The Big Birth Control Question

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Last night was really fun!  A big group of us went bowling at our favorite alley.  The beer and curly fries were flowing.  :)  My game, however, was not.  I never broke 100.


I had a lot of fun trying to make Chai tea for everyone before we left.   I don’t know what happened, but I could NOT get the tea to pour out of the tea pot; I made a huge mess.  Huge mess!  (Not drunk!)


This morning, I woke up kind of late and made myself a nice breakfast:


Pumpkin Oatmeal!


  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup rice milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 sliced banana
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • Cinnamon
  • Toppings: almonds, flax, brown sugar


The Big Birth Control Question


This morning on Twitter, Jenny and I started to discuss the latest celeb gossip news that entertainment host Giuliana Rancic is starting infertility treatments.  Her doctor advised her to gain 5 pounds in order to help her become pregnant, to which she responded, “My diagnosis was I wasn’t ovulating consistently and so my doctor recommended that I gain weight in order to start ovulating consistently. He said five to 10 pounds, which I know isn’t a big deal but I had to bite that bullet because I work out every day of my life. I love feeling good, waking up, working out.”


Besides the fact that I think she’s sending out a terrible message that gaining 5 measly pounds in order to have a baby is worth freaking out over, the issue prompted me to think about the big birth control issue.


I know a few athletic bloggers with a healthy body fat percentage (maybe 17 – 22%) who don’t get their periods (AKA amenorrhea).  I’ve been on birth control pills for the last 10 years, have 18% body fat, and work out 5 – 6 hours a week.  I’m very healthy, but I have NO IDEA if I would get my period naturally.  The only way I would find out is if I would go off BC, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon.


I’m always concerned about taking drugs that cover up symptoms because then I’m not aware of a problem.   There is a long, long list of causes of primary and secondary amenorrhea, like stress, hormonal imbalances, and exercise, and the lack of a period can have serious consequences.   (Of course, an eating disorder can disrupt your period, but that’s a whole other issue.)


This issue is really concerning me! 


So… I’m interesting to hear your thoughts (if you’re a lady reader, I suppose!).   What kind of birth control do you use and why?  If you’re athletic, do you get your period naturally?  What does your doctor say?  Do you get your period regularity or not?  Do you think about the big birth control issue, too?



  • Molly @thevegandorm February 27, 2010, 10:12 am

    I’ve actually never gotten my period naturally, due to hormone imbalance (not made any easier by working out as much as I do). At first I assumed it was actually due to the exercise, until my gynecologist a few years ago was like, “By the way, you can’t have children.” Wow, I’m 16 years old, thanks, haha.

    • Caitlin February 27, 2010, 10:16 am

      Have hope! My friend’s doctor told her that so she stopped using condoms… The next month, she was pregnant. Whoops. I hope you can have children in the future, if you want to.

      • Shelly February 27, 2010, 4:15 pm

        My friend was told that her husband and his brother couldn’t conceive children because of a genetic condition they have- now both guys have children! My friend was pleasantly surprised, to say the least. 🙂

    • Sara March 1, 2010, 2:36 pm

      I have a similar story. My friend was told she could never have children — now she has four boys including a set of twins!! Anythings possible

    • Shelby July 20, 2010, 12:52 pm

      I was told the exact same thing for the exact same reason when I was 16 years old. I guess we’ll find out, huh? Have hope though. Always 🙂

  • Emily February 27, 2010, 10:12 am

    I use Novum (or something like that). I’m not by any means athletic, but without birth control I either have a constant period (month at a time) or no period. I also cramp HORRIBLY if I’m not on it. I’ve always had this issue and birth control is the only thing that regulates it.

    Oatmeal looks yummy!! =]

  • Nicole @ Making Good Choices February 27, 2010, 10:13 am

    I ALWAYS think about this. I am athletic and healthy and have been on BC since I was 18, so for 7 years now. I hate being on it, but am NOT ready to be a mom and I don’t really want to rely on other options. My doctor says that this is the best way, but who really knows? Every year I bring it up to her but she basically just says its fine. I hate the idea that I am taking it every day to regulate my body, but for now it’s what works.

  • Kelly February 27, 2010, 10:13 am

    Like you I’ve been on the pill for years- almost 8, yikes! Before that my period was not all that regular, but my doctor though it was okay because I didn’t get my period until I was 15, so it had only been a couple of years. Even now, on the pill, I have skipped months of my period if I am particularly stressed, or start working out more than usual. My doctor never seems concerned about it. My weight is completely normal (BMI 22) and not even on the major low end of things…
    I do hope that I can get my period normally when I go off the pill, but I have no idea if I will be able to. I don’t think gaining 5 pounds will help me though since I don’t think being “underweight” is the issue. I think I will have to stress out less, of course easier said than done 🙂

  • Lauren February 27, 2010, 10:14 am

    I take Zovia and I mainly take it because I have HORRIBLE periods – I’m talking heavy and The Worst Cramps Ever. I’ve been switching birth control up a bit to try to get it under control, but in the process it makes it less under control.

    I have never not had my period to being physically active though (I used to be a dancer back before I was on birth control).

    • Pam December 12, 2013, 4:26 pm

      My daughter had a stroke at the age of 26 when she was on Zovia. She has always been very health conscience, doesn’t smoke. I’d be careful. It is a
      very frightening thing to experience

  • Heather February 27, 2010, 10:15 am

    I don’t use any birth control. I don’t want to have to worry about the side effects that can be caused by them. I also don’t want children, ever, so I do plan on having tubal ligation at some point in the future. I am engaged, and my fiance and I are very, very careful. I always get my period like clockwork.

    • Caitlin February 27, 2010, 10:17 am

      Do you use condoms? Or the pull-out method? I’m always curious about the effectiveness of natural methods!

      • Heather February 27, 2010, 10:46 am

        We do use condoms and also the pull-out method. So far it has worked fine for 2+ years! But, we are very, very careful. I do think that natural methods can be very effective, but that it totally depends on how well it’s practiced. I guess you could say we’re very disciplined, haha. I’ve never considered going on the pill.

      • Heather February 27, 2010, 10:49 am

        RE: natural methods – a friend of mine has been using the rhythm method and/or FAM [fertility awareness method] (not sure if they are the same thing?), by tracking her temperature and ovulation and all that stuff, and she’s been off hormonal BC for years. Her and her husband have been doing it for approximately 6 years, and she’s never gotten pregnant. Obviously it isn’t 100% effective, but if you are diligent AND have a regular cycle (I couldn’t do it because I have irregular cycles), it *CAN* be foolproof (I don’t want anyone to think I’m saying it IS foolproof because if there’s one measly thing my high school abstinence-only education taught me is that ABSTINENCE IS THE ONLY WAY OMGGGGG)

        • Keri February 27, 2010, 12:00 pm

          My husband and I use the fertility awareness method as well. The rhythm method is not the same as the fertility awareness method. We love it! Have been married for a year and no baby yet (we’re not trying). I love b/c I’ve learned so much about my body. For instance, I found out that I have short cycles (like 25-26 days). However, b/c of stress one month, I had a 37 day cycle! Most people would have thought they were pregnant but I knew I wasn’t b/c I am more in tune w/ myself by using this method. I used OrthoTriCyclen-Lo in college; gave me terrible headaches! My thoughts are this: I eat healthy, exercise and do other things that are good for me, why would I want a synthetic hormone in my body? That’s just me though. Also, I don’t want to be at a greater risk for blood clots or certain cancers (I’m prone to some b/c of family history). I’m a pharmacist, so I’ve done LOTS of research. This is just what seems best for me.

      • FAM girl February 27, 2010, 1:35 pm

        My husband and I use the FAM method and I love it. You Can use it without having regular cycles, and in fact a woman’s cycle can change a lot from month to month based on external (or internal) factors. I wish there was more info out there about stopping b/c because the side effects were tremendous. I have broken out, lost a full cup size, and felt very sleepy. I am still waiting for my body to fully balance itself out, but I haven’t felt more myself in years. I didn’t realize how much the pill was affecting me emotionally.

        • Gracie (complicated day) February 27, 2010, 1:48 pm

          I’m a pharmacist and I don’t take birth control and I’m married. I’ve never used birth control, but we use what is called the “sympto-thermal” method. It’s way easier than it sounds and I have no dangerous side effects. Frankly I know enough about hormone therapy to know it’s damaging to your health. It’s not worth it to me – especially since low-dose BCs have similar pregnancy rates to natural methods, even with perfect use.
          Caitlyn, I’m curious about what your husband thinks about bc coming from his natural medicine view point. Can we get him to weigh in?

        • caitlin February 27, 2010, 7:21 pm

          The Husband says his answer is very long and complicated. 🙂 Short version, he doesn’t think it’s good for me, but he would rather not be a Dad right now. LOL

      • Joey February 27, 2010, 10:25 pm

        We use NFP (same as FAM & sympto-thermal), & know several couples who use this same method both to avoid pregnancy, &, when ready, to achieve it. It has worked for all of them… So far we haven’t had any luck with the achieving pregnancy part but I love knowing exactly where I am in my cycle….

  • Hannah Hawley February 27, 2010, 10:15 am

    I am no longer on birth control. My period is regular and actuall follows the phases of the moon. I am overweight but active. Working on being healthier and a healthier weight.
    Now. I use condoms. but stopped BC pills a few years ago due to the outrageously high blood pressure it gave me. my blood pressure is high enough without it. I never looked into pther chenical options because I dont like having my body messed with that way.

  • Madelin @ What is for Breakfast? February 27, 2010, 10:15 am

    I think about this a lot. Last year I went off and it took me about 6 months to get a period. I went back on for a few months (I mostly take it for my skin issues) but now I have decided to go off permanently as I will likely try to have a baby in the next 2 years and I want to have a very regular cycle before then. The 6 months really freaked me out!!!!!!!!!

  • Ashley February 27, 2010, 10:16 am

    I am on Ocella, the generic version of Yaz, and I have no idea if I would be regular without it, either. I’ve been on it for about a year and a half, because it was part of treating my polycystic ovarian syndrome. As I’m newly engaged, of course this is something in the back of my mind.

    I did not have a period for about four years, from age 17 to 21, because I was too heavy. Once I started working out and eating healthfully, my period came back and was like clockwork for two years. Once I hit a weight loss plateau and my cycle became all kinds of screwed up, I was diagnosed with PCOS and put on Metformin and the pill.

    My friend Wendy is a recovered/recovering anorexic who is four months pregnant. She was told she’d have lots of trouble, but they only tried for two months before she got pregnant. She told me that she thinks the key is going off the pill a couple months before you want to start trying and taking folic acid at the same time.

    • Caitlin February 27, 2010, 10:17 am

      I’m glad your friend Wendy could get pregnant 🙂

    • Amy March 5, 2010, 1:03 pm

      I didn’t know there was a generic for YAZ?!!!!

  • Kara February 27, 2010, 10:18 am

    Well, I’m pregnant, so BC is a moot point, but I was on the pill before. Like you, I had no idea if I would be getting my period without the pill because I worked out a lot. I was on the pill for about 5 years and stopped (at the end of a pack, like the doc advised) and 28 days later, had a period, and 14 days after that got knocked up, like clockwork. So I assume that my period would have come every month.

    I told my husband that I wanted to try natural family planning after the baby and he just laughed, so I’m going back on the pill (or maybe the nuvaring) after the kid pops out, so it may be a long, long time before I know if I cycle normally every month drug free.

    • Elaine February 27, 2010, 9:13 pm

      I switched from Yaz to Nuva because I thought it would be more convenient… I did not react to it well at all. I gained a lot of weight and was angry/depressed all the time. My gyn said all the ladies at the office used Nuva, though, so maybe it was just me.

      • Tracy February 27, 2010, 10:13 pm

        Elaine, Nuva did the same thing for me! I was feeling really down for six months and then realized that six months earlier I had started Nuva Ring. My doctor said this was common and put me on a birth control that had a lower hormone dose and I do feel “myself” again. I also gained weight but that could be my own fault or maybe a combination. I definitely look forward to the day I don’t need to take any form of birth control.

        • Elaine February 27, 2010, 10:28 pm

          Tracy, it was awful. 🙁 I got into major, horrible arguments — worse than I’ve ever had in my entire life — with my parents, my boyfriend, and even my boyfriend’s parents. I still don’t think they realize that it wasn’t me, it was the Nuva hormones. It took me about 6 months to figure it out, too.

  • Katie (Sweet Tater) February 27, 2010, 10:18 am

    i’ve been on yaz for about a year. i haven’t had my period in probably 6 months. this concerns me of course so i went to my doctor to see if it was birth control-related. he said it’s perfectly normal to completely stop menstruating while on the pill but that it won’t affect fertility. whaa?? i don’t believe him so i’m transitioning off.

    i also asked if it could be related to my 25-pound weight loss over the past year. he said i’m on the low weight end for my height but not unhealthy and that that probably isn’t the cause. it is most certainly the BC. he says if i were trying to get pregnant he’d tell me to gain 5 pounds.

    • Katie @ Two Lives, One Lifestyle February 27, 2010, 2:13 pm

      I’m on Yaz too and it was way better than some other BC in terms of not making me a total b*tch. I was freaked out because I barely get or don’t get a period with Yaz either. I asked my doc and then did some research and it has to do with only being 4 sugar pills. Anyway, I hate being on any form of BC but I’m also so far from being ready for kids if that were to happen.

      I have no idea what my body fat % is but I’m in the middle of a healthy BMI range, so I’m guessing it’s not too low or anything. I think Mama Pea talked about Giuliana and her statement last night, too… even if Giulana gained the weight, how will she handle gaining pregnancy weight!? Just terribly sad.

    • Elaine February 27, 2010, 9:20 pm

      There’s no medical reason to have a period when you’re on birth control, actually. Historically, the sugar pills (that allow you to get your period when on the pill) were added in as a marketing factor so that it would seem as if they weren’t interrupting your natural cycle.

      I’m on Yaz and have periods so light they’re almost nonexistant. I consider that a benefit, because I used to have long, heavy and painful periods before birth control.

      Regarding weight, about a year after using Yaz my boobs got a lot smaller, but I didn’t really lose a lot of weight. I have a feeling they were just shrinking back to normal, because my boobs (and weight) went up when I first started taking b.c. (Yasmin) prior to switching to Yaz.

      • Diana @ frontyardfoodie March 1, 2010, 4:08 pm

        I gained weight on the generic of yaz and started getting migraines again. Before that I took ortho tricyclen lo….it totally freaked out when I changed my lifestyle from not healthy to totally healthy. I was on the pill because I have Endometriosis and decided in November of 09 to just get off it and see what happened since I’ve changed so much in my life since being diagnosed. The doctor told me not only would I have painful periods again with all the side affects that I had before, but that I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant without a surgery…….one month later we’re expecting:)

        Life is full of little miracles.

  • Diana February 27, 2010, 10:18 am

    I was on the bc pill for the years between ages 18 – 21. I have not been on it since (7 years) and feel much better. I felt “weird” while I was on it… I don’t really know how to describe it – I just didn’t feel right. I work out fairly regularly and have a very regular cycle. I’m lucky that I know when my period is coming – almost to the hour. Yet I still manage to lose track of it – haha.

  • Lisa February 27, 2010, 10:19 am

    I was on the pill twice before. However, It made me go crazy and i felt that it wasnt healthy to put it into my body. My period came back on a schedule after a few months. I’m athletic and fairily healthy. I have no idea what my Body fat is but my BMI is 19.5. I get a regular period every Month…anywhere from 24-29 days apart. My best friend is a Doctor and she always tells me…A regular period doesnt have to be regular. Essentially as long as you get it…..You’ll be good to go 😉 Science is crazy now a days.
    P.S I read your tweet…I’m not vaccinating my future kids either 😉

    • Lisa February 27, 2010, 10:23 am

      BTW I’m married and we use natural methods….2 years into marriage No babies so they must work 😉

      • Foy Update - Cook. Garden. Write. Repeat. February 27, 2010, 12:57 pm

        I’m with you. I’ve been on the pill, the patch and that ring deal over five years. I eventually went off when I moved to Georgia where I could no longer afford pills – no state funding and I only had major medical insurance that wouldn’t cover birth control. When I lived in Iowa or Pennsylvania they had great Plan Parenthoods where I could get prorated birth control.

        Due to cost we switched over to condoms/rhythm methed. We’ve been doing this for almost four years now. No problems.

        To combat the cramping I got off the pills I started researching and found that lack of certain nutrients can make cramping worse, particularly zinc as it helps regulate hormones. I take an over the counter zinc suppliment and Omega 3s fatty acid suppliments and I think it really helps with the cramping.

        I feel good that I can take care of my body myself and don’t have to rely on pills or going to a doctor.

      • Lisa February 27, 2010, 6:12 pm

        I just have to say one more thing…
        I find it VERY ironic that most women who posted are concerned with exercising frequently, eating organic and maintaining a healthy lifestyle yet have no problem putting all those made up hormones into their body daily.
        That just doesnt make sense to me.
        Why buy organic? I bet that pesticide is just as bad as the hormones you’re taking….

        • caitlin February 27, 2010, 7:20 pm

          Well, I do what I can, and I cannot afford to have a baby right now! Obviously I would like not to be on BC, but it’s either have sex on BC or don’t have sex at all. And no sex does not a happy Caitlin make.

  • Stacey February 27, 2010, 10:19 am

    I do not use birth control, I just practice safe sex. I’ve never been on birth control and I get my period regularly. I like to think that once me and my boyfriend get married then I will get on birth control, but as for now..our “method” is working for us 😀

  • Cara February 27, 2010, 10:23 am

    I’m a major supporter of the NuvaRing. Less thinking about taking a pill every day! It’s the easiest thing in the world. In high school, I tried the Depo shot, which was the worst decision of my life! It threw my hormones completely out of whack (I was a moody mess), and when I got off of it, I didn’t have my period for nearly a year! And that was WITH the pill. I’m pretty sure it should be banned…

    • Elaine February 27, 2010, 9:23 pm

      The hormones in Nuva messed me up. It’s not for everyone unfortunately. 🙁

      • Crystal March 5, 2010, 11:03 am

        Same for me. 🙁 I’ve been off it since Sept and I am still trying to get back to the way I was before I went on it.

  • Nikita February 27, 2010, 10:23 am

    Your breakfast looks delicious! 🙂
    I’ve been taking pills for many years now. Actually I do not get my periods regularly during my teens and I started taking the pills because I was diagnosed with PCOS-Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome by my endocrinologist. Ever since I incorporated a healthy lifestyle around 4 years ago, and made exercise an integral part of my life, the pills stopped working- aka amenorrhea. The doctor just switched me from one brand to another and my periods commenced again. But its a headache really since I’m always so tensed now about will I get my period next month or not…I’m probably the odd one out who looks forward to getting my period each month.silly me 🙂

    • Erin (Hunting for Health) March 5, 2010, 11:01 am

      I am on the pill for PCOS as well. I tried getting off of it because I do feel like synthetic hormones are not good to have in my body, but I did not get a period for 3 months, so I decided to go back on it. I guess just progesterone is an option as well, but I have not tried that.

  • stephanie alaine February 27, 2010, 10:26 am

    this is interesting…i have been wanting some kind of “NormaL” forum to discuss this. in january, i took a major leap and got an IUD (intra uterine device). There are two kinds: hormonal, and non hormonal. Because I’m under 40 and “of child bearing potential” i had to get the non-hormonal one, which means my cramps increase and so does the amount of blood per month. wow. not an attractive option.

    however, there is no waste with an IUD (i’m an eco-chica), its painless, nothing to fumble with (condoms), and ultimately, it is the most effective BC and can stay in place for up to 10 years. and since it’s non-hormonal, it doesn’t alter my bodies natural chemistry, it just doesn’t allow for my uterus lining to be fully developed, thus making it impossible for fertilization of eggs. {i’m talking about this like i’m a sixth grade science teacher, i’m just your everyday girl!}

    anybody else considered it?

    • Caitlin February 27, 2010, 10:27 am

      i’m very interested in the IUD. my mom used one and i know another blogger who does and they both liked it.

      • Cara February 27, 2010, 10:32 am

        One of my friend’s sisters is an obgyn, and she STRONGLY supports the IUD. She says that the whole “don’t use unless you’ve already had kids” thing is completely false, and it’s completely reversible. I’ve been interested in it for a while now, too. My only worry is the possibility of it getting “lost” somewhere in there…which requires an uncomfortable trip to the doctors…but it happens!

        • Caitlin February 27, 2010, 10:33 am

          ahhh the thought of something get lost in my vajayjay is too much.

        • Sarah February 27, 2010, 12:54 pm

          Don’t worry, it can’t get lost. It’s too big to wander around and our lady parts up there are too small. They say your body could expel it during a period but you’ll see it (and I’m sure feel it) come out.

          PS Caitlin… it’s in the uterus, not the vajayjay! There’s a plastic like string that hangs down into the “vajayjay” way way up there that we’re supposed to be able to check, but I have never been able to find mine, haha. It’s not at ALL like a tampon string, lol. My doc said only about 10% of men can feel it during sex and it doesn’t usually even bother them.

        • Julie February 27, 2010, 1:27 pm

          So men can’t feel it during sex, but can women? What happens with the string? What if the guy pushes it up? I’ve entertained the idea of getting an IUD, but it kind of makes me nervous.

        • Sarah February 27, 2010, 2:19 pm

          No, most men can’t feel the string. I can’t feel it either. Honestly, women are supposed to be able to reach up there and check the string but I’ve never been able to find mine, haha. There’s nowhere for it to be “pushed up” to so you don’t have to worry about that. If you research a little, you can find some good diagrams that show how big it is in relation to our lady parts and that should put your mind at ease.

          Oh, and I don’t think anyone’s mentioned this on the IUD discussion, but it is NOT for women who aren’t in a committed relationship. If you are at any risk of getting an STD, the IUD is NOT an option because IUD + STD = major problems (potential infertility)!

      • BethT February 27, 2010, 10:40 am

        interestingly, my bff has the iud and has had issues with her hubby, um, feeling it. apparently the strings may not be short enough first time around…

        • Kara (@ Kara's Marathon) February 27, 2010, 10:55 am

          That happened to us too 🙁 Also, my body liked the IUD for about 4 months and I was totally symptom-free (no periods, nothing), but then I started getting tons of crazy side effects and wound up having to get it removed. No fun!

      • kalin (eating machine) February 27, 2010, 10:40 am

        i know a couple women with ’em and they love them… the whole not getting one before babies thing is because your uterus needs to be big enough (or something like that?) and being preggers obviously stretches it… but you can get an ultrasound if you’ve never had a child to make sure your body will be ok with it, and get one.
        the one that has the low dose of hormones (not the copper one) is what i’ve heard recommended the mos

      • Sarah February 27, 2010, 12:46 pm

        I am 25 and have had no children and I am on Mirena (the IUD with a teeny bit of progestrone). This type of use is NOT approved by the FDA but my doctors did it for me because of my migraines on BC pills. This works great for me for so many reasons:
        1. My hubby and I don’t want anything interfering with our sex life… If we had to use condoms or be worried about getting pregnant, we simply wouldn’t have as much sex.
        2. No more migraines!!! BC pills get the hormones from weird places (like horses!) and they did NOT agree with me.
        3. The progesterone being only in the place it’s needed makes the IUD “settle” in much better than the copper, which can irritate the uterus.
        4. My hubby can’t feel the string since it’s way the eff up there.

        I had a horrible time finding a doctor who would insert the IUD for me. This was a huge change for the better for me and I wish the US would catch up to the rest of the world and approve these things for women who haven’t had children yet! I have so many more things to say about it, but that would be the longest comment ever! Just do your research!

        • Sarah February 27, 2010, 12:47 pm

          Oops! I meant to say “not approved by the FDA” for women who have not had children yet! It IS approved for women who HAVE had kids.

      • Ann February 27, 2010, 2:20 pm

        after reading this woman’s account of an IUD, i was really turned off:

        • Sarah February 27, 2010, 2:49 pm

          I don’t think that’s very common. Plus she just had a baby (she said something about a nursing bra) and a womans body will naturally change after that.

          I’m not saying it’s perfect for everyone, I know it’s definitely not, but one woman’s account shouldn’t dissuade someone entirely (or persuade someone either).

          My IUD is GREAT! Plus it was the last option for me, besides just having a baby, so I was motivated.

      • Elaine February 27, 2010, 9:26 pm

        I looked into getting an IUD, but my doc said my uterus was too small. That’s why they don’t suggest doing it if you haven’t had kids. The doc actually showed me how to feel my uterus, and it’s the size of, like, a peanut! After you have kids, it stretches out a little, and there’s less of a risk of the IUD puncturing the uterine wall. Yes, I said PUNCTURING it. That does not sound good at all.

    • Courtney (The Hungry Yogini) February 27, 2010, 10:36 am

      I have an IUD (the non-hormonal, copper one) and love it. Best decision I ever made. Hurt like CRAZY to get it put in and was a little uncomfortable for the first few periods, but I really think it’s such a wonderful option. My doctor supported it completely and wished more women considered it too – she doesn’t believe in hormone treatment either. It’s a really great option!

    • Alison February 27, 2010, 10:44 am

      I have the copper IUD, also. The actual insertion didn’t hurt, but the 48 hours following were really, REALLY uncomfortable. It’s been a good choice for me; I’m 33 and have one child and am happy with an only, so I like that the IUD lasts 10 years. I have a friend who had the Mirena IUD, the one with the hormones, and she had two fall out. Yipes. So far so good, with my IUD. The only change I’ve noticed is my periods last longer, but they aren’t heavier, just longer.

      • Katie February 27, 2010, 11:17 am

        I have the hormonal IUD and it is fantastic – hurt like a bitch when it went in but only for 24 hours, and I haven’t had a period since – over a year now. Before that I was on the depo injection, but it can have some implications for bone density, and I prefer the IUD because it is a much much lower dose of progesterone so fewer side effects. My boyfriend could feel it at first, but after a little time the strings “soften” and it isn’t a problem anymore. And it is v. v. rare for them to get “lost” – just have to check for the strings after a period if you are getting them. I would highly recommend it!

    • DeAnna February 27, 2010, 11:17 am

      I started eating all organic food several months ago to try to regulate my hormones and realized putting a pill of hormones into my mouth every day was totally working against that. I got the copper IUD so there are no hormones. I have never had kids and do not want them. The insertion and next two days were very painful but it’s totally worth it and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The chances of it getting dislodged are very small.

      Stephanie – I thought I’d mention this to you, since you said you liked the idea of no waste BC. It’s a menstrual cup. Something you use instead of pads or tampons for your period. It’s changed my life. No waste. And you only have to take it out every 12 hours, so essentially twice a day. I feel like I’m not even on my period anymore. I had never heard of this and was disappointed to know there was such a cool option out there that American’s don’t really talk about. It’s very popular in other countries, as are IUDs.

      • mmclaughlin February 27, 2010, 11:38 am

        I’ve been using the Diva Cup for 2 years, and I LOVE it. I have extremely heavy periods (I used to go through a super-plus tampon every 45 minutes), and having the diva cup has totally changed my experience. And there’s no waste, and it’s more discreet. I can’t tell you how nice it is not to have to worry about carrying around all those tampons or worry about them falling out of my purse or whatever… It does take some getting used to, as the way it goes in is different than a tampon, but it’s really no big deal. LOVE LOVE LOVE it.

        • Foy Update - Cook. Garden. Write. Repeat. February 27, 2010, 1:03 pm

          I just got a diva cup a couple months ago. They come in two sizes and I got the smaller one. I can use it, it’s fine, but unlike tampons I can feel it. I can feel it pushing on the sides of my vagina. It’s not ideal. I can’t wear it for a whole week, more like a couple of the heaviest days. And that’s where it shines, it is great for the heavy days. Plus I it will save me a ton of money over the course of a year and so much less waste.

    • Cat February 27, 2010, 3:20 pm

      I have the copper IUD too. My reasons for getting it were similar to others here, that is, I didn’t want any hormones flowing through my body, but also didn’t want to deal with hassles. The other interesting fact is that it’s typically MORE effective percentage wise than the pill! You do need to be informed when talking to your doctor if you haven’t had children, as they may try to talk you out of it. When mine was inserted, it causes some intense cramps for the first day, but after that I have been a-okay! It hasn’t made cramps worse at all.

      I was in a relationship when I got it (about 2 years ago) but am not now and have never had a problem with the dude feeling it 😉

    • Rachel February 28, 2010, 4:43 pm

      I have the hormonal IUD – Mirena. The insertion = very painful. The next two days were horrible, I had to call in sick to work and could not leave the couch. But my experience since then has been so great, I recommend it to everyone. I have had only one light 2 day long period in the last NINE months. I was on the pill for many years before, so now my skin is having to adjust – acne. I also have nausea a few mornings a week, but it is minor. I’ve never been pregnant. I really recommend it. If you’re considering it, get it on a Friday afternoon, stay home all weekend, then have the BEST BC for the next 5 years.

      • Rachel February 28, 2010, 4:47 pm

        Oh yeah, I forgot to say why I got it. My allergies were getting really severe – requiring a few emergency room trips, I now carry an Epipen. The allergist told me to get off the hormonal BC STAT because it screws with you when you suffer from severe allergies. The hormonal IUD has an extremely low amount of hormones, so it works for me. I haven’t had a bad allergic reaction since I got Mirena. So a little acne is worth it for me, its not life threatening!

        • LG March 5, 2010, 9:03 am

          I wanted to get an IUD but my gynecologist refused to put me on it because I want to have kids and have not yet had any. Said there are too many risks for women and losing fertility. I’ve heard this from several doctors, so I don’t know. It seems to go against the stats that indicate that an IUD is the preferred BC method of gynecologists.

          Also, a delightful little story – my sister-in-law has an IUD and just had it removed (she has a son and will be trying again soon). Unfortunately, the string that hangs down had somehow gotten tangled up on the IUD, because the doctor could not find it to remove it. She ended up having to go in a second time, on Percocet and Xanax, for them to dilate her cervix so they could poke around in there and “find” her IUD. I realize it can’t get lost, but she said it wasn’t exactly her idea of fun. She also bled for several days after the procedure, which was normal but disconcerting. I realize that her issue with it is probably not common, but it was still pretty scary for her.

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing February 27, 2010, 10:27 am

    Your oatmeal always looks fantastic!!

    I am not on BC and I get my period regularly (cannot believe I just admitted this on the internet..) but that’s not always been the case. When I work out a lot and if I don’t eat enough (thank you my ED days), it’s really irregular and weird or I won’t get it for 4 months or so. So I have to say, when I do get married, I am very hesitant about BC because I want kids and I don’t want to do anything that would be hinder that.

  • Lindsey @ Sound Eats February 27, 2010, 10:27 am

    I currently don’t use birth control (well besides condoms) because, long story short, my body freaked out with all the changes in BCP I went through. I had 8 BCP changes between Jan-Sept 2009, and it really messed with me (obviously I didn’t choose all these changes). Everything from my mood, weight, eyes and so much more was affected.

    I went off the pill in Oct to try to give my body a break and get me mentally and physically back to my normal. Period-wise things are normal, but I’m STILL dealing with the after-effects of all the ways BCP affected me (I’ve been working my ass off, and as someone who was already a crazy healthy individual, it is SO hard to try to lose all the weight I gained! Call me vain, but I want to wear everything in my dang closet, all of MY clothes!)

    I have no idea what I’ll do. I’ve looked seriously into IUDs but honestly I’m scared to try anything hormonal again (I know there are copper IUDs that aren’t hormonal, but they can intensify the cramps and pain of periods, and I already have pretty painful ones). But I have to figure something out. We don’t want to have kids for probably another 7 yrs or so and I refuse to use condoms that long.

    I also have trust issues with the natural family planning and tracking your fertility/ body method. I think it’s great to know your body, but I would be so paranoid about getting preggers I just don’t think I’d be able to enjoy sex as much.

    Wow, what a way to start a Saturday, eh? Hello world, my name is Lindsey and y’all know way too much about me now hahaha.

    For anyone who’s interested, I did a huge discussion post on birth control pills in the fall, and it had a great response – I urge you all to check out the comments, because you may find some assistance, or at the least, someone to relate to!

    • Caitlin February 27, 2010, 10:28 am


      i just think i might be too irresponsible to effectively track my body to make NFP work. also, i think i would have to be in the place of ‘we don’t want kids right now but if we got pregnant we would still be excited’ to use it. you know?

      • Lindsey @ Sound Eats February 27, 2010, 10:30 am

        exactly. I know I’m married but I CANNOT get pregnant right now. Heading back for a second degree and a masters plus starting a career = no room for baby right now!

      • Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) February 27, 2010, 11:05 am

        Caitlin, I am 100% with you on that one. I would definitely be too irresponsible with NFP. I want a baby now!!! But realisitically, I’d like to have my finances together a bit more before babies. But oh man, do I want one!

      • FAM girl February 27, 2010, 1:43 pm

        To me, tracking my temp is a lot easier than taking a pill at night. I do it while half asleep when I get up and then check the thermometer again later to actually write it in my iPhone app. So we use FAM but he always pulls out too. It’s amazing how accurate it is… Based on my morning temp I know exactly when I ovulated.

    • Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) February 27, 2010, 11:07 am

      Lindsey, how do you like being off the pill? I’ve been debating it a lot. I’ve heard great things about Mirena, but like you I’m sort of afraid to try something hormonal again.

      • Lindsey @ Sound Eats February 27, 2010, 11:10 am

        I mean, I feel normal and I haven’t had any issues with periods or anything else. But unfortunately just because I’m off the pill doesn’t mean all the pill weight gain automatically came off (don’t I wish!). I also hate, hate, hate using condoms. Kills spontaneity for me. I’m looking into BC again (specifically IUDs – just don’t know whether Mirena or Paragard) just for my sex life lol.

        • Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) February 27, 2010, 11:15 am

          That’s good that you haven’t had any issues with periods. I am worried about going off and either not getting my period at all or having a constant period. (Oh the joys of PCOS!) I’m also curious to see if the 30 lbs I gained would start to fall off.

          My doctor switched me to Yaz and said I should start seeing my weight go down. (I am, but I honestly don’t believe it’s the Yaz. I think it’s because I started running 4x a week)

          I hate using condoms too. I never want to go back to that so that’s what keeps me on the pill. I have a dr’s appt in a few weeks and I’m going to ask her about Mirena. I’ll email you and let you know what I think if I end up trying it!

  • Kara (@ Kara's Marathon) February 27, 2010, 10:27 am

    I was on the pill for about 6 years, and while I appreciated not stressing about my period every month, I hated some of the hormonal side effects, which for me resulted in weight gain and depressive symptoms and stuff. I got an IUD for a few months, but that was a nightmare for me and a very long story… 🙁

    Now we’re just using condoms and hoping for the best! 🙂 We’ve been together 8 years and are fast-approaching our second wedding anniversary, so having a kid right now would be no problem — it just isn’t the best timing. I am concerned about my periods because they are VERY irregular now that I’m off the pill, but I haven’t talked to my MD about it yet. I don’t think it has anything to do with my activity level — I’m not nearly as active or lean as you are — but we’ll see what happens.

  • Megan February 27, 2010, 10:28 am

    I went off the pill about a year and a half ago. I was on it for 10 years (18-28) and decided that I wanted to stop taking hormones and let my body to regulate them. Well, it was a year before I got my period back and even then it took a couple of months before it was somewhat regular. My doctor said that my pituitary gland “forgot what it was like to have to make the hormones” and so I had to take progesterone a couple of times to force myself to have a fake period for the health of my body. I am not underweight but I work out for about 30 mins everyday, certainly far less than the amount I see on the health blogs these days. I do think that every body is different, but the fact that doctors do not warn us that taking BC could be a risk for never getting your period again (what if I actually waited until I was in my thirties and married, and ready to have kids??). Right now I live 3000 miles away from my fiance and have for the past 2.5 years so BC didn’t make much sense to me. But if we lived together, like we will in the near future….I am hoping the withdrawl method and condoms is enough!

  • Freya @ February 27, 2010, 10:29 am

    The whole issue concerns me too :s To be honest I don’t know a huge amount about it so I don’t think I can really contribute, but I’ve heard a lot about athletes not getting their periods due to low body fat. I’ve got low body fat/high muscle, so I have no idea either if I’d get it naturally! Is there some kind of test out there?
    Plus you’re right, with so many other reasons affecting why one wouldn’t get a period, it’s hard to just pinpoint the cause to jsut one factor.
    I wonder if any docotrs read your blog!?

    • Caitlin February 27, 2010, 10:30 am

      i would love to hear thoughts from doctors!

      • Katie (Sweet Tater) February 27, 2010, 10:51 am

        me too! i feel like i keep hearing everyone saying that birth control may be what’s making them continue to have a period and yet my doctor says it is what STOPPED mine. aaah. confusion!

    • Katie February 27, 2010, 11:21 am

      I’m a doctor (I commented above on the fact that I use a hormonal IUD) – if you are having regular periods then it is extremely likely you are ovulating every month. If you are on hormonal contraception, that will be suppressing your ovulation (that’s how it works!!) so there would be no point in doing any tests while you were on your hormonal contraception. If after you come off it and give it a few months for your body settle down and your periods are irregular or absent, you can have some blood tests done to check your progesterone, oestrogen, LH, FSH and prolactin at certain points in the cycle to see if you are ovulating.

      • Ashley February 27, 2010, 12:00 pm

        My LH and FSH levels were low before I went on Metformin and the pill to treat my PCOS, but I hadn’t had a proper cycle in six months. I would hope that if I went off the pill and stayed on the Metformin, my hormone levels will return to normal!

  • Ana February 27, 2010, 10:30 am

    i’ve been on Loestrin for a year, have a 20.0 BMI and i’m training for a marathon– every other period is so light and the ones in between are normal, so i’m not sure if i’d get my period naturally. which kind of freaks me out. however i’m not going to get off of it– my initial reason for taking it was to control a slight hormone imbalance that was giving me a nasty rash on my face that varied with my cycle. i guess whenever i actually want it to be for pregnancy prevention and not for dermatitis, i might give more thought into the whole issue.

  • Amy February 27, 2010, 10:31 am

    I’ve been on orthotricyclin for a long time now (5 years then a 4 year break followed by another 5 years). I got my period twice a month in high school which made me become anemic so they I went on the pill. I’m actually transitioning myself off it right now. The side effects concern me and right now I’m not in a relationship so I’m going to give my body a break for a bit. If I end up having a wacky period again, I’ll go back on it.

    • Amy February 27, 2010, 10:36 am

      I should follow that up and say I’m in nursing school so I tend to be hyperaware of any side effects. The risk of blood clots and the link to heart disease made me not want to be on it anymore. My family has a history of heart problems so any lifestyle changes I can make get an A+ in my book. That being said, BCP do a lot of good for a lot of people so I’m not against them. I just want to try it without them for a bit. Plus, after college (when I wasn’t on the pill), I lost 25 pounds and started working out yet my cholesterol increased quite a bit when I went on the pill. Not sure if that’s related to the pill but it seems odd that my cholesterol would rise when I ate healthier, lost weight and exercise. I’m curious if that will drop now too.

  • katie February 27, 2010, 10:32 am

    ive been on Levora for a long time because ever since i started my period in the 8th grade-its NEVER been regular, even being at a healthy weight i still didnt have it, so my doc was really concerned. Im actually going to the doc in 2 weeks over my spring break to see if i can get off it and see if my period is regular again! AND i heard that hormones are wayy more balanced when you get off of it. ill let you know how it goes!

  • Sara February 27, 2010, 10:32 am

    This is a topic that really concerns me, because I am one of those who don’t get their period naturally. I’ve always been very irregular, but now that I became an athlete (well, sort of at least), it’s gotten really bad. I know that I am very irresponsible for not going to the doctor sooner, but I actually have an appointment next week.

    I was on birth control for a while and got it then, but I stopped taking the pill (for different reasons) in the middle of marathon training, and went about 3 1/2 months without getting it. Now, it’s been 2 months since I had it last…

    I don;t know if I have a hormonal imbalance, but I do work out a lot and I am a very small girl (100-103 pounds and 5’4”) I don’t know my body fat % but I don;t think it’s very high as I eat very clean and have a muscular-ish build.

    I would not mind gaining that extra 5 or 10 pounds, in order to have be healthy and to assure that I will be able to conceive a child when the time comes….

    • Freya @ February 27, 2010, 10:41 am

      I’m in the same position as you! I would like to gain some weight too, purely so I could get periods naturally – but I’m an ‘athlete’ as it were, so I think my body fat is just too low :s Maybe I should book a doctor’s appointment too!

  • Deva (Voracious Vorilee) February 27, 2010, 10:33 am

    I use the ring. When I originally went on BC (the pill), it was in part due to amazingly bad cramps that I would get the first day of my period – without fail, and bad enough that I would be in tremendous pain and struggling to function if I didn’t take advil BEFORE the cramps started. It helped so much, and now, has the added benefit of preventing pregnancy until I’m ready to become a mom 🙂

  • Laura @ Food For La February 27, 2010, 10:34 am

    Great discussion.

    I’ve been on the NuvaRing for 8 years and I LOVE it. I have become the NuvaRing poster girl to all of my friends b/c I think it is the greatest invention ever. Last year, my husband and I lived in Thailand and I had to switch to the Pill and it was nightmare–completely messed up my hormones and I was so happy to get back on the Ring when we returned to the States.

    I’m normally active, 20% body fat, and eat healthy, and I’ve always had my period like clock work. I never worry about getting pregnant and will continue to use the NuvaRing until (if? when?) my husband and I decide otherwise.

  • K February 27, 2010, 10:34 am

    I started yaz at 15 because of serious pmdd issues.. I’ve been on it for 3 years so far. Within the last year, I lost an extreme amount of weight (from depression..) I was about a 17.2 bmi.. and I still got my period. My doctor said that the only reason I still DID get it was because I was on the pill. I’m back at a healthy weight.. and am still on BC. My cousin was a cross country runner in high school.. during season she would loose about 10 pounds.. and loose her period, and during offseason she would gain weight + get her period back. It differs for every person. I’d talk to your OB/GYN because they’re most likely to know…

    • Tasha - The Clean Eating Mama February 27, 2010, 11:19 am

      In was on birth control for the later part of HS and in the first 2 years of being 20. After breaking up with my BF of 5 years I stopped taking the pill. It was the BEST decision I made. I hated being on BC – it made me sick, gain weight and overall had a negative reaction on my body. I changed pills once over the course of the 5 years to a lower dose pill but I still saw reactions.
      Now that I am with my husband, we have been together 4 years and not once have I used any form of prescription birth control. I simply refuse to do that to my body again. I have regular periods, I am at a very healthy weight and never have had any complications.
      I hate to say it but we use no form of BC right now. The entire time that we have been together we used condoms a handful of times and that’s been it. We have a son and he was totally planned (after trying once) – no mistakes, no worries, nothing. I do not advise this to others but for us it works well.
      Here is a link that talks about BC and getting pregnant. If it were me I would get off BC if you are thinking of starting sooner than later. Even though BC quickly leaves your body, there is a slight chance that it will take longer being that you have been on BC for such a long time. This is no means a professional statement, just my own opinion of what I have seen with others who have used BC for years and had a hard time conceiving.
      Hope this helps and hopefully I haven’t rambled too much! =) Enjoy your weekend!

  • Gracie @ Girl Meets Health February 27, 2010, 10:37 am

    Oh gosh, ready for my life story? haha.

    You see, me and BC go a long way back. From the moment I started getting my period, I was NEVER regular. That’s pretty normal for a young teen, right? Well at age 16 my gyno at the time put me on BC to help me get regular. WORST DECISION EVER. I don’t think I was even fully through puberty at that time, so going on the pill royally screwed me up. Weight gain, mood swings, you name it.

    Around that same time I had gotten some blood work done that showed I had thyroid disease. Long story short, for a few years I went back and forth from being hyperthyroid to hypothyroid AND I had (still have, actually) Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (an autoimmune…thing). Turns out thyroid disease can contribute to amenorrhea as well, so instead of instantly going on the pill I should have been trying to treat the thyroid problem.

    From 16-20 I was on a couple of different pills, went off a few times, then went back on, blahblahblah. Every time I went off, I still wouldn’t get a period so the doctor would put me back on.

    Last Spring I decided I was sick and tired of being on the pill. I don’t need it for any other reason than the amenorrhea (if you know what I mean) so I wanted to free my body once and for all from these damn chemicals/hormones that I’ve been in my body for YEARS.

    I tried so hard to get my period. I mean, not that there was anything I could do, but I was almost trying to WILL my body into ovulating on its own, if that makes sense. 3 months later….nothing. I wish wish WISH I would’ve given it more time, but the doctor highly advised that I go back on the pill because she didn’t want me to form endometriosis. I really like this doctor so I trusted her advice. With my history of amenorrhea, the endometriosis is a possibility, and I wouldn’t want that to effect my fertility in the future.

    But now….now I want to go off the pill again. I realized that not being able to ovulate on my own could be just as threatening to my fertility as the endometriosis. Worst case scenario – if it takes me months to get my period on my own – I could take Provera, which is a one dose medication to cause a period.

    I guess what I’m dreading is waiting and waiting and waiting to get my own period. I’ve been there so many times, and it gets really frustrating. I guess that’s why deep down I like being on the pill to an extent – I *know* that I’m going to get a period. But as I get closer to the age where I want to have kids, I’m starting to get nervous not knowing whether or not I can actually ovulate on my own.

    Long story short (haha) I think that WAY too many girls are put on the pill when they’re too young, like myself. And I personally feel as though that leads to more problems in the future (possibly regarding fertility). When it comes to actually providing birth control – the pill is a wonderful thing. But for amenorrhea? I think the root of the problem should be found rather than putting on the BC bandaid.

  • BethT February 27, 2010, 10:38 am

    I’d say you’d probably be fine, but when you start to think about having kids (seriously), go off the pill 5 to 6 months before you’re ready to start and use condoms or something. It really does take that long to regulate your cycles. I would be more concerned about that than the athletic issue; you’re quite active, but not to the extreme.

    After I have a baby, I’m going to use something other than the pill. Going off it made me realize, as well, that I hate having a pill control a natural process. The periods we have on the pill aren’t even real periods because you don’t release an egg – and I think that’s weird.

  • Jill Will Run February 27, 2010, 10:40 am

    I’ll try not to make this too long…
    I was on Ortho Tri-Cyclen for about 8 years. During this time, I developed an eating disorder and overexercise compulsion. I discovered running during this time, which in turn kind of helped me start on a path to recovery because I knew I had to eat better and take care of myself if I wanted to run. I have done multiple marathons and half-marathons, but I still struggled with my ED to some extent. I went off BC in December 2008. My period did not come back. I also experienced a DNF in a marathon, which sent me spiralling back into my ED. I have not had a period since I went off BC, over a year ago. I often think that if I had not been taking some pill that was artificially giving me an indicator of health (monthly cycle) I might have been scared from my ED sooner. I still run 20-25 mpw, I can’t imagine giving it up. I am trying to gain back a little more weight too, but it’s difficult, to see if my cycle will jump start again. But my doc isn’t sure how long I have not been ovulating, which is kind of scary.

  • Fallon February 27, 2010, 10:41 am

    This is something I dwell about almost every day. Birth control. Not only is it expensive but I can’t stand taking a man made hormone in order to produce a period. Yes it protects against pregnancy but it what it is doing to your body that worries me all the time. 4 years ago when I wanted to change my lifestyle and become healthy, I was working out with a trainer and learning how to eat properly. I lost weight at a steady pace but then notice my period wasn’t coming. YAY! I was thrilled, a year went by and my mom was concerned how this isn’t healthy. Which I felt the same way. The dr put me on BC and for a year I was using Lo Estrin. WOW I hated it! I felt like it changed me mentally. My period came and was light. Like I said I felt like it changed me and the start of 2008 I stopped all birth control and what do you know, my period never came naturally. Met my boyfriend that same year and I had to get back on BC. No babies yet for me! This time I went with Yaz. Now if you notice this company has plenty of lawsuits against them for false advertising. I actually felt mentally stable on this BC. Although my periods come.. heavy and my cramps are hell some months. My weight still lingers about 3-4 pounds. I have 21% body fat which I’m thankful for because the scale is always moving! What the real factor is, when I do want to have children one day will I have problems? I can’t produce a period naturally, and I take BC to prevent pregnancy and I’m going to be on it for a full year this summer. How is this healthy? If it was my choice I wouldn’t be on BC but I feel it is probably the best form to prevent pregnancy. I’m curious as to what other readers have to say about BC. Great topic!

  • Madeline - Greens and Jeans February 27, 2010, 10:42 am

    I have been on orthotricyclin lo on and off since I was 16. I was started on it because I wasn’t getting my period naturally! Whenever I am not on it, I don’t get my period. I have been extremely active since I was young, but even when I was heavier in college I wasn’t getting a period naturally. I don’t have kids in my 5 year plan, but it is something that I worry about because I DO want to have kids at some point!

  • Sarah W February 27, 2010, 10:46 am

    I am 5’2″ and in high school I started running so much that I weighed 105 lbs (which you’d think would be a normal weight for someone my height) and it caused me to have amenorrhea. I lost my period for about a year until I went to college and had to cut back on the running due to being on the soccer team.

    Since then I’ve been on YAZ (HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE), then I switched to Ortho Novum, and now I’m on Ortho Cyclen.

    I try really hard to watch my weight because even though a lot of girls my size can weigh 105 lbs and be fine, I’ve learned that I need to be bigger and have more weight on my body. The extra lbs are just a number.

    Ideally, I’d love to go off of birth control. I hate the idea of hormones messing with my body. I feel like bc really affects me emotionally as well. But, I guess in the scheme of things I’d rather deal with the effects of bc than a baby (at this stage in my life).

    Anyway, I’ve found that it’s necessary for me to EAT, especially when I start working out a lot. Otherwise, I’m sure my bc would bring my period when I wouldn’t be getting it naturally.

    • Steph February 27, 2010, 11:30 pm

      I am curious to know your experience on Yaz, as I took that for only a week and had a horrible experience myself.

  • Amy @ Running in Pink February 27, 2010, 10:47 am

    I have been on the pill for 10 years now and think that i tried almost everyone as i reacted bad to most of them (mood swings, emotional, spotty etc), i finally found one that worked for me last year but then started to experience severe migraines. The dr took me off the combined pill immediately and wanted me to go on the Progestion only pill – as my wedding was fast approaching i did not want to try anything that may make me emotional,moody etc around that time so thought i would go naturalle for a few months. My natural periods were as regular as clockwork, which was nice to know. I have this week gone on the mini pill as the dr suggested and am debating my options as hubby and i do not want children in the next couple of years. What us women go through huh? Men have it so easy! I can’t wait for the male pill to come out LOL!

  • Molly February 27, 2010, 10:51 am

    To be honest, I hate birth control. I hate how it makes me feel mostly. I have been on pretty much every kind (except for the shot and that thing they insert in you. yikes) but if I wasnt on it, I dont think i would ever get my period. I never even started getting it naturally, I had to go on birth control (wishes do come true, because I think starting at age 12, I prayed every night that I wouldnt EVER get my period. meh irony is a bitch).
    I am on the ring now. I like it a lot better because I tend to think about it less. but I feel like it makes me way more moody than need be. Does this ever happen to you? or anyone? I have heard it from a lot of people but I am a stupid bitch sometimes when I am on BC. but I dont want a baby anytime soon so its kind of a double edge sword. It’s give and take I guess. I think its good you just posted this- puts things into prospective for me. i was actually jsut talking to a friend about getting off BC all together. but I think now that its best to wait until Im ready for what could come because of it.

    and lets be honest, my dad would probably pee himself.


  • K February 27, 2010, 10:52 am

    This issue is close to my heart… I love working out, and a couple years ago, I was taking it to an unhealthy extreme. Actually, the “unhealthy extreme” was for MY body, as I see many bloggers and women exercising like I once did.
    My body stopped menstruating for a total of FOUR years (from age 22 to age 27, actually). That’s very scary. At its lowest, my BMI was around 16. I wasn’t starving myself, but I wasn’t taking in enough calories for my TOO HIGH activity level. And I wasn’t allowing my body the rest it needed, along with robbing it of energy through calories consumed.
    With a BMI of 16, I obviously HAD to gain weight. I’m happy to say, I DID and have a BMI around 19 now, AND I got my period back this past year. I can’t tell you HOW happy I was to get it back! (Never thought I’d feel that way about my period, ha!)
    It was hard, but I upped my fat intake quite a bit and did not, and still don’t, shy away from full-fat dairy, egg yolks, butter, etc. I also allowed myself to just RELAX sometimes and take a nice nap or two. 🙂
    It concerns me to see bloggers and other women pushing their bodies so HARD and sacrificing their health to get their exercise fix and keep a skinny, “fit” looking body.
    I want to have kids someday (and I’m sure many other woman struggling with what I once did also want this). This required getting my body to function optimally… and that required more rest than I felt I should take and eating foods that weren’t SUPER healthy (but really are – egg yolks, full-fat dairy – I have a different view of those kinds of food now!)
    I could ramble on forever on this topic (obviously!), but I just wanted to share my experience and let anyone that is struggling with this issue know that it’s important to look at the FULL picture of health and make sure it isn’t just all about a super-human workout schedule and restrictive “healthy” eating… but also about making sure our bodies have enough fat on them and enough rest, and TLC to REALLY by healthy.

  • Christy February 27, 2010, 10:53 am

    When I lost 40 lbs I stopped having my period along the way. So I stopped taking the pill. I didn’t have my period for 5 years and no doctor could explain to me why. When I finally started seeing alternative doctors I began to balance my hormones again and gain some weight. Finally I started having regular periods again and am now (after two miscarriages) 4 months pregnant. But the journey has been devastating.

    I want to say that even though I wasn’t at an unhealthy weight or body fat percentage, it was just too low for MY body to function properly. It took my a while to accept that I cannot have the body that society tells me I should, and still function as a woman who wants to have children. I had to readjust my priorities and ease off my workouts to protect this baby. And I am so thankful that I did.

  • Anon February 27, 2010, 10:54 am

    Hello! I was on birth control for a longggggggg time. I also workout a good deal. When I was on the pill, I got my period regularly. I recently went off to let my body adjust before my husband and I try to have a baby. Since that time, I have not gotten my period! My doctor has recommended pulling back on exercise a bit, as this tends to be a problem in athletic females. Feel respond to my comment and email me to discuss further.

    • Caitlin February 27, 2010, 11:04 am

      I imagine I will have to cut back in order to get preg (and stay preg) but that’s worth it 🙂

    • Madelin @ What is for Breakfast? February 27, 2010, 7:04 pm

      It took me 6 months to get a period after going off the pill last year. Lots of pregnancy tests later it finally did come but it was a bit scary that it took so long!

  • Heather February 27, 2010, 10:54 am

    I started taking BCP when I was 14 for hormonal issues, and continued using them when I became sexually active. I’m 24 now and have been off them for about 3 years because the side effects were becoming too much. My cycles have always been somewhat irregular (sometimes I’d go 3 months without having a period, sometimes it’d come every 1.5 months, and there was a period where I went nearly an entire year), but it took about 2 years after getting off the pill for them to get as close to regular as they’re going to get. I can’t say “ooh, it’s the 4th! time to bleed!” (TMI? is anything TMI here?) but I have a general idea. As of now, I am not interested in going back to anything hormonal. I’d consider the IUD but right now condoms work, as annoying as they are. I’m at a place in my life where although I am not ready for kids right now (and probably won’t be for another year), I know that I would like them in 2-4 years so I’m skeptical of getting back on any type of BCP.

  • Cassie February 27, 2010, 10:55 am

    i didn’t start my period until i was 15, then went all anorexic and lost it. i didn’t have my period again until i was 18! my doctor thought it was hormonal for a long time because i had gained a little weight (i looked healthy) when i finally went to the doctor about my period, and so he put me on medroxyprogesterone. i stopped taking it after a couple months and just decided to let my body heal a bit more and gain a little bit more weight (i also stopped running, but i don’t know how much that had to do with my period because i didn’t run that much). after i attained a higher body fat percentage, i got my period back 🙂 now they come naturally and on time almost every month and i am so thankful for that! oh, and i agree with Amy, men do have it so easy!!!

  • Amy B (Second City Randomness) February 27, 2010, 10:56 am

    I don’t like that Gulianna seems to imply that she isn’t able to work out anymore because she has to gain weight. It is still very possible if she just changes her routine and eating habits a little! She makes it sound like she’s just going to sit around and “get fat”.

    • Caitlin February 27, 2010, 11:10 am

      So many annoying things about that comment.

      • Caitlin February 27, 2010, 11:10 am

        I mean, Gulianna’s comment, not yours, obviously 😉

        • Morgan February 27, 2010, 10:42 pm

          I’m convinced that almost all celebrities have eating/exercise disorders. Most of them are way too skinny anyway and it’s unhealthy for those skinny celebrities to be role models. Guilianna included.

          I’m wondering how in the hell Nicole Ritchie got pregnant? She was so, so skinny before Harlow. And Angelina Jolie? Too skinny.

        • caitlin February 28, 2010, 8:25 am

          I think it’s more that most celebrities have distorted thinking about weight because of the media. They are under a LOT of pressure to be thin AND then they are STILL photoshopped – aka they arent good enough. I talked a lot about this during my Operation Beautiful presentation!

  • Julie February 27, 2010, 10:58 am

    I’ve been on the pill for about 5.5 years now and won’t probably go off untill I’m ready to have children. Before BC I was pretty regular, getting my period every 28-30 days. Right now I’m on Low-Ogestrel which is the generic of Lo-Ovral and I like it. I tried two other kinds of pills and they really did a number on my moods. I would get seriosuly depressed during PMS. This pill is great because it’s low dose so my hormones aren’t too out of whack.
    I honestly never think too much about the birth control method because I know no matter what I try, nothing is ever really 100% effective.

  • Jenny February 27, 2010, 10:59 am

    This is such an important issue for so many reasons! Thank you for starting up a discussion.

    I went on BC in high school because I had really bad acne associated with my horomones, and it helped TREMENDOUSLY! And then when I lost too much weight due to my ED, even the BC could not keep my periods steady. And once I went off of it, I did not menstruate for at least a year. I’m now back on Lo-Estrin, one of the lowest horomone BC’s out there, and I do ovulate regularly (I think). But I do not like being on BC, I wish that I could allow my body to do things naturally, however my OBGYN feels that since my ED, getting my body “back on track” horomonally is important.

    I don’t think it’s necessarily bad to take BC to regulate your horomones if needed, especially when it comes to the weight issue. I am at a healthy weight, but I believe that our horomones are like our metabolism, in that they take more time to adjust to changes in our body.

    I was just kind of disappointed in the way the Rancic issue was handled because like “DUH”, is no one going to step up and say, “look if you are not ovulating due to your weight, then let’s get this (weight and mindset) under control before you become a mother”.

  • Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) February 27, 2010, 10:59 am

    I don’t get my period without birth control actually. (Well maybe once every six months or something.) My period has never been regular. I take Yaz. To be perfectly honest, I don’t like the idea of being on BC for years and years (I’ve been on it as long as you have due to my PCOS) but my doctor thinks this is the best option for me. So I do worry about why I do try to get pregnant. It might be tough to determine the best time to TTC without a regular period and all. I hope it isn’t.

  • Rachel (suburban yogini) February 27, 2010, 11:07 am

    I’ve never taken hormonal BC. My periods are spot on regular every 28 days (a very regular yoga practice certainly helps with that), even when I was very very thing (unhealthy thin) I got my periods regularly.

    Conversely I don’t want kids so I know my cycle very very well 😉

  • Emily February 27, 2010, 11:07 am

    I am very athletic and I actually stopped getting my periods for awhile and my doctor put me on birth control to start them again. I don’t know if I would have ever gotten it back if I wasn’t on birth control.

  • Kellie February 27, 2010, 11:10 am

    My cycle is very messed up. I have three children and got my tubal ligation after my final child (the Dr. finally agreed, because I was only 26 they didnt want to, but I begged). I am 30 now and the Dr. wants me back on the pill due to the fact that my period is sometimes only 14 day apart. I don’t want to use the pill so am trying other things such as diet.

  • christie, honoring health February 27, 2010, 11:10 am

    I agree about the Rancic issues. I watch their show on Bravo and it makes me really sad for her that her weight is standing in the way of conceiving and yet she is still so resistant to gaining 5lbs.

    I was on depo for five years and it completely took my period away. I stopped two years ago and am just now, like in the last couple of months, am starting to get my cycle back. I think it is sad that I am 33 years old and don’t know what my cycle is anymore. I am a woman and I am supposed to be ovulating. Anyway, I don’t take BC anymore and my husband and I just practice safe sex with condoms. Ironically, neither of us want children so some people see this as incredibly risky but to me, BC is even more risky.

  • cg February 27, 2010, 11:11 am

    I went on the pill when I got married 5 years ago but went off a year later due to high blood pressures (I was 29 and high BP ran on both sides of the family, it was genetic). I have to take meds but my bp is under control. I’ll never be able to use the pill again so we use condoms, what can you do? My cycle is irregular, I do get my period but my cycle can be 21-28 days, two periods in a month is super fun:( They also can fluctuate on the cycle of 2 of the girls I work with! There is a week every month were we are the trifecta of PMS.

  • Danielle February 27, 2010, 11:13 am

    I think about it a lot, and I hear you– there is just no way to tell. I was on The Pill for 8 years (most recently) and went off in July. In some ways I feel amazing, in some ways I feel like poo…I went on the pill for both birth control reasons and to control other ‘side effects’ like acne and hair growth, and it worked… so now that I’m off I have that to deal with again. My cycle has been funky for the past 6 months, (i’m only about 10 pounds overweight so I think its just an adjustment) and I have no idea what to think. I am getting my period though, albeit irregularly. After going off it, and experiencing what I have been, I am a huge believer that (pregnancy prevention aside) diet and exercise and even yoga can help restore balance, regular cycles and tone down PMS symptoms for A LOT (not all) of people.

  • Amber K @ sparkpeople February 27, 2010, 11:14 am

    I have never been on birth control. Pretty much the minute my husband and I got married we started trying for a baby. We had no idea that we’d be here, three years later and no baby yet!

    I used to get my period very regularly when I weighed my highest and after I had lost 90ish pounds I just stopped getting it altogether. I thought it had come back for one month, but I haven’t seen it since. I know I am still technically “overweight” and I’m certainly not at an ideal body fat %, so I’m not sure what’s wrong. I’ve been to the doctor a couple of times, they ran some tests, but so far everything looks fine. I’m just not getting a period, whatsoever.

    I pray that you will have a much easier time conceiving when you choose to!

    • Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) February 27, 2010, 11:17 am

      Amber have you ever asked about testing for PCOS? I had to see 3-4 doctors before getting a diagnosis for it but that was what caused me not to have a period.

      • Amber K @ sparkpeople February 27, 2010, 11:25 am

        I haven’t thought about that, I’ll have to look into it! I wonder if the test is expensive, having no health insurance stinks. But it would be lovely to finally know what is wrong!

  • Megan February 27, 2010, 11:17 am

    I was on birth control for about 2 years, I went off last January so we could start trying to get pregnant. I got one period after that and then they stopped. I have been very active my whole life and always had regular periods, but while I was on birth control I ended up losing about 20lbs while I was planning for my wedding and I dropped to around 98-100lbs. I guessing that my birth \control

  • Andrea February 27, 2010, 11:17 am

    I also think this topic is really interesting. 5 years ago before I was married I was diagnosed with hypothalmic amenorrhea because of the amount of stress I was under. Stress can cause your hypothalmus and pituitary glands to function abnormally.

    I was put on birth control then to regulate my cycle b/c I had been without a period for 6 months. The birth control did it’s job until last year when I went off it in hopes to conceive. Two months of really long cycles and then absent cycles again. Playing a role, now in our battle with infertility are Polycystic ovaries. At 5’3″ and 115 lbs., and a body fat of 19% I meet no criteria for PCOS except the cysts on my ovaries. Believe me, if gaining 10 lbs. could regulate my cycle I would do it. But I’ve asked and they said it would not, so injectables for infertility are my best bet.

    It’s very interesting to see the effects of all sorts of outside stressors that can mess with your bodies makeup.

    • Michelle February 27, 2010, 6:33 pm

      Andrea, You’re the first person I know to have a very similar problem as me. I was diagnosed with PCOS in high school (I’m 28 now) but I have never had any symptoms except that my periods come every 5 months when I’m off birth control. I went off BC in November in hopes to get pregnant. I haven’t had a period since Christmas but I’m pretty sure there’s no baby in the oven either. I need to schedule an appt. with the dr–not sure what the next steps are. I have a feeling the cysts are growing back.

      • Andrea February 28, 2010, 8:59 am

        Hi Michelle,

        It’s best to see a doctor to make sure everything is working well. They take the absence of a period pretty seriously b/c it usually means something is not working right. I saw my general practitioner after 6 months of trying and she immediately referred me to an infertility specialist b/c of the lack of menses and my personal history.

        It’s good to know there are others in a similar boat and best of luck to you!

        • Michelle February 28, 2010, 7:19 pm

          Thanks for the advice–I REALLY appreciate it! I will call the dr. soon! Good luck to you too!

  • Mara @ What's For Dinner? February 27, 2010, 11:17 am

    I had a hormone nightmare with the pill and nuvaring causing severe anxiety attacks and depression so I’ve been following the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) tracking my cycle using temperature and cervical fluid…its a little more work-intensive than just taking a pill, but I am very regular and know exactly when I’m fertile or not. And, I’m not pumping my body full of hormones!

  • Allison (Eat Clean Live Green) February 27, 2010, 11:20 am

    In all honesty, I have to wonder how a low body fat % (say 17 or 18) can be considered ‘healthy’ if it means a woman doesn’t get her period… (without considering other factors, which may well be occurring, such as genetics or medications)

    • Caitlin February 27, 2010, 11:22 am

      i agree somewhat with this comment (or at least with the concern). but really, 18% isnt that low, depending on the person. i have boobs and a butt and a nice layer of padding around my midsection (i.e you cannot see my abdominals) and my body fat is 18%. i think a lot of depends on how you carry it? body fat is a really confusing topic for me, actually.

      • Caitlin February 27, 2010, 11:23 am

        also, i have friends who have the same body fat % as i do and i think they LOOK like they have less body fat than i do. it’s really confusing. i’m not sure how body fat percentages “work” in reality. ideas, anyone?

        • Allison (Eat Clean Live Green) February 27, 2010, 12:11 pm

          That’s kind of my point – it depends on the person.

          I didn’t mean that 18% body fat is too low for everyone, just that if a woman doesn’t get her periods, and it’s due to low body fat, and not other reasons, that body fat % is not healthy for her.

  • Elizabeth February 27, 2010, 11:21 am

    I’ve been on the pill since I was 18 – almost 9 years! I’m sure I would get my period naturally but I like being on the pill since it controls my cramps and I know exactly when I will get it with no surprises!

  • Megan February 27, 2010, 11:22 am

    I was on birth control for about 2 years, I went off last January so we could start trying to get pregnant. I got one period after that and then they stopped. I have been very active my whole life and always had regular periods, but while I was on birth control I ended up losing about 20lbs while I was planning for my wedding and I dropped to around 98-100lbs. I guessing that my birth \control as hiding the fact that this affected my body. In October my doctor put me on Provera to start my period and then I went on Clomid to help me to ovulate so I could get pregnant, now I have been on it for almost six months with no luck. It has been a very long and frustrating process and we are probably going to have to move into the next phase of fertility treatments. At this point I don’t think I ever want to go on birth control again.

  • Monica @ Musings of the Granola Girl February 27, 2010, 11:23 am

    I’ve had Secondary amenorrhea ever since I ran competitively in high school and had an eating disorder. My doctor put me on birth control (after I had returned to a healthy weight and still wasn’t getting a regular period) to regulate my period and I gained 15 pounds and so I went off of it because I couldn’t lose the weight while on it. I still don’t get my period regularly (I workout about 6 hours a week, run at least 30 miles) and my doctor wants to put me back on the pill to regulate it but I’m too terrified of gaining 15 pounds again! My older sister’s friend (in her 30’s) had a similar problem when trying to get pregnant and after taking progestin for several months it “revamped” her system and she now has several kids.

  • Lauren @ Dragonflies Journey February 27, 2010, 11:25 am

    I have two very serious hormonal/ovarian conditions that I will have for the rest of my life. I have been to many specialists and have suffered a lot through the past ten years not knowing what I was putting in my body and how it will negatively affect me.

    I have done a LOT of research and you must acknowledge that any “created/false” hormone entering your body can have negative consequences. And the longer you’re on it the more damage you can do.

    Yes, everyone is different. But I believe that if preventing pregnancy is your only use for it, don’t. You could inevitably make it much harder to conceive. If you’re on the pill for medical reasons, however, really question your doctor and research as much as possible.

    I have been on the pill twice, and about 7 different hormone replacement therapies (HRT) that have done significant damage to me. Now I take none of them and am doing so much better.

    Just a suggestion, ladies. It’s so important to question your doctors and really know what’s going on with science and know what you’re putting in your body.

  • Caitlin in MD February 27, 2010, 11:25 am

    A couple years ago, I started to have the same concerns as you: on birth control (the pill) for almost 10 years, in my late 20’s, and didn’t know how many body would act OFF birth control. I made the decision to stop taking the pill (after discussing with my BF and getting his blessing…actually, he urged me to go off) the past September. By November, I was pregnant…surprise! No, we were not trying, and in fact, I was doing my best to “take charge of my fertility.” But, I guess the stars were aligned for us, and we’re now very excited to welcome a baby in August. Anyway, that’s my story. I believe I will go back on the pill after my baby is born…I don’t want back to back pregnancies!

  • Marissa February 27, 2010, 11:26 am

    I’m so glad you brought this topic up because I like seeing other’s opinions of it. I am 28 and used the pill when I was 19-23. When I became more aware of my health, I decided to get off the pill and I’m SO GLAD that I did. For me, it was not the right option. I didn’t like the way it made me feel, and I felt like I was putting chemicals into my body and I felt wrong for this because I was trying to live a super healthy lifestyle otherwise. Since being off for 5 years, I feel like I know my body much better. I had no idea what was going on before because the pill was masking everything. My husband and I use condoms, ovulation test strips, and in addition to that we use NFP. All of this takes a lot of effort and doesn’t allow for much spontaneity, but I’ve used these methods successfully for a few years now, and haven’t become pregnant. I get my period every month like clockwork and can usually tell exactly when I ovulate.

  • Caitlin in MD February 27, 2010, 11:26 am

    P.S. And we want to get married before #2!!!

  • D February 27, 2010, 11:28 am

    I had an almost perfectly regular period from ages 12-17, went on the pill from ages 17-18, am now off it, and have not gotten a period since.

    I have no idea what my body fat % is, but at 5’4-5’5 and 107-112 pounds, I’m pretty sure I’m at the lowest acceptable weight for my height. I exercise heavily, but I have no idea at what point my period stopped naturally. I have an ongoing “mystery” health problem, but seeing as it cannot be identified, I have no idea if it’s related.

    Looking back, I never would have gone on the pill. I’ve suffered enough from not understanding my body and being subjected to a frustrating and painful condition that I wouldn’t put it under any unneccessary or “artificial” influence.

  • Marian February 27, 2010, 11:30 am

    I have been on Ortho Tri-Cylen on and off for ~ 8 years. It started because I was having crazy heavy periods, like 8 weeks with it, one week without at 18. Then I stopped it in university to see if things had regulated themselves. And I didn’t get a period for a year. The doc did blood work and basically just said to me “You have to take the pill to get your body to ovulate and when you want to get pregnant, go see a specialist right away. Don’t even try on your own.”

    Took the pill for a few more years. Stopped again out of laziness and getting to the doc on time. Didn’t ovulate for a year. Got blood work again and this new doc told me I have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). So now I am back on the pill mostly to keep my hormones regular and prevent risk of osteoporosis from the lack of estrogen.

    And hoping my body will kick in when I decide I want to get pregnant!

  • Kelly February 27, 2010, 11:32 am

    I’ve always wished that there was an “off” button for getting pregnant. I don’t think men understand how much women have to worry about getting pregnant. After completely hating birth control pills and being very bad about taking them I switched to the off brand of the depo shot. It works well with my body and I love it. I would highly suggest it if you are having issues with taking the pill consistently. It does bother me that I’m putting high doses of hormones into my body but since I am in graduate school getting pregnant is not an option right now.

    • Kelly February 27, 2010, 11:33 am

      Oh yeah and the off brand shot is 21$ for 3 months of birth control. I used to pay 75$ for 3 months when on Yaz.

  • Brandy February 27, 2010, 11:32 am

    I don’t use birth control. I was on hormonal birth control for five years and hated what it did to me. Emotionally, I was a mess. Sex drive went out the window. I got an IUD and LOVED it. There are two kinds, copper and one with hormones. I wanted to avoid the hormones, so I got the copper one. It does make your period heavier and sometimes makes cramps worse, but within six months, my periods were back to normal. I got the IUD out when my husband and I decided to try to get pregnant. There have been some roadblocks to that, and we’ve found out we can’t get pregnant without help. I was training for a marathon and my husband thought that was the reason, but after much testing, that’s not the case.

    When you get off of birth control, I highly recommend reading the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility. It teaches you so much about your cycle and body. I will never go back on hormonal birth control again. Even if I did need it for birth control, lol.

  • Morgan @ Healthy Happy Place February 27, 2010, 11:32 am

    Before I went on birth control I would go without getting my period for several months at a time. When my period actually came, it was huge, heavy and uncomfortable. I’ve been on Yaz for about 5 years now and love it. I take it in 4 month cycles so I only get my period 3 times a year. I plan on going off the pill after my wedding in May just to see how my body responds. I want my body to be ready to go once I’m ready to conceive!

  • Suzanne February 27, 2010, 11:36 am

    I’ve been on birth control since I was 15 years old. I know that seems really young for some people, but I was having some serious hormone issues. As opposed to not getting my period, I was getting it at least twice a month for at least a week and a half, as well as getting horrible, debilitating cramps. I was underweight and dancing ballet for about two hours a day. That was almost ten years ago, and sometimes I’d like to go off my birth control to see if things have cleared up naturally on their own. I use Yaz now, which is good, although expensive. I don’t like the idea of regulating my hormones with birth control and would like to try some holistic remedies, but at the same time the thought of going back to where I used to be sounds like an even worse idea!

  • Nikky February 27, 2010, 11:36 am

    I think I only took my birth control for about 4 months. It spiked my blood pressure so bad that I was getting bloody noses almost every night. We’ve gone 6 years with no mishaps, but I do have an ovarian thing that could make it harder for me to get pregnant, I may owe the “good” luck to that.

  • Kristin February 27, 2010, 11:37 am

    This issue hit home for me last year. I had been taking Yasmin for 7 years and had always gotten my “period” from it on the same day each month. A couple of months after I got married in 2008, I missed it and thought I might be pregnant. I stopped taking the pill and started seeing my Gyno, who informed me that I was no longer ovulating..yikes. They had me wait it out for 3 months (still no period) and then I had to start the cycle of taking Clomid. The process was tedious since you take the first dose, wait 3 weeks then take another medication to spark a period, wait to see if you get it, then meet with your Gyno. I took those pills for 3 months and was emotionally exhausted. Thankfully, God was looking out for us and in Dec. 2008 I got pregnant. My husband and I now have a beautiful baby girl. The amazing thing about this is that I really never ovulated naturally during this whole process, so I don’t know what to think after I stop breastfeeding and try to get pregnant again in the future. Anyways, this is an interesting issue that I never thought about until I had problems. I actually wasn’t thinking about having kids at all when it happened, but then realized that this could be my only chance. For anyone who is concerned, I would recommend talking with your Gyno now and be prepared to have to wait a few months or longer to get back on track after stopping the pill.

  • Mauar February 27, 2010, 11:37 am

    I am 28 and have never been on a birth control pill. What’s funny is that when I tell friends this, they practically fall out of their chair. Is it really that weird? Perhaps, but I’ve never had an issue with regularity, so I guess that’s a good sign! I can attest to the fact that Giuliana likes to work out, I ran right by her in Venice, CA on Valentine’s Day on my first TNT run! 🙂

  • Ada February 27, 2010, 11:40 am

    When I was a super competitve swimmer (practicing 5+ hours a day) I never got my period and my doctor was extremely worried. I ended up having to start taking the birth control pill which got my period jumpstarted again. Amenorrhea is actually a very serious condition since it can lead to osteoporosis and heart attacks, but many people are unaware that so many atheletes suffer from it.

  • Tonyne @ The Unlikely Success Story February 27, 2010, 11:40 am

    I have been on birth control for almost 14 years, I went off once and got pregnant quickly (on accident, with my husband so it was OK with us) but then miscarried. I went back on BC and we planned not to try again for a long time. I accidentally threw away my pills last month (It was on the counter in a pile of stuff and it went out with the trash, I’m an airhead sometimes) and decided to just take the month off. I did have my period, on regular schedule, but it was hellish. Horrible cramping, bad mood swings and everything that is bad about TOM. I have no idea where I was going with this, but I know that I did ovulate naturally. I’m starting back on the pill tomorrow, but I do know that when the husband and I decide to start trying (probably in the next year or two) I will go off the pill for some time before hand. I take a generic Ortho-Tricyclen.

    No idea if you wanted/needed to know any of that, but there it is.

  • Leah @ L4L February 27, 2010, 11:41 am

    I’m on the pill but would rather be on Nuva ring! I’m not planning on having kids so my fiance and I are already discussing when he should get the snip snip or if I should get my tubes tied that was I can be off any sort of birth control. It makes me crazy.

    • ryn February 27, 2010, 1:12 pm

      This is what my husband and I did. About 9 months after we got married, he got the snip. He really didn’t want me to be taking the BC anymore, and I didn’t want to either. We were pretty certain we didn’t want kids, and knew if we went this route and ever changed our minds and sought a reversal, it would mean we REALLY REALLY wanted and were ready to have kids. Its been about 6 years since we made that decision, and we haven’t gone back on it yet. He turns 32 this year, and I turn 31.

  • Kelly @ Healthy Living With Kelly February 27, 2010, 11:42 am

    I have no idea if I would get my period without the BC pill but I suspect that I would not. I am a marathoner who is 5’6″, 115 pounds, and have 16% body fat. It does kind of make me wonder but the hubs and I aren’t planning on having kids so I don’t give it too much thought.

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) February 27, 2010, 11:46 am

    Let me just say that I’m not looking to have kids ever so the lack of ovulation or a period doesn’t bother me.

    I have Mirena for the ease of not having to worry about it. I haven’t had a period in years due to other issues but now that those issues are straightened out I still don’t get a period.

    I’m 5’6″ and about 165 and fairly healthy. But like I said I’m not looking to have kids so I don’t really think about it.

  • D February 27, 2010, 11:47 am

    Also, I posted a longer version of this comment on another blog, but I just wanted to say that I’ve read a lot of comments about Giuliana Rancic, and the majority seem to suggest that she’s entirely at fault. A lot of women are “too thin” because of pressure from the media, or whatever it might be, but there’s also (as you know) plenty of women who are truly suffering from eating disorders. There is a difference between disordered thoughts and an unhealthily skewed perception (and I am NOT saying that this is easy to fix or trying to belittle it in any way) and a true disease. We shouldn’t jump to conclusions about her.

    • caitlin February 27, 2010, 11:48 am

      thanks true, too! also, its hard to determine how someone feels about it based on one comment. good point.

      • Neely February 27, 2010, 12:23 pm

        I watched Giuliana and Bill on the View and I sometimes catch their show. I am not trying to “judge” but she is in the public eye and on the View talking about fertility so…

        She seems to be in a job that requires her (at least in her viewpoint) to be rail thin so that is why she sees it to be too hard for her to gain weight. Then, on the show, she admitted that she is insecure. Well, then maybe a baby isn’t for you until you gain some perspective on life, I think.

        And you can call it judgmental if you must, but I think she looks like a bobblehead.

        • D February 27, 2010, 12:32 pm

          My point was that we don’t know her exact feelings or situation, so we shouldn’t criticize her! It’s hard enough being female and dealing with these issues without having other women tell you to basically “get over it”. I’ve just read so many comments that essentially say she’s selfish/unwilling/irresponsible/etc and hardly any that offer sympathy and concern. People who read healthy living blogs are obviously aware of different struggles and especially those who read about Caitlin’s Operation Beautiful. Why can’t we feel sorry for Giuliana instead of berating her?

          And I’m not also not saying that she DOES have an eating disorder. She may very well only be that thin for her job. But, we don’t know that. I always find that it’s totally insulting to women to imply that they are solely affected by magazine covers and have no underlying problems, or any deeper motivation than a runway model. Sometimes it’s that simple, and sometimes it’s not.

          “Bobblehead” isn’t a very nice way to talk about a woman 🙁 I don’t believe that anyone who reads Healthy Tipping Point or Operation Beautiful would accept insults like “fatty”, and I think “bobblehead” is just as mean. Just my humble opinion!

        • caitlin February 27, 2010, 12:39 pm

          it’s interesting (to me) because part of me WANTS to berate her for putting out such a negative attitude about body image… and the other part of me thinks, “just because she’s a celebrity 1) doesn’t mean she’s perfect 2) always says the perfect thing or 3) doesn’t have insecurities.” you know? it’s hard. i do feel like her statement could’ve been misconstrued as well. my immediate reaction is that she is worried about gaining 5 pounds to get pregnant, but I re-read it and maybe I’m not so sure… she might just have been talking out of her ass and it came out wrong. I know I do that ALL THE TIME.

    • Neely February 27, 2010, 1:26 pm


      Sorry, we just have a difference of opinion. To be honest, I could not care less if Giuliana ever has a baby, doesn’t have a baby, cheats on Bill, joins a convent…whatever.

      She is a celebrity and is on the View talking about her infertility and fear of gaining 5 pounds on an already obviously underweight frame. Oh… and there’s the whole talk show thing! Her own talk show where she freely exposes much of her private life. So, essentially, I am saying that I reserve my right to make comments about celebrities without feeling bad about myself. Thanks.

      • Caitlin in MD February 27, 2010, 9:59 pm

        I’m with you. Total bobblehead.

  • Samantha February 27, 2010, 11:47 am

    I was married young, like you, at 24. I went off birth control at age 30 – to get pregnant. I couldnt. Not going into details, but knowing what I know now, I think God’s plan for me was to have children in my 20’s. I didnt read all of the comments above, but being older now I wonder if messing with the natural plan by using birthd

    • Samantha February 27, 2010, 11:51 am

      control is causing the NEED for so much infertility treatment these days. Our bodies were meant to bear children when we are young and healthy. Just something to think about. What is so terrible about having kids in your 20s these days? Our parents did it, they werent waiting for their life to be in order and for their bank accounts to be full. I LOVED having young-ish entergetic parents and wish I could have been one too.

      • Sarah February 27, 2010, 1:42 pm

        Some of us know that we would not be the type of parents that we’d want to be at certain times in our lives. There are lots of reasons for that…career, finances, health, emotional maturity, etc. I know that our bodies might be best able to get pregnant at a certain age but there are other factors that make having a child at that age not as optimal.

        • Katie @ Two Lives, One Lifestyle February 27, 2010, 2:33 pm

          I agree with both sides of that.. it takes more years now to get to a career/financial point because more people go to college + grad school and then start careers. My parents started working at 18 and so they had saved enough to have me when they were 24. I love having younger parents and hope to have kids while I’m young-ish but I can’t plan life to a T! On the other hand, my boyfriend works at one of the top in-vitro clinics in the country and I’ve learned so much from him/ his coworkers. After 35, fertility and the safety of the pregnancy really fall. Though if you are financially secure, you might be able to afford fertility treatments. It’s all very back and forth!

      • caitlin February 27, 2010, 2:38 pm

        I agree with Sarah – as much as I’d like to let nature run it’s course, we are not financially ready to have children and it would put a terrible strain on our marriage. That’s why we use BC.

  • Helen February 27, 2010, 11:48 am

    I can’t believe that she is making a fuss about 5 pounds. I know that for me I might struggle with it but if it was to get pregnant then I know I would do it. She is too skinny anyway. I use Microgynon 30 (the pill) as it is the easiest control for me. I’ve been taking it for 3 years now and still don’t trust it though! It has helped make my period regular as before it would be so irregular due to my low weight. I hope that when I do decide to come off it, not anytime soon (!) , that I will get my period back normally. Helen x

    • Crystal February 27, 2010, 11:51 am

      I couldn’t believe all the fuss over 5 lbs either. If the choice for me was thinking I look a little fat (and she wouldn’t she’d look great) and a kid or looking creepy thin and no kid, I’d gain 50 if I had to.

  • Crystal February 27, 2010, 11:50 am

    I was on the normal pill (which i forgot to take a lot)until we had our first kid, then the mini pill (which I always forgot to take) and breastfeeding. That worked great until I got my period back at 14 months postpartum. Then we decided to try for number two. So right now being pregnant again is my birth control.

  • Rachel A February 27, 2010, 11:51 am

    I was on BC for about ten years, mostly ortho tricyclen and ortho tricyclen lo. I went off about two years ago. I was just got sick of putting hormones in my body. The more I thought about it the more I wanted to get off BC. The whole premise of BC and how it works was just too artificial for me. My hubby was very supportive (big sigh of relief). We tried spermicidal film and foam products, but he didn’t like them (burning). So we’ve been using condoms ever since. I’ve asked him if he’s all right with it, and he’s has been surprisingly accepting of using condoms. I have had thoughts about going back on BC, mostly because of breakouts I’ve had since going off the pill. But I’m sticking by my decision.
    I feel much more like myself.

  • Kiersten February 27, 2010, 11:52 am

    I have been on BC pills since I was 16. I started using them because my periods stopped due to my anorexia. Last year I tried to go off BC for 5-6 months and still couldn’t get a period on my own. At that time I weighed 20 lbs more than I did when I was fully anorexic, but my body still can’t have a period on it’s own. I’ve been working on gaining weight for the past several months not just because of myeating issues, but because I want to get off BC. I hate BC, it gives me the WORST cramps and headaches.

  • mmclaughlin February 27, 2010, 11:53 am

    I went on birth control from age 21-24. I had never been on it previously because my periods are so regular that I didn’t see a point in it (as I chose not to have sex either), but my ob/gyn put me on it because my periods were so heavy – and about 8-9 days long. In the 3 years I was on BC, my periods shortened to about 6-7 days, I would get horrible migraines whenever my I was taking the placebo pill, and I gained THIRTY pounds with no changes in my diet or exercise. I know it was seriously screwing up my hormones, and I was miserable. So I took myself off BC.

    I’ve now been off BC for 2.5 years and I’m so much happier. I’m still struggling to lose some of the weight I gained during that time (I’ve still got about 18lbs to go), and my periods have stayed in the 6-7 day range instead of going back up to 8-9 days, which is much better too. I’ve been married for almost 4 years, and my husband and I use condoms and recently started using the FAM method (which is NOT the same as the rhythm method). I don’t have to track as much because I am SO aware of my body and so regular, that I know exactly when I’m fertile… but obviously, everyone would need to figure out how it works for themselves…

    • Lindsey @ Sound Eats February 27, 2010, 1:29 pm

      I can totally relate. Due to different factors (obvs. not by choice) I had to switch BCP 8 times in 9 months in 2009. I gained 45 lbs from it. As someone who exercises and is a vegan and generally very health conscious, it’s so hard to lose the weight. i’ve lost maybe 5 lbs. Maybe.

      I feel for you!!!

  • JJ February 27, 2010, 11:55 am

    Recently I found out the Yaz BCP I was on was causing elevated potassium levels in my blood (a potential side effect) so I had to go off it. That was three months ago and I still have not had a regular cycle. Hormone levels were tested to be normal. Read somewhere it might take up to 6 months to get a cycle after stopping them (had been on for 13 years prior). My weight is healthy and 21% BF so don’t think that is the problem; do workout about an hour 6 days/week, eat healthy. Have not noticed any real difference in how I feel since stopping BCP. Now awaiting what to do from my doctor.

  • mackattack February 27, 2010, 11:57 am

    I don’t get regular periods without BCP. I’m on Yaz now, and I was on Ocella. Unfortunately, I got a blood clot, partially because of the ocella. I have endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. I have to trust that these chemicals are making life easier on me. But that’s not something I can totally know. As for getting preggo, I’m married, but I can not have a baby yet. So, we won’t know until awhile from now. However, adoption is always an option.

  • jessica February 27, 2010, 12:03 pm

    i too was on BC for over 10 years and at a normal weight (125-130 5’6). but, after stopping the pill never resumed normal periods. ending up having to do fertility treatments as well and now have a 1 year old daughter. i think BC can affect fertility and i think it messed up my cycles, but others have no problem. i would rather gain 5-10 lbs though then have to deal with fertiliy meds…the shots, the $$$ and the chance of having mutiples is very scary.

  • Erin February 27, 2010, 12:10 pm

    My husband got a vasectomy so I haven’t been on any form of birth control for about 4 years. Before that I was on a pill for almost 10 years. My period was pretty regular at first (even off the pill) but the more I work out the less regular it comes. I’m 5’4″, 123 lbs, and somewhere around 20-22% body fat. My period currently takes anywhere from a 4-6 week break in between. I don’t really think about it, though, because, obviously, we’re not planning to have kids. If everything is working, fine. If it’s not, well, that’s one less week I have worry about carrying tampons with me!

  • LisaM February 27, 2010, 12:10 pm

    I have never had a regular period because of a hormonal imbalance. Birth control pills allowed me to get a period and have a more regular flow of hormones in my body and it feels so much better than when I was not getting my period at all. I think it is an extremely personal decision for any woman, regardless of the reason.
    Health-wise, birth control has come a long way. Many of the newer pills have lower doses of hormones and are a bit more “fine-tuned” than the old birth control pills that first came out in the 1970’s. There was an interesting article a few months back in a woman’s magazine (cannot remember which one!) which discussed some of the protective factors that the taking oral contraceptive can have, such as lowered risk for ovarian cancer.

  • laura dishes February 27, 2010, 12:11 pm

    I have been using Nuvaring for the last two years, which I love. It’s not cheap, even w/ insurance, but it’s obviously worth it to me. I would rather not be on BC so that my body could just do its thing on its own. My bf would be fine w/ me not being on BC, but I’m really okay w/ taking the risk… so BC it is, for now!

    I appreciated Guiliana’s honesty, BUT, how bad do you really want a baby if you don’t follow doctor’s orders and gain 5-10 pounds? I get that she needs to be thin for her job, but she would probably look healthier if she gained the weight!

  • Nicole February 27, 2010, 12:13 pm

    I was on the pill for over 10 years and finally decided to go off it last summer. I am very athletic and always have been, but I have been getting normal and regular periods.
    I went off the pill bc, like you, I didn’t know if I would have normal periods without BC. The fact that i had been on it for so long kind of scared me, and I wanted to know how to really and truly listen to my body and become “in tune” with it so to speak.
    However since I’ve gone off the pill my body is responding in different ways. I have a terrible problem with random breakouts (acne) on my face, neck and chest, and I’ve been having serious emotional issues. It’s nothing I can’t deal with, so I won’t let my dr. put me on anything else (ie meds for my emotional issues and antibiotics for my skin) I’m trying to figure it out on my own but it’s really tough to do.
    If I can help it I will never go back on any kind of BC again, only bc I went through years of not knowing my own body. I’m 30 now and although I’m still not ready to have kids, I would rather know I gave my body the time to heal and rid itself of the BC toxins I’ve put into it.

  • Emma February 27, 2010, 12:13 pm

    First, I love your blog! Second, I had to respond to this question because it is one that is near-and-dear to my heart, as I’ve been struggling with it myself for the past year or so!

    About two years ago, I switched from the pill to a non-hormonal IUD, for several reasons. Mainly, I already take insulin (for Type 1 diabetes), a hormone, and I’d rather not pump more hormones than I need to into my body – I avoid it in foods, why take it in birth control form? Of course, the pill is a great method of birth control, one I swore by for several years, and if it works for you, by all means, continue reaping those benefits!

    When I went off the pill, my periods became really irregular and then eventually stopped altogether. My doctor really wanted to put me back on the pill to regulate things, but I was determined to figure out a more natural solution – one, I couldn’t see the pill being a feasible long-term solution – what if I wanted to have kids? And two, women have been menstruating for years and years without the aid of pills, so I was convinced there was a more organic solution.

    At the time, I was working out, fairly intensely, for 1-2 hours per day, 7 days a week. I wasn’t training for anything, but I was definitely at the fitness level of an athlete. After consulting with my doctor, the Internets, several friends, and Mommy dearest, I was persuaded to try taking a day or two off every week (which, in retrospect, I should’ve been doing anyway – rest days are SO good for my body!). And, so far, it seems to be working.

    One big lesson I learned from this is that my doctor is not *always* right. She told me that it was “highly unlikely” that I was having this problem bc I worked out too much because I’m not “emaciated” or “super skinny.” Which, is true – I’m perfectly average in terms of weight and body fat percentage, but that does NOT mean that I don’t work out intensely enough to cause my period to stop.

    The other thing I learned, which is a silly thing to admit, is that we do NEED to be getting our periods every month. At first, I was like, “Um, this isn’t really a problem for me! I kinda like it!” But, not getting your period can be a sign of low estrogen, and low estrogen levels can hurt your bones – the very thing I was working to protect! It’s important to pay attention to these cues!

  • Marina February 27, 2010, 12:15 pm

    I am on birth control, and recently I thought about if I would have my period without them. I mean, I don’t consider my self skinny and too thin, but some other people do, and that got me thinking… Maybe without bc, I would see the main symptom.

  • Allie February 27, 2010, 12:15 pm

    this is such an important topic, and i love to discuss it.

    from my own experiences, i am very athletic and i always have been. i love being active. i got my period very late, and it was never ever regular. i should have been more concerned, but i was young and didn’t really think about it. i also did not feed myself well for my activity level as a high mileage runner for many, many years (mostly the 20s- very important years). i did not have an eating disorder per se, and i was muscular so i didn’t look very very thin, but i was not healthy. i ended up with a stress fracture of my hip that required surgical intervention to fix. it sucked. it completely changed my perspective on food and my body. i just started taking birth control now after the injury (i am in my early 30s) to regulate my period. one of the reasons my doctors think i was injured is low bone density from years of not having normal periods. if i could do anything in my life over again, it would be to understand the imperativeness of feeding myself right, of honoring my body and the incredible things it can do and was meant to do. i am so much kinder to myself now, and i always am looking for ways to spread that message to other women so they don’t have to go through what i have been through.

  • Tania @ Moment Anew February 27, 2010, 12:17 pm

    I used birth control continuously (as in I never had a period) for about 8-9 years due to endometriosis. I’ve currently been off birth control for about a year now and my periods are very regular. I was definitely worried that they would not come back, but they absolutely did! 🙂

  • Sarah February 27, 2010, 12:17 pm

    Wow, I really appreciate all of these honest responses. I’m in a master’s program studying to be a minister and – if you can believe this, ha – future ministers (especially those who are unmarried) are uncomfortable talking about sex and birth control.

    I went on the pill about a year before I got married (it was called Opri – I think it was a generic brand, it was given to me by the University Health Services) and it made me – to put it nicely – crazy. I was nauseous, anxious, shaky, unable to concentrate. My friendships suffered, my grades went down, my husband started to feel anxious as a result and my mom even mentioned to my sister that she was concerned I was bipolar. The straw that broke the camels back was when I was driving to church on Christmas Eve, getting ready to preach in an hour and I started having a horrendous anxiety attack. It was at that point that I wanted my body back – I didn’t take the pill that night and that was the last time I ever took it.

    It did take me a couple of months to have any kind of normal cycle again and after a few months I started carefully charting my cycle so I have a sense of when I’m ovulating (we don’t use NFP, we use condoms, but avoiding more fertile times seems to be smart as well) and I realized that while I’m not completely regular (my cycle ranges from 25 to 31 days) I like the fact that I can feel what is going on, chart my cycles, know what ovulation feels like and be ready for a time when I may be ready to conceive.

    I think it is really important for everyone to just trust your body!! Instinct is so important and it is what led me to go off the pill. But I know people who have been on it for years and feel completely normal – which is the best decision for them. Ladies – if your doctor tells you something is normal and you feel like it’s not, don’t be embarrassed to get a second opinion – it’s your body and no one knows your body better than you.

    Great discussion!!

  • Ellen February 27, 2010, 12:20 pm

    GREAT TOPIC! One that needs to be discussed more often among women. I was on BC (Ortho Tri Lo) for about 10 years. I went completely off the pill in July 2009. Really, for a few reasons. One was that I hated that I was taking a pill every day. I was doing a lot of research into fertility and natural bc options, and knew that in the next 2-3 years my husband and I would like to start a family. I know that after going off the pill it can take many women up to a year to get back to regular cycles.

    I am very athletic and had little problem going off the pill. My cycles continued to be regular, just a little bit longer. I did start breaking out a bit and my skin was a bit off balance, but that’s starting to subside. We are still not trying to conceive yet, and I’ve had a lot of luck with natural bc.

    Regardless of whether you believe in the pill, natural bc, or whatever, EVERY WOMAN must read “Taking Charge of your Fertility.” It’s a bible. Should be mandatory reading in high school or college. It’s invaluable. Because of what I learned in that book, I feel much more in tune with my body and what it’s signals mean. I am also more confident that I can handle natural bc and will be more knowledgeable about conception when the time comes.

    This book has been around for decades, but I only recently discovered it. I have never felt more in control of my body and my choices since reading it.

    • caitlin February 27, 2010, 7:29 pm

      So many people recommended this book, I need to check it out.

      • mmclaughlin February 27, 2010, 9:27 pm

        I agree with Ellen – it’s extremely informative, and I learned a lot from that book.

  • Alison February 27, 2010, 12:24 pm

    When I used to train for endurance events (I’ve run marathons, half-marathons and one half-ironman) I didn’t get my period naturally without BC. My body fat was 18-19%. But then I had knee surgery and had to stop heavy training for awhile. My weight and body fat stayed about the same, though. I went off BC in an attempt to get pregnant, and my period came back immediately. (Oh, and believe it or not, I got pregnant the first month of trying. I figured it would take awhile after years of amenhorrea.) I’m obviously not a doctor, but in my experience, heavy training was what caused me to not get my period, NOT low body fat.

  • Susan @ Journey for Health February 27, 2010, 12:29 pm

    I am just beginning to work out regularly, but as far as BC, I use the generic of Ortho Tri Cyclen. I’ve used it since I was 19 (I’m 32, now). I did go off of it for a while after I lost my health insurance, and my periods were WACKED. I would go months without one, and then when I got it, it was SUPER heavy and painful (which was never the case even before my first time using the BC pills).

    That kind of freaked me out. It made me wonder what would happen if I wanted to have kids naturally (the decision about that is still a future decision for us right now), how would I? I mean, it’s so erratic and insane when I go off the BC…..I don’t know what to do. But I accept taking the pill every day, even though I’m trying not to take pills very much. It is a little unsettling, though, to think that the hormones or whatever in the BC is having that effect, and that it has forever changed my cycle.

  • Katie Davis @ Pop Culture Cuisine February 27, 2010, 12:33 pm

    I was on BC for a while in college to help me with cramps during my period. To be honest they did not help all that much, but I remained on BC for the other benefits, aka not getting pregnant. I have used a variety of methods, Yasmin, The patch, Nuvaring, all worked the same, however I always felt always a little off kilter on them. After getting married I was still on BC and my husband started complaining of my constant mood swings. I attributed this largely to how my body handles the hormones.

    We talked about it and I decided I was also sick of feeling “crazy” so I decided to go off of them. I am 5’5″ very active, run, lift, work out at least 5 – 6 times a week and maintain 130 – 135 body weight. And since going off the BC my period has remained on a regular 28 – 29 day cycle and I am easily able to keep track of it. My cramps are off and on really bad, but usually only last a day and I would rather have that than have to feel out of control emotionally all the time, which my husband can attest he has noticed a real difference. We don’t use condoms or even plan things around my cycle, just the withdrawal method. It has worked find for us, I know there is risk, but we would be fine if we got pregnant. However, jokingly my husband does call this the “pull and pray” method :).

    I have to say I saw previews of this upcoming Guiliana and Bill episode and I was not surprised that they needed to visit a fertility specialist. Not to say I think this is wrong, I have many friends who have legitimately needed one. However, I will be honest and say in this case I think it is due largely to her low body weight. I recently read her blog/website in which she lists out what she eats over the coarse of a day and how much she works out. Let’s just say she is not adequately feeding her body. I feel bad for those out there who have legitimate problems getting pregnant due to health issues, genetics, etc. But I have a hard time feeling bad when it is because of her own vanity and not wanting to gain a couple of pounds to bring life into the world, I mean come on, you must not want to sacrifice your body that badly!

  • Erica February 27, 2010, 12:40 pm

    I was on Orthotricyclen Lo for 8 years and I just stopped taking it in September. I didn’t like the idea of something so unnatural in my body for such a long time and it’s not meant to be taken that long. It also had some side effects having to do with intercourse that I wasn’t down with.

    My period obviously took a few months to adjust. Now I have only 1 day of heavy flow and about 2-3 days of light flow and had bad cramps only a month. If it works for you go with it but being almost married I guess whatever happens, happens and we feel ready for it. 🙂

  • kirsten February 27, 2010, 12:41 pm

    I was on Orthe Evra (the patch) for 6 years and just switched to the pill (ortho tri- lo) this month. So far I do not like it. I had originally taken the pill before the patch and woke up nauseous every single day, that seems to be coming back again. I think I need to try nuva ring, or something else that doesn’t go through my digestive tract (the patch worked really well for me but I started getting nervous about it because of so many lawsuits against it.)

    I asked my Dr. for a copper IUD and his office refuses to give them to anyone who hasn’t had a child yet.

    Has anyone in the NY/CT area gone to a Dr. who was willing to give a copper IUD to someone without children?

  • Katy ( The Balanced Foodie ) February 27, 2010, 12:45 pm

    There are a lot of great comments so this won’t be too long. But I know a family who has been doing the natural method of birth control, actually they have literally tried everything but being on the pill and they are pregnant with their 4th child. They will soon have 4 children under the age of 4. Just saying..

    I got off b/c for a couple months to see how I felt and I couldn’t tell a huge difference except I thought I was pregnant a few times because I wasn’t getting my period regularly at all. At one time I didn’t have it for two months. I think when we are ready to start having kids, we will try the natural method but until then I am sticking with the pill. I would love to have children one day but I am still 22(almost 23) I am still figuring out who I am and want what I want out of life. Our plan is to start trying by the time I am 27/28. We also have been using condoms(when I was off the pill, and now for the first couple months of being back on it) honestly it doesn’t bother us at all, but we know it’s not 100% effective.

  • april February 27, 2010, 12:48 pm

    I have 13% body fat and am on the PIll but still get my periods. I have a low body fat because I have a ton of muscle but I also feed myself well.. it becomes a concern if you have a low body fat because you don’t eat enough- that messes with your hormones! My nursing instructor once told me her sister went low-fat with her diet and it stopped her period. I think it just depends on the person and their diet to be honest!

  • Katie February 27, 2010, 12:51 pm

    I recently stopped taking birth control because I didn’t like the idea of putting hormones in my body. Before the pill I had a period but it was sometimes regular and sometimes not. I hope to have a normal one once the pill gets out of my system so that I can chart it and, for the time being, avoid pregnancy and then, in the future, conceive. Thanks for addressing this issue on your blog!

  • Jordan February 27, 2010, 12:55 pm

    I use the generic version of Ortho Tricyclen. It’s the same kind I’ve used for almost 9 years- figure I shouldn’t change what works. I did get my period on a regular basis before I took it, but it wasn’t consistent on length or when it happened. I do worry about getting pregnant as I’m about to discuss this next week with my doctor at my annual visit. My husband and I have never used any other method when I’ve taken antibiotics (which has been many times since we’ve been together), and nothing has happened.

    Needless to say, I don’t like depending on a pill with hormones every day, but I do like having control of when I get pregnant or not.

  • kate February 27, 2010, 12:55 pm

    ive never gotten a regular period even when i have been on bc (ive tried it all). even now that ive lost a significant amount of weight i still havent seen a regulated period. my body seems to react best when it is not on bc. i can tell a huge different in my body, my mood, and even my desires to have sex.

  • Kailey February 27, 2010, 12:55 pm

    the thing that bothers with with Guiliana is if she can’t even gain 5 pounds to get pregnant what is she going to do when she has the baby and NEEDS to gain weight to nurture the growing child. It concerns me that she is so scared to gain 5 pounds for the sake of her health and her baby.

    The lovely birth control issue.. I haven’t had a period in 2 years. Don’t know my body fat, but im guessing its low. Healthy weight – lower end, but eat a high fat diet. Long distance runner training for 3 upcoming half marys. My doctors say its due to low estrogen. The gyno. isn’t worried since Im only 17 and don’t plan on having kids for quite a while, but my primary doctor is a little worried about what it might due to my heart later in life. I feel like im stuck. Im nervous to go on birth control because strokes run in my family but I know not getting my period isn’t healthy either. stuck between a rock and a hard place.

  • Kristine February 27, 2010, 12:56 pm

    I’ve been on several forms of birth control for over 4 years. I had horrible side effects with many of them except for ortho tri cyclen (non generic) so that is what i’m on now. I’m actually curious to see if I would get my period without it because I run just about every day and my body fat is probably the same as yours!

  • Kim February 27, 2010, 12:58 pm

    I am a healthy runner who is on BC pills and I will get my period maybe once or twice a year. Before I had my kids, I would get it monthly, even on the pill. I take Lo Estrin (Junel is the generic). My dr doesn’t seem concerned, but I have been. My body fat is between 17 & 20%, so I don’t think that is it.

  • Lauren February 27, 2010, 1:00 pm

    Very interesting question. I started taking birth control (Ortho Lo) when I was a freshman in college, and found I never had any issues with it: weight gain, mood swings, etc. I continued to take it after I graduated and went to grad school. This, unfortunately, coincided with a period in my life when I was running A LOT and (knowingly) not eating nearly enough. As a result, I stopped getting my period for two years, even while on birth control.

    Now that I have a healthier body fat percentage and a more balanced approach to training, the amenorrhea has ceased to be a problem for me.

    On a related note, about a year ago I switched to NuvaRing (I wanted to try something new) and absolutely HATED it. I know the inventors of the ring claim that it will not fall out and that you’ll never feel it (and I’m sure most women have this experience), but it was constantly slipping and generally uncomfortable for me. So, I’m back to Ortho Lo, which I really love. I never should have tried anything new!

    Anyway, sorry for turning my post into a novella 🙂 I do look forward to the day when I don’t need to be on birth control, but until my fiance and I are ready for a child (maybe a few years from now), I will stay on it.

  • alyssa February 27, 2010, 1:02 pm

    finally someone is talking about this!! I was on ocella (generic yasmin) for about 2 years. I decided that yaz sounded so much better, i wanted to try it. yaz made me insane!! my poor boyfriend must have wanted to run, but it messed with my emotions so much i couldndt take it. I switched back to ocella and i was better but still not myself. I was anxious, and depressed all the time. My boyfriend encouraged me to stop taking them and i finally listened. I started them because my periods were so irregular (sometimes skipped 3-6 months). When I went off of them i got my period for a few days the next month. I am waiting for my second period since stopping the pills (which should be in a few days) but it is scary to be off them again. My boyfriend and I currently use condoms but its a scary thing wondering if my cycle will be regular or if i am skipping a period because im preg! I started the pills when I was 16 and am not 22 so I dont know if taking them that long has hurt or helped me regulate. everyone is different, but I can say that while on them it was wonderful not having to worry about getting preg but I alwasy wondered if i was hurting my body by taking them. My roommate told me that her 16 yr old cousin had to get surgery for a blood clot in her leg that almost traveled to her heart. Apparently there is a genetic mutation called the leiden factor which causes you to be more at risk for blood clots. (i may not have all those details correct but i know its called the leiden factor and it increases your risk for blood clots). my roomates cousin had this leiden factor protein and being on birth control caused her to get a blood clot seeing as she was predisposed. I think that it should be a mandatory thing for all women thinking about the pill to take a test for this. im rambling here, but in essence, i think they are great for preventing pregnancy but i just dont see how they can be that healthy for you.

  • Michelle@eatingjourney February 27, 2010, 1:02 pm

    I hated being on the pill. I will NEVER go on it again. EVER. It made me into a crazy bitoch and decreased my sex drive. Many of the reasons why women have such a hard time getting prego is due to prolonged periods on BC. It’s not normal and/or good for your body. It’s like giving hormones to cows–which everyone is the blog world stears away from. Why would you do it to yourself? Track and/or IUD is what I’ll do when the man machine comes my way again.

  • Lorin February 27, 2010, 1:03 pm

    I am active and have played on varsity basketball and tennis at my school. Now that it is over, I am still running and excersisng because I feel better when I excercise. However, I haven’t had my period since last July and I told my doctor and I took blood tests; it says my hormones are normal and I didn’t get anything else back from my doctor, so I guess it’s not that serious (for me, anyways)? It’s actually nice that I don’t have to deal with it, especially whenever I’m going on vacation like I’m doing this weekend (June Mountain)!

  • Foy Update - Cook. Garden. Write. Repeat. February 27, 2010, 1:06 pm


    I’m not sure why people are so against condoms. Sure they are a little bit of a hassle, but they are cheaper and don’t involve messing with our body’s’ natural chemistry. I’d choose condoms over pills even if both were free.

    • Elaine February 27, 2010, 9:47 pm

      We use b.c. AND condoms. We really, really, really don’t want to get preggo!!!

  • Shannon February 27, 2010, 1:06 pm

    Wow I never thought of this before! I take Microgestin and used to be on Low-estrin, the two low-estrogen forms of birth control out there, and I don’t get my period naturally, obviously it’s from the placebo/withdrawal week. I’ve been on it for two years now, and am really athletic (work out 4-5 times a week for 1-2 hours each time), I am curious if I would get my period naturally if I went off BC, but I’m almost positive I would. I’m relatively healthy and not underweight in any capacity. I’m 5’3″ and about 119-121 lbs. I would love to read more about hormones and weight/health, that relationship, because my friend recently had kind of a bad experience where she gained 20 lbs. out of nowhere and started losing her hair because of a hormone imbalance, so it’s on my radar now.

  • Samantha February 27, 2010, 1:10 pm

    I love my bc pill. For years, my natural period was just horrid–HEAVY, irregular, long and accompanied by intense cramps. I first tried the Ortho Tri Cyclen with the three different hormones and it made me so ill. I’d be so nauseous every day and had light bleeding for a whole month. So I stopped taking that and then a few years later I got on Ortho-Novum, which has one, low-dose hormone and it’s so fabulous. It doesn’t make me feel any different and I’m sooooo happy I went on it. My periods are like clockwork, last from Tues to Sat and are a lot less heavy than they were! I’ve been on it for about 5 years.

    Although I’m not particularly athletic, it makes me nervous to think about going off the pill…my periods were crazy and totally irregular before–so I am fearful they’ll go back to that. Not exactly the same issue you were asking about, but that’s my fear, hehe.

  • erin February 27, 2010, 1:11 pm

    Wow, I am so glad that you’re addressing this! Just yesterday afternoon I was furiously googling for answers and couldn’t come up with anything definitive on my case of amenorrhea. I guess that’s what doctors are for 😉

    Anyway, as for my experience (and please forgive me this “life story,” it’s just that this has been on my mind for weeks), I lost my period for the first time ever last November, halfway through a two month fat loss challenge at my gym. I started out in a healthy weight range, with calipers giving me 22% body fat and the bod pod a 25%. After a month of daily hour-long kickboxing classes, runs and lifting (with a rest day a week peppered in) and a high protein, low carb diet, I was beginning to feel tired. And then I missed my period. I figured it was just stress (of the challenge, of an upcoming move across the country, etc), as I was easily eating 2200 calories per day, but I wasn’t taking into account just how much fuel I was burning. I finished the challenge and relaxed my exercise schedule and eating. I was still moody. My period still didn’t come. And then my hair started to thin. I was, and still am, horrified. I never left a healthy weight range or starved myself, so I never thought that I could be endangering my fertility.

    I rang in the new year PMS-ing, and then continued to do so for the better part of two months. Not pretty. I’ve been bloated, emotional, angry, upset, anxious and exhausted (my friend amenorrhea invited insomnia to the party. rude little bugger!); an all-around mess of hormones. Finally, last night, my period came back (!), but I have a feeling it’s going to take a few months to normalize. And I’m still going to get checked out at the doctor, just in case.

    It’s been a really eye opening experience- a reminder that one’s body needs to be respected and nourished and treated with love. I never thought I was pushing myself too hard, but clearly, I was.

    What Guiliana Rancic said sounds like a compulsion to me. I love working out, too, but there’s nothing wrong with taking a day or two a week, and just going for a nice walk in the sunshine. Or finding a way to “wake up” and “feel good” at a yoga class. We need better examples in the media, and better education on these topics in school. Just my thoughts on the matter 😉

  • Susan February 27, 2010, 1:11 pm

    OHMYGOSH Caitlin, this post is SO timely for me!! I went off my birth control exactly 5 weeks ago, after taking it for 4 years. I know I went off exactly 5 weeks ago because a certain cycle is definitely not present right now!! I just spent the morning googling “going off birth control.” The consensus seems to be that it usually takes around 3 months to get your cycle back, mood improves, face gets greasy, and most importantly, sex drive returns 😉 But I’m concerned I may not get it back at all because I’m very active as well, and still trying to drop body fat/build muscle. Should be an interesting next few months for me as all of this does (or doesn’t) go down.

    P.S. I have nothing really against birth control, but after 4 years I wanted to let my body do it’s own thing for a while. I think being on it for so long was starting to take its toll on me…

  • Jolene ( February 27, 2010, 1:11 pm

    I take minovral and have for a long time. I have gone off it here and there and I am just fine. I don’t think 18% body fat is too low to get your period … but less than 12% or so probably would be.

  • Dana February 27, 2010, 1:14 pm

    I’m a Division 1 track athlete at my college and since gaining back all of the weight that i needed to (i struggled with disordered eating…im the one that sent you my NEDA story!) i finally got my period naturally. for the past 2 years it has been induced (not by birth control) but my some other pill that helps you get your period when you havent in a minimum of 3 months. im hoping now (since ive only just recently got it back…yay!) that it will come as regularly as it did in high school which was every month around the same time. im now a sophomore in college.

    throughout college, as ive been getting older i have developed my stance on birth control. to be honest: IT FREAKS ME OUT. to me it is just scary that something can play with your body and regulate it unnaturally. who knows if this will change down the road if i become in a serious relationship with a special guy but i guess i will deal with that when it comes, right? as of now, after struggling so much with my period over the past 2+ years im just very curious to see how my body behaves naturally, when im healthy. after messing with my body for so long i just want to see how it goes to “trust” it to do what it needs to.

  • Calla February 27, 2010, 1:18 pm

    WOW! This post came at a perfect time! I woke up this morning wanting nothing more than to throw my pack of bc pills in the trash can!! I have had SO many problems in the past year with the pill that I truly am ready to get off it. My annual is next month so I am going to wait until I talk to my doctor but it is a very serious option.
    I have always been a runner (high school XC/track) and all throughout college I ran and instructed yoga classes. One year after graduating college I STILL workout the same (if not harder to negate this awful 10lb weight gain the pill has produced recently!). My periods were always irregular, coming about once every two months, on the pill and that was fine. It happened for so many years and my doctor said that was normals, so it didn’t bother me. That was until I went from this past May (2009) to October (2009) with NO cycle. No light bleeding, no nothing!!!! That was not normal for my body at all, so I was worried! They switched me to a mid-range dose of estrogen (pill) and since starting on that (it’s been 4 months now) I have gained 10lbs. That also is NOT normal!!! I am so fed up!!! I have been on 3 different bc pills in the past year and nothing is working. My doctor has done every test she can do and my body is fine. But apparently it hates the bc pill now. I would love to go off it (and just might do that) but unfortunately my boyfriend said he would have to break up with me because using condoms isn’t an option after not using them for almost 2 years AND because I get nervous using just condoms…I’m not ready to deal with what could happen if it breaks. So…I have an apparently not-so-great boyfriend who doesn’t support my desire to stop taking the pill and a doctor who has done everything she can (or so i think…) and me 10lbs heavier and NOT HAPPY.

    The pill is awful. I have never had problems until I hit my early 20’s and now, at age 23 (i’ve been on it since it was 16) I don’t think my body likes it anymore. How can it really be good for us if it causes all these problems???

  • Dana February 27, 2010, 1:21 pm

    and as for the guiliana rancic moment, i think it just makes me sad that she cant gain a little more to be able to have a BABY. even though im young i know for a fact that i want kids waaay down the line and if my weight were to hinder that then id say bring on the food :). it just shows what our world has come to in this day and age…choosing to be “thin” over bearing a child?! im sorry but that just really, really baffles and upsets me so much. in my opinion i cannot wait for the day that i have my own child, i just feel like she is choosing her job and her appearance/image over other things (such as babies and her health). that being said i hope shes happy with her decision and will hopefully realize that some things are just more important.

  • Nicole February 27, 2010, 1:22 pm

    I’ve been on birth control pills in the past, but I did not like the side effects on my body. I first started my period pretty late compared to my friends (15 or so), probably because I was so active.

    I’ve been looking at natural birth control methods, like wild carrot seeds and other herbs like that. There hasn’t been many studies on them so I would never use that as my only birth control method, but it’s pretty neat to read about! I just use condoms and the pull-out method.

    I don’t want children and I don’t see myself changing my mind, so I am super, super careful.

  • Angela (Oh She Glows) February 27, 2010, 1:28 pm

    I too was on the BCP for 10 years. It took me 8 MONTHS to get my period back naturally (I had to gain some weight!). I am so happy to be free of hormones now.

  • Jen February 27, 2010, 1:34 pm

    I was on Ortho-Tricyclen for 8 years and decided to go off to give my body a break from all the chemicals. At the time, I had just begun training for my first marathon. My period didn’t come back, so after about 6 months, I went to my gyno. She said it was normal and might take my body some time to regulate itself.

    I exercise regularly and have a BMI around 20%. Long story short: 3 years, no period. Several trips to doctors (gynos, endocrinologists) lots of tests, and all they could come up with was, “Stop running” and “go back on the pill.” For better or worse, I chose to ignore that advice, and my period FINALLY came back – on its own – this summer.

    It’s a scary deal. My husband and I aren’t having any kids, so I wasn’t worried about that. But I can imagine it might get scary for ladies trying to conceive. I wish I had any advice for you, but everyone’s body is so different. I have no idea why mine behaved the way it did. Take care of yourself and good luck!

  • caronae February 27, 2010, 1:34 pm

    If I were you, I wouldn’t be too worried about not having periods — I suspect that you would have experienced more problems in the past and/or now if you had amennorhea. Just my thoughts 🙂

    I take Ocella (generic yaz) for PCOS and it works well is suppose. It has not helped with the weight-aspect of PCOS, but seems to keep my hormones and blood sugar relatively in check, I guess. I really don’t mind putting the pill in my body every day (I know some bloggers don’t like the whole chemical aspect of it). I consider it just another aspect of my female health. I’m very athletic but definitely have a natural period — I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive.

    Good luck with everything pill-related!

  • Megan @ Healthy Hoggin' February 27, 2010, 1:39 pm

    Oh my gosh, I saw that Guiliana Rancic interview the other day, and about fell out of my chair when she said that! She would look great with 5 lbs more on her! And doesn’t she realize when she gets pregnant, she will gain even more than that?!! That’s part of the whole ‘getting pregnant’ idea… Geez.

    I was on birth control for over 11 years, and quit it for the new year. I have NO intention of getting pregnant anytime soon– and we are still actively preventing it– but I was really curious to see what my body would “naturally” do! I’ve heard so many scary stories of women who stop taking the pill, and don’t get their periods back for years, so I wanted to give my body a good amount of time to ‘get back on track’ before I wanted to get pregnant! (a good 2-3 years away for me and my husband) 😉

    I was one of the lucky ones who got right back on track, cycle-wise, but I’ve noticed it’s taking a while for the rest of my body to get back to normal– I’ve heard it takes about 3 months for your mood, sex drive, and skin appearance.

    I have to say, I’m SO HAPPY not worrying about taking my pill ‘on time’ anymore! I feel so free!!

  • c February 27, 2010, 1:40 pm

    AS for Guiliana- after reading her blog and what she eats in a typical day- I have to agree with that fact that she seems way too obsessive – and in that case I don’t feel bad for her. She writes about oil (like EVOO) being bad bad bad and she would never use it/eat it…same with butter. She doesn’t seem to have a healthy attitude toward eating and I definitely think she is not the only one in Hollywood who resorts to other methods of fertility because of not having enough body fat. If she is underweight, not ovulating and writes about this someone extreme diet she follows while working out, I just cannot feel badly for her.

    Before I got preggers with my daughter, I worked out/ ran a TON. I was not underweight- but at a healthy weight for my height– however, I was not ovulating every month. My workouts were intense. I cut back on the working out after 9 months of TTC. I also added more fat to my diet. I got pregnant 3 months later (and 5 pounds). I am preggers again (10 weeks) with baby #2. I believe I had more of a balance with working out and eating after my first was born.
    Oh- and I have only been on BC once in my life (for a year) and hated it.

  • Stephanie February 27, 2010, 1:48 pm

    I think it’s interesting that there hasn’t been a more thorough discussion of condoms. Yeah, there’s a few minutes of interruption in the “passion”, but they are a safe, easy method of pregnancy protections. And, who cares if it inconveninces the man a bit? Women deal with a lot when it comes to our bodies/sex/babies and it’s fair that they share a bit of that responsibility.

    • caitlin February 27, 2010, 1:54 pm

      I’m not a man but I hate condoms. I think they feel weird and not as intimate. That’s why I use BC over condoms, personally. But I’m in a monogamous relationship and don’t need to worry about STDs, of course. If I were dating, I would deal.

      • caitlin February 27, 2010, 1:54 pm

        oh, also – i’m allergic to latex! and we have to buy the super-expensive nonlatex ones 🙂

      • Sarah February 27, 2010, 2:34 pm

        I agree, condoms are weird and gross. Plus they are only 85% effective.

        I’m also married and I don’t like to hear things like “who cares if it inconveniences the man a bit.” It’s my husband, and I do care. Plus I want to get some! LOL

      • Cyclist Kate February 27, 2010, 6:37 pm

        I love condoms!! Using them has allowed me to avoid using hormonal BC, which I really don’t like. It only takes a few seconds to put the condom on and we can do other things in the meanwhile so the heat doesn’t die down. And we use the ultra thin ones, so neither of us minds much. Finally, when used perfectly, their effectiveness is the same as hormonal birth control. I get that a lot of people don’t like them, but they’re my preferred method–pretty simple, relatively cheap (I’m not allergic to latex, thank goodness!), easy to remember, and keepin’ me baby free for the last 7 years.

    • Elaine February 27, 2010, 9:51 pm

      I mentioned this above, but I’ll mention it here too. My guy and I use (and have always used) the pill AND condoms. Neither are 100% effective, so it’s nice to have a fall-back method, in case one fails. Let’s just hope neither fails at the same time. 😀 We really, really, really don’t want babies at the moment.

      • emily March 1, 2010, 9:03 am

        I use bc pills and condoms too.

  • Kathleen February 27, 2010, 1:48 pm

    I took the birth control pill one day in my life and I didn’t like how I felt and never took it again. I have been married for almost 4 years and have 1 child by choice. I am athletic and have regular periods.

  • Laura February 27, 2010, 1:51 pm

    This is perfect timing for a conversation like this because I just went on birth control (about a month ago) and I want to know when and if its safe to have unprotected sex. This may sound ignorant but I always thought it was used in addition to condoms for even further protection, but can we go unprotected in a couple months? Like….FULLY unprotected, if you know what I mean haha. Thank you for talking about this, caitlin! 🙂

    • caitlin February 27, 2010, 1:55 pm

      I think you can start having condomless sex one week after starting BC, so you are fine to do it now (if you’ve both been tested for STDs and you’ve SEEN the paperwork!). 🙂 I have had condomless/BC sex for the last 6 years and never gotten pregnant, so you’re fine. 🙂

  • Tay February 27, 2010, 1:57 pm

    This might be long…
    I lost my period sophomore year of college and went to the doctor after a few months. She just blew it off as “my body still adapting to my 60 lb weight loss”. But I had then been at a stable weight for almost a year. Then she just said it was probably from all the running I was doing (because I was currently training for a marathon when I went to see her). But I had originally lost my period when I was just running 3-5 mile runs a few times a week. Either way, she didn’t seem worried.

    Over the course of the next 2 years, I went to a few more doctors but all they wanted to do was put me on birth control and test my estrogen levels. Estrogen levels came back low – so birth control it was. I REALLY didn’t want to just go on BC – I wanted to find the ROOT of the problem. Finally I caved, went on it, hated it, and went off 2 months later. The next doctor was the same thing. Right away she wanted me on BC. I would argue with my mom that BC just masks the underlying problem. There’s obviously something going on with my body (which was probably running too much and not fueling enough), but at the time BC would just mask that problem. Eventually I DID get my period back naturally…2 years later. (I’m not sure how/why it came about, because I didn’t really change much when it came).

    On the same topic, I’m currently writing my senior project paper on the female athlete triad and runners, and have found a lot of papers and evidence that birth control actually does not do much (if anything significant) to increase bone density. It does stimulate menstruation, but doesn’t do much for bone health. I found that extremely interesting as one of the main reasons doctors want girls on the pill to induce their periods is to prevent bone degradation and osteoporosis. But it’s really the diet and nutrition that plays a role in stopping bone breakdown. But this can be masked by the false period brought on my BC (if the athlete is suffering from amenhorroea and low nutrient intake).

    On the Giuliana topic – my roommates and I watch E news a lot during dinner, and have commented before on her baby troubles and slimness. She’s not naturally that thin (when compared to high school or younger pictures), and I found it sad that it was so difficult for her to gain 5 lbs when she has a husband who loves her for who she is, and they both want a baby together. Isn’t a baby worth more than that?

    • Kailey February 27, 2010, 5:45 pm

      i haven’t had a period in 2 years and my doctors just want me on BC…but I am scared of the side effects so I really don’t feel comfortable. Plus I feel a 17 year old girl should NOT be taking hormones. I, too, am training for a race (only a half) but I lost my period while I was just using the elliptical.

      did you reduce your exercise/increase your cals when you got it back? I can’t reduce my exercise since I am training, but my parents are making me track my calories to make sure I am eating enough/getting enough fuel & calcium. Kind of annoying, but i would rather track than damage my body further.

      • Tay February 27, 2010, 6:09 pm

        My training was definitely reduced when I got it back compared to when I was training for a marathon. And my eating was higher as well compared to the previous year. But I didn’t change anything around the time I got my period back, so that’s why I was confused why it randomly returned. It did stick around however! If you can’t decrease your training, I would definitely recommend increasing your calories – especially your healthy fats! Good luck and I hope you figure it out and it returns soon!!

  • S February 27, 2010, 1:57 pm

    Guiliana’s comments are all over the internet right now. I think we need to remember that we are not her doctor. Apprehension or refusal to maintain a body weight sufficient for ovulation is worrisome for an eating disorder. We really do not know what is involved in her quest for fertility. However, EDs are true medical conditions. I’m quite sure the nature of comments would be very different if we just discovered she suffered from leukemia.

  • Lauren February 27, 2010, 1:58 pm

    Thank you, Caitlin!
    P.S. I’m on Loestrin FM or something like that, so if anyone is on that and can give me some input I would LOVE that. Also, we don’t have to pull out, right?

    • caitlin February 27, 2010, 2:07 pm

      nope 🙂

      • Leanne @ Radiant, Balanced & Fit September 9, 2010, 2:14 pm

        I was on Loestrin for 2 years… it was great and then out of no where I started spotting and getting all different kind of symptoms.. I think it was a mix of the BC and me… who knows!

  • Jacquie February 27, 2010, 2:02 pm

    I use birth control pills, but more to make my symptoms calmer. I started as a freshman in college, but then lost it when I was sick and I don’t know when that was. I later was taken off of them a few times to see if I could get it naturally and at the time I couldn’t. When I knew I could about 6-8 months ago, I got back on it, but it’s not something I think about a lot now since I’m healthy.
    In the meantime, I think her Giuliana’s reaction to gaining weight is a little disordered, just because I’ve seen her diet plan and the way she works out so she probably needs those pounds to be healthy anyway. Yes it’s for the baby, but hopefully she’ll continue it afterwards since it’ll give her a better life as well. And frankly, she can still workout every morning if she must, she just has to eat more to compensate for it and gain weight.

  • Kate February 27, 2010, 2:05 pm

    I don’t really want to talk about birth control (a bit paranoid about the openness of the internet and I’m not athletic so I’m probably not able to add to the conversation) but I wanted to say Guiliana needs to take a serious chill pill. If she really wants to have a child–and have a healthy child–she needs to wait until after she has resolved her food issues! I get she works for the E network, but she would look so much more prettier and healthier with five pounds. Any body insecurities she has now will be picked up by her child (especially if its a girl) which isn’t a good thing either!

  • Jessica @ WHY DONTCHA RUN February 27, 2010, 2:09 pm

    What a great topic! To make a long store short, I have been on three different birth controls and am now taking none (not to get pregnant, but because the last one made my hair fall out.)

    The NuvaRing, which I’m sure you’ve seen a commercial for, make my hair fall out!! I kid you not… I thought I was losing my mind. I ‘googled’ losing hair while on NuvaRing and it’s apparently one of the most likely birth controls to cause that. After months of crying and my hair getting thinner and thinner… I made a big decision to stop the use of hormones all together. I’ve used a diaphragm for almost a year now and have had success with it.

    However, my periods are not regular and I ust finished a three week stretch of “kinda” having a period – it was weird. Also, my acne is terrible now that I’m off of hormones. I finally feel as though I have control over my emotions (unlike when I was on BC) but am actually considering going back on a low-dose BC pill again to see if it helps with my acne and doesn’t cause any hair loss!

    I can only imagine the number of comments you’re going to get on this post…

  • Lori (Finding Radiance) February 27, 2010, 2:15 pm

    I use an IUD. It is the 10-year one without the hormones, so my cycles are my own. I love the freedom of the IUD, I have to say! I was on the pill in my 20s and really did not like the idea of messing my body with hormones. I wore one for 10 years and got it replaced with another 10 year one a couple years ago. After this one is out, snip snip for hubby 😀

  • Lindsay February 27, 2010, 2:19 pm

    Giuliana infuriates me. Not only this, but whenever she does red carpet shows she can’t stop talking about people’s weight or diets. It’s almost embarrassing to watch! She seriously has a f-ed up view on body image.

  • Jayce February 27, 2010, 2:33 pm

    I took BC for about 8 months and absolutely hated it! Before BC, my natural cycle was always off – usually had a period about every 2-3 months. The doctor tested my hormone levels and was never concerned but suggested I go on BC to regulate it. I said “no thanks” then, because obviously it’s pretty great to not deal with a period every month. I started BC shortly before getting married and stuck with it until a few months after, but the side effects were just too much! I was more moody, had much more intense period-related issues (cramps, vaginal pressure, etc), had worse breakouts, and had trouble maintaining my weight. My husband was completely okay with me stopping BC. I just do not want to mess with my hormones – it’s not natural! I am back to my normal cycle now and feel much better. We use condoms with spermicide, and so far it is working great. We are planning to start trying for a baby at the end of this year.

  • Shannon February 27, 2010, 2:34 pm

    i had been on the pill for awhile until I stopped last year (not in a relationship and didn’t want to waste the $$), and haven’t had a period since. so now i’ll be sceptical of using hormones in the future…

  • Sarah February 27, 2010, 2:44 pm

    Lets not forget that our genetics want us to be well padded when we’re pregnant. I don’t think it’s “unhealthy” to not get your period while you are training hard, as long as you are well fueled. But when it comes time to have a baby, your body simply won’t let you unless the “oven” is just right 🙂

  • Tara February 27, 2010, 2:45 pm

    wow! sooo many comments already! This is such an interesting topic for me because I just went off BC after being on it for 7 years, (18yo to now, 25yo.) I went off it NOT because my hubby and I want to have a baby (Not for a few years, thank you!) But because I wanted to NOT be hormonally regulated for once. I was on Ortho tri cyclen LO, then the past year I was on the Nuva Ring, and for a couple months now I’ve been 100% natural! My last period HURT… It’s the first “real” one I’ve had for 7 years! The hubby and I use Skyn condoms now which work out pretty well for us. Aaaaaaand that’s all the personal info I could ever post online randomly. LOL!

  • Erica February 27, 2010, 2:46 pm

    I was on BC for nearly 8 years. The past year I was taking Yaz and my cycle completely stopped about two months into taking it. This coincided with increased running, bad diet choices (not eating enough) and then I got a stress fracture in a non weight bearing bone. I FREAKED out, and started eating a lot more. My doctor said it was normal because i have been on BC for so long. I decided to stop taking BC at the end of January in order to see if my cycle would come back naturally and I’m still waiting. I’ve gained 7 pounds since my lowest weight, and I’m excited because I still look and feel great (probably better because I strength train now too!), stopped counting calories and eat a lot more. Fingers crossed that I get it back soon!!!

    • Erica February 27, 2010, 2:47 pm

      I should mention that I am a runner currently on 12-15 mpw total while I’m building up my base again, and this ammenorhea thing happened when I was training for a half marathon at 18-20 mpw.

  • Katie @ Two Lives, One Lifestyle February 27, 2010, 2:52 pm

    Sooo I commented 2x on other comments already so sorry to do it again but I just finished reading through the comments and loved reading/learning/considering new things. Thank you so much! I’m going to come back later to read some more.

  • Alison February 27, 2010, 2:52 pm

    i need to be on birth control for a hormonal imbalance as well. i have had the best luck with yaz–it really helps with balancing my emotions, skin, etc. i was on the pill since i was 16 because i was not getting a period. i was on the pill then all the way through college. i stopped to give my body a ‘break’ and did not get a period for 9 months. i had to use provera for a week to get an artificial period and then went back on yaz.

    i think it is a personal preference for women. sure, i’d like to not have to take birth control but since my body needs it to regulate my hormones, i see it as a necessary part of being a woman. i also do not like using condoms and am very type-a and wouldn’t want to worry about a little baby.

    using the pill can be scary but i think a lot of the ‘side effects’ especially emotionally are attributed to whatever is going on in your life at the moment. example: i had a friend who started the pill and got married. she gained weight because she was cooking food for her new husband and wasn’t exercising as much. this was something she attributed to the pill, when really it was her new lifestyle.

    i’ve always been active (probably too much), but my weight has remained the same regardless of birth control. it’s probably because i have so little estrogen that my body operates more as it is supposed to with hormones, but the same thought remains. if you do think something hormonal is going on–schedule an appointment with an endocrinologist instead of a gyno. the endo can look at your blood and see what is going on internally. great post, caitlin!

  • Fit Lizzio February 27, 2010, 2:52 pm

    my period was normal when i was on the pill…when i got off it took about 6 months for it to get normal again…then i started prepping to compete in a fitness competition and when my body fat got lower i lost it again…after the show it took another few months for me to get it and then it was irregular up until about 2 or 3 months ago. I’m still not on the pill, and honestly have been very into naturopathics lately and don’t know that i will go back on it..

  • Maria (realfitmama) February 27, 2010, 2:58 pm

    I originally went on the pill when I was 17 years old partly because I was going to become sexually active and partly because my periods were crazy heavy! I ended up getting pregnant at 20 years old while on the pill. When my daughter was born I went back on the pill after discontinuing breast feeding(she didn’t like my boobies) and stayed on it until I was 27 and got pregnant with my second daughter (also while ON the pill) and once I went back on it I started my period and stayed on it for almost 3 months. My body was rejecting the hormones and my doctor took me off. I did the Nuva Ring, but it was too expensive and ended up getting the 5 year Merina IUD. I have no intention of having anymore children, but my husband is scared too get the old snip and clip!! 🙂 My periods were regular every month while I was on the pill until my incident after my second daughter. I have no idea what it would’ve been like not being on the pill.
    I am fairly active now (work out between 4-6 hours a week) and when I get my period it’s next to nothing. I can use 1-2 panty liners in a day…TMI?? I’m pretty sure that’s the IUD though because one of the side effects is little to no period after the first year and it will be 2 years in May.

  • Amber from Girl with the Red Hair February 27, 2010, 3:05 pm

    I’m confused – I’ve been on birth control since I was 15, too. So 7 years now, but I stop taking it for a week every month and get my period. You don’t do that?

    Also, I’m curious to know how you found out your body fat percentage?? 🙂

    • caitlin February 27, 2010, 3:08 pm

      no i don’t… been on bc for 10 years straight.

      i got it tested at the gym.

      • Lindsay February 27, 2010, 5:50 pm

        wait, so you haven’t skipped a pill in 10 years? i’ve heard of taking pills straight through for three months so you only have 4 periods a year, but never that! is that safe?

        • caitlin February 27, 2010, 7:07 pm

          no no, i meant i have been on BC for 10 years straight, getting a period once a month. i thought you were asking if i ever went totally off the bill. i get my period, but there’s no way to tell if its naturally or due to my BC.

        • Tara February 27, 2010, 11:38 pm

          When you’re on the pill, there’s weeks of actual pills, and then one week of placebo pills which have no active ingredients and are the same as just not taking anything (they are sugar pills.) So during the week os placebo pills, your body has a simulated period, but it’s not the same as a real period which happens 2 weeks before ovulating. (You do no ovulate while you are on the pill)

          So you don’t really “stop taking it for a week every month,” because that’s just how “being on it” works – 3 weeks of pills, one week off. When people say they “stop taking it,” it means that they don’t take it AT ALL.

          Hope that clears it up a bit 🙂

  • Heather February 27, 2010, 3:06 pm

    I also had been on BC for over 10 years and didn’t even think I would have issues getting my period until my close friend had some challenges getting pregnant. It’s funny you spend a good part of your life hearing how “easy” it is to get pregnant and for some people it is, but it isn’t for so many too. I am pretty active (ran two half marathons last year), but I wanted to see how my body would react after hormone treatment.

    I went off BC in December 07 and didn’t end up getting my period until February 08. Then my cycles were really long, like 40+ days. I was also reading Taking Control of Your Fertility, charting, and we were using condoms. We weren’t ready just yet for a baby.

    My doctors weren’t concerned. In Aug. 08, my cycles started becoming a little more regular, still around 30 days or so. I ended up getting pregnant in Dec. 08 after 4 months of trying. I ended up having a miscarriage in Jan 09 and my cycles went back to being crazy. I had to wait two full cycles before returning to the doctor. In May 09, I went to the doctor and she ran some blood work and it turns out I had hyperthyroidism. When the help of treatment, my cycles became more regular and we got the go ahead to start trying again. Happy ending…I am currently 7 months pregnant! Definitely not what I “thought” would happen, but everything does I think, happen for a reason 🙂

    If you have questions or anything, I feel free to email me!

    BTW, my husband is a Pitt grad, but I am a Penn Stater 🙂

  • lauren @ Eater not a runner February 27, 2010, 3:10 pm

    I just went off the pill after 8 years on it. I haven’t got my period back yet and have been feeling nauseous. I have a lot of heartburn/digestive issues and I am trying to see if the pill was making it worse…I hope it helps. And the less medication I have to take the better!

  • Becky February 27, 2010, 3:10 pm

    This is very interesting. I’ve been on birth control pills for 8 years and get my period every month, like clockwork. I eat healthy, run, and practice yoga. I lost 55 in the last year and still get my period, but I don’t know what would happen if I went off the pill.

  • Megan M February 27, 2010, 3:15 pm

    I run/ workout 5-6 days a week and have been since I was 16, I’m now 20 and around 14% body fat. I’ve been on birth control since I was 14 and in fact I don’t know if I get my period naturall either. But with my boyfriend and all going off BC is just not an option right now. I do get worried sometimes because even on the pill sometimes I don’t get my period every once in a while. However, I am scheduling an appointment with my doctor for when I go home just to make sure everythings okay!! I hope so… I do want kids in the future.

  • Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) February 27, 2010, 3:40 pm

    Interesting question! I studied the heck out of amenorrhea during one of my nutrition classes, simply because I find it incredibly fascinating. It occurs in a *lot* of runners and other athletes (especially dancers.)

    From what I studied and researched, secondary amenorrhea (lack of period for 3 or more months) appears to result from an individual *undereating.* It appears to have more to do with a long-term energy defecit then it does with being active itself (i.e., running or anything else does not *cause* amenorrhea.) Even if someone is not losing weight, per say, they can still be undereating if they are extremely active. As of right now, this is what a lot of research is pointing at as the cause. For treatment, many RD’s and doctors recommend supplementing with higher fat foods and more calorie dense choices (avocados, nuts, etc.) vs. the lower-calorie/fat fare (too many filling & low calorie salads, too much filling fiber, etc.) That’s especially important for people who fill up fast despite being really active.

    The bottom line is that athletic people need to eat like one! 😀

  • Christina February 27, 2010, 3:42 pm

    I used to take ortho tri cyclen lo for about 7 years. Then I adopted a healthier lifestyle. I didn’t see how birth control (a chemical contraceptive) fit into my more natural lifestyle, so we switched to condoms. I was terrified the first month that I would get pregnant. No, it turns out that condoms work, LOL. I stopped bc pills over a year and a half ago and am loving not having to take a pill every day. Also, I thought – why is it only my responsibility to prevent a pregnancy? He should have equal responsibility, and with condoms he does.

    I workout 4-5 days/week, about 3-5 hours total depending on the week. I’m not sure of my % body fat, but I’m right in the middle of my healthy weight range (based on height).

    Taking Charge of Your Fertility (Toni Weschler) is an excellent book that I recommend every woman to read. It teaches you a lot about your body. (a lot more than you learned in 6th grade health class, LOL).

  • Melissa S. February 27, 2010, 3:45 pm

    I use yasmin and have been since I developed my ED in 2003. I not only started taking it to get my period back but because my cramps were absolutely debilitating i would have to skip school and sports.

    I think that if I got off my BC I would get my period back. I think I have a high enough BF % and am high enough in weight for me to be healthy for that!

  • Allie (Live Laugh Eat) February 27, 2010, 3:57 pm

    I lost my period for about a year when I started running and eating less. My dietician always told me that it was imperative that I get it back because I was still at a ‘building bone’ age. She said many women on campus in their early 20s have bones of an 80 year old.

    While doing research on the Female Athlete Triad I came across a study that said women having not menstruated for 6 months resulted in bone density of post-menopausal women. Scary stuff.

  • Laura February 27, 2010, 3:59 pm

    I was on birth control for 13 years- orthotricyclen Lo, yazmin and one other that I unable to remember. Prior to birth control, I competetively speed skated (for 10 years)- best shape of my life. Granted, I was young and didn’t know anything about eating healthy (or even eating at all at times) and actually taking care of my overworked body. I always got my period, regularly. I think if you abuse your body— like exercising, losing obscene amounts of weight, not fueling your body appropriately, therefore your body eats itself— THATS when amenorrhea becomes a problem.

  • Jessica @ How Sweet It Is February 27, 2010, 3:59 pm

    I have been on BC for about 10 years as well. My bodyfat has been as low as 13% (competing) but I still got my period due to the pill. I have had some moments when I’ve gone off of it for a month or 2, and I do get my period. I’m hoping that is still the case when I stop for having babies!

  • Jamie February 27, 2010, 4:04 pm

    The story of my menstrual cycle is inconsistent and frustrating. I am so glad you brought this up on your blog, it is a relevant issue for active women and I think it is very healthy to dialog about it with others. I have been on the BC pill for eight months. I am supposed to have a period, however, I have not had one for about nine months. Almost one whole year without any flow. I was told by a doctor I would not be able to have children until I got this taken care of. I wanted to cry. I am 22 and married, kids are a hope for the future and to have someone tell you that you may not be able to have them is heart breaking, obviously. I work out 6 days a week, but have done so for 3 years and have only struggled with not having a period recently. I’ve been to the gyno and she thinks it is the specific pill I’m on and maybe I should change.

    This may sound lame, but I want this part of my ‘womanhood’ back, haha. I get kinda jealous of my girlfriends who get to blame their chocolate cravings on that time of the month and know the specific day their period will come. I miss it. It really feels like a part of me is missing.
    I’m sure I am not the only one who feels this way, and that is comforting.

    Thanks for posting about this! 🙂

  • Robyn February 27, 2010, 4:10 pm

    Okay, my experience with birth control is one I wish i would have known about prior to getting on it in the first place. I was on it off and on in college, then once I got married until we decided to have kids. Went back on it after kids, but after reading a lot of information and just not feeling good about myself, putting on 15 pounds and getting acne worse than I ever did as a teenager, I decided to get off of it. Best decision I ever made. I feel so much better. I hardly have headaches, I lost the 15 pounds I gained from all the water weight and I’m now in a happy place that allows me to workout, whereas before I never wanted to and was mildly depressed. I used to be on Yaz. Now I go by my cycle. I use to keep track of my ovulation and start date for my period. It has been amazing how simple it’s been. Had I known about this website, I never would have gotten on the pill. The only downside to getting off the pill is that my acne has gotten even worse because my hormones are now so out of balance. I’m doing different things, and taking different supplements to try to get my hormones back in order. I read from someone online that it took them about a year for their acne to clear up and their hormones to get back in line. I’ve been off the pill for 6 months, so maybe 6 more months and I’ll be good to go? :0) Good luck with figuring it all out.
    Oh, I’ve never lost my period, even when I was a college rower; I’ve always been consistent, so I don’t have any experience with not having my period.

  • Shelly February 27, 2010, 4:27 pm

    I’ve been on the BC pill for 10 years and I haven’t really had any problems. I had to switch up my pill for a different one about a year ago because my period was starting at weird times (like before my first inactive pill) but it’s all good again now. I guess I’m lucky. The IUD sounds very appealing and if I didn’t think I would be trying to have kids in like a year or two, I would get one. But it seems like kind of a waste to get one for a comparitively short time.
    I was 5-10 lbs. thinner (and way less healthy) than I am now before I was on BC and I had regular (if short) periods then so I’m not really worried about it. The reason I got on the pill was a) to not have babies and b) because during a REALLY stressful month my bleeding was really really heavy (frighteningly so) and the pill took care of that.
    Also, although I want kids, if I can’t have them, I think I’ll be able to just let it go. I don’t know if that makes sense but I know people who have gone through all sorts of infertility treatments and I just don’t want to deal with that- so if it turns out I can’t naturally have kids, I might adopt some day, but I’ve already decided not to really sweat it if passing on my DNA isn’t in the cards for me.
    One final note- there are health benefits to using the BC pill that aren’t always discussed, but they do LOWER your chances of getting several types of cancer.

    • caitlin February 27, 2010, 7:25 pm

      That’s true!! Thanks for pointing out that BC does have some benefits!

  • Whitney @ February 27, 2010, 4:39 pm

    I really couldn’t read through all the posts, but my best friend read “Taking charge of your fertility” and went off BC and has been charting since about May. She was trying to get pregnant, but it helps you know when you’re ovulating so that you can do birth control the natural way.

    I’m on Yaz…and I like it but I don’t really like taking BC period. I’d like to read the book and chart, but I just haven’t yet!

  • Hallie February 27, 2010, 4:43 pm

    well, now I’m scared I won’t be able to get pregnant after reading all these comments! I’ve been on the pill since I was 16 so almost 10 years. I started taking it back then because of my awful cramps, but I think it’s probably not smart to start messing around with it until I’m married (I’m in a committed relationship but we are no where near ready for babies). I can’t tell how my body would react if I went off it because I’ve been on it so long, plus when I was 16 I was overweight and sedentary but now I’m a healthy weight and pretty active so I have no idea how that affects things too.

    Thanks (sorta…haha) for giving me all this stuff to think about! It’s funny how we just go with the status quo without questioning it sometimes (especially when we’re young)

    • caitlin February 27, 2010, 5:10 pm

      the older i get, the more i question the status quo! i think it so awesome people are sharing their stories because it allows us all to educate ourselves.

  • Cindy February 27, 2010, 4:54 pm

    I was on the pill for about 10 years, from 18 on. When I went off it I was regularly getting my period, but then it stopped. I then was diagnosed w/ PCOS. I have no idea if being on the pill delayed the diagnosis. I have gained and lost weight, been active and inactive. Currently I’m overweight but active, and have lost enough weight to get my period normally without medications. My dr. put me back on the pill about a year ago to help w/ the PCOS [I wasn’t even having any issues] but it caused me to gain 15 pounds. I’m single so BCP isn’t an issue, but I have no idea if I could get pregnant now. I’m almost 35 and I’m worried I’m running out of time.

  • Ali February 27, 2010, 4:57 pm

    One thing important to note is that if you are going to stop your birth control and go natural – you need to be certain you know how you would deal with the consequences of what might happen.
    I started my period at age 10 and it was NEVER regular until I started birth control at age 18. Because of all my problems with menstruation I’ve always been convinced I would have a hard getting pregnant. Knowing what I know about infertility treatments – I knew I needed to get a handle on my “real” cycle.
    My husband was leaving for Iraq in December so I stopped my birth control with my last period before he left (according to everything I know as a nurse – there was “no way” I could get pregnant in the week before he left.)
    Welp, I’m now 3 months pregnant with my date of conception the day before he got on a plane to leave for a year!
    My point is – don’t ever experiement with something like that unless you know how you’d deal with what might happen! This was not the timing that we had “planned” for but consider a child a blessing…but I know some people might not feel the same way.

  • jen trinque February 27, 2010, 4:58 pm

    I’ve been on the pill since I was 18, so it’s been 12 years this summer. I don’t want to be on it, but I’m not ready to have kids. Reading some of the comments makes me wonder if another method would work for me, though. My periods were sort of regular, but not nearly as short or (of course) regular as on the pill. I’m much more athletic now but I’m sure I’m not thin enough to lose my period!

    As far as the Bill & Guiliana stuff – it’s sad to me that she isn’t getting help for what must be some form of disorder. Either she sees herself as having to be thin, or not good enough or something, right? I watched an episode and she was eating cereal with half milk, half water. WTF?? She’s a bean pole, and I get being healthy and working out, but if she is afraid to gain five lbs to have a baby, it sounds like something unhealthy is going on in her mind. I like her, too, so I hope she can get herself happy, healthy, and pregnant.

    • caitlin February 27, 2010, 7:25 pm

      I find the half water and half milk to be very disturbing. That does not send a good message.

    • nicole February 28, 2010, 5:27 pm

      WOW. that’s gross. just skip the cereal then. jesus. i hope she’s seeing a therapist. poor girl…

  • Angie All The Way February 27, 2010, 4:59 pm

    I was on the pill for about 10-11 years, went off of it a month before my wedding, got my period for about 2-3 months then NOTHING for 8 months. I went to the doc concerned, she ran some bloodwork, suspected PCOS then ordered an internal ultrasound. I got my period pretty much immediately after the ultrasound (although pretty irregular) and I never went back to the doc to find out the results since there’s not much you do with PCOS right away anyway. So went I went to see my doc because I wasn’t feeling well and thought I had an “ulcer” she confirmed my PCOS diagnosis. At the time I was just about to start half marathon training so I asked her if that would further affect my periods especially given my diagnosis. She said that even if I was running 3-5 times a week, it shouldn’t affect me in that way. That said, I was still in the overweight category and wouldn’t consider myself the athlete that you are, or even close. I asked her if the pill had anything to do with my amenorrhea and she said no, even though I mentioned that I’d read about “oversupporession syndrome.” It was apparently a coincidence, but they also don’t know “exactly” what causes PCOS, only that there’s a link with obesity and metformin helps treat it in some women. In my case I was obese which supports that theory, but it’s still pretty theoretical.

    Sorry for the tangent, but that was my experience with being on the pill for that long and amenorrhea and as you know my “ulcer” is a baby 😉

  • Kelly February 27, 2010, 5:09 pm

    This is something I’ve always wondered about. Since I started running heavily, my period has shortened from 3-4 days to 1 or 2. I have been on the pill since I was 18 (almost 7 years) and wonder if I would have a normal period if I went off it. Also Guiliana is absurdly thin, I think gaining weight will be good for her.

  • MelissaNibbles February 27, 2010, 5:17 pm

    I was on birth control for one year when I was 17 (I’m 30 now) and went off it because I couldn’t afford it and just never went back on. I don’t like taking any sort of medications so I would never consider going back on it at this point in my life. However, neither my boyfriend or I want kids. We use condoms. I think it’s important to at least do something to protect yourself. Not just from getting pregnant, but from STD’s. I trust my boyfriend, but you know what? Anything can happen. Please take STD’s into consideration when thinking about your sexual health, not just pregnancy.

    Also, I will say that I worry about some bloggers I see running 10, 12, 15 miles and then only eating 1200 calories. It’s not healthy and it’s got to be affecting their menstrual cyles, hormones, and bone density. I wouldn’t dare say anything on their blog though. It’s not my place, but I also feel like we should be looking out for each other in the blog world. I don’t know what I’m saying, but I’m curious as to what your thoughts are on this issue Caitlin since you said you know of bloggers who don’t menstruate. Do you feel a responsibility to step in as a friend?

    • caitlin February 27, 2010, 7:23 pm

      I think there are many reasons why someone doesn’t menstruate, and although low body fat is a reason, it is certainly not the only one. My friends who don’t have their periods and are athletic don’t eat 1,200 calories. 🙂 They eat what I would consider to be proper amounts.

      If I feel like a friend is not properly fueling, I do say something (privately, not on blog).

  • Therese February 27, 2010, 5:50 pm

    I went off birth control a couple of years ago and it’s honesly the best thing I ever did. It took me a good 4 months to get a period afterwards (which was stressful) but now my cycle is more consistent than ever. I figure I’ve been married a year now, and don’t get me wrong we are careful, but would getting pregnant be the worst thing in the world? I feel waaaaaaay more in tune with my body and honestly I HATED how the hormones in birth control made me feel!

    My advice: Go off the pill lady! You won’t regret it I promise. Pull and pray (just kidding of course).

    • caitlin February 27, 2010, 7:23 pm

      ahh pull and pray sounds scary!

  • Katheryn February 27, 2010, 6:11 pm

    I’m 28-years-old and have a BMI of 18%. For birth control we use condoms. I never had good luck with birth control. We already have two children. My period still comes regularly each month.

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit February 27, 2010, 6:15 pm

    Great question! Most women have somehting to say about this. I’ve actually been thinking about going off of the Pill, which i’ve been on for about 6 years now. I don’t like taking anything artificial, and all the possible side effects really make me uneasy. I started the pill because my period stopped when I was 18 due to hormonal imbalance.

  • Kath February 27, 2010, 6:25 pm

    Wow, this is quite the post!!! Caitlin, I need you to summarize the findings in an abstract for me! I can’t read it all!

  • Neely February 27, 2010, 6:29 pm

    Can I just say that after skimming responses I am shocked by how many posters said they do not get their period? I had no idea.

    • caitlin February 27, 2010, 7:24 pm

      The more and more I talk to my friends (bloggers and not) the more I learn that a regular period is NOT common! I was surprised too!!

    • nicole February 28, 2010, 5:29 pm

      well a regular period is one thing—LACK of a period is different. you need to get a period, induced or otherwise. lack of a period=low estrogen=eventual cardiovascular problems and low bone density! very dangerous ladies… broken bones and heart attacks await…

  • Tiffinie February 27, 2010, 7:25 pm

    Well I was also on birth control for 11 years, and last summer while I was doing a bunch of training for my triathlon – I missed a period in June….so I decided to go off my birth control until I got it again. I am 30 and my husband and I were talking about babies anyway, so I figured it was a good time to see what my cycle is like. I didn’t get it until October! But now it is fairly normal (without birth control) and I’m still not pregnant! But we are not actively trying (just not preventing) to have a baby! So I think that being active for sure has an effect on a normal cycle. I weigh 127 lbs and I’m 5’6… it is debateable is I’m underweight or not…and who knows if I gain some weight if it would be easier for me to get pregnant. I, like you, love to work out, eat healthy and have fun! So the thought of gaining 10 pounds (prior to gaining even more while being pregnant) is a very disturbing thought! I have never gained or lost more than 10 pounds in my life!! Anyway, those are my thoughts! Good luck!

  • Laura February 27, 2010, 7:42 pm

    Ironically, I was regular as clockwork with my periods *until* I changed to a healthier diet and started exercising regularly. Now I haven’t had one in over two years, although I’m no longer underweight (I’m 5’6 and about 60 kg, I think, haven’t weighed for quite awhile) and have a body fat percentage of about 27%, thanks to severe GI issues that have meant I have had to be sedentary for about six months.

    It’s a bit worrying, really, how many of the women who follow and write healthy blogs can’t get their periods. While I am firmly believe in a healthier way of eating and living, I don’t think some of us are getting it quite right! As my doctor said, your body will stop your period when it knows that it isn’t a good environment to nurture a baby – that it knows when something’s not right, so I have to agree with the posters above who question how “healthy” some of these lifestyles really are.

    • caitlin February 27, 2010, 7:54 pm

      I agree with you but I think we’re jumping to conclusion to say its the body fat % or diet that is causing the lack of a period. As you can see from all the comments, there are many reasons why women don’t get their periods!

  • Erika February 27, 2010, 7:59 pm

    I know this has nothign to do with the BC question, but where’d you get that adorable spoon! I sooo want some like that lol…

    Ok…so, I don’t get why she is having such a fit about 5 pounds…that is a small sacrifice to make in order to conceive…plus, you are going to gain more than that once pregnant, so why be upset? Really!

    I’ve been on BC for years now, but no matter how much I exercised or how thin I was, I have always had a clockwork cycle….even when i was at my lowest weigth and running 10 miles every other day….never an issue for me thankfully.

    • caitlin February 27, 2010, 8:03 pm

      the colored spoons are from crate and barrel and the silver one is from marshalls 🙂

      • Erika February 27, 2010, 8:43 pm

        THANKIES 🙂

  • JenRD February 27, 2010, 8:15 pm

    Interesting topic for discussion! I had been on some form of birth control for about 13 years (various BC pills, Depo Provera, and Nuvaring). Then this summer, the hubby and I decided to try to start a family. After I didn’t get my period back for 3 months, and pregnancy tests were negative, my OBGYN suggested I see a reproductive endocrinologist, who diagnosed me with low estrogen and hypothalamic anovulation. Basically they don’t really know why, but my body’s not ovulating. Further testing ruled out more serious causes, like a pituitary tumor. I, too, eat healthy and exercise regularly, but not in intense/training mode (about 45-60 min cardio 4x/week, plus 2x/week of yoga or weights), and am at a healthy weight and about 19% BF.
    Caitlin, shout out to your hubby, b/c my hubby and I decided to try Chinese medicine prior to pursuing artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization. I started acupuncture and Chinese herbs about a month ago, and we are going to give it 3 months to see if it gets me ovulating (and hopefully pregnant!) before going the Western medicine route.


    • KatieTX February 27, 2010, 8:58 pm

      I am so worried this is gonna happen to me. I went on the pill at 16 because of a hormonal imbalance. I love being on the pill. I have no crazy side effects and my periods happen like clockwork. When I get married I am going off of it and hopefully I will magically start ovulating like a normal woman, which was not occurring when I was 16. I am hoping the fact that I will be like 26 hwen I start trying will allow me to get pregnant quickly. My aunt had the same problems as me and waited til 38 to try to get pregnant and had major difficulties. Good luck to you!!

    • caitlin February 28, 2010, 8:18 am

      Infertility is one of the easiest things for Chines medicine to treat – good luck!

  • Caitlin February 27, 2010, 8:32 pm

    I am not, and have never been on the pill. There just are so many side effects that it kind of scares me. Until I need to start the pill, I am staying away from it!
    However, I did lost my period for several months last year. My doctor felt that it wasb because I was not eating enough. Luckily, everything is back to normal now.

    interesting question btw! Oh and I think Guiliana is soo skinny and it seems advisable for her to gain weight if she trying to conceive.

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) February 27, 2010, 9:54 pm

    wow, this is a loaded subject! i was on birth control for 3 years, and 2 summers ago i just decided i’d had enough. i was on Yaz, which was fine, but i was never getting my period. i just really worried that i would be one of those freak cases where i got pregnant on the pill, but was scared b/c i’d never know. i also HATE taking medications (even for headaches) and just decided that BC wasn’t for me. i just couldn’t justify putting drugs in my body that would make it so i wouldn’t know if i was pregnant…

    i think every woman needs to decide for herself what’s right for her body…after i talked it over with my husband we both decided that we were OK with having faith that we won’t get pregnant til it’s right for us!

  • runblondie26 February 27, 2010, 9:54 pm

    I was on the pill for years to mask the fact that I didn’t get a period on my own. I knew it was a problem, but avoided thinking about it because I considered myself to be very healthy otherwise. When I decided it was time for a baby I had to cut back on exercise, gain weight, and take fertility meds. I was very fortunate that it worked, and I was able to conceive after a few months.

    If you’re concerned you fit the profile for secondary amenorrhea your doctor can do blood work to determine if it’s a problem.

    Best of luck to you!

  • Wendy February 27, 2010, 10:31 pm

    I’m chiming in late, but I just wanted to tell you…I have a friend who was on birth control pills for at least as long as you. She got married last fall, and she and her husband wanted to try for a baby right away (she’s 33). She had the same concerns as you about not know what her natural cycles are like, or if she was even ovulating, but now she’s pregnant, sooner than they expected!

    As for myself, I was on BCP off and on (mostly on) from age 14ish until my first year of marriage at age 25. I first went on them because I had really heavy periods. I went off them because my periods became really irregular. After roughly 6 months of not trying NOT to, if you catch my drift :), I got pregnant with my daughter. I took the mini-pill for about a year while I was breastfeeding her, (though it was probably not necessary, because I didn’t have a period AT ALL until she semi-weaned and started eating solid food) then went off the pills and got pregnant with my son within a few months. My cycles were like clockwork in between the two kids. I was temping and chart (for fun, I’m a science nerd :)), and even had my ovulations pinpointed. After he was born, I got a Mirena IUD, which is good for 5 years. I couldn’t be happier. I don’t get any sort of period at all. I even gave away all my tampons away. 🙂 One thing I really like about the IUD vs. BCP is that it uses a much lower dose of hormones because it’s placed near the ovaries. Plus, it’s supposedly more effective at preventing pregnancy than sterilization. 🙂

    • caitlin February 28, 2010, 8:19 am

      both stories give me hope 🙂

  • evan February 27, 2010, 10:52 pm

    i am SO glad that you asked this question, caitlin.

    i got my period at 12 years old and it was really regular, 7-8 days long and heavy. However, i was a voluptuous girl and wanted to lose weight, and so i started exercising (previously i was basically sedentary) and dieting, but took both to the extreme. i’m not even 5’4”, and went from 121 lbs to 105 lbs within a few months – not a lot of weight, but enough so that my period stopped and didn’t come back for the rest of high school. at 18 i went on the pill, but orthotricylen lo made me very emotional and ocella gave me horrible headaches, and over time i started to pose the same questions about whether i’d get a period on my own.

    i JUST went off it, at 21 years old, about a month ago. although i probably won’t get it for a few months anyway, i’ve already made a few changes, because i’m serious about getting it back.

    1. i’m set on gaining weight – just 5 lbs, from 111 to 116.
    2. i’ve cut my running from 30 miles/week to 5 or 6 miles a week, tops
    3. i’ve replaced said running with power vinyasa yoga and hot yoga, 4 times a week.
    4. i’m focusing on getting a LOT of fats (i.e trading fat free dairy for full fat, using nut butter, avocados, eating beef, etc) and eating balanced portions (i.e not filling up on heaping piles of vegetables and cheese-less/oil-less dishes, like before)
    5. i’m just slowing down in general. even though i’m still a senior in college, i’m no longer having binge drinking nights that require sweat sessions to burn off. i’m trying to transition into adult life before i graduate – i’m ready for the next chapter in life.
    6. since i’m graduating and taking a job as a food editor at a popular food magazine after graduation, i’m kind of re-training myself how to eat normally and in moderation. for example, when i came home this weekend, i requested my mother’s sunday sauce and italian meatballs and she was positively giddy. normally, i’m the health nut in my family, and i’m trying to just live and eat reasonably, with health in mind.

    hopefully these changes lead to a period! 🙂

  • JenRD February 27, 2010, 11:28 pm

    An interesting article on diet, exercise, and fertility:

  • Steph February 27, 2010, 11:37 pm

    I’ve been on birth control since I was 17. Not sure why, but I started having very intense cramps from then on. My doctor put me on birth control, and while I’ve switched through about 4 different ones over time (some tend to loose their effect, so i’ll switch to a new one, then go back a few months later), I really love it. I am on Loestrin 24 right now, which means my periods are only about 4 days long.
    I also suffered from extremely heavy menstruation that lasted up to 8 days and my doctor was concerned that I was getting anemic from all the bleeding.
    I know hormones are not something I want in my life forever (although it HAS been 8 years), but for now it’s just an easy way to control my cramps and the baby making!

  • Tracy February 28, 2010, 12:38 am

    Hi Caitlin! I know I am a little late jumping in on this but I wanted to tell you my experience. I am very athletic and work out all the time, and my BMI is on the low side of normal. When I stopped the pill my period stopped too! So, after a year of trying tings with my gyno I went to a fertility doc. He said I was not ovulating, and Clomid wasn’t helping, so I had to give myself injections. It was a little expensive, but I did ovulate and I am not 5 1/2 month pregnant! 1st try! I could not believe it. During the process I gained about 5 lbs and now combined with the pregnancy I have gained about 20, which is so hard for me. But I am happy to have a little miracle growing inside of me now!

    • caitlin February 28, 2010, 8:20 am

      congrats on getting pregnant 🙂

  • Emily February 28, 2010, 1:19 am

    How timely! I’ve been on Lutera for almost 5 years, and it’s been exactly the same every month of those 4-5 years…until a few months ago. My period was super light for two months, and then nonexistent for two months. I’m not ready for a baby yet, but we’ll want kids someday, and my period (even if it’s just a “fake period”) going MIA is a little freaky to me! No big changes except generally trying to eat better and doing the couch-to-5K running program in the fall. At 25.3%, body fat is definitely not the issue! Might be time for a trip to the doctor.

  • Diana (Mymarblerye) February 28, 2010, 7:34 am

    as a health care provider (a pharmacist counts!) when a woman doesn’t get her period it is usually cause she is TOO THIN or TOO overweight…or there is some sort of hormonal imbalance going on. The whole reason I freaked out about Guiliana’s comment is because she probably doesn’t ovulate because she’s TOO THIN. Many people with eating disorders don’t get their period. Gaining 5-10lbs doesn’t mean she couldn’t work out anymore! She can still work out!!! BTW if you go on her blog she lists what she eats for a’s basically NOTHING.

  • Shannon February 28, 2010, 8:37 am

    Hi Caitlin, I’m a new huge fan of your blog. I’m also a 39-year-old mom of two little girls (ages 3 and 5) and an avid runner. I was on BC pills from age 22 or 23 until we started trying to get pg when I was in my early 30s. I had 2 babies in 4 years, nursed exclusively, and when my younger daughter was 4 months old got the Mirena IUD. Because of pregnancy, nursing, and Mirena, I have not had a period since the month before I got pg with my 2nd baby–November 2005! I love it. It makes life so much easier as a runner and active mommy running around town all day with two little ones! Not all women lose their periods with Mirena, but many do, and the others typically end up with easier/lighter periods. I do not notice any side effects although admittedly it is hard to tell if mood swings, weight changes, and hair thinning (like in Rebecca Wolf’s Babble blog) are due to Mirena or the normal hormonal changes of pregnancy, postpartum,breastfeeding, and weaning–all those things are very, very normal during these processes! You can’t feel the IUD at all, nor can your husband during sex. It is very small and takes zero thought or attention. Good luck!

  • Helen February 28, 2010, 8:58 am
    Not trying to judge, but seems pretty neurotic if you ask me….’disordered eating’ if not diagnosed eating disorder…IMHO…

  • Colleen February 28, 2010, 9:22 am

    I take Yasmin…just a side note: I took Ocella for a few months last year (generic for Yasmin) and it made me feel crazy! Anyway, my periods are very manageable, they still last a full 7 days, but the cramps are much better and my skin is clear and I don’t think I gained any weight on it. The problem? I’ve been taking it for 6+ years and I’m afraid to stop taking it because I feel so normal with it, but my sex drive is non-existent. I talked to my OBGYN about this but he just concurred that I’m a “normal, busy woman.” I’m only 28 and yeah, I’ve been married 5 years, but it still sucks! Once I’m “there” I’m in the mood, but the mood doesn’t strike on it’s own, and it bothers me (probably bothers me more than my husband). The thing is I work full time, go to school full time, as does my husband, so I’m just not ready to try something different if it’s going to wreck me emotionally. I think not knowing what would happen is the only thing keeping me from quitting BCPs. Sorry so long-winded! Great discussion, I’ve read so many of these comments, and it feels like I’m not so alone in this struggle.

  • Rachel February 28, 2010, 10:15 am

    I actually don’t take birth control pills any longer. I really don’t like putting pills in my body, because I don’t think I need them. I’m not crazy. I’ll take something if I’m in severe pain or if it’s prescribed by a doctor for a condition, illness, or whatever, but for the most part I avoid pills like the plague. When I was younger, I took birth control pills to help with my period, but now that I don’t take them anymore I’ve realized it actually made my cramps a lot worse. At this point in my life, if I were to get pregnant it wouldn’t be something I’d be upset about. I’m married, I’m responsible, and I’m basically ready for children. It wouldn’t be a perfect situation because I’m still in graduate school, but I would be happy about it.

  • kat February 28, 2010, 10:24 am

    I just finished my first month without BC in 12 years! I’ve been on a low-dose pill forever and I’ve thought about if I would be able to get pregnant after being on it for so long. The last 2 months I’ve had really light periods so much so that I was kind of getting worried but I figured I had been working out more and was going through some pretty stressful stuff. I recently bought a house with my boyfriend and we obviously moved. Throw in a new dog and regular life stressors and no period was the result!

    In the chaos of the move I failed to realize I didn’t have any refills left on my BC and needed a trip to the gyno. At first I freaked out that I would have to take a month off but there wasn’t anything I could do about it so I just made my appt and dealt. I made a mental note to talk to my doc about the light periods.

    A few weeks into my cycle I had some interesting (different) *ahem* discharge. It kind of made me freak out because my body was doing something I was unfamiliar with. Another mental note!

    When I got to the doc I told her about my extremely light periods and she said it could be stress but also that the pill doesn’t allow your uterine lining to grow very thick so that could be another reason. She said not to worry. When she asked about any abnormal discharge I explained it to her and she asked if it happened a few weeks into my cycle. I said yes and she told me that I was probably ovulating! Crazy! This made me feel kind of sad and out of touch with my body for some reason.

    At the end of my cycle my period was back in full force. I had some cramping that I wasn’t used to and my flow is definitely not light like it had been.

    Anyway, hope none of that is TMI but I always wondered what would happen if I went off my BC for a month and I figured others might want to hear another person’s experience. Everyone is different of course…

    Starting back on the pill today though! 12 years more or less condom free (I’ve been with my life partner for 10!) makes it too hard to go back! I’m not ready for a child but plan on having one sooner than getting an IUD warrants.

    What great comments! Great discussion!

  • Kelly February 28, 2010, 1:00 pm

    What kind of birth control do you use and why?
    I am on a standard birth control pill, Ocella (generic for Yasmin)

    If you’re athletic, do you get your period naturally?
    I haven’t been off my birth control since I became athletic, however, I am not in danger of too low of a body fat percentage, and my exercise is a moderate level, generally speaking, so I don’t anticipate any problems.

    What does your doctor say?
    No reason for concern at this point.
    Do you get your period regularity or not?
    I did prior to birth control, but I was overweight, not athletic, and 19 when I went on the pill. Now I’m average weight, athletic, and 28. LOL

    Do you think about the big birth control issue, too?
    I do. I’ve read the “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” book, and anticipate going off the pill soon to try charting and get ready to have a baby. That being said, I think a lot of my anxiety issues are hormone based, and I find the birth control really helps keep me on an even keel, and I’m worried I’ll start having freak outs when that hormonal balance is no longer there. But there’s no way to know without trying to be off the pill for awhile!

  • kiki February 28, 2010, 1:46 pm

    i’m 16 and i don’t get my parents are quite thin,and so am i workout almost everyday.onestly i don’t have the “right” BMI,but as i already said my parents don’t have it either.I am not a big eater,but i follow a very balanced diet,pleanty of healthy fats and carbs (i am italian,so we eat pasta almost 4 times for week)

    i don’t get it.i eat,i workout,i feel why is my period gone?i tried to put on a couple of pounds in the healthy way,for almost A didnt the last weeks i ate loads of sweets (feeling stuffed and bad almost everyday) to put on some weight.i actually put on 3 kilos,but i dont get my period and i feel pretty bad and almost tired for all the sugar and fat.
    have you guys some tips about this?as i said,the only way for me to put on weight is overeat (a lot).my metabolism is very fast.i dont’ get my period since doctor says to put on weight but i cant take it anymore!advices please!

    • caitlin February 28, 2010, 2:31 pm

      i would talk to your OBGYN. there are many issues it could be besides your weight.

      • laurenonymous February 28, 2010, 2:59 pm

        I didn’t get my period from age 14-17. My mom and I talked to 3 different doctors during that time, and every single one told me the same thing: “When you’re a teenager it’s normal to have “abnormal” periods. Don’t worry about it.”

        I was also VERY athletic, which the doctors said could’ve contributed to it. But then, when I did end up slowing down on exercise and putting on some weight, and *poof!* I got my period at age 17. No problems since, and I’m 25 now.

        Obviously I’m not a doctor and I’m not giving any advice, but I am just offering a different perspective that perhaps don’t worry…maybe there just isn’t anything wrong!

  • Katie February 28, 2010, 2:01 pm

    I stopped taking my BC a little over a year ago, due decreased libido, in hopes that the pill was it issue. Since then my period has not returned. I’ve had two blood tests and my doctor said everything was in the “normal” range and that I am fine. But I find it worrisome I am not get my period, I work out regularly, but am not an endurance athlete. I turned to weekly acupuncture and Chinese herbs in hopes of finding an alternative solution, but after 5 months I’ve still had no success. I am pretty frustrated and hate the negative effect this has on my relationship. I love my boyfriend but my libido so low. I am hopeful my body will eventually get back to a better place, and I am working hard to stay positive.

  • jen February 28, 2010, 2:08 pm

    This topic is so relevant to me. I was on BCP for 10 yrs. I went off in Sept 2009 because my husband and I want to get pregnant. By January I still had no period. So my doctor induced my period and started me on the ovulation drug Clomid. I haven’t ovulated even with the help of the drug.
    My body fat is 19% and I run 30 mi per week but I’m not that thin. My dr thinks my running has something to do with it and wants me to stop running to see if I get my period. Ill cut back but I’m hesitant to stop all together. I mean there are SO many other reasons I may not be ovulating… Post pill amenorrhea, blocked tubes from endometriosis. We have a long road ahead with fertility tests.
    If I had known I’d have this much trouble off the pill, I would have stopped using them years ago. I read a study by the Guttmatcher Institute that said the “pull out and pray method” is only 4% less effective than condoms when used correctly. This seems like a great option for a monogamous couple.

  • mama February 28, 2010, 3:04 pm

    a couple years ago i was running lots and not fueling my body properly. We wanted to get pg so i went off the pil and never got my period! i was also advised by my OBGYN to gain 10-15 lbs! slowly i did and got my period back! Have a beautiful little girl now and work out but make sure to fuel myself properly! I just weaned my daughter and already have many signs of getting my period back too! This subject is near and dear to my heart because at that time all i cared about was being thin! But i so wanted to have a baby! I realized that my obsession needed to stop because if i did happen to get pg i did not ever want to pass unhealthy habits onto my daughter! It was rough but with the support of my hubby and some good friends i am in a good plaCe in life now!

    • caitlin February 28, 2010, 6:28 pm

      i am glad you are in a better place now 🙂

  • Caroline February 28, 2010, 3:31 pm

    I actually switched to an IUD in early November because I was tired of paying for birth control every month and my husband and I aren’t going to be in a place where we can have children for a couple of years. Many women (don’t know if it would be accurate to say ‘most’ but I got the impression that it’s a lot) stopping getting their period on an IUD, and I seem to have as well. But since then my running increased as I started training for a half marathon and (maybe because I’m on much less hormones) I’ve lost weight (5-10 lbs). About a month ago I found out at the health fair at work I’m actually down to a 16.8% body fat, so I’m definitely wondering how much of it is due to weight and how much the hormones. I have an unrelated doctor’s appointment in about a week and a half so we’ll see what she thinks about the weight.

  • nicole February 28, 2010, 4:14 pm

    I’m on Ortho Tri-Cyclen. I lost my period at 19 or 20 during my eating disorder. I now have a normal BMI but low body fat, and I know if I went off I wouldn’t get my period. I’m working on getting the body fat up, but it’s still psychologically hard. Further, because of my hectic schedule (doc) I dont have time to sit down and eat at normal times, so maintaining my weight has been a challenge. I’ve had to switch pills several times because I messed up my hormones so badly when my weight dropped. I changed to OTC-Lo over the summer, which led me to get my period every 1.5 weeks because there wasn’t enough progesterone. This also caused really painful sex for some reason, decreased libido, and terrible moodiness. I hated hated hated that pill!! Anyone else feel this way on OTC-LO?
    Thankfully, I finally started seeing a reproductive endocrinologist in the fall (if anyone needs help with period issues, HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you see a repro endo!!!!!), and she put me on the regular OTC which has been working great!
    I’ve heard the IUD’s are the best things since sliced bread, but I don’t think I can get one until my cycles are regular. For someone earlier who said they aren’t approved for people who haven’t had children, I am nearly positive that is no longer true. Europeans have been using them for awhile, leading to the US to reevaluate its standpoint, and I know many more docs are giving them to their patients. I wish I could have one!
    I’ll probably never go off the pill, until I definitely want a child, as I am absolutely TERRIFIED of unplanned pregnancy.
    In so far as “extraneous chemicals” vs organic foods—this argument makes no sense to me. For some women, such as myself, these hormones would be otherwise missing, and are thus essential to maintain normal reproductive function and especially bone density. I actually became osteopenic at the age of 21 because I’d been missing estrogen for so long. Beyond that, the amount of hormone in your average BC pill is INFINITESIMALLY small. Hormones are spectacular–you need only MICROgrams to get the job done. So no, a microgram doesn’t worry me. I think before people get all up in arms about “foreign” chemicals, they should read some journals (not propaganda) so they know what’s really happening. I recommend NEJM, JAMA, or even the Mayo Clinic’s website. Please don’t go by what’s on 3rd party sites, as their information is invariably laughable in its error frequency.

    • rose October 19, 2011, 6:11 pm

      HI and thank you so much for posting about birth control and how micrograms are not imortant i feared taking pills with my ammenorea i have never had regular periods in fact only 3 in my whole life so i just stated BC and nervous about the side effects but im 29 now and need to be healthy thank u again wish i would have read this years ago

  • Annie February 28, 2010, 4:59 pm

    My partner and I use condoms and have used the pull out method four or five times (whoops!)
    I know I need to be realistic and think about long term birth control (condoms irritate me and no doubt he prefers without). I’m still in college and having children is something for the future. I’m a little worried about starting up with birth control. Reading about the experiences everyone else has on here is great, thanks!

    • caitlin February 28, 2010, 6:29 pm

      i would DEFINITELY get on birth control if i were you. trust me, college and before you are married is NO TIME to get pregnant on accident. i don’t think BC is the best thing in the world, but a surprise baby isn’t either.

      and then you can have hot, non-pull out sex. 🙂

      • nicole February 28, 2010, 7:49 pm

        AGREED! BC is the best for stress-free sex. make sure you take it ON TIME every day (you do have an hour window on either side of your normal time), and you are good to go 🙂

        pull out is NOT effective, but not ovulating is 🙂 yay!

        • Annie February 28, 2010, 11:58 pm

          Made an appointment for later this week. I appreciate the input from both of you! This topic came at a really great time. 🙂

  • Amandamoo February 28, 2010, 5:44 pm

    This is already a lengthy discussion so you probably don’t need any more input but I was out of town all weekend and feel the need to weigh in… I was on the pill for 11 years and had been reading about how chances of breast cancer goes up 40% after you’ve been on the pill for more than a decade… Also, beluga wales are being diagnosed with breast cancer because of the hormones we pee out into their water… lovely…

    Anyway, last July, I decided to go off the pill. It was time for my annual OB/GYN exam anyway so I discussed the non-hormonal options with my doctor. She was great and referred me to some websites to help me understand the options. Ultimately, I chose Fertility Awareness/Sympto-Thermal+rythm method. I take my temperature every morning and look at the other big indicator of fertility regularly.

    I didn’t know how bad I felt until 2 months after I went off the pill… I thought that I felt normal when I was on it. In hindsight, my lows were much lower and my highs were so dull compared to how I feel now. I also believe that being on the pill contributed to my eating disorder and going off of it has helped my recovery so much!

    Sorry, long-winded, I feel very passionately about natural birth control and believe that I’ve made very healthy choices for myself and my family as well as the well-being of the earth.

  • Kelly February 28, 2010, 5:55 pm

    I started taking birth control (Estrostep) around my 19th birthday. Before that, I got my period every 20-60 days. So it wasn’t a typical 28-30 day cycle, but I’ve been told that as long as you don’t go more than 60 days, then its not really a concern…so I guess it was somewhat “regular.” But my period typically lasted 7-8 days and I had terrible cramps and vomiting. I never really noticed any side effects from the pill, but I decided to go off it in January 2008 (age 22). I guess I just really don’t like the idea of taking hormones. I also was never feeling “in the mood” for about a year and was curious as to if the pill was the cause of my decreased libido. Being in a serious relationship and coming up on the end of school, I figured if I were to get pregnant, that I would be able to manage. After stopping the pill (Jan ’08), I got my period in March and then nothing for 11 months. In the past two years, I think I’ve had about 8 periods. I’m an average weight and exercise regularly. My weight is similar to my high school weight before I started taking BC. When I saw my gyno during that lengthy span when I did not have a period, she did some blood work and sent me to an endocrinologist b/c some of the readings were off. The endocrinologist diagnosed me with a thyroid disorder, but said that my readings were just slightly abnormal…not enough to be the cause of no periods. So, I don’t know why my periods are no longer regular, but it does concern me. I have this feeling that I’m going to have a really tough time getting pregnant. The frustrating thing is that my Dr’s have told me to go back on the pill to regulate my periods. I really am skeptical though, if that is what messed up my body. Now, my boyfriend and I use condoms occasionally, but mostly just the pull-out method.

  • Shannon February 28, 2010, 7:30 pm

    Oops, Caitlin–sorry, I mistyped in my comment up there a ways, I meant to say I had 2 babies in TWO years, not 4. Probably a minor typo to you, but it helps explain the timeline of how long I’ve been pg, nursing, weaning, and on the IUD.

  • Betsy February 28, 2010, 9:34 pm

    I recently had the same concern about birth control pills. I had been on the pill for the last 9 years and had no idea if I could naturally regulate a period. Since I’ve taken so many other measures to live a clean and healthy life, I got off of the pill (with the intention of getting the copper IUD) about three months ago.
    I am an athlete (run, practice yoga and lift with 5-6 workouts/week), I don’t know my body fat %, but I have a totally regular period. I was worried that it would take awhile to for my period to return, but it came right back on a very similar schedule to my BC pills.
    I still think about getting the copper IUD, but I am still a bit freaked out about the whole process (read: pain) and having my uterus rejecting it, since I’ve never been pregnant. We’ll see, I will read through the other ladies’ comments and see what they have to say about it.
    The best thing about being off of the pill? I am seeing a lot more results as I train and lift, and, although perhaps a bit too much info, my sex drive has returned with a vengeance (my most recent pill, Aviane, greatly hindered it).
    The worst thing about being off the pill? one word: condoms. My partner and I are not willing to go the all natural birth control route…

  • Angie March 1, 2010, 12:03 am

    I’m on the pill, I look forward to my period every month so I take ginger root and drink fennel tea two days before it starts. I don’t even have to take much. Works like magic for me. Chamomile tea is also a good easy one to. Without it I would not have one at all.

    I also tried the Mirena IUD. Since I’ve never had a baby I was way to small inside. It took two nurses and one doctor to put it inside with force. I was bawling and limping from the doctors room to the lobby about to faint from the pain. It was so painful I couldn’t drive myself home. My mom came and picked me up. I screamed and cried all the 25 miles home. My mom said that I sounded like I was in Labor. Long story short I had to be taken to the emergency room that night and had it removed. And that was my hellish experience.

  • Amy March 1, 2010, 6:38 am

    I know I’m a little late on this, but I never get to read your blog over the weekend…

    Anyway, just thought I’d throw my two cents in… I was on BC for about 9 years and went off it last May. I’m 30 now and have been married for about 5 years. Point is, the hubs and I decided we were ready to start trying for a baby. Our thinking was we’d start really trying in the fall so I went off the pill in May thinking I’d give myself and my body time to get readjusted. Well, in the last 9 months I’ve had my period twice. I was diagnosed with PCOS last month and was informed that the BC had been masking the symptoms all these years. A definite pain in the butt!!

    We’ve decided we’ll give it another few months of trying in the hopes that my body just needs a bit more time to get back to normal, and if that doesn’t work we’ll have to move onto some kind of medication (Metformin, Chlomid, etc.). I’m just not all that keen on turning back to hormones right away after seeing what the BC did (or didn’t really do directly, but kept me ignorant for so long…). So if this is really a concern of yours I’d recommend, giving it quite a bit of time – perhaps even longer than 6 months – between going off the pill and trying to have a baby. But, that’s just my experience and the truth is that in all likelihood you’ll be perfectly fine.

    Here’s to hoping Aunt Flo shows up some time this spring and then goes away for a while after that!! 😉

  • Orla March 1, 2010, 6:58 am

    I have stage 4 endometriosis which means that I am unable to take BC pills or any hormonal treatment with oestrogen as it “feeds” the endo. I have terrible bouts of depression and moodswings along with excruciating menstrual pains every couple of months. Thankfully not every month as I have to take time off work.
    Exercise and activity, as well as keeping my weight down, can help the pains and the symptoms.
    While I am very lucky in that I know my cycle inside out and it is very regular (every 28 days almost to the hour) I know plenty of others who are not as lucky.
    I believe that doctors have to listen more to their patients as to their needs. I know that in Ireland, there is very much the mentality that period pains are there to be dealt wtih and “get over it”. As someone who had years of pain and depression (as well as having my appendix removed when it was a ruptured endo cyst)it is heartbreaking to know that many women can’t get an answer from their doctors.
    While a little off topic, I know that exercise and activity certainly helps me cope – sometimes mentally more than physically. But you know what, mentally is enough for me.

  • Alexandra March 1, 2010, 8:39 am

    Thanks Caitlin for not being afraid to through these questions out there. Just reading through the comments, you learn so much about things that are so relevant to our lives as women but some people may be shy to talk about. Way to go! I appreciate your openess and honesty on the blog. As for me, I was on BC pill for 3 years and recently went off to natural methods. I was scared my period wouldn’t come back but after a really long 38 day cycle things seem to be back to normal. While on BC pill I was feeling awful and really hormonal. I now feel much more in control of my body and emotions. When I was younger and dancing competitively I would rarely have a period. I think my body is in a much happier and healthier place now.

  • Ashley @ Good Taste. Healthy Me March 1, 2010, 1:06 pm

    I agree with Alexandra above. I was on the pill for a few years and have since stopped. It really was negatively affecting my hormones (aka I was a raging b*tch). I’m not uptight or angry off of it. Around my period I do get some pretty bad PMS, however it’s worth it once a month, rather than allll the time!

  • Sarah W. March 1, 2010, 3:02 pm

    I got off my birthcontrol for 3 months at the beginning of last year just to “see” how my body felt. lets just say that as much as I HATE to use horomonal birth control, I won’t be going off it anytime soon and will ONLY go off it to try to get preggers.

    Not being on Birth Control for 3 months showed me how erratic my cycle was in general. I was going 40-50 days between cycles! It was all over the place, I never knew when it was coming and my face was a broken out disaster. (my freshman year of college I went on accutane b/c my acne in high school was AWFUL). My soph year of college I went on birth control and it helped keep my face clear.

    I was on yaz for the past 2 years but with all the law suit ads I kept seeing, I freaked out and switched back to Ortho Tri Cyclen Lo Generic. It is what it is.

  • Allison K March 1, 2010, 6:59 pm

    I’m late to the birthcontrol party, but I wanted to throw my hat into the ring.
    I’ve been using hormonal b/c for five and half years. I’ve been on 4 variations of the pill and nuva ring. My first two version of the pill were fine, and I didn’t notice any side affects. My 3rd version, was TERRBILE. I think it was Ortho-Novum 7/7/7 or something. It was a pill that had three different levels of hormones, and then a week of the placebo. The varying levels of hormones TOTALLY wacked me out. I was SO EMOTIONAL. I seriously would cry all the time, over nothing.
    I then started on the nuva-ring…I used that for 2 years. I liked it, until I realized that it killed my sex drive. My husband didn’t notice or care (we still had sex just as frequently, but it took me alot more time to….get warmed up, and get in the mood…if you will). I was hesitant to stop using the nuva-ring, because I enjoyed not having to take the pill each day (even after 3 years I would occasionally forget), but not having a sex drive REALLY bothered me….so just this month I started on the pill again. I love my OBGYN and explained all my previous issues…she prescribed me a pill that DIDN’T include 3 different levels of hormones.
    The verdict? So far? SO GOOD!

  • Morgan March 1, 2010, 8:01 pm

    I know I am way late on this one, but I love your blog, and the whole Giuliana thing has been interesting me lately:) While I agree strongly that she needs to gain weight and appears to have disordered eating, I feel like a lot of the coverage of this issue is blaming her for their infertility. All any of us know is what we have seen on their show, and their could be a million other issues contributing to this. My husband and I started trying to get pregnant when I was 26, I am now 28 and we have still not had a successful pregnancy (2 miscarriages).
    Infertility is heart breaking and having millions of people blaming her and saying that if she would just gain weight it would happen frustrates me to no end. In most cases of infertility there are several issues contributing to the problem.

    *Just wanted to note, I think the commenters here were very kind when discussing this for the most part. This is just such a sensitive subject and I really feel like people need to understand the pain involved in being unable to have children.

  • Tina March 1, 2010, 8:26 pm

    I am fairly athletic, participating in 2 marathons 3 halfs and several shorter races over the last 2 years. I’ve always had a very low body fat percentage (like 12%) even after having babies. The only time my periods were inconsistant was during my high milage months and they were just lighter and maybe longer by as much as a week. I am not on any birth control and when I did get pregnant with both my boys and the miscarriage I didn’t have that much higher body fat percentage (around 15-16%). This is NORMAL FOR ME. I also didn’t have trouble getting pregnant. Actually all he had to do was look at me cross eyed for me to get knocked up I swear. Not as fun but effective for us. He he he he Proof that we are all different and our bodies react differently.

    I think that for many of my friends who run marathons they have had a harder time concieving than I did. That makes me sad that things were so easy for me and not so easy for them but they refuse to take my kids for practice so maybe I shouldn’t feel SO bad. I think that having your body at healthy levels of essential nutrients before consieving (folic acid, fat%, healthy eating lifestyle, not drinking, smoking or doing drugs) is important in healthy baby development and she is making too big of a deal out of it. If she is malnourished or underweight then yes, your body will rebel and not let you concieve but we all do things when we want babies, our lives change. She could always go back to all that working out after the babies born.

  • Andrea of Care to Eat March 1, 2010, 9:42 pm

    I’m late to the party on this – just catching up on my blogs! If I can put in my 2 cents, I went off the Pill almost a year ago after being on it for over 10 years. I was curious to see if my body would go back to a regular ovulatory schedule. NOT because I’m athletic (which I’m not), but because I’m 30. I ain’t getting any younger. I started practicing the Family Awareness Method, using the book Gina (Fitnessista) recommended – Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I would highly recommend it – it’s taught me things every woman should know about their body. After a year, and charting my highly irregular cycles, I’m pretty convinced my body isn’t ovulating. I know that for some, the Pill can screw up your body for a long time after stopping – I guess that’s me. At least I hope it is. I’m thankful that I’m not trying to conceive now, or else I would be freaking out. I’m crossing my fingers that my body just needs more time to get back to normal. You talk about having a baby all the time – I would definitely suggest getting off the Pill several months to a year before you want to conceive. With you being on the Pill so long and with your athletic build, it may be a while before you start ovulating again. The Family Awareness Method will help you avoid pregnancy just as much as conceiving. Seriously, I can not say enough good things about it. Okay, this is becoming the longest comment ever…

  • Em March 1, 2010, 10:11 pm

    Very late response, but I just wanted to add my plug for a totally non-hormonal copper IUD. Here in Oregon I had zero trouble finding a doctor willing it do it for a woman who had never given birth. She warned me that there was a greater chance I would reject it, but that it couldn’t hurt to try. While it is an uncomfortable experience, the result CHANGED MY LIFE. I love knowing my own hormones are in control, and my periods have never been more regular. My boyfriend and I can have condom-less sex as much as we want, and I have zero concerns about pregnancy (copper IUD is99.4% effective). I have had it for three years now with no regrets, and will not have to worry for another seven years. My insurance didn’t cover it so I paid $250 up-front, but will not have to shell out more money for birth control for ten years.

  • Sarah @ See Sarah Eat March 2, 2010, 3:10 pm

    I have had irregular periods forever. When I started running in Fall 2007, I skipped three months in a row then had two periods, then skipped three more months. I went to the doctor who gave me progesterone to start my period, then put me on birth control. I hated it! I had awful side effects — my periods were worse (heavier and more painful), I had emotional side effects and weight gain. It just wasn’t worth it to me, so I went off them and figured out my cycle is long (usually 40-42 days) with a few shorter and longer ones here and there. It’s frustrating sometimes but I have seen a doctor who says I am perfectly healthy, I do ovulate and she doesn’t think exercise or body fat is causing the irregularity (mine is currently 26% anyway). Great discussion!

  • Rachel March 3, 2010, 3:10 pm

    We will be switching to the FAM after the baby is born. I prefer to let my body’s cycles happen naturally- I don’t see how it can be healthy to disrupt it with artificial hormones. I have a regular cycle and period, and I’m athletic (well, when not pregnant!). My periods do get shorter when I am extremely active, and a little lighter as well, but I’ve never not had my period. I like to know what is going on with my body, and FAM helps with that.

    (PS I was on the pill for 2 yrs and had terrible side effects- weight gain, emotional issues, depression, loss of libido, miscarraige. I went off it, and it was like I was a new person!!)

  • Angela (Oh She Glows) March 4, 2010, 8:42 pm

    Im linking to this tomorrow!!!!!

  • kara March 5, 2010, 12:54 pm

    This is such good timing! I just had a consult with my obgyn and have decided to go off the pill. I haven’t had a normal period in over a year, even with the pill. The solution from the doctor was to continue giving me hormones (progesterone to start the period and estrogen to stop them). I am at a healthy weight, and have enough body fat that my body should be having normal periods. I decided to go off the pill to figure out if my body isn’t behaving normally or if the pill had messed me up. We’ll see what the result is over the next few months!

    Great topic, great posts! 🙂

  • Angela @ A Healthy Fit March 5, 2010, 4:42 pm

    I just recently went to a nutritionist and found out my body fat was at 16%. I am very athletic, work out 6 days a week. I’ve also been on birth control since I was 15 (way too long). I know my nutritionist was worried about my body fat and said that if it went any lower it would mean the possibility of osteoporosis or not being able to conceive. I’m not ready to conceive not, but some day will want to. If I was told I had to gain weight to get pregnant I would do that over invetro. Or at least try that first.

  • Marianne March 7, 2010, 12:57 am

    I’ve been on the BC pill since I was 20, so I guess that makes it just over 10 years. I was originally put on it because of hormonal issues that I needed sorted out. I have tried going off it before, but because my cycle was so irregular to begin with (due to said issues), I never regained my period and broke out in horrible acne. I’m sure if I stayed off it long enough, these things would sort themselves out, but I wasn’t willing to wait that long to find out. I’m going to be switching to a new brand soon, and I’m interested to see how that goes. I would like to go off it, simply for the fact that I don’t want to pay for pills, but just the fact that I do have a regular cycle while on them is very attractive vs my old random, not knowing what’s gonna happen when cycle.

    I also have little worry about infertility – not only do I have no desire to procreate in the future, but due to other issues, the doctors are pretty sure I am infertile, or would need to go through in vitro/infertility treatments anyways.

  • Theodora March 12, 2010, 11:03 am

    I went off birth control when I was trying to lose weight last year because I didn’t want to deal with anything that might hamper my weight loss. Now that I am living a healthy lifestyle, the idea of putting hormones into my body seems crazy to me…but with that said, I’m currently not sleeping with anyone, so I don’t have much reason to worry about birth control for now. We’ll see how my attitude changes once I am dating someone 🙂 I’d rather not be on birth control, but my desire to not have a child until I am fully ready is greater.

  • Erin March 12, 2010, 3:59 pm

    I’ve been on birth control since I was 16, so for the past 9 years. I have tried to go off birth control a couple of times through out the years. But I have have a very irregular period and don’t like how I feel while I’m off. My sisters and my mom, barely ever get their periods so I’m sure I would have the same hormonal issue as them. I would like to at some point be hormone free but the fear of getting pregnant is to great for me. I also get concerned about the effects of being on the pill for so long. I have no plans to get pregnant for at least 4 or 5 more years, but definetley want kids at some point.

  • Steph March 20, 2010, 5:37 pm

    hi everyone!

    i know this is really late- not sure who will read this, but i wanted to share some information with everyone. i stopped taking hormonal bc 6 months ago after being on it for 10 years as i was afraid of what the hormones were doing to my body. i have been using something called a “lady comp” (i actually have the smaller version called the “pearly”) which takes my temp everyday, learns my schedule, and gives me a red, green or yellow light every day. it is fda approved and 99.3% reliable. on red and yellow days, my boyfriend and i use condoms, but we do not use anything on green days. i have also begun reading “taking charge of your fertility”, and am charting so that i have an even better understanding of when i am most fertile so i can be careful during these times.

    check out the device here:

    here is a message board where a number of women in north america talk about their experience with the device. not many people here seem to know about it, but it is a very popular method in europe (the device is from germany).

  • Traci June 18, 2010, 12:30 pm

    I had this exact problem after getting off the pill two years ago to try and get pregnant. My periods never came back (10 months w/out a period) becuase of my low body fat %. I saw countless doctors who assured me that weight and body fat were not my problem, but all my hormone tests kept coming back normal. After 1.5 years of trying to get pregnant I finally quit exercising completely, gained weight and was able to get pregnant (after 2 years of trying) with the help of fertility treatments. I will never go back on the pill again because I’d like to have more children and I don’t want to risk that the pill will mask other symptoms.

    I’m now 6 months pregnant and have started incorporating moderate exercise into my routine and an focusing on eating HEALTHY. Not just LOW FAT. The low fat eating was what really messed up my body, I believe, and I’m learning to embrace the benefits of eating lots of healthy fats and natural products.

  • Lorin June 30, 2010, 1:05 am

    I haven’t had my period for a year now and I went to the doctor to see if I had hormonal imbalance and I don’t. I do excercise but not too an extreme, I don’t even exercise every day really and when I do it’s only for 30-45 minutes. I have a normal bmi (18), so I don’t know. It’s kind of nice though because I’m supposed to go backpacking in a few weeks and it’s nice to know I won’t have to worry about it (hopefully) when I’m hiking in the mountains. I knoe it’s weird that I haven’t had it, but the doctor said she could test is something else is wrong by giving me hormones and seeing if I get it, but I don’t want to do that to my body unnaturally so I guess we’ll see.

  • Sassy Molassy July 19, 2010, 4:53 pm

    Such an interesting convo going on here. Wow. I’ve had irregular periods for the last 4-5 years or so since beginning more intense workouts and regularly training for half or full marathons. A few years ago, I went to my doc after not having a period for 6+ months and had my hormone levels and blood tested. Everything came out fine. She couldn’t figure out what the issue would be other than possibly body fat, but I know that’s not it. I’m 5’3″ and 130-135 and muscular, but definitely not too low in the body fat range. Basically, she said I could go on BC to regulate my periods. So, that’s what I did. It’s a low hormone dosage version so I don’t really feel many side effects. But this conversation really has me thinking “um, why should I be on it if the dr couldn’t even figure out why I wasn’t having a period. Isn’t that the bigger issue?” Anyway, the temp checking and “pull out” method seem a little harder than BC pill to me.

  • Tanya Kummerow August 7, 2010, 1:36 pm

    So my comment is more of a question: I hope somebody reads this and can shed some light…like many of you, I have struggled with my regularity. I have never been on bc, but stopped having my period in August of last year…and guess what, it is August now. 1 year and I’m beginning to freak out. I’ve had the blood work too…and pretty much the same story as most of you, I’m active, but not terribly skinny, I eat well and during my tests the doctor had no answer. So, I’m over that, if I have my period fine, if not fine, we will deal with the child-bearing issue later: but my question (getting to the point) is this- If I’m not having my period…is that a problem inside my body. This sounds gross- but is stuff building up? Other than child-bearing, is there anything else I should be concerned with? And does anybody know if you can still get pregnant even if you don’t have a period…my husband would like to know! He still insists on using condoms!

    • caitlin August 7, 2010, 2:35 pm

      I’m not sure if you can or cannot get pregnant, but your husband is prob right to use condomns.

      If your doctor isn’t answering your concerns, I highly suggest you see another doctor. My husband is a Chinese medical doctor and use more natural techniques… if I were you, I’d seek out alternative medical care from a licensed acupuncturist or naturopathic doctor. Don’t stop until you get the answers you need!

  • Brittney July 1, 2011, 3:05 pm

    I’ve found this blog post and everyone’s comments very insightful and helpful! I have been on hormonal BC for 10 years. I got Mirena IUD about a year and half ago due to my migraines with aura – progesterone-only, no estrogen. I have experienced weight gain and definite emotional/mood changes for the worse. I am going to get it removed next week and am going to go hormone-free for the first time in a decade!

    I’m in a serious, long-term relationship, though we’re not hoping to have kids at the moment. If it happened, we’re at the point where it wouldn’t be the worst thing, but we’re certainly wanting to wait a year or two until we’re married for children to enter the picture. I was wondering if barrier methods were our only option (as my OB-GYN advised), so I am really interested in reading more about FAM. This is literally the answer to my hours upon hours of looking into horomone and non-hormone BC options. Thank you so much for sharing your insights on this topic!

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