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Author Topic: Birth Control Pills to regulate your cycles  (Read 1679 times)

cartowheel

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Birth Control Pills to regulate your cycles
« on: September 14, 2013, 07:06:00 pm »
As a person who is female-to-male transgender, my cycles can be a painful period (no pun intended), and can cause severe gender dysphoria, since everything about that whole week stamps a giant 'FEMALE BODY' right onto my self-conscious.  I had recently talked to my OBG-YN about my cycle, which is exceptionally heavy (I tend to bleed right through ultra-absorbant tampons), and she recommended birth control pills.  I told her that I'd think about it, since I've heard from multiple people, all of which know people on the pills but have never touched them, that they're not a good thing to do.

I've read the health concerns about them, but have valid reasons to take them, as a lighter or non-existent cycle would make life a tad easier and tame some dysphoria and anxieties at the same time.  However, I'm not sure how, if I decide to go on testosterone hormones later in life (which is almost guaranteed), well the transfer from one drug messing with my hormones to another would be or how they'd react to one another.

For those with experience with these pills, just in general or who are transgender themselves, I'd like some advice, please and thank you.

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Re: Birth Control Pills to regulate your cycles
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2013, 07:43:16 pm »
Quote from: cartowheel;121682

For those with experience with these pills, just in general or who are transgender themselves, I'd like some advice, please and thank you.

 
(Cisgender female here)

I took birth control pills from about 1997 to 2007, mostly for birth control purposes (I was in my early 20s through early 30s), and it was a generally good thing for me.

(I went off them because I was no longer in a relationship, birth control wasn't an issue, and I wanted to do some poking at longer-term health foo where not having daily medication affecting my body was helpful.)

The actual risks are very well mapped, in terms of major concerns. (Blood clots, stroke, etc.) The thing is that there's dozens of different formulations, and people respond to them differently - it's pretty common to have to try a couple of variations to find one that works well and doesn't give you annoying side effects. Hormones and bodies are sort of like that. (And the Pill is a combination of several hormones, which makes it more complicated.) But most of those side effects are 'this is annoying' not 'this is seriously messing up my life/long-term health'.

We had to try me on three variants (first one had some emotional weirdness that didn't get better after a couple of months, the second one gave me a reliable migraine on a particular day of the cycle, the third one was generally great, though I think contributed to some sexual health things that got better after I went off the pill. There is good reason to stick with a particular formulation for 2-3 months if you can and the side effects aren't seriously disruptive, because often your body does adapt, but it stretches out the time you're fussing with finding the right thing.)

My cycles have always been seriously irregular, and I really miss the predictability of knowing when I'd be bleeding and how much (and on the Pill those times were relatively short and much less of a pain to deal with than otherwise.)

You do also know that the bleeding week is entirely artificial, right? It's not actually technically a period (as I understand it), and it was built in because research showed a lot of women found it reassuring. There's a number of variants these days where you just don't have a bleeding week (or have, say, one a year) - either it's built into the Pill cycle, or you just take active pills continuously. In your particular case, that might be really worth discussing with your doctor.

Assuming you don't have other risk factors, I think the biggest thing to try and sort out would be when you'd want to look at hormonal transition - like I said, figuring out a Pill variant that works well for you can take 2-3 months per variant you try. It'd be a lot of fussing to try that, if you knew you wanted to aim at starting testosterone a year from now. If the latter's further out, though, then it might make more sense to put the time in sorting out the Pill (or at least giving it a try) now.
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cartowheel

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Re: Birth Control Pills to regulate your cycles
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2013, 07:57:56 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;121684

The actual risks are very well mapped, in terms of major concerns. (Blood clots, stroke, etc.) The thing is that there's dozens of different formulations, and people respond to them differently - it's pretty common to have to try a couple of variations to find one that works well and doesn't give you annoying side effects. Hormones and bodies are sort of like that. (And the Pill is a combination of several hormones, which makes it more complicated.) But most of those side effects are 'this is annoying' not 'this is seriously messing up my life/long-term health'.

We had to try me on three variants (first one had some emotional weirdness that didn't get better after a couple of months, the second one gave me a reliable migraine on a particular day of the cycle, the third one was generally great, though I think contributed to some sexual health things that got better after I went off the pill. There is good reason to stick with a particular formulation for 2-3 months if you can and the side effects aren't seriously disruptive, because often your body does adapt, but it stretches out the time you're fussing with finding the right thing.)

My cycles have always been seriously irregular, and I really miss the predictability of knowing when I'd be bleeding and how much (and on the Pill those times were relatively short and much less of a pain to deal with than otherwise.)

You do also know that the bleeding week is entirely artificial, right? It's not actually technically a period (as I understand it), and it was built in because research showed a lot of women found it reassuring. There's a number of variants these days where you just don't have a bleeding week (or have, say, one a year) - either it's built into the Pill cycle, or you just take active pills continuously. In your particular case, that might be really worth discussing with your doctor.

Assuming you don't have other risk factors, I think the biggest thing to try and sort out would be when you'd want to look at hormonal transition - like I said, figuring out a Pill variant that works well for you can take 2-3 months per variant you try. It'd be a lot of fussing to try that, if you knew you wanted to aim at starting testosterone a year from now. If the latter's further out, though, then it might make more sense to put the time in sorting out the Pill (or at least giving it a try) now.

 
That makes a lot of sense, thank you.  ^_^  

My monthly cycles is literally bleeding for a whole 7 days, is what I meant by the week thing.

And the people that I had talked to made it sound like it was some horrific thing to do if you're not trying to prevent pregnancy - I'm currently engaged to another female-bodied individual, so there's no risk there - so I wasn't so sure about it.  I might see if I can schedule an appointment with my doctor to discuss it with her.  I just wanted to get advice from those who have experience with this.

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Birth Control Pills to regulate your cycles
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2013, 08:41:00 pm »
Quote from: cartowheel;121686
That makes a lot of sense, thank you.  ^_^  

My monthly cycles is literally bleeding for a whole 7 days, is what I meant by the week thing.

And the people that I had talked to made it sound like it was some horrific thing to do if you're not trying to prevent pregnancy - I'm currently engaged to another female-bodied individual, so there's no risk there - so I wasn't so sure about it.  I might see if I can schedule an appointment with my doctor to discuss it with her.  I just wanted to get advice from those who have experience with this.

Cisgender female, as well.

I've been on Yaz (well, the generic Gianvi) for about 5 years now, since I was 16. I was in the same boat you seem to be in right now. I was PMSing for a week before, the 7-10 days of super-tampons-every-two-hours bleeding, then another week of P(ost)MS. Not to mention zit-central on my face and chest.

I've never had any noticeable health concerns while on it, but I do have a monthly period. If my understanding of the science is correct, you get 24 days of the hormones, then 4 days of a much lower dose to induce the bleeding. I start each 28-day pack on a Sunday, and exactly 27 days later, on Saturday afternoon I get my period. Then I start a new pack the next day and the bleeding stops by Wednesday, maaaaaybe Thursday at the latest.

It works well for me and Boyfriend. But if you want a less frequent cycle, do talk to your gyno. S/he may have something in mind, and may know what to do in terms of hormone replacement.
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beachglass

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Re: Birth Control Pills to regulate your cycles
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2013, 08:59:58 pm »
Quote from: cartowheel;121686
My monthly cycles is literally bleeding for a whole 7 days, is what I meant by the week thing.


(Another cis female)

I had pretty nasty periods until I got on the Pill.  I've taken it pretty much straight through since college (10+ years) and now I barely notice when I'm on my period/withdrawal week. (I also use a menstrual cup which is great for out-of-sight-out-of-mind.)  It's usually about 3 days now, versus my previous 5 days plus cramping and headaches.

I've never noticed any serious side-effects myself, even when I was on the patch, which is a higher dose. I've occasionally skipped the withdrawal week with no apparent problems.  For me, the possible side effects were an acceptable risk, especially since I am a generally healthy nonsmoker who rarely has reactions to meds. I also happen to think that the side effects of the Pill sometimes get exaggerated. Consider that in some other countries they are available OTC.

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And the people that I had talked to made it sound like it was some horrific thing to do if you're not trying to prevent pregnancy

 
So, my first through here was, "How do your ovaries know if you are taking the Pill because you want to regulate your period versus prevent pregnancy? Heck, some people take it to prevent acne!" But I'm guessing that perhaps they meant that it was only worth the risk of side effects if it was balanced against the risk of pregnancy? That's a question I think you can only answer for yourself with the help of your OB-GYN.

I don't have any experience with the transgender aspect of your question, but again I would say if you haven't also talked to your doctor about your concern about the interaction of the Pill with transition hormones, I would do that. She should be able to help answer your questions or find someone who can. (Not to say that you should discount others' experiences, just that your doctor can help shed light on the whys and wherefores.)
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Re: Birth Control Pills to regulate your cycles
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2013, 01:45:05 pm »
Quote from: cartowheel;121682
For those with experience with these pills, just in general or who are transgender themselves, I'd like some advice, please and thank you.

 
Another cis female here.

I went on the pill when I was 15 to regulate my cycle, as it was highly erratic. It mostly solved the issue of having my period for a week on, then nothing for a week, and then bleeding for two and a half, etc.; unfortunately it did very little for my cramps, lethargy, depressed mood, or massive anxiety around bleeding. (I've never had a term to explain it, but my period upsets me a lot; my brain just yells NOT RIGHT.) My number of headache days also increased significantly (I am prone to migraines.)

I went on depo (the birth control shot) when I was 19 and it changed my life. After about 6 months my period stopped completely- no cramps, no mood swings, no anxiety. I usually got a nasty headache the day of or the day after the shot, but the number of my headache days in general went down by a lot. I also developed some intense food cravings, and I've put on about 12 pounds since I started the shot 8 years ago. But I also lead an entirely too sedentary life; I hardly exercise at all.

At any rate- definitely talk to you doctor about it. There are lots of different options with different levels and kinds of hormones, which may suit your needs better than others.
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Birth Control Pills to regulate your cycles
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2013, 02:06:27 pm »
Quote from: cartowheel;121682
For those with experience with these pills, just in general or who are transgender themselves, I'd like some advice, please and thank you.

Hello! I'm also FTM. I haven't been on birth control since college, mostly because I didn't notice a lot of difference on the Pill, and now I have health issues that make me wary about hormones in general. I admit I haven't talked to a doctor about it in years, though, and I probably should. XD
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victoreia

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Re: Birth Control Pills to regulate your cycles
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2013, 01:24:44 am »
Quote from: beachglass;121700
(Another cis female)

 I also happen to think that the side effects of the Pill sometimes get exaggerated. Consider that in some other countries they are available OTC.
 

 
(Yet another cis female) I had to respond to this. Yes, side effects can get exaggerated, but PLEASE don't discount them. I was on Yaz for about two and a half to three years; a family history of blood clots put a stop to that. (Technically, the multiple pulmonary embolisms got me pulled off the Yaz.)

Absolutely talk to your doctor. Absolutely make a list of questions/concerns and take that with you when you talk to her. Also go over as much of your family medical history with her as you can; if anyone on either side of your family has any history of clots, I would recommend getting tested for clotting disorders.

I say the above because my dad has a clotting disorder, which I mentioned to my doc. But she (going, I'm sure, by what the drug company tells their customers) felt there wouldn't be a problem, since it was my dad's history, not mine. Needless to say, it was a problem. (I found out much later that one of my dad's sisters also has the same clotting disorder, and also threw clots while on birth control.)

If you and your doctor determine the benefits outweigh the risks, go for it. But try to get all the info you can. Good luck, whatever you decide.
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mandrina

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Re: Birth Control Pills to regulate your cycles
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2013, 02:51:34 pm »
Quote from: victoreia;122094
(Yet another cis female) I had to respond to this. Yes, side effects can get exaggerated, but PLEASE don't discount them. I was on Yaz for about two and a half to three years; a family history of blood clots put a stop to that. (Technically, the multiple pulmonary embolisms got me pulled off the Yaz.)

Absolutely talk to your doctor. Absolutely make a list of questions/concerns and take that with you when you talk to her. Also go over as much of your family medical history with her as you can; if anyone on either side of your family has any history of clots, I would recommend getting tested for clotting disorders.


I say the above because my dad has a clotting disorder, which I mentioned to my doc. But she (going, I'm sure, by what the drug company tells their customers) felt there wouldn't be a problem, since it was my dad's history, not mine. Needless to say, it was a problem. (I found out much later that one of my dad's sisters also has the same clotting disorder, and also threw clots while on birth control.)

If you and your doctor determine the benefits outweigh the risks, go for it. But try to get all the info you can. Good luck, whatever you decide.

Now both I and my daughter have used the pill for birth control (OK, it didnt work very well for me) but neither of us had any side effects.  HOWEVER, we have no family history of clotting issues.  At all.

I'm backing up Victoreia here,  check your medical history and your families carefully before going on a pill.  They can be very effect for period control, but just make sure.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2013, 02:54:10 pm by mandrina »
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Re: Birth Control Pills to regulate your cycles
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2013, 04:22:11 pm »
Quote from: victoreia;122094
I had to respond to this. Yes, side effects can get exaggerated, but PLEASE don't discount them.


I hope I didn't imply that because some people sometimes exaggerate side effects, that side effects could just be discounted. To be clear, I only meant that I think the exaggeration does happen, so it's something to keep in mind, especially when hearing a second- or third-hand account from a layperson.

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If you and your doctor determine the benefits outweigh the risks, go for it. But try to get all the info you can. Good luck, whatever you decide.


I think we all agree here. :)
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Birth Control Pills to regulate your cycles
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2013, 09:46:19 pm »
Quote from: cartowheel;121682
...

For those with experience with these pills, just in general or who are transgender themselves, I'd like some advice, please and thank you.

Another cis-female here.

Hormonal contraceptives did nothing for me except prevent pregnancy.  It didn't matter whether I took pill or shot - my periods remained heavy and uncomfortable...and didn't stop until I had medical intervention.

(Endometrial ablation, followed one year later by an hysterectomy when my body decided to try and regrow the endometrium.  Yes, I have odd medical foo.)

My experience isn't too common, but it happens.  I agree with talking to your OB-GYN; mine is amazing and really worked to help me.
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Birth Control Pills to regulate your cycles
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2013, 02:02:54 am »
Quote from: cartowheel;121682
For those with experience with these pills, just in general or who are transgender themselves, I'd like some advice, please and thank you.

I'm a cis woman too.

I miss birth control pills like crazy - they were the only thing that *really* helped with periods so heavy that I regularly end up anemic as a result. I can't take them anymore - they had the side effect of raising my blood pressure to dangerous levels. However, I have family history of high blood pressure, and I'm told it's not a very common side effect. These days I take tranexamic acid on heavy days, which increases blood clotting temporarily - that does help quite a bit. It has similar risks, given that it's intended to increase clotting, but there are no actual heart attacks or strokes in my family background so I figure it's a low risk for me. There are a range of things that can help with periods - it's about finding a safe one for you, really. I hope you find something that works with your hormonal and other concerns.
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cartowheel

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Re: Birth Control Pills to regulate your cycles
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2013, 08:42:24 am »
Thanks again for all of the responses.  C:

I'll definitely call in to schedule an appointment the next time I'm home from school.

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