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Be In Control of Your Birth Control

by Marissa on August 8, 2012

Last week marked the beginning of a process that will give millions of US women access to contraception without a co-pay. The media has essentially tagged the Patient Protection and Affordability Act as “free birth control.” This is momentous for women and it has certainly been a long time coming.

As a single woman in my early 20’s, birth control became a part of my life at the suggestion of my gynecologist. She was a good doctor and I trusted her. Like the 16 million other American women on the Pill, I considered it a regular part of my life for many years and I never gave it a second thought. It was convenient, I liked the shorter, more predictable, less painful periods.  It just worked.

Then came the lump. 

I was at a routine check-up like any other — I was laying on a table, freezing in a paper gown, staring up at the ceiling and willing the exam to be over when my doctor announced she felt a lump in my right breast.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. 

Long story short, more tests were ordered, my mom traveled to be with me, a biopsy ensued and thankfully the lump turned out to be benign.

It was a scary time and it got me thinking: could my use of The Pill and the continuously high levels of estrogen in my body produced by it have contributed to that lump?

My doctor said no. So I continued taking it for several more years, but even though it was condoned by my doctor something about it didn’t feel right.

Studying holistic nutrition years later gave me the chance to revisit my doubts. I learned that there are a lot more risks to taking it than there are benefits. For one, the steady stream of estrogen that birth control pills pump into the body can create an imbalance that leads to yeast overgrowth, the source of tons of common health problems, recurring yeast infections among them.

I’d had that gut feeling to get off the Pill for a long time and now I was looking at the evidence that gave me no other option than to finally do it. Not ready for babies, I researched my other options, discussed my concerns with my doctor and got David’s support.

We are so fortunate as women in this country not only to have access to contraception but to have options and the ability to research and ask questions when it comes to our own healthcare. 

Some alternatives include condoms (male and female), a diaphragm (these, along with birth control pills are covered under the new law), the cervical cap or NaPro Technology. What method you choose depends on personal preference.

People often ask me if going off the Pill caused weight gain or crazy emotional highs and lows. No and no but eating well and self care are a big deal. There are occasional cramps which I treat with a hot water bottle compress and are alleviated by eating a clean diet. It’s a fact of life that hormone levels fluctuate throughout the month but knowing how to support your body at each phase of your cycle is important. For more on this, check out Alisa Vitti’s groundbreaking work at FloLiving.

I’ve been off the Pill for three years and I like knowing I’m not feeding my body with manufactured hormones.

And the lump? It went away. That’s all the validation I need.

What do you think? Did you have a similar experience a differing opinion or a question on this topic? Share away in the comments below. 

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Sal Vicario
Sal Vicario

the birth control pill, etc. control is not "free" as you must have health insurance which you or your employer has to purchase. As you suggest it also is not devoid of side effects or health risks including stroke, deep vein thrombosis etc.

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