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 healthtalks) Melissa 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.