Before we get into the nitty gritty of it – I can't let yesterday's launch of 'the new pill' Yaz Flex, slip on by without comment.  The headline "new pill adds comfort for women" on news.com.au certainly got the heart started – not in a good way, in the shape of palpitations, clammy palms and a knee jerk reaction to turn my radio down as quickly as my sweaty fingers would allow because on my part, there is little comfort in this story.

If you are unfamiliar with yaz flex, it's a new pill that skips several periods in a row, essentially meaning she will only 'bleed' (we can't even call this menstruation, because it isn't – it is a withdrawal bleed from hormones) four times a year.  This is the part where I shut my eyes and take a deep breath.  What are we doing to ourselves?  And why are we doing it?  When did it become so darn inconvenient to have a period?  And at what point are we going to be made properly aware, that the hormones contained in the pill are messing with our health and fertility terribly so?   I have lots of questions I need answered, but the one sure thing I know is that we have a growing infertility rate, and as sure as the sun shines, this is one MAJOR reason why.

We are supposed to shed our endometrial lining once a month, it's like a reproductive reset.  A period is a sign of good health.  If you hate your period that much, it's best time to look at why and fix the issues surrounding that.  

If I had a tally for the number of women I see – post pill – that say to me "If I had have known it was going to mess with my body this much, I never would have taken it in the first place," I'd need shares in a paper mill to record them all.  I've spoken about the pill many, many times on my blog.  You need to go and get familiar with all the reasons it isn't doing you one bit of good.  So click here, here and here and here.  But, if you need a quick rundown let's do that.  

* The pill makes us infertile because it is designed to do so.

* It messes with our hormones and in many instances, our bodies have great trouble getting back on track.

* It isn't a solution to PCOS or endometriosis, solutions fix a problem.  The pill is a temporary 'band aid'.  

* It degenerates the crypts that secrete fertile mucus essential for conception.  Without fertile mucus, the sperm can't reach the egg.

* Side effects include nausea, depression, breast pain, migraines and low libido (the later I find ironic… if you are on the pill for contraceptive reasons, but you can't entertain the though of jumping your partner and getting between the sheets, it's kinda defeating the purpose, no?)

* It makes for a very unsettled baby and mother, should a woman fall pregnant shortly after coming off the pill 

* It alters our senses and skews our radar when it comes to attracting a suitable (compatible – when it comes to baby making) partner 

I could keep going… but this post is actually about what to do if you don't want to take the pill any longer!  I'd love to hear your thoughts on yaz flex.  If you only hear one things today – hear this.

Yaz Flex isn't any different from its conventional sister.  It is just that it comes in a special little package that tells you when it is time to take it.  Essentially it is still the same pill.  All forms of hormone contraception must be taken with great care and caution.  We're not told this when it is prescribed probably because your GP is also lead to believe it is perfectly safe.  And should you have any dramas post pill… there's a pill for that too.  Unfortunately, it isn't the most effective hormone treatment mostly because it isn't providing a solution.

There are very few cases of women who actually must be on the pill – most of the reasons a woman may take it outside contraception, are treatable. 

As women we need to find solutions – this means look at what the alternatives are.  I'm here to share all that with you.

Now, to my original post!

I recently wrote this post for my friend gorgeous friend (and co-host of healthtalksMelissa Ambrosini. I reckon the information is too good not to share, so I'm posting it on my site as well. Double the fun!

You’ve heard me bang on about the pill and why it’s not really a solution when it comes to hormone imbalance and women’s health issues (think poly cystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis).  You can read my post about all that here. 

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “I get it, the pill is trouble, but if I’m not taking the pill – and I’m not ready for kids yet, then what?”  Great question!  There are a few things you need to consider and a few solutions.  Let’s start with looking at why we take the pill and why it may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

 One of the main reasons women take the pill is to prevent unwanted pregnancy – righty-o.  Let me tell you this – in the US, 6 million pregnancies occur to women taking the pill.  And get this – their use of the pill isn't necessarily incorrect.  Fact is, the pill can make us gain weight, which increases our metabolic rate.  This means that for the pill to effectively prevent pregnancy, higher levels of hormones are required for it to work.  Thing is – it's a one size dose not specific to body mass.  This means that if the pill has made you gain weight, it's not going to be as effective because it just can’t work properly.  As we gain weight, the body requires higher levels of hormones for it to be effective.  And pregnancies will occur for this reason.  I’m sure you have heard somebody fall pregnant whilst on the pill, and you may have assumed it was because they’d been careless and overlooked a dose. 

Now before I get into the ‘what now,’ I have a little more to say on this.  Children conceived whilst a mother is on the pill or very shortly after coming off the pill are open to a host of behavioral issues – this is because zinc is so low when coming off the pill.  You can counteract this with a few treatments and adding specific vitamins and minerals to the mix whilst pregnant.  Phew!  But if you play out this scenario for a sec – a woman who falls pregnant whilst on the pill, is more likely to have a child who is unsettled, jittery, cries a lot and generally unhappy (because of this nutritional deficiency).  Combine this with being a new mother who’s also nutritionally lacking (contributing to post natal depression, poor milk supply), tired, upset and stressed – it’s a disastrous start.  What about baby bliss?  Women need to know this stuff!

There are a few boxes that need to be ticked to move into being comfortable without the pill as your no baby insurance (which we now know may not be the case anyway).  Firstly – women need to re-establish their regular menstrual cycles and know what their body is telling them for other methods to be effective.  This can seem difficult to women with PCOS or hormone imbalances, especially those who ovulate irregularly.  But, if you suffer from these conditions it is important that you understand, these are treatable conditions.  You will be doing your body great favors by sorting these out and getting it on track.  So first things first, you need to scout out somebody who can help you with that.  Nowadays I offer online consultations for people because it can be tricky to find credible practitioners that offer these services, but, we do exist!  I can always point you in the right direction if this is something you need to find.  Getting your menstrual cycle regular is key here.

Once the menstrual cycle is working properly, you have a much better idea of when you are fertile and when you are not.  You might like to take a look at my ovulation tutorial here.  This is KEY to working out what your body is telling you, when you are fertile and when you aren’t.

Several years ago, after the birth of my first daughter I ever so vividly recall my 6 week check up visit to the GP, possibly because I don’t go – ever, and also because of the conversation that we engaged in.  It went something like this:

GP: “let’s talk about some contraceptive means for you darling.”

Me: “that’s ok, I’m not needing it”

GP: “oh love, you don’t want to fall pregnant just yet!”

Me: “of course not! (stab me in the eye!! I have a 6 week old baby lady!) I’m really capable of not falling pregnant if I don’t wish too.”

GP (insert smirk here) “oh sweetheart – accidents do happen!” (as if to say you silly little girl!!)

Me:  “I understand that – but I know my body.  I managed to fall pregnant exactly when I wanted to – I also avoided pregnancy for some time prior to that.  I don’t want to put these toxins in my body – but thank you for your concern.”

She was shocked.  Really shocked.  If the GP couldn’t understand what I was talking about – no wonder so many women are on the pill, because we’ve lost trust in our bodies and are lead to believe that there is no other way.  Of course, I looked like an idiot to her – a naïve fool it may have appeared.  But I knew my body and I knew (and still do) how to read it.  It’s not that hard once you listen to what it is saying. 

Reading your body signs is without doubt, the best way of knowing when you are potentially fertile or not.  And so, when you are most fertile (and when your libido peaks for the month) you might be wondering, what now?  Obviously barrier methods have stood the test and work well for many people (diaphragms and condoms) but what might intrigue you is that there is another method that is extremely effective – in fact almost as effective as the pill.  That’s withdrawal!  If withdrawal is practiced properly, it is up to 96% effective.  Who knew, right!?  That’s impressive stats.  So what is ‘proper practice?’  Well it might be important to first understand that there are no live sperm in the pre-ejaculatory fluid, which means that really, practicing this correctly is simply getting it outa there before ejaculation occurs!  The only real rule here is that if you’re going to go for round two – the male will need to urinate first to make doubly sure the pipes are clear and that no semen have been left behind.  It’s really simple.

Reality is, there are really only 3 days you can potentially fall pregnant in each menstrual cycle – the key is knowing when these are.

Obviously this kind of practice is for those in trusting relationships.  It relies on the male being able to withdraw at the right time.  The reality is, safe sex should always be practiced unless you know a whole lot about your lover.  So condoms are absolutely appropriate for those who don’t wish to be on the pill, but want to protect themselves from pregnancy and other STI’s.  It goes without saying.  That’s important for your long term health and fertility – because STI’s can certainly be a huge obstacle in the fertility game – but we’ll save that post for another day because that’s a whole other area.

So learn to understand what your body is telling you – seek help if that isn’t working well – realty is that needs to be fixed sooner than later anyway.  Remember, there are options and work very well.  Being on the pill or using hormone contraceptives can have long term effects on your bodies health and fertility – it’s great to know there are other options out there that work.

 

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  • Julie Maloney September 26, 2012 at 9:15 am

    A great article. Thank you.

    Also thank you for your giveaway a while back with TOM. I was the lucky winner and I’m happy to say I love my new products. Sorry it’s taken me a while to say thank you, but THANK YOU! xxoo

    Reply
  • admin September 26, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    you are most welcome!

    Reply
  • Jewel September 26, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Yes the pill is a “band aid” and not the solution to my health issues. However, by not taking the pill I am constantly aneamic, during my period I curse being a woman and wish that someone, anyone would cut out my uterus due to the pain caused (this continues for three days) without eating and going to the toilet atleast every half hour to change a maxi pad – or buy those old womens incontinence nappies! The pill allows me to have a ‘normal’ life as I am considered to young to take drastic measures to remove my uterus and ovaries even though I would happily sign a waiver – I got my first period when I was 9 and loved the day I started the pill at 16, I could go swimming during ‘that time’ and no longer have the pain associated to it.

    Reply
  • admin September 26, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I’m sad to hear that you hate on your period Jewel. This is my point exactly, these conditions are very treatable with the right knowledge and care and best sorted out in our younger years. You too can love your body the entire month around with the right support and care. I’d encourage you to look into how to treat this. Nat x

    Reply
  • We use condoms September 26, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Just putting it out there ladies but using condoms is not a bad thing. The excuse that they are ‘mood killers’ my guess was invented by a lazy man.

    I have herpes and have had it for the last five years. My fiance doesn’t and there is no other option than for us to use condoms so that I don’t accidentally transmit the virus to him. I have to say that getting herpes was a blessing in disguise as it meant that I haven’t been on the pill since the age of 25, I’m now going on 30 and can go into planning a family with a clear mind. That combined with the diet advice that Natalie provides, I’m fast tracking my body to be baby ready well in advance.

    Get off the pill ladies!

    Reply
  • Mrs G September 27, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Yes, you are so very right.
    Women should also be taught to commit and stay in equal relationships in which everything is shared, including contraception (and there is no room for such stupid excuses). But of course that requires a huge amount of independency (and not only on financial level) and self esteem, that many of us unfortunately lack. I consider myself very lucky since I’m married to a responsible and trustworthy man, but I realize that not everybody is as lucky as me.
    This said, I never took the pill in my life, I’m in my late 20s, and I still have fertility issues.

    Reply
  • Steph September 28, 2012 at 3:53 am

    This was a great read. Thanks Nat. I agree, wholeheartedly. I was put on the pill at 17 by doctors to ‘regulate’ my cycle, decrease period pain, etc. After 5 or 6 years, I questioned the need for it. My doctor insisted that it would reduce rates of cancer and had no side effects. I finally got off of BCP 10 years later….27. I wish I was given more information, or wish someone had told me otherwise. I wish I was more informed. I just did what everyone else did. It was the norm. I never learned what it was like to have a normal cycle. For the past two years, I have taken control of my fertility…acupuncture, yoga, meditation, nutrition, and herbal remedies. It takes time to undo what we’ve done to our bodies. I’m learning to be patient and be kind to my body.

    Reply
  • Julz October 2, 2012 at 1:51 am

    I’m interested in getting off the pill, like one of your readers I also was put on the pill very young for reducing severity of bleeding and the pain related to it. I have now been on the pill for more than 10 years, and would like to explore my options. I also make sure I do my own research for peace of mind and I would like to know where you get your statistics from. From the articles (peer reviewed medical journals) I can’t find anything to back up your rate of “up to 96% effective” regarding the lack of motile sperm in pre-ejactulatory fluids.

    Reply
  • admin October 2, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    There is definitely no sperm in pre-ejaculatory fluid – the point of it is that it clears out the ‘pipes’ so to speak. I can find this for you – I’ll have to dig through some text books though! Sit tight, I’ll pop it on my ‘to do’ list.

    Reply
  • Caitlin October 5, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Loved the article, and I didn’t realise that there is no live sperm in the pre-ejaculatory fluid. That’s good to know as I’ve just had my 3rd baby and don’t particularly want a fourth straight away, but refuse to go on the pill and we hate condoms! Think we may give the withdrawal method a go! Thanks Nat!

    Reply
  • Olga April 15, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Wow, thanks for this article, Nat! I was on the pill for many years, have had an IUD, contraceptive injection and now use natural fertility management. It has been a big journey, especially when I asked the doctor for “non hormonal contraception.” She wasn’t even able to fit me for a diaphragm. She told me that there is no demand for it and I had to go to a specialised fertility clinic.

    It was so interesting that every medical person thought I was mad for stopping with hormonal contraception, because I was having no symptoms and no bleeding. I was told that so many women would love to be in my position.

    I guess we have a long way to go in educating women that their bodies are in fact beautiful machines that are trying to help us and not make things harder. I now feel so empowered in my body, I was really disconnected from it before.

    What really struck me with your post was when you said that women who are on the pill have low zinc and unsettled babies. I fell pregnant with my first child very quickly after coming off the pill have craved chocolate ever since I was pregnant, she is now 7. I always knew that I must have had some deficiency, it looks like it may have been the zinc! Oh and she was a colicky baby and I ended up with PND! Wow, thanks for connecting the dots for me.

    You are awesome!!

    Reply
  • mnfadmin April 16, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Such a pleasure! All I want is for people to know this stuff. x

    Reply
  • Alison April 30, 2013 at 10:27 am

    I have been put on the pill by my GP as she has diagnosed me as having PMDD this and the Prozac she also has me on is supposedly going to help with all of my symptoms. It has not helped with anything and I feel I am worse off. I would love any advice you can give on what I can do to treat PMDD without having to take the pill or prozac? Is it possible to have relief from the PMDD symptoms just from changing diet and lifestyle? I really don’t want to be on thees harsh meds for ever :(

    Reply
  • Ecomarket January 21, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Hi Jewel,
    Have you heard of menstrual cups? We just started stocking LaLuna Cup and this may be something that could help you with at least some of your issues. You only need to empty 2-3 times per day and many women report that cramping drastically reduces and hormones become more balanced. You can check it out here: http://www.lalunacup.com/
    Herbal tinctures can also do wonders for PMS symptoms. After reading the book ‘The Red Tent’ is was a welcome reminder that during our cycle it is a time for a woman to rest. So feet up, heat pack on belly, tea in hand with a good book. Sorry world – I’ll be checking out for at least 3 days!

    Reply