They say that no one knows your body better than you— how you feel and what causes you discomfort or pain. I moved here to Canada last June, I knew that once I arrived I had to wait a period of three months for the health care to cover me, therefore I brought in my suitcase a whole set of the medicines I usually take when I know my body is not feeling right, in it I brought the last six packs of birth control I had been prescribed. I am a married woman and right now my husband and I have decided not to have kids. I’m not saying this a permanent decision, but either way that’s a whole different story. These pills were not giving me any weird secondary side effects, except the usual mood swings and low sex drive. Everything was going fine, even though I had already spoken with my husband in a few occasions that I wanted to get off the pill. He agreed, yet in the meantime while we found another way to practice safe sex we’d stick to birth control pills.
Once my last pack of pills ran out, I rushed to the nearest walk in clinic with the original box of the pills I was taking. I had been prescribed these pills by my gynaecologist back home. She advised me to take a couple of tests to make sure they were the right for me, so I made sure I explained this to the doctor at the walk in clinic near my house. I handed to him my old box of birth control pills as I explained him why was I given a couple of test before I was prescribed to those pills. He took a look at the box went out the room and came back with my new prescriptions.
I trusted the doctors knowledge, therefore I didn’t really look at the pills components when I arrived home-first mistake.
As days went by I started feeling more anxious than normal, thought it was because of the pressure I was feeling at work. Depression started kicking in, I cried for every thing, yet I thought that I was feeling homesick because it was December and it was my first Christmas being away from my family and friends. I didn’t pay too much attention to my anxiety and depression throughout this month, as many things were going on. It was also my first winter in and I was aware that during this season many people do get depressed due to so many factors.
The last weeks of January took a huge hit on me, mentally and physically. I woke up one day feeling my right breast very tender, also this weird pain starting on my right armpit that went up to my neck and this hard pounding on the right side of my head. This pain lasted for a couple of days, but didn’t really put too much mind into it, as I thought I was on my ovulation days. On the last Sunday morning of January I took my birth control pill as usual, I went back to lay in bed with my phone to text my mom and friends back home. All of a sudden I started feeling this fast pounding on my chest, my arm started getting this numbness/tingly feeling and first thing I did was google the symptoms - not the brightest idea. First thing that popped up was STROKE SYMPTOMS. I started getting a faster pound on my chest and I was barely able to breath right, I told my husband that I thought I was having a stroke, so he drove me to that same walk in clinic. I waited for about 20 minutes until I was called in to be checked by the doctor. As we sat down, my husband and I started analyzing everything that could've triggered this feeling and everything pointed to the new birth control pills I was taking.
Door opens and the same doctor that gave me the prescriptions for the pills came in. He measured my blood pressure and asked me to describe what was I feeling. He asked me if I was taking any prescription drugs and I told him that the only pills I was taking were the ones he had prescribed me in November. He told me right away that what I had suffered was in fact an anxiety attack, and that it was "normal" while taking these pills. I had so many mixed feelings, I was shocked, scared, amazed by how easy it is for someone to speak about how "normal" it was for a woman to suffer these mental and physical symptoms.
My body, our decision.
After we got out of the walk in clinic, first thing I told my husband was that I was going to look for another birth control method. Luckily he was very supportive as we went through all the side effects that ALL birth control pills had. This past month I did lots of research to find out what birth control method we were going to use. I found a support group online that guided me through, which also helped me look outside the usual hormonal contraception methods, as I wanted to avoid giving my body more hormones than it should have. I started reading Toni Weschler's book "Taking care of your fertility", which has helped me understand the female body. It is crazy how ignorant I've been my whole life about my own body. For now, I'm trying to detox my body from all the birth control pills I took by trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, started taking certain vitamins my body needed as these pills lowers them.
As a woman trying to understand herself, I encourage you to learn your body and any weird symptom you feel. I also suggest to you to find the best birth control method that suits you, unfortunately for me birth control pills were more of a curse than a blessing, but hey, we are all different, what didn't work for me, might work for you.