Birth Control

3 Oct

So, I’ve been on the pill since I was 17 years old.  I’m 29 now.  That means that for the last 12 years I’ve ingested a pill every single night before falling asleep (0k, you know I forgot some of the time, but most nights).  The brand of the pill has changed from Othro-Tri-Cyclen to Yasmin, and now to Seasonale.  I started taking the pill to ease my intense period and cramps and now, among other reasons, I also take it so that I can only get my period 4 times a year.  I’m prone to intense migraines and cramps, so this 4 time a year period thing has been amazing for me.  I know some people have their doubts about what skipping your period can do to your body, but for me, the good outweighed the bad.   

But, my intro isn’t really what this post is about because although the pill and I have been BFF for the past 12 years, I’m planning on breaking up with it soon.  Now, mom (and MIL) before you get excited, we aren’t trying for a baby right now.   But, I’ve read so much about people going through pill withdrawal and having a very difficult time returning to a normal cycle after so many years on the pill.  Also, my body has been pumped with hormones since I was 17.  I’m really curious what it would be like to forgo my daily pill intake.  My biggest fear is that the pill is masking some underlying stuff that’s going on with my body.  I have no reason to believe this, except that I’m turning into a hypochondriac and think something is wrong with my fertility and the only way for me to know for sure, is to start getting my period regularly. I brought this fear up to my doctor, and he assured me that based on my history, there would be absolutely no reason to believe that I would have any trouble with fertility.  That made me feel a little better…but not 100% better. 

But reading about going off the pill also made me curious about other forms of birth control.  The one that’s most appealing to me right now is the Fertility Awareness Method (different from Natural Family Planning, because NFP is a little less comprehensive, meaning  FAMers can use other methods of birth control whenever they want).  I don’t have Taking Charge of Your Fertility yet, but it’s super intriguing to me.  Not only could it help us naturally avoid pregnancy, but when we decide that we are ready to get pregnant, I will be far more educated and in tune with my body, which (hopefully) will make the conceiving process much easier. 

To help with this process, I would love to have the Lady Comp, but at nearly $500 a pop, I’m pretty sure a regular thermometer, paper, and pen will be the route I’ll go.  Anyone else versed in FAM?  What websites/books would you recommend?

13 Responses to “Birth Control”

  1. iftinkerbellknit 10/03/2010 at 9:41 pm #

    Yay for going off of hormones! I know it can be scary, especially if you experience migraines and heavy periods (I do) but the awareness you get of your body from charting is amazing and liberating.

    Mr Pretzel and I have been practicing they Sympto-thermal method of NFP for about 7 months now. We took a three month course from the Couple to Couple league (a Catholic group) and I also purchased the Taking Charge of Your Fertility book and we chart online at TCOYF website. The basics of NFP and TCOYF are for the most part identical.

    I have to disagree with the FAM website (and your summary) that FAM is more comprehensive than NFP. From what I have seen the way in which FAM is calculated is less accurate or conservative than the calculation in the sympto-thermal method of NFP and there appears to be much more room for error with the FAM calculations but admittedly I am getting this from a 20 minute review of their website. The main difference between NFP and FAM is that NFP advocates abstinence over contraception- the science behind NFP is no less sound.

    I would totally recommend getting the TCOYF book and using their online charting tool. After practicing for 7 months here are some lessons I would pass on:
    1)Even though it is hard to track mucus and cervical position-do it. Even if you think you can’t tell the difference try every day and after a couple months it will make sense. Your temperature can be thrown off by so many things (not enough sleep, drinking alcohol, stress, etc) that you really want these secondary signs to fall back on.
    2) Involve your husband. Have him write down the observations. In all methods of FAM/NFP the effectiveness is greatly increased if the husband is involved.
    3) Join a community where you can get support reviewing your charts. With CCL I have coaches who can review my charts if I have questions. TCOYF has forums where you can get similar support.
    4) Don’t forget your basal thermometer! I forgot mine on our honeymoon and had to buy another that only did Celsius. (boo) Normal thermometers don’t measure to 10ths of degrees.
    Sorry for the mega long comment- obviously this is something I am passionate about. 🙂 Good luck!

    PS: I totally suggest picking up “Fertility, Cycles, & Nutrition” by Marilyn Shannon for some ways nutrition can help with PMS, heavy periods, etc.

    • kelsey@mintedlife 10/04/2010 at 10:31 am #

      Thanks for the super helpful info!! I really, really appreciate it. I know that I will refer back to this as soon as we start. Also, just to clarify, I meant more comprehensive, meaning I can use other methods (such as condoms) whenever I want in addition to charting. Not meaning that the charting method is more comprehensive. Hope that makes sense.

  2. Sunny 10/04/2010 at 7:00 am #

    I just read TCOYF and loved the method and lack of hormones being pumped into my body because I’m also convinced that fertility is going to be an issue although it shouldn’t.
    My problem with it is that I rarely sleep straight through the night and before you take your temp you’re supposed to have slept at least 3 hours and that’s nearly impossible for me so I guess BC is my only option.

    • kelsey@mintedlife 10/04/2010 at 10:33 am #

      I think there are other options to determining your fertility other than just temperature, so don’t give up yet!!

  3. Becca 10/04/2010 at 7:25 am #

    I came off the pill as soon as my now-husband and I started getting serious – likewise not for getting pregnant straight away, but once we’d got to the stage where doing so wouldn’t be a total disaster, and in order to give my body a chance to return to normal before we did start trying.

    Honestly, I always struggled with the pill – I was on the Depo Provera injection, and the weeks surrounding the jab were a bit of a rollercoaster, so being at the whim of my own natural hormones has been a blessing.

    We stayed with condoms, because I don’t think I’d have the patience to do all the calculations, but I’d be really interested to hear what you think of it!

  4. Chelsey / Gloss 10/04/2010 at 8:00 am #

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve been off BC for awhile since I was regretting pumping chemicals into my body and would like to understand more about what goes on down there in preparation for baby-making (although that scares me to no end). So, I’m thinking I’m going to start charting soon if you need a buddy 🙂

    • kelsey@mintedlife 10/04/2010 at 10:32 am #

      I definitely will need a buddy! I’m clueless, so I would love to talk about any lessons learned and figuring out how all of this works!

  5. Mina 10/04/2010 at 10:00 am #

    i’ve heard so much about the taking control of your fertility book. i wish i had more advice to offer you, but good luck!

  6. Jessica 10/04/2010 at 7:05 pm #

    I went off my BC right before we got married in May. I hated the way I felt on it (low sex drive and period issues) so I ditched it. I feel a lot better but I can tell my flow is a bit heavier making one day out of my week HELL. Supposedly my body will get back on track but it’s been a crazy few months.

    Like you, no baby making for me but being off the BC makes hubs so paranoid. Boys are silly.

  7. Lisa 10/04/2010 at 9:39 pm #

    I went of hormonal birth control in May in favor of FAM (TCOYF is awesome, btw), and my cycles still haven’t returned to normal! Granted I’ve always been pretty irregular, so I can’t blame it all on the synthetic hormones. Our problem is that because I’m not ovulating, FAM isn’t really an option if we want to prevent pregnancy. My temps are totally erratic, as are the other fertility signs. There’s just no way of knowing whether or not I’m ovulating at any particular point in time! I’m currently taking chasteberry and Vitamin B6, as well as attempting to lose weight, in hopes of regulating my cycle. Hopefully I’ll be back on the FAM bandwagon soon! 🙂

  8. Skye Moffitt 10/08/2010 at 1:33 pm #

    Hi Kelsey,

    I meant to comment on this one. We used our own version of the FAM method, and still do. It works great for us…I hate being on birth control and haven’t been for over 10 years. Some people laugh at me and say that we should be more careful, but it has worked great for many years! Hope this isn’t too much information…I doubt that it is 🙂

    • kelsey@mintedlife 10/08/2010 at 6:57 pm #

      Definitely not too much! We’ll have to talk about this next time we hang out!

  9. Brianna 01/26/2011 at 2:26 am #

    Stumbled upon this, and thought I’d mention that my husband and I recently started using FAM and I chart using and it’s great. If you’re still interested in using FAM, I’d definitely recommend it.

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