Birth control with a side of cancer, weight gain, and decreased libido?

If you happened to have read my About page, you’ll see that I planned on writing about difficult topics and issues such as politics, relationships, and sex. With that said, I wanted to talk a little bit about that last one, sex – well kind of.

I have been on the fence now for quite some time – about 5 years – on birth control. I’ve been on the pill since I was about 16 and I really haven’t had any adverse side effects or real serious problems from taking it. However, I have never agreed with taking synthetic hormones for my own pleasure knowing all the health risks and problems caused by oral contraceptives. And so began the research to determine to pill or not to pill.

For those of you who don’t know, birth control pills are made from synthetic, man-made completely unnatural, hormones. These hormones are meant to mimic progesterone and estrogen, but these synthetic forms of hormones are not the same as the ones our bodies produce. Meaning they do not react the same within the body as our own hormones do. However, due the fact that they mimic our hormones, they do prevent pregnancy, or rather ovulation, but this does come at a cost.

Some of the adverse side effects to taking oral contraceptives according to this article and this article are:

  • increased risk of breast cancer
  • severe depression and emotional changes
  • chest pain and heart attack
  • stroke
  • liver damage
  • yellowing of the eyes and skin
  • reduction in libido and sexuality
  • nausea, bloating, and vomiting
  • hypertension
  • deep vein thrombosis (blood clot)
  • pulmonary embolism
  • allergic reactions
  • acne
  • headaches

The list really does go on and on, sadly these are just a few. There were some “health benefits” listed to taking the pill, but they seemed to be linked back to studies that were conducted by sponsors of birth control manufacturers, which is a complete conflict of interest.

With this growing list of risk factors, how can I logically put such a thing into my body? Well, let’s all be honest, I’ve been with the Train going on 6 years now and I’m not a firm believer in “waiting until marriage.” More importantly, I’m not ready to be a parent, so I have always been comfortable with taking the measures to prevent such situations from happening. I’m at the point in my life though where I’m not willing to sacrifice my body – and health – in the name of my own sexual enjoyment. But I really do not want to worry about becoming pregnant when the Z man and I are not ready.

So what to do? Part of me thinks if I’m not mature enough to have a baby, then I’m not mature enough to be doing that of which causes a baby, while another part of me thinks it’s now 2011 and why shouldn’t I enjoy sexual freedom. What to do, what to do?

I don’t know whether or not I’ll continue with my birth control regiment, but I do know I’m going to be doing a lot more reading and investigating the topic. For now, how do you all feel about birth control? Were you aware of the many side effects? If not, what do you think of them? What is your opinion on taking oral contraceptives?


12 thoughts on “Birth control with a side of cancer, weight gain, and decreased libido?

  1. Hey Chels,

    I think this is a great issue to bring up because I really feel young women these days feel an oral contraceptive is the only way to prevent pregnancy. And that’s just not true. There are so many other ways that don’t involve taking synthetic hormones. Sure, having to stop the ‘hot and heavy’ to take prevenative measures can be a tad annoying, but it beats an unwanted pregnancy any day!

    If you’re in a serious, committed relationship and you’re not worried about STDs, tracking your cycle can be one way to keep the stork at bay. No, it’s not 100 percent effective, but understanding your own menstrual calendar is important. Check out the book, “Taking charge of your fertility.”

    Okay, before this turns into a blog post of my own, I’ll quit and say I got off the pill after being on it for 5 years. I did it for health reasons–my mother has a history of bloodclots and the estrogen in birth control acts as a coagulent. The risk to me just didn’t seem worth it when, like I said, there are tons of other ways.
    However, I do feel like my body is still adjusting even though it’s been almost a year, which is no doubt frustrating.

    • Carrie

      You rock! Thank you for all the information! Go ahead and blog your own post any time 🙂

      Yes I agree with you, there are other ways to be sexually active with your partner and prevent pregnancy other than the pill and I actually have looked into the calendar method. But like you said, it’s a little more frustrating and not as easy as popping a pill every morning with my green smoothies.

      Breast Cancer runs in my family, which my grandmother died of, so I’m leaning more and more towards getting off it to, because like you said, the risks aren’t worth it.

      Keep the great comments coming!

  2. Hey,
    I was on the pill for about a month. I was sick all the time, had my lovely monthly gift 3 times that month! Plus got pregnant with Payton! I hated how it made me feel. I did not know about all the other risk with it. Amazing how doctors don’t tell you all that! After I had Myah we decided we are 95% sure we are done, but there is still that 5% of me that is not ready to “fully” commit to only 3 kids 🙂 Anyways I got the mirena. What do you think of it, have you heard about side effects with it?

    • I have even worse feelings towards mirena because there are more risk I feel with an IUD than oral contraceptives (internal damage along with the hormones). I don’t know though because I haven’t done enough research on mirena as I have BC. I’ve heard it can damage the uterus walls and even go through the uterus walls. But like I said, I haven’t done enough research to know everything about it. How do you like it so far?

      • Well this is the first time I have went on any kind of birth control since having Payton 5 years ago. And I have noticed this time I am having the hardest time losing the baby weight! With both the boys it only took a few months. With Myah she is a year in 2 days and I still have a ways to go. I am not sure if that is from the birth control or just from having 3 kids:) So I don;t know I like knowing that I am not going to get pregnant but I hate the thought of the side effects!

  3. Hi Chica!

    What a great, interesting post!

    Like you, I’ve been on BC for years due to terrible cramps etc. I’ve looked into this quite a bit to but found that talking to my doctor about it has helped the most. It still scares me a little because it is a drug we are putting into our bodies, but as of right now I don’t know what else would help substantially with cramping etc. So that’s really the main reson I’ve stayed on for so long. I’ve talked to my doctor about all those side affects and concerns I have and she really helped talk me through them, and we talked about if I’m at risk etc.

    So like you I keep doing my research but until I find something else that really helps with that I think I’ll stick to the BC.

    Keep me posted on your research though! Good luck!

    • Thanks for the post Megan! I’ll keep you posted if I find any alternatives for cramps other than BC. I don’t suffer from bad cramps (most of the time) so I’ve not looked into it, but I will keep my eyes on the look out for anything.


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