as your best possible choices?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Miss_Stress
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Okay Heather, thanks!

I read your experience (I think it was yours anyway) on the forum last night about the diaphragm. It really swayed me towards using it and backing up with condoms. Before I read your post I had been super apprehensive about using a diaphragms because I know they're considered to be fairly old fashioned in medical circles nowadays. There's a feminist centred clinic in my city that still stocks them though. I don't have an issue with thrush (never had it) which I know can be an issue with diaphragms apparently. And I've been using tampons since I was 13 so would be in no way squeamish about inserting one. They seem like a good option for me overall.

Quick question, I've never seen spermicide on a shelf in health stores. Is that sold behind the counter or have companies just stopped making it entirely? That will come into my final decision obviously.

After my consultation I might update this post if I have any more questions, if that's okay? And thanks for reassuring me that I'm making the right decision to quit my pill. I'll be sad to see it go because I love everything else about it. I'm also so lucky to have a very supportive partner who promises faithfully to use condoms all the time once I'm off the pill. A good boyfriend makes this decision so much easier!

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Dee x

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Heather
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Personally, yep, I used them for many, many years, usually paired with condoms, and despite the occasionally hilarious (IMO) story about needing some help from a partner getting it out, I have nothing but good things to say about it. That's anecdote, obviously, but as with any method, you're going to have a range of experiences from person to person.

However, when people can't or don't want to do hormones, cervical barriers are very much a tried-and-true alternative.

You know, the last time I was in Dublin I wasn't buying spermicide, so I have no idea where it's stocked there. If it's not sold where condoms are, though, then I'd expect it's behind the counter. Not sure why that would be, but that'd be my guess. The clinic you're going to go to will know, though.

And that's great that you have a partner who is flexible about trying different methods so you both can find things that work for you. By all means, these situations are a lot more trying when that's not the case. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Miss_Stress
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Thanks again! I really, really appreciate your response! Feeling a lot more settled now. [Smile]

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Dee x

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Heather
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I hope that clinic visit goes well.

Out of curiosity, mind sharing the name of this clinic? Not sure I know of it, and I'd love to add it to our database. Feminist health clinics are in sadly short supply these days, and how fantastic there's one in Ireland, no less!

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Miss_Stress
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Well as you may know Ireland has had somewhat of a bad reputation for contraception in the past. See this wiki page for some details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contraception_in_the_Republic_of_Ireland

There's also the issue of abortion being illegal (which us younger feminists are fighting on a daily basis) and for that reason some of the larger family planning clinics were either set up to help women by some of our incredible feminists like Nell McCafferty or as general protests to the anarchic contraception laws of the past.

The clinic I'll be visiting is the Well Woman Clinic, which has an interesting history and is still amazingly supportive to women to this day: http://www.wellwomancentre.ie/

There's also the IFPA, which was set up for similar reasons: http://www.ifpa.ie/

Hope these are useful for your database.

[ 10-06-2013, 10:42 AM: Message edited by: Miss_Stress ]

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Dee x

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Heather
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I LOVE your IFPA. LOVE. Such badasses over there.

But didn't know about the clinic, thanks so much! I'll get that added to our database this week. [Smile]

(Half my family is Irish, I'm only a second generation American on both sides, so unfortunately, both per my job and politics but also per my family history know all too much about the challenges per both contraception and abortion in Ireland. [Frown] )

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Miss_Stress
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Btw, Irish women still spend a small FORTUNE on contraceptives and basically receive no help from either the government or private insurance. The only 'free' contraception available is for those with medical cards, which are far and few between and that doesn't cover all types of contraception. Both Well Woman and IFPA are great, although expensive BUT at least you're getting good advice which doesn't seem to be the best amongst basic GPs here.

For your own interest given your Irish roots you should read up on the new Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. We waited 21 years to have abortion legalised in Ireland if a woman needs it for health reasons. However, the bill dictates that a woman needs to be dying before she can obtain an abortion. Unbelievable stuff. Meanwhile, illegal (and potentially dangerous) abortion pills are being imported by women who need abortion on demand.

The sooner I leave this country the better, and even then I'll still be campaigning for women's rights over seas with the Abortion Support Network (https://www.abortionsupport.org.uk/). <--- might be good to add to your database.

#girlpower [Smile]

[ 10-06-2013, 10:59 AM: Message edited by: Miss_Stress ]

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Dee x

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Heather
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I've kept up with that bill and yeah.... WORLD OF UGH. [Frown]

I love the Abortion Support Network, too, they're one of the organizations I donate to monthly without fail. What they do is so important.

Kudos to you for your activism!

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Miss_Stress
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Just to update on my situation!

Visited the sexual health clinic and after a good chat with the doctor she suggested that I would be a good candidate for a copper T. She went through side effects with me (heavy bleeding, cramping, etc) and to be honest I think I can accept those for such a great non-hormonal, long-acting reversible contraception. We discussed the Mirena but it was suggested that since I had such a severe side effect to hormones (complete post-menopausal style sexual dysfunction) that perhaps a non-hormonal method would be my best option. I never had cramps before I went on the pill, and unlike most women the pill seems to have given me cramps (it seems the lighter my period the more painful it is). Therefore, I'm not scared of some extra cramping and I can deal with heavier bleeding if it happens by using higher absorbency tampons. In short, I'm pretty okay with the expected side effects of the copper IUD.

So I have to wait until my next withdrawal bleed when my cervix is naturally a little more open (about a week and a half) to be fitted. She wants it to be as easy as it can be for me. She also prescribed Cytotec suppositories to take 3 hours before I come in and told me to take some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs an hour before my fitting. On the day they'll do a precautionary pregnancy test and a chlamydia test just to be on the safe side. I was told to 'prepare for the worst' even though that rarely ever happens so to bring someone with me to bring me home in case I faint, vomit, and so on.

All in all, I'm totally excited to get off the pill! According to my very lovely doctor (who wears army boots in work because she's awesome) I'll be back to myself in a matter of weeks. I'll update you on how it goes. Thanks for all the information Heather, you're amazing! <3 x

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Dee x

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Robin Lee
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Hi Miss_stress,

I'm so glad to hear your visit to the clinic went so well. yay for understanding, helpful healthcare providers.

Best of luck with the IUD fitting. [Smile]

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Robin

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Miss_Stress
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Thanks Robin!

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Dee x

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Miss_Stress
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I have one quick question if you guys don't mind! I was going to call the clinic this morning to ask but it might make me sound a bit mad.

My question is about expulsion which I was told me by doctor happens in about 1 in 20 women. My concern is that I'm flying to Paris for three days about 14 days after I get the IUD put in, and my question is if I was so unfortunate as to have a partial expulsion in Paris does that hurt and is it dangerous to a point that I'd have to get it sorted out in Paris? - don't even know any clinics there IF if happened.

The reason I ask is because I'm wondering would it be better to get it after I go to Paris given the risk with expulsion? Or is that rarer than it seems?

I think I freaked myself out about expulsion because I kept seeing it pop up in IUD Divas... and with the internet it appears to be higher than 5-10%. Much like when you google pregnancy stories with the pill on the internet I'm guessing. Someone should chop my hands off to prevent me Googling. Basically I need to know is it advised against going on holiday in the first month of fitting the Copper T? Thanks guys!

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Dee x

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Robin Lee
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Hi Miss_Stress,

I'd actually suggest you call the clinic with this one...and that you stop googling. [Razz]
Seriously, I think that your healthcare provider is the best person to give you feedback on whether this is a good time for placing the IUD or not.

It's true that the body expelling the IUD is a small risk, but clearly the doctor you consulted with still felt that an IUD would be appropriate for you based on everything you discussed with her. So, you can call the clinic and let them know you have a follow-up question based on the information you were given in your appointment. Nothing wrong with that!

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Robin

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Miss_Stress
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Okay Robin, thanks! Will cut my hands off now. [Smile]

I'll call the clinic tomorrow and ask one of the doctors or nurses to give me a call back about this. The more I think about it, the wiser is seems to come off the pill for a month and then get fitted after. And just use condoms carefully in between. I actually stocked up on Contragel in case this happened to keep condoms extra safe!

Not only do I have a trip to Paris coming up, but my next period with the IUD will be around the date of my uni graduation and don't really fancy being crippled with the bad, bad, BAD periods they warn about in the first 3 months... eek.

But obviously I'll go with the advice of my doctor. Cheers!

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Dee x

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Robin Lee
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Well, you also get to say when you're fitted. So, if waiting until you've got these big life events out of the way feels more comfy for you, and you feel okay about using condoms in the interim, then you certainly can delay the fitting.

There's nothing wrong with saying you just have enough on your plate right now and would rather not add anything more at the moment.

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Robin

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Miss_Stress
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Just a little update! Got my copper coil fitted today. More painful than I expected, about 6/10 in terms of pain. Had a lovely nurse hold my hand and coach me through the process with breathing, especially while they were using the sound. Then when I was done the secretary gave me tea and biscuits. [Smile]

They fitted me with the slightly larger IUD, so I'm covered for ten years rather than five. Not sure if it's Paraguard, Flexi-T or some other brand (actually forgot to ask to be honest).

So now I'm taking it easy for the day and nursing my cramps. Fingers crossed it all goes well for me and doesn't decide to expel itself or something! The doctor mentioned that I should avoid tampons for the first two cycles so as not to give the IUD any excuse to expel itself and to give it time to 'settle' into the uterus. I read that you can use tampons almost right away but will go with my doctors advice on this one. Two months of pads won't kill me anyway. She also said avoid checking the strings too much because women have actually accidentally pulled their IUDs out by doing so... ekk.

Happy it's all over and fingers crossed for the future!

Update: Got a flash back and I'm pretty sure the name T-Safe CU 380A was said when they were taking the IUD out of its packet. Looking at the photos it looks exactly like the one I was shown too as it's got a pretty distinctive design. Will ask them at my 6 week check up anyway.

[ 11-02-2013, 09:07 AM: Message edited by: Miss_Stress ]

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Dee x

Posts: 34 | From: Dublin, Ireland | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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