On post-baby birth control

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I really do feel like I’m in the homestretch now.  Only two weeks ‘til my due date, although I’m telling myself that I won’t go until at least 41 weeks so I don’t get too antsy.  Considering how fast the days go by, I have a feeling the next few weeks will go very, very quickly.


I’m feeling pretty good, overall.  I still the worst carpal tunnel syndrome and get tired easily, but both are to be expected.  My blood pressure is low (very important at this point in pregnancy), and although my weight gain has slowed a bit, the bump measures larger and larger each week.  The midwife said we’ll have a 7 pounder – the Husband was less than 5 pounds, so let’s hope she or he takes after me (I was 7.5 pounds).


Although my workouts are getting shorter and shorter, I’m still moving.  I’m making it to the pool at least twice a week, sometimes three times – I swam 0.5 a mile this morning!  My new great fear is that my water will break in the pool.  And James and I have been continuing our daily walks – we just walk a shorter distance and later at night so I can escape the heat.

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This week, I thought it would be interesting to discuss post-baby birth control (or just birth control in general).  Actually, my series on The Big Birth Control Question is one of the most popular on the blog.  If you’re a newer reader, or just need a refresher:


  • Part I (February 2010) – I began to have concerns that I’ve been on the Pill for “too long” and feared I wouldn’t get my period if I go off of it after hearing horror stories from my girlfriends and other bloggers. At this point, I had consistently been on the Pill for about 10 years.
  • Part II (July 2010) – I begin to educate myself about the Fertility Awareness Method and went off the Pill.  FAM utilizes your body temperature and several other signs to predict when you are ovulating; you avoid unprotected sex during the ovulation window.  (If you want to know more about FAM, I highly recommend Taking Charge of Your Fertility.)
  • Part III (September 2010) -  I used several different techniques to follow FAM and talked about the Pill withdrawal.
  • Part IV (December 2010) – I decided to go back on the pill because I didn’t feel FAM was working with my irregular periods.  Otherwise, I really liked the method (and didn’t get pregnant while on it, obviously).
  • Mid-summer 2011 – I went off the Pill again (but did not experience withdrawal symptoms this time around) because we decided to try to get pregnant.  We used FAM in the meantime, waiting a few months before actively ‘trying.’
  • September 2011 – We conceived (i.e. in the end, being on and off the Pill really didn’t impact my ability to conceive almost immediately, which is pretty much what manufacturers promise, although I’ve heard many stories of it working out differently).
  • November 2011 – We announced our pregnancy (<— If you missed our announcement post, it’s pretty cute!) and answered a few FAQs.


I definitely believe that birth control (as well as irregular pap smears and what happens after you get one) is something that should be discussed more openly among women, which is why I’ve always been so upfront about it.  It’s a really important part of our lives and our health. 


One of the things that surprised me about going on the Pill when I was 16 is that no one really talked to me about the potential health consequences or side effects of being in the Pill.  Look – there are many, many, MANY benefits to being on the Pill.  For well over a decade, I wanted to do the horizontal polka but did not want to get pregnant in any way, shape, or form.  Pregnancy would’ve been a major emotional, financial, and/or professional hiccup.  I think hormonal birth control is an excellent option for a lot of women; there’s a reason I stayed on it so long.  Even including human error, it’s extremely effective.  But as I grew older and my life stabilized, and the thought of an unplanned pregnancy seemed less and less scary, I realized that – for me – the drawbacks of hormonal birth control were slowly outweighing the benefits. 


The other day, I turned to the Husband and said with a laugh, “Man – I guess we have to think about birth control again soon.”  One advantage of being pregnant – it’s the ultimate birth control!  Hah. 


I know one thing for sure – I do not want to go back on the Pill.  My major problem with the Pill is that it artificially induces my period, so it’s next to impossible to know if my body is functioning the way it should.  It can cover up symptoms of a larger problem.  I really hate this idea.  If we got pregnant again in six months, it would not be the end of the world (we are NOT planning this; I’m just saying that if I was in another life circumstance, I may feel differently about such an easy and effective method).  So I started to explore a few different options…


Have you heard of the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM)?  Basically, LAM takes advantage of ‘lactational infertility’ that occurs while you are breastfeeding.  According to Planned Parenthood, it can be just as effective as the Pill.  The La Leche League claims that some clinical trials show it has a 99% effectiveness.  Basically, if you are a new mother who fits the following three criteria, you can use the LAM method:  Your baby is less than 6 months old, you are amenorrheic (your period hasn’t returned), and you are breastfeeding day and night regularly (every four hours during the day and every six at night).  ‘More intensive’ periods of breastfeeding extend your infertility further.  Feeding formula, pumping instead of nursing, and introducing solids have been proven to reduce the effectiveness of LAM. 




The other option that I am considering is the copper IUD (known by the brand name ParaGard).   An IUD is a U- or T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus; copper IUDs are non-hormonal and work by making the lining of the uterus inhospitable to sperm and any fertilized embryos.  The IUD has to be inserted and removed by a doctor and lasts up to ten years.  So there’s a huge bonus – insert it and be done thinking about birth control – yay!  Plus, since it doesn’t contain hormones, your period comes as it naturally would.  And it’s 99% effective.




I am, however, concerned about some of the potential side effects of an IUD, including the introduction of bacteria during insertion, the risk of inflammation or scarring, a reaction to the copper/nickel, and heavier and more uncomfortable periods.


Assuming that breastfeeding works out, we will probably use LAM for a few months, and once I fail to fit one of the criteria (I get my period, the baby is older than six months, or I stop exclusively breastfeeding), we’ll switch to the IUD.  I’m not thrilled about the idea of inserting a copper device into my uterus, but it does seem like one of the best options for us. 


My final question:  WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO INVENT THE MALE PILL?! I’m still waiting for this!


So – I’d love to hear feedback from everyone, whether you’re a momma or not.  What birth control method do you use?  What do you like and dislike about it?  Anyone using the LAM or FAM methods?

You can read all my pregnancy updates here.



  • Ali @SeeAliEatSeeAliRun May 30, 2012, 2:59 pm

    I was on various forms of BC and then switched to the Depo shot about 5 years ago. I LOVED not having a period and didn’t notice any side effects at all.
    And then I had a hip injury (that I had surgery for in March) and just couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe it was somehow related to my BC. I know the chances are highly unlikely-and everyone I have talked to says there’s no way it was connected (I fell while running, tearing the cartilage in my hip). BUT-I didn’t understand how a little fall caused such a huge problem in a young, healthy, normal weight woman. I knew about the bone problems some women have on Depo so I went off of it.
    Long story short-the withdrawl was pretty painful, since I hadn’t ovulated in about 5 years. I’m still not on BC as I recover from my surgery and my boyfriend and I are OK with that and practicing safe sex.
    I was very frustrated no information existed to me on long term potential issues regarding BC and I’m a scientist so I want evidence-based information!

    • Vikki May 31, 2012, 10:34 am

      A friend of mine developed osteoporosis from the shots. They are dangerous!

  • Morgan May 30, 2012, 3:00 pm

    We used LAM for the first 6 months and then switched to the IUD until our daughter was 15 months. I ended up hating the IUD and having it removed because I could feel it in my uterus, like a tiny little almost unnoticeable cramp all of the time. So now we are kind of half ass using FAM. I say only half because I am monitoring fertility signs but not charting and since I have very irregular cycles it is almost impossible to use FAM completely correctly. We are only being this lazy about it because it took us so long to get pregnant the first time and another pregnancy would be shocking but not unwelcome:) Good luck!!!

  • Candice May 30, 2012, 3:00 pm

    My mom was full-time breastfeeding regularly (no pumping) AND with no period, and she got pregnant with my sister. We are 13 months apart! So, keep in mind that the IUD will probably be the more effective choice.

    • Laine May 30, 2012, 3:09 pm

      Yup, I have a brother 14 months younger…

      • lynne May 30, 2012, 3:41 pm

        Same! My brother is 11 months younger than me… 🙂

        • Steffi May 31, 2012, 12:32 am

          Yeah. Me and younger sis are 14 months apart. 🙂

          • Ashley May 31, 2012, 7:14 am

            My husband and his brother are a year apart. My MIL got pregnant in those first six months. Be careful!

    • Michelle May 30, 2012, 3:14 pm

      I gasped at the LAM talk because one of my friends is having her 2nd baby almost a year to the day of her first. She told me “Don’t believe what they say!!!” So unless you are totally ok with another baby real soon, I really think you need something more certain than LAM!!!

      • Kelly May 30, 2012, 3:39 pm

        Yup, and isn’t this what happened to Tori Spelling? Something like two months after giving birth she was pregnant again. This option would sort of scare me, personally. Irregardless of my position in life, I’d want the opportunity to really enjoy my baby … without worrying about all the side effects of pregnancy on top of it all.

        • Wendy Heath May 30, 2012, 5:16 pm

          LAM is not reliable. Newer, well informed OB/GYNs will tell you that LAM is really dependent on a confluence of factors, and individual hormone variability is so great that LAM cannot be projected to work for any given individual. Therefore, unless you are absolutely OK with “Irish Twins” in your future, I would not rely on this birth control method. Barrier methods would be far more likely to work than LAM.

          • Lisa June 1, 2012, 2:38 pm

            Also, although few women know this, intervals of less than a year between pregnancies increases the risk of premature birth and pregnancy complications.

    • Caitlin May 30, 2012, 5:22 pm

      Well, while I’m certainly interested in hearing about other women’s experiences, research studies show this method has a good success rate. Planned Parenthood says it fails 2 – 9% of the time; the AAP has said in presentations that it fails 1 – 2% (google American academy of pediatrics LAM method). I consider both of these sources to be decent sources; I think, like the pill, there is a lot of room for user error as well, which may reduce effectiveness.

      • Jen May 30, 2012, 10:50 pm

        I’m confused as to how one of the criteria is that your period hasn’t come back yet. You ovulate before you get your period, so you’d get pregnant before your period ever came back, if you were having unprotected sex. (I understand that nursing reduces the likelihood of that happening)

      • Sarah June 1, 2012, 3:23 pm

        I’ve read a lot of statistics that PP isn’t always fully honest in their “studies” because their cash cow is the income of abortions. Just saying that I would use caution with their data all things considering.

    • Laura June 13, 2012, 9:42 pm

      Add me to the list also… I have a sister that is 17 months younger then me because my mom was breastfeeding at the time and still got pregnant. I’m sure it is possible she maybe didn’t have all the criteria that was listed for LAM but I’m positive she wasn’t pumping or using formula as she EBF.

      • Evelyn September 18, 2012, 11:24 am

        My sister and I are 15 mos. apart. HOWEVER, I have had 3 children and each time did not resume having a period for at least 18 mos. after each birth. And when I did resume, I got pregnant within a month. So I think every woman’s body is different. Don’t be scared by other people’s stories, but be aware that until you’ve tried it you won’t know how your body works–and that’s a risk.

  • Alicia May 30, 2012, 3:02 pm

    I have a 6-month old and EBF – day and night (we do not have a sleeper!) so I have been relying on the LAM method. I haven’t gotten my period yet but my next step in BC still weighs heavily on my mind. I tried the mini pill but my supply suffered and I had to stop so I’m not sure what to do. We conceived this baby while practicing natural family planning so I’m conflicted!

  • Crystal May 30, 2012, 3:04 pm

    It is your body and you make the ultimate decision. That being said, my best advice would be to NEVER get the copper IUD. I will try to summarize quickly. One, it makes an inhospitable by keeping your uterus in a constant state or irritation. Two, they say the copper is toxic to sperm, certainly it isn’t toxic ONLY to sperm. Three, it is a foreign object in your body (never a great idea).

    Unfortunately, I know all of this from my personal experience but I know other women who love it. Being that I had such an awful experience, I feel compelled to share MY experience. So often Docs don’t discuss the negative issues surrounding invasive birth control options.

  • Alice May 30, 2012, 3:05 pm

    I have the IUD and I love it. It’s been just about five years now, no periods, no cramping, no issues.

  • Amanda May 30, 2012, 3:05 pm

    hmmmm, I think Tori Spelling would disagree with the information about the LAM method 😉 Who knows, she may have been getting her period, but I personally know of a few people who thought the LAM method would work…and nine months later, they found out it didn’t :).

    • Elisabeth May 30, 2012, 3:10 pm

      Yeah, I know of some people that LAM didn’t work for either… 😉

  • Kimberly @ Healthy Strides May 30, 2012, 3:08 pm

    We relied on the LAM method during the first 6 months when I was BF but I have to say it was only because my desire was nilch. We were having sex so infrequently (sorry for the tmi) that pregnancy concerns were very slim.

    When we went to formula due to supply issues, I talked to the doctor about the IUD. He said that unless you plan to have it for at least three years that it is not worth the cost. Instead, it was better to just use the pill. I found this to be a better option, as well, because it regulated my hormones to improve other areas, ahem, of my life.

  • Alexis May 30, 2012, 3:09 pm

    I have the Paraguard – and love it! I had the same issues with hormonal birth control; to me, it just didn’t feel right. When I tried the Paraguard it was a relief to get periods and know my body was functioning as it was supposed to but without the hormone effects that came from the pill.

    I had no problems with insertion and my periods are heavier and I have more cramping but you know? Worry free, hormonal birth control is worth it! The pain isn’t that bad and went down after my body adjusted to the device. I wish I had known about this sooner and I make it a point to tell all my friends on hormonal BC about the device.

  • Justine May 30, 2012, 3:09 pm

    My husband I do track my cycle and it ranges from 28-35 days (p.s. what is “regular”? Does it mean that it has to come the same number of days every month? Not directed to Caitlin, but if anyone knows anything-my google searches aren’t very helpful) but we don’t do the temperature thing (probably will when we want to have kids). What we do is have a good 10 day window where if we’re having sex, we just use a condom. Been married for about two years now…no kiddos so far, although I hope this isn’t indicative of any fertility issues…

    • Sandy May 30, 2012, 3:12 pm

      The generic “regular” is 28 days. The realistic “regular” is whatever is regular for you. Determine if there is a pattern, since you ovulate from one ovary each month, maybe one side has one cycle, and the other side a longer one? Who knows, maybe one tube is a little longer than the other:)

    • Kristin May 30, 2012, 3:18 pm

      I’ve read Taking Charge of Your Fertility (as you probably have), and I don’t recall that a “regular” cycle means exactly the same number of days every cycle. I’ve read that if you have length variation of more than eight days, that is bordering on irregular.

    • Tracey May 30, 2012, 4:35 pm

      I’m certainly not an expert, but if your period changes up to 7 days month to month, then I’m guessing so would your fertile window. So those 10 days of using condoms might not be enough, since sperm can live up to 5 days in your body. I would recommend reading Taking Charge of your Fertility. It will help provide you with more tools (like checking cervical mucus) to help track your fertile window.

      • Justine May 30, 2012, 4:50 pm

        yep, have read it and am a RN, so know a bit about that sort of thing, hence why I’m slightly nervous that it may be a fertility thing…

        • Therese May 31, 2012, 10:16 am

          I’m an RN, too, and basically have the same story you ust described. Fingers crossed it’s not a fertility issue either. My acne has been terrible in the last year off the pill, so I’m finally going to go to the OBGYN and have some hormone levels checked in June even though we’re not “trying” yet.

  • beth May 30, 2012, 3:10 pm

    I have had paragard now for 4 years. I have had no problems whatsoever from it. My periods did not change as far as i can tell. I’m really, really happy with it.

  • Sandy May 30, 2012, 3:10 pm

    Dont do LAM unless you are comfortable with the thought of getting pregnant again. I worked for my uncle/OBGYN and saw MANY LAM babies. And, even though I exlusivley breastfed for 18 months, I still chose non-homrmonal BC and went with ParaGuard and I LOVE IT. Are your periods heavier and cramping worse? Yes, but for me, that was only the case for the first few months. It is kind of like my body got used to it after a while. Plus, I am like clockwork, which is nice. Any type of non-natural intervention will have its potential side effects, but save the aforementioned cramps which resolved themselves, I have had none. Here is a great article about copper IUD. http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/specialtopic/birth-control-and-family-planning/intrauterine-devices-(iuds).html

  • Laine May 30, 2012, 3:11 pm

    You look like you’ve dropped!

  • Annette@FitnessPerks May 30, 2012, 3:11 pm

    I LOVE the paragaurd! Yes, it did cause more intense cramping and a bit of pain at the period time, but it’s so worth it! I couldn’t do anything hormonal because I was anorexic and my hormones were messed up for so long (so no period for yrs.), so that worked for us. It’s not a big deal, esp if you’ve already had a kid, to get it inserted. And it’s cheaper too (plus, you can be spontaneous at any moment! Score!) 🙂

  • Michelle S May 30, 2012, 3:13 pm

    My body was generally a freak of nature after childbirth according to the nurses and doctors I worked with. My body didn’t produce milk, so breast feeding naturally became out of the question. My uterus went back to it’s original size so quickly after giving birth that the nurses had the doctor come in to check in case something was wrong. Because of those two factors, as well as having been a bit over weight pre-pregnancy, my doctor felt the IUD was the best option for me. After doing the research, I agreed. My period started again 28 days exactly to the day my son was born, and I was very happy to have the IUD. It’s been almost 7 years, and I’m still pretty happy with it. Occasionally, I can feel it, but overall it’s typically unnoticeable and I like how effective it’s been.

  • Claire @ Live and Love to Eat May 30, 2012, 3:15 pm

    I like the idea of the copper IUD in theory (in terms of a non-hormonal alternative) but have heard it’s more effective after you’ve given birth.

    • Alexis May 30, 2012, 3:18 pm

      Clare – My doctor told me the IUD is 99.9% effective once inserted for all women (regardless of when/if you’ve given birth).
      It may be less painful to insert if you’ve had children though.

      • Sunny May 30, 2012, 11:12 pm

        I’ve asked about the IUD and had 2 OBGYN tell
        me it isn’t any option until you’ve given birth, in their opinion. My mom is a nurse and she said they are trying to reduce any problems with fertility later in life, like if it were to get infected or something.

      • Keri May 30, 2012, 11:18 pm

        A friend of mine had an IUD and loves it now, though I’m still scared after hearing horror stories of how much pain she was in for the first two weeks after insertion. I remember conversations, and it seemed terrible! I’m not a big fan of the pill, but I’m not a big fan of pain that I can’t control–like marathons for example.

    • Kelly June 1, 2012, 12:26 pm

      I think you might be misunderstanding. From talking to my doctor and doing research an IUD isn’t any more or less effective after birth, it’s just easier to insert. Women who have never been pregnant are just more likely to have pain when the IUD is inserted. That said, I was a woman who had never gotten pregnant when I had it and it was no where near as bad as I expected. The next day did feel like bad cramps, but then it passed and has been great since.

      Personally if it were me I’d look at the stats first and color commentary second, assuming the stats are from a reputable source. Because the fact of the matter is if you’re just looking at individual cases there’s always going to be one or two horror stories no matter what you’re talking about. The good news with most forms of birth control is they are not permanent. Even with something like the paragard or the mirena (which is what I have) you can always get it removed if you truly don’t like the experience.

      Personally I LOVE mirena. Yes, I do get light cramping a lot but it’s barely noticeable (and I had more cramping than the average woman to begin with). I still get my period but it is MUCH shorter and lighter and I love the effectiveness. Re: infections, at least with my doctor I had an appointment following the procedure to make sure everything was okay. I think going to someone who performed the procedure frequently helped.

  • Amanda @ AmandaRunsNY May 30, 2012, 3:16 pm

    I went off birth control about 3 years ago, and it took about 2 years or so for all the effects of birth control to wear off. Now that my body has settled into it’s rhythm, I will never use hormonal pills again. To be honest, my preferred form of BC is condoms until I can afford the risk of an unplanned pregnancy. I know its not the most intimate version, but it doesn’t mess with the inner workings of my body and that makes it a win in my book.

    • Kelly May 30, 2012, 6:08 pm


    • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen May 31, 2012, 9:45 am

      agree 100%, I don’t understand why most people are so opposed to condoms. I’d rather have that slight “unintimate” moment versus living with something inside my uterus at all times. I also kind of like how it’s an option that doesn’t rely fully on the woman being the birth control “provider” (if that even makes sense).

  • Sarah May 30, 2012, 3:19 pm

    I just saw my doc yesterday to ask about getting an IUD and she recommended trying the Nuvaring first since it is really low hormone, absorbed locally, and less invasive. Not a hormone-free route, but close to it and less hassle/symptoms than the pill.

    • Therese May 31, 2012, 10:18 am

      I would suggest Nuva Ring as well, even though I haven’t tried it yet. IUDs create an “inhospitable environment” in the uterus, but egg and sperm can still fertilize so some months you could be basically inducing a miscarriage. I’m not comfortable with that thought, so I will choose a different route when that time comes.

      • heather June 1, 2012, 3:49 pm

        Nuva Ring does the same thing as far as deterring implantation so it is no better than the IUD in that respect.

        • Lauri June 13, 2012, 6:29 pm

          My doctor told me NOT to do the NuvaRing while breast feeding bc it contains estrogen and will dry up your milk supply. I had it in before pregnancy and wanted to do it again, but she aid no way! My doctor recommended the mirena bc it is progestogen only and will not mess with your milk supply. She did not recommend the paragard (BUMMER!!) bc of the risk of heavy periods (some people get periods so heavy they end up with anemia!) I haven’t had anything placed yet (8 weeks after delivery), but I am thinking about the mirena…. Thanks for this post!

  • Sara May 30, 2012, 3:20 pm

    It seems we’re in complete opposite situations. I *love* my hormonal IUD, but it comes out days after we return from our honeymoon (btw, your due date is 3 days before our wedding date! Tell BabyHTP to wait til the 16th, hehe), and then we’ll have to find a new birth control until we’re both ready to expand our family.
    If I can offer any advice about the IUD it would be this: do some deep research on real-life results with the IUD after you have a child. Where I live, there have been many pregnancies while on the IUD. The doctors want the IUD for women after kids because of pain during insertion, however, if you have any fertile history (sounds like you may), IUD has lower success rate. Again, I love my IUD but I don’t have any kids & its the one with hormones.

    I hope you get the information you were looking for!

  • Lindsay May 30, 2012, 3:20 pm

    I was on the pill for 3 years before switching to an IUD. I was had the Mirena for about 3 years as well. No periods while on it- but was never concerned that I was pregnant. The only side effect of it was that it caused terrible acne.

    Now I am back on the pill, acne free. Would I recommend the mirena? absolutely.

  • Kelli May 30, 2012, 3:21 pm

    After I had my daughter I knew we were going to try within a year for our 2nd (i wanted two close and be done) so we did the old pull out method worked until we were ready for my son and then my husband got a Vasectomy after my son was born! Which is the best birth control well it has been for 6 years hopefully it stays that way!

  • Kristen May 30, 2012, 3:22 pm

    Just a note of caution: My cousin’s wife got pregnant 3 months after giving birth to her first child. She figured since she was exclusively breastfeeding and not getting her period, she couldn’t get pregnant. That obviously did not work out as planned. Be very careful, it can still happen!

  • Erin May 30, 2012, 3:25 pm

    I’ve done the copper IUD and it was the worst. blinding pain immediately after insertiion, worst cramps, heaviest flow, just awful. switching to the nuvaring was one of the best decisions i’ve ever made. absolutely no problems, no daily pills to remember, a light flow-3 day period. its awesome. (BTW, I haven’t had any children)

    • Brita May 30, 2012, 3:31 pm

      Ditto on the Nuvaring! I can’t say enough good things about it 🙂 I was constantly forgetting to take the pill which put an, ahem, damper on boy/girl fun times. Now I just put it in and forget about it. Easiest method ever.

  • Anne Marie@New Weigh of Life May 30, 2012, 3:26 pm

    Ultimately, you’ll make the best decision, but please, please, please know that you can get pregnant even if exclusively breatsfeeding, even if you haven’t gotten your period. For me, the hubby and I were doing Natural Family Planning – the Sympto-Thermal Method – before I got pregnant. We still use that method and have been very satisfied with it. Good luck to you and your hubby!

  • Laura @ She Eats Well May 30, 2012, 3:27 pm

    I’m on a low dose hormone pill and have been extremely happy with it for the past years. I totally think you just have to find what works for you, so I think it’s great that you are exploring different options.

    The Copper T IUD is a great option but it can have some pretty significant side effects in terms of heavy bleeding, etc… I know you aren’t interested in the Mirena IUD, but it’s really really low hormone and a good option too. Again, I think it is all about finding what works for you!

  • Dori May 30, 2012, 3:28 pm

    I have the copper IUD and even though it’s only been about 45 days, I am really happy with my decision. The insertion hurts but it’s over quick — however later that day I experienced the worst pain of my life. A Vicodin and 800mg of Advil helped a lot, and I would absolutely ask the doctor for a strong painkiller like Vicodin (if you feel comfortable) because if I didn’t already have them at home I don’t know what I would have done. That said, the rest of the time since then, including my period, has been good. I did have cramps every day of my period, but a Naproxen fixed it quickly and my period wasn’t that heavy at all. Everyone responds differently though, but because I always reacted badly to hormonal birth control and it messed with my emotions, I am REALLY relieved to have this option and so far very happy with it! Email me if you have any questions.

  • Susanna May 30, 2012, 3:28 pm

    I have used only 2 BC methods in my life: condoms and diaphragm. I switched to the diaphragm in the last 2 years, since the boyfriend reacts negatively to condom, and I have been very happy. It is cheap and effective. You only need to get fitted for one and learn how to put it in and take it out.

  • Ally May 30, 2012, 3:30 pm

    I went off the pill about seven months ago. I didn’t get my period for maybe 2 months after, and I’m still not on a regular cycle (period is sometimes every 8 weeks, sometimes 4 weeks…the joy of the unexpected!)

    I love being off the pill. Yeah, it’s taking a while to get my cycle back on track, but you’ve got to be patient. Since being off it by moods are INCREDIBLY better. Hardly any crazy mood swings!

    Everyone’s different though. My jaw dropped when you said you got your period BAM on schedule!

    • Caitlin May 30, 2012, 3:34 pm

      Well, I should clarify – my period wasn’t exactly regular… I think it went from 45 days to 36 to 32, which is normal for me, in three cycles. But I got pregnant quickly, which is what I was referring to.

  • Elizabeth May 30, 2012, 3:30 pm

    I have an IUD and I had similar hesitations but it’s been GREAT so far (I’ve had it for more than 6 months). The cramping was pretty severe at first, and my periods were heavier for a while, but now everything is pretty normal! A lot of the side effects have worn off and it’s fantastic! I also read an article that the copper IUD is the BC most obgyns use themselves.

  • Laura is Undeterrable May 30, 2012, 3:32 pm

    I used to have a copper IUD and it was my favorite. The first couple periods were worse in terms of cramping, but not enough to make me want to get it taken out. Overall, my period did change – I would cramp an entire day before starting my period and then have a very short period vs. cramping starting (what seems like) simultaneously and a longer flow.

    Ultimately I had it taken out because I was having mysterious stomach pains that turned out to be digestive.

    I think it’s a good choice if you are thinking about it. Getting it put in isn’t a picnik, but I’ve never really alot of poking around down there so it was all very new.

  • Lauren May 30, 2012, 3:32 pm

    I got the Paragard IUD about a year ago and have had a very positive experience. I was very worried about the heavy periods and cramping, but it has been manageable. Interestingly, my periods are just now becoming regular after going off the pill, so I’m glad I switched to Paragard/non-hormonal BC now, before I am interested in conceiving. I would recommend it!

  • Angela / Hey Emitt! May 30, 2012, 3:33 pm

    I had the copper IUD for 8 years, got it taken out in October 2010, and got pregnant the same night! True story. 🙂 So, at least in my eyes, it is highly effective yet still allows you to maintain your fertility once it’s removed. I had my baby in July last year and got a new copper IUD put in about two months later and love it. I wouldn’t go any other route. This one will stay in until we’re ready for #2, and I’m sure I’ll return to the IUD after that. I couldn’t recommend it more! BTW I am still nursing at almost 11 months post partum and still have no period–breastfeeding is the best! 🙂 Good luck with whatever you choose.

  • Megan@ The Running Doc May 30, 2012, 3:33 pm

    I was on the pill for years. It was originally prescribed to me by my dermotologist when I was 16 and I stayed on it continuously until I was 25 at which point I started developing large (softball size) cysts on my ovaries. Normally the solution to stop cyst development is going on the pill but in my case the hormones were causing the cysts! My gynecologist recommended trying a variety of different pills with varying hormone levels but I decided the best course for me was no more pills at all. Being almost 28 I’ve become averse to doing or putting anything in my body that might negatively affect my baby making organs, ha! So, for now condoms are my birth control of choice and the boyfriend is just fine with that until we’re ready for babies (multiple years in the future).

    I think it’s great you’re willing to post about such topics! There’s no reason anyone should feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about these things!

  • Melissa May 30, 2012, 3:34 pm

    I have had the ParaGard IUD for almost 2 years now and absolutely love it! My period is heavier and my cramps are worse than they were when I was on The Pill, but they’re really not that bad. My period is regular and only lasts a couple days. I don’t feel the IUD at all (but could feel it if I tried to). My boyfriend hardly ever feels it and he says if he does, it’s only when we’re in certain positions and it doesn’t hurt.

    I have no plans to go back to any hormonal BC any time soon! The fact that ParaGard was non-hormonal was the biggest draw for me – I feel like myself with complete control over my emotions and my body.

    And, as it turns out, the IUD method has been more cost-effective. It was a one-time deal, that was mostly covered by my insurance, and now I never have to think (or pay!) for birth control.

    I have also heard several stories from friends and family about having trouble conceiving after having been on hormonal BC for years. I love having the piece of mind knowing that I’m not doing anything currently that could potentially delay conceiving once we are ready to have children. I went off hormonal BC for the same reason I exercise, don’t smoke, and eat well – to better my own health and the health of my future children.

    I HIGHLY recommend it. Good luck!

    • AmandaonMaui May 30, 2012, 3:42 pm

      I agree with this user. I loved my IUD (after the first 3 periods were over…LOL). My periods regulated out to something quite comfortable, and I finally felt like I was on a normal cycle (since I’d been on hormones from the time I was 16 until I was 22 I didn’t have a regular period).

      My partner also didn’t feel the strings. I’d check them myself every few months, but the strings just stayed tucked up and out of the way.

  • Kristin @ Wounded Fawn May 30, 2012, 3:34 pm

    I’ve followed along with all of your birth control posts and have written previous long-winded comments about birth control. I have had real problems on Nuvaring, and all pills so after stopping nuvaring due to uncontrolable breakthrough bleeding I decided to get mirena. I don’t like it. I now have horrible acne, on my face, neck, back and chest 🙁 I get so bloated I feel like I have to roll out of the house in the morning, I have chocolate cravings like a mad woman. When I was on nuvaring for years before the toublesome bleeding started I never even had a cramp. After having the Mirena inserted I got such severe cramps that I would have to sit down. They weren’t even really cramps just an overwhelming sensation of a foreign object in my body.

    I wish I got the copper iud, but at the time my periods were 10 days long and sometimes twice a month from being screwed up by nuvaring that they wouldn’t insert the copper iud because it may cause heavier periods. I really feel like I have no other options though. All hormonal bc is just not right for me, condoms aren’t ideal because I just dont like them, I am allergic to spermicide and I have some emotional hangups with pulling out. So what’s a woman to do? I want to know when the male bc pill is out too!

    • AmandaonMaui May 30, 2012, 3:40 pm

      Maybe you could switch to the Paragard now that you’ve been off of the Pill and Nuvaring long enough. Mirena is only a 5 year one, but you could have it removed and changed at any time.

      • Kristin @ wounded fawn May 31, 2012, 3:28 pm

        I am strongly considering switching to paragaurd now it’s just that the insertion of mirena hurt so, so, so much I don’t know if I am quite ready to go through that again. I just got it inserted in March. After two tries I had to have my cervix dialated to have it put in and then I almost passed out from the pain. Ugh, just thinking about it makes me squeamish.

    • Kelli May 30, 2012, 4:08 pm

      Have you considered using a combo diaphragm & family planning method?

  • Angela May 30, 2012, 3:35 pm

    I know two people who got pregnant on an IUD. I got my period back 4 months postpartum and I’m still breastfeeding at 20 months. Every body is so different.

    Why not just use condoms?

    • Caitlin May 30, 2012, 3:36 pm

      I’m allergic to latex, and non-latex ones are really expensive.

      • AmandaonMaui May 30, 2012, 3:39 pm

        The prices on them aren’t so bad these days. I thought I was having a reaction to latex, so I looked into them. There are so many companies carrying them now that you can get them at a really good price. There are at least 3 types of non-latex materials now too. Of course there is lamb skin, but there is also polyisoprene and one other I can’t remember at the moment.

      • Sally May 30, 2012, 4:22 pm

        Same issue here but we found if we ordered non-latex (polyurethane) condoms online & in bulk (wink, wink) there’s hardly any price difference. Plus, they are more comfortable for the husband’s junk than latex (or so he says). We go natural family planning (I’m regular like the tides so it’s easy) & condoms and it’s a great system…

        Now I’m preggers (planned) and I’m sure we’ll either go copper IUD or the same method post bebe.

        Best of luck “taking charge or your fertility”.

        • Wendy Heath May 30, 2012, 5:44 pm

          I agree that online is the way to go to buy non-latex as far as price point… the options are polyurethane (Trojan), polyisoprene (new Durex Avanti) and lambskin.

          Unfortunately, the new polyisoprene ones say “may still cause reactions in some latex allergic users”- guess who found that one out the hard way? it was the *worst* swelling/itching ever… so mad that Durex reformulated, as those were my favorite. The Trojan polyurethanes still work just fine.

          It’s funny, I sensitized to latex from working in healthcare, and the first question anyone ever asks me is “omg, but what about sex?” Lol.

          • Caitlin May 30, 2012, 5:46 pm

            I found out I was allergic to latex the hard way….

  • Margaret May 30, 2012, 3:36 pm

    After being on and off the pill for about 6 years, most recently for a stretch of 2 years, I think, I went off of it and didn’t have a period for 8 months. Combined with fatigue and mood issues, and problems with interrelated systems (low thyroid and high cholesterol), my doctor tested and found high testosterone, and diagnosed me with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). After going on a prescription and some supplements to manage the PCOS, my period came back within two months, and has been more regular than it ever has been in my life, and the other symptoms such as fatigue and mood have improved dramatically. It’s a safe assumption that the birth control was covering up PCSO symptoms, and I might have been able to resolve various issues sooner if I’d realized it, which makes me very hesitant to ever use hormonal birth control again. I think there’s something to be said for letting your body act naturally, and learn what’s normal for it, so you know when something’s wrong.

  • Victoria May 30, 2012, 3:37 pm

    I had a copper IUD for years. Loved that I never had to worry. Hated that for the first year and even into the 2nd my previously not so bad periods became horrid, to me at least. I love the efficacy and the ease. However, I am very glad to have it out. GL with your decision!

  • AmandaonMaui May 30, 2012, 3:37 pm

    I had the Paragard IUD, and I am going to get it again. I accidentally pulled mine with my menstrual cup. I didn’t break the suction of the cup well enough, so the pressure pulled it down. It actually didn’t hurt when it happened. Some women say that it really hurts if you pull it out yourself, but that wasn’t true for me.

    I had heavy periods for the first three cycles after insertion, but then it was smooth sailing. I had mine for about 3 years before pulling. The insertion itself is painful, which is why I have put off getting one again for a while now. Some gynecologists apply a numbing spray or injection to the cervix, which helps with some of the pain and relaxes the cervix. However, the pain is still there in the “sounding” of the uterus. They insert a sound to test the size, and shape of your uterus to determine whether or not you are a candidate for the IUD. If you are, then you have the insertion. If not, then you don’t. I don’t think there’s much of a problem with bacteria riding along into your cervix with the IUD (unless you’ve got an incompetent gyno). The cramping post-insertion is pretty intense, but since you’re going through childbirth you may not have as much trouble with it as I did. My gyno may even give me a muscle relaxer next time I go in since my first insertion was so painful to me (I’m a wuss).

    I really like the Paragard because it is non-hormonal, and it would act as a good back up if my partner’s condom broke (yes, we use both because we really don’t want kid, but neither of us is ready for permanent birth control yet). When I get the IUD again I am going to switch to reusable pads and pantyliners, and not use my menstrual cup. I’m loving Lunapads already.

    I’ve had friends who have had their IUDs for ten years, and then gotten another one without ever having a pregnancy. My hanai mom had IUDs back in the 70s and 80s, and she must’ve been a fertile one because she had 7 pregnancies with the IUD. However, I think that technology and insertion methods have changed enough to make the statistics much better.

  • B @ Crags and Veggies May 30, 2012, 3:37 pm

    I completely understand how birth control pills can make everything even more out of wack. IUDs are so expensive though! Even with insurance! You look beautiful though and I love the pup pictures! 🙂

    • Olivia June 1, 2012, 2:02 pm

      Just an FYI with insurance, IUD’s are usually extremely cheap! Obviously it depends on your insurance provider/coverage but my Paragard IUD cost me $75! That’s $75 for something that has the potential to provide birth control for up to 12 years! Without insurance it’s a lot more pricey – about $750.

  • Kendra @ My Full-Thyme Life May 30, 2012, 3:39 pm

    Caitlin, I love that you talk about this. You are right, it never seems to be out in the open for discussion. Not too long ago I did catch up on your birth control series as well as the irregular pap series. I was on the pill since I was 16 as well. It took me many trial and errors to find the best pill for my body. For me, the best fit was Yaz. A low dose of hormones that stayed consistent and didn’t fluctuate week by week. I didn’t go off until I was 28. My husband and I were ready to conceive and it took us much longer than we anticipated. We tried for over a year before the pregnancy test finally read positive! I had started to see a fertility specialist after we had tried for a year because I was getting concerned. A few weeks into my appointments with her we were able to conceive naturally. I still don’t have any answers as to why it took us so long. Since I didn’t have any answers I was also hesitant to go back on the pill after my son was born. We did practice the LAM method but still took “precautions.” About six months ago I had an irregular pap for the first time ever. I had the colposcopy and LEEP procedure just like you. That was no fun AT ALL!! At one of my last check-ups after the LEEP, I was told I would need to come back in 6 months for a follow up pap to make sure I was all set. My OB/GYN also asked if I was on any birth control and said that it wouldn’t be the worst thing if I became pregnant within that 6 months but it wouldn’t be ideal either. Well, here I am just shy of that 6 month visit and 7 1/2 weeks pregnant!! I have a 14 month old son and I am not embarrassed to admit this all happened much sooner than we anticipated!! Baby #2 was always in the cards but we thought since our last attempt took so long, we might be in for another long haul with Baby #2. Boy were we wrong! It is clearly “TMI” but I will also admit we became pregnant on our first try this time around.

    I truly would still not have done anything differently. I do not wish I had gone back on the pill after the birth of my son and I am at peace with the fact that Baby #2 will be here in January. One thing I would suggest discussing with your doctor is something called a “mini pill.” It is a very, very low dose of hormones which is even safe to take while you are nursing. I was presented with it at one point and that is the only thing I probably wish I had done more research on.

    I wish I had some helpful advice or information for you within this incredibly long comment but it is simply my experience. You are very thorough and thoughtful with the amount of research you do so I am sure you will find the best solution for you and your family.

  • Ashley May 30, 2012, 3:41 pm

    My friend was exclusively breastfeeding Baby #2, who was 4 months, and not getting her period. It was not until she threw up at the smell of onions that her husband said “My God woman, you’re pregnant!” – she didn’t realize it because she hadn’t had a period since giving birth, and figured she was tired all the time because, hello, 4 month old baby plus toddler! Nope…Baby #3!

  • Cassandra May 30, 2012, 3:41 pm

    Yay Paragard! I’ve had it for 2 years and I love it. I don’t have any kids, and I went back to my workplace right after insertion. Only momentary pain and the cramps/bleeding weren’t any worse than normal. I was also on the Pill for about 9 years (was anorexic/had amennorhea at 15 and they put me on it to induce my periods, and I just stayed on it!) but eventually got tired of forcing my body into a cycle. I just wanted to add my vote as someone who hasn’t had any problems with the Paragard! 🙂 P.S. You are glowing and marvelous!

  • Kim @ girlevolving May 30, 2012, 3:42 pm

    We asked our doctor about the copper IUD as well and she said because it hasn’t been tested much, she wouldn’t want to put it in if we’re hoping to have more kids. She just felt like there haven’t been enough tests to make sure it doesn’t effect future fertility.

    I like the idea of LAM, but we’ve used other measures other than just breastfeeding. I’ve known a few people who got pregnant while breastfeeding, so it didn’t make me too confident.

    • Steffi May 31, 2012, 8:29 am

      This is what my doctor also said. At their practice they do not give copper IUD for anyone hoping to have a child/children in the future due to existing research that infertility may be resulting from the use of one.

  • Jen May 30, 2012, 3:42 pm

    LAM can work longer than 6 months if you have a frequent nurser who doesn’t sleep through the night. I guess it’s one of the “perks” of having a poor sleeper.

  • alanna May 30, 2012, 3:43 pm

    I had Paraguard for 6 years now. I didn’t love the idea of it (still don’t), but I really felt like is was my ONLY option because I cannot take hormonal BC. Really how in this day and age can women have so few options when it comes to BC?

    Here’s the short of it: the first few months were very uncomfortable with lots of cramping and uterine stretching. I had never had a child, so they say this is to be expected. I could constantly feel the IUD and I was all of a sudden aware of the constant changes and movement going on in my uterus. I also had significantly longer and heavier periods. After about a year, the cramping and general weirdness of feeling my uterus went away. My period is still longer and heavier than normal, but not that much and it’s super predictable. I have no complaints now except that I have to be extra control with my menstrual cup. Due to the suction event of the cup, some women have pulled out their IUDs. The other things is that my bf complained for a long time about it poking him, even after having the strings trimmed. And sometimes, I would have bleeding mid-cycle after having sex – almost like I got my period. It’s because the uterus is full of blood and the IUD is getting knocked around during sex and shaking things loose.

    It’s not the best, but it’s a good non-hormonal option. However, if you plan on have another kid in a year or two, it may not be worth it.

  • brandalyn May 30, 2012, 3:45 pm

    I have the paraguard, i love it! I too did not want any un-natural hormones in my body as I already have PCOS, so it was kind of a no brainier for me. I’ve had mine for close to two years and have had no problems. My periods at the begining for the first 6months to one year were heavier and I went from someone who never got cramps to getting cramps, but now the bleeding has slowed down and so have the cramps. My midwife was actually the one who suggested it for me and she has one herself. Like anything though everyone reacts to everything differently, but I recommend at least trying it out.

  • Amykinz @ Foodie 4 Healing May 30, 2012, 3:46 pm

    This is a very emotionally charged topic for me, as I dealt with a 4.5 year infertility stint and continue to deal w/PCOS & Endometriosis. Both of my conditions are hormonally based and it is suspected that hormones from being on the pill could’ve played a role.

    My problem with the pill and the IUD for that matter is exactly what you stated, “copper IUDs are non-hormonal and work by making the lining of the uterus inhospitable to sperm AND ANY FERTILIZED EMBRYOS.” This means that an egg could become fertilized, but the lining of your uterus will not allow it to attach, therefore aborting the fertilized embryo.

    Like you stated, no one tells you this when they put on the pill at 16 years old. But, I think every woman (and man, for that matter) have a right to know the truth about how it works.

    • Caitlin May 30, 2012, 3:53 pm

      Definitely a sticky and controversial point!

      • chari June 8, 2012, 11:54 am

        Yup, many women do not realize that about IUDs. So many women think IUDs are the best choice because they are “non-hormonal”. Read this article from Abby Johnson. She is a former PP director from the largest clinic in TX.

        After my second baby I did not ovulate until after my first period at 6 months. I was pregnant the very next month (miscarried at 5 weeks though because of low progesterone). I EBF and my baby had not had any food, formula and was nursing at least every 3 hours. My period also came back about 6.5 months after my first baby. There was a blogger who did a VERY detailed survey with her readers about when their periods returned over a year ago (I wish I had bookmarked it). Questions included how often they nursed, etc. There were over 100 women who did the survey and the average return of period was well over 1 year.

  • Jessi May 30, 2012, 3:47 pm

    Male birth control invented and as far as the last article I read said, is currently in clinical trials – yippy!

  • AmandaonMaui May 30, 2012, 3:48 pm

    If you’re thinking of doing natural family planning, like the lactation method, I suggest you read this New York Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/09/us/09beliefs.html

    It’s about a couple that wrote one of the most popular books on the subject. Don’t let it get you down, but let it be informative. Even the most strict natural family planning method users (and those looked up to) have it fail on them.

    Nothing, even hormonal, is infallible, but I just don’t see the lactation method actually having the same effectiveness as something hormonal or an IUD or condom.

    • Marissa C May 30, 2012, 11:02 pm

      I wouldn’t necessarily hold The Torodes up as a guiding light on the subject. They are well known in the NFP community and their story is not common.

  • Mary May 30, 2012, 3:50 pm

    I’ve had the ParaGard for about 5 and half years and overall, I’d recommend it. It’s definitely not without it’s own “side effects”, since I (and my husband) can sometimes feel it and when I switched from the pill, I noticed heavier periods and worse cramping. However, the pill made my periods easier so it’s hard to tell if the IUD is truly causing any of this.

    The best parts about the ParaGard: worry-free birth control, and no hormones affecting my cycle. I like that when we decide to start trying, we can (theoretically) get pregnant right away, and that in the meantime, I don’t have to remember a pill every day.

  • Jessie @ Graze With Me May 30, 2012, 3:56 pm

    Yay for 2 more weeks!!

    My daughter is 8 months and I still haven’t gotten my period. She is still nursing and when it came time to discuss BC options, there were only 3 that were compatible with breastfeeding. The IUD, the mini pill or the rod (Implanon) that goes in your arm. We went with Inplanon since it lasts 3 years as opposed to the IUD, which as you said can last much longer. We’d like to have another in 2-3 years so I think it’s perfect. No side effects thus far but I’m curious to see what happens to my period when I stop nursing.

  • dana May 30, 2012, 3:57 pm

    My husband and I used the pull-out method for 6 years w/no problem. I had convinced myself I must not be able to get pregnant b/c I’ve heard pull-out isn’t super safe, but we got pregnant as soon as we started trying! We’ll most likely go back to pull-out once the little bean arrives!

    • krista May 31, 2012, 10:46 am

      I could have written this! Except we used pull out for 9 years, got pregnant first try (miscarriage), pregnant first try again after that (daughter), pregnant first try 3 years later (miscarriage), then pregnant second try after that (son).

  • Jennie May 30, 2012, 3:58 pm

    I have a Nuva Ring and I love it!! 🙂

  • Lacey May 30, 2012, 4:11 pm

    The copper IUD Is truly the best. I love mine and I’ve had it for 5 months! No problems whatsoever!

  • Lauren J @ The Barn May 30, 2012, 4:14 pm

    I’ve been using the Mirena IUD for a little over three years at this point. I have multiple friends with Mirena and one with Paraguard and we all have a list of pros and cons to both. I know my friend on Paraguard has definitely experienced the heavier and more painful periods, and not just that, but also frequent periods and spotting. I personally, as well as my best friend, have also experienced more frequent periods and spotting while on Mirena. I also sometimes have what I like to call phantom cramps when I am no where near that time of the month. All in all though, if given the chance I would do it again. It is very effective, lasts a long time, and although there are some side effects, the fact that there is very little hormones (and not fake estrogen at that) pumping through my body and causing countless imbalances, outweighs them all. It is still the best option in my opinion.

    • Allison May 31, 2012, 1:48 pm

      LOVE my Mirena. I have my second one (got one 6 weeks after each child) and literally have zero symptoms. Lightest period EVER, none of the hormonal craziness I got from the Pill. Totally recommend it. It is just a quick pinch feeling when it is inserted and then it is done. My OB said it is their practice’s feeling that it is the best birth control out there.

  • Scargosun May 30, 2012, 4:14 pm

    I started using Nuvaring a year ago and overall I am pleased. My migraines are nill unless I get dehydrated thanks to the uber low dose of hormones and my periods are shorter (about 4 days). Since you are not crazy about the hormones, I would go IUD. The only reason I didn’t is because we don’t have kids and my doc said that it is easier to insert if you have had a child (less pain, less bleeding, etc). The research I did seems say the same. So, for now it works pretty well.

  • Leslie N. May 30, 2012, 4:15 pm

    I have ParaGuard and I was concerned about the nickel/copper aspect because I have a severe nickel allergy. I have had it since December with no problems. The first couple of months were bad with spotting and more cramps. My boyfriend has said that he has felt the strings a couple of times…but that seems dependent on where I am during my cycle. Also, as it is not hormonal, I can still track my period based on cervical discharge.

  • Monica May 30, 2012, 4:17 pm

    I love my nuvaring but as soon as I have health insurance that covers it, I’m going for the IUD:


  • Holly May 30, 2012, 4:19 pm

    The University of Kansas Medical Center is currently developing a male birth control! Here’s hoping it’s on the market soon!


  • Michaela May 30, 2012, 4:19 pm

    I, too, have begun to think about going off the pill. I’ve only been on it for a couple of years but the potential side effects are starting to freak me out. In high school (8 years ago), my sister was in the hospital for a week due to blood clots. I thought it was just because she was smoking cigarettes. But most recently, a good friend of mine was hospitalized due to a big blood clot in her arm and 2 clots in her lungs. She’s never smoke a day in her life and leads a super healthy lifestyle. Luckily, she’s okay but it got everyone pretty scared. My boyfriend isn’t too thrilled with the idea of alternate forms of bc, so my decision is still up in the air. Thanks for all your posts on the topic!

  • veronica May 30, 2012, 4:20 pm

    38 weeks! woo hoo!

    The contraception issue is so complex when breastfeeding. When a mom is not breastfeeding, it’s simple to say “just go back on the pill, get an IUD…” but if you’re breastfeeding it’s a different story.

    Our bodies’ maintain a very delicate homeostasis balance. As your husband knows, anything that throws off this balance can cause other problems. The introduction of synthetic hormones from most conventional birth control options can dry up your supply in a matter of days! The body does not take well to being messed with.

    I’m amazed at the number of women who go out of their way to eat organic, non-hormone injected meat and dairy, but in turn don’t bat an eyelash at taking synthetic hormones on a DAILY basis themselves! It doesn’t make sense. Its good that you’re questioning it. Many women don’t.

    Good luck with whatever you choose. I breastfed for a year with both my kids, even introducing them to solids at 6mo and going hr stretches at night, and I STILL did not get my period until they weaned each time. The LAM can definitely work!! But I’d only use it if, as you said, another baby so soon wouldn’t be a major difficulty.

  • Alison May 30, 2012, 4:21 pm

    I appreciate this comment thread so much. As an early 30-something woman in a 10+ year relationship, I’m realizing OBGYN’s are perhaps not trained in giving family planning advice and I don’t know who to turn to aside from my mother and sister. Obviously every woman is different, and I’m a big advocate for talking to the women in your family about your cycles and experience, but the field seems archaically limited in options. I have an appointment for an IUD insertion this Friday (2nd attempt b/c I nearly passed out from the 1st attempt), and I am seriously conflicted on whether or not I should keep this appointment (we’re considering trying to conceive this fall, but could change our minds). I’ve been on so many BC brands that don’t feel normal, and condoms have not been successful for us (worried about TMI territory on that), and yet I have horrific cramps that have me popping hydrocodone, which I’m uneasy about except for the cramping is that painful. I am exploring diet techniques to help gain control over hormone regulation, such as limiting sugars and dairy and no meat, but there aren’t many resources out there. Where are the resources for women? (semi-related note, my dermatologist suggested BC for acne during one of my breaks off of BC in b/w pill brands. Should a dermatologist be recommending BC pills? And why are so many women experiencing post-puberty acne?) I have so many questions..

    • HTPDad May 31, 2012, 9:15 am

      Planned Parenthood

      • Alison June 8, 2012, 6:41 pm

        I guess I should have specified my situation is about more than conception/BC advice. I’m about to start medical school in my 30’s and would like to conceive during that time. Fortunately I have since found a great site called MomMD that addresses this specific issue.

    • Megan @ Loving the little things May 31, 2012, 9:59 pm

      IUD’s are intended for long term usage, not just a few months. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it if you’re considering trying to conceive this fall.

    • Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf June 5, 2012, 4:14 pm

      I have mild PCOS and my doc had suggested I go on birth control to manage it, but since I spent 6 horrible months on it several years ago, and it took two years to shake the residual side effects after going off of it, I never went back on. Instead I started managing my carbs (not really low, around 100-200g/day), cutting gluten, exercising regularly, avoiding soy, increasing fat+protein, and changing to a job that made me happier. All that together managed to regulate my periods to a “normal”, predictable cycle (with more comfortable periods!). I use Fertility Awareness Method as a combined birth control and monitoring of my PCOS. It helps me be aware when something is going on that shouldn’t–or isn’t going on when it should. 🙂

  • Nicole May 30, 2012, 4:21 pm

    I’ve taken the pill for close to 10 years now. I’ve always been totally fine with it except about a year ago when Walgreens randomly switched me to a different generic. I started experiencing depression symptoms for the first time, but wasn’t sure what was causing it for about a year. I thought maybe it was a quarter-life crisis or seasonal depression (at first) or that I had an undiagnosed mental illness (one of my sisters has bipolar disorder). Then recently, my insurance provider changed, so I was researching my birth control and found out that LOTS of women were experiencing depression symptoms after getting switched to that generic. I found a different pharmacy that carries my old generic and this is my first month back on it. I’m really hoping switching back will resolve this depression issue. If it does end up fixing it, I’m obviously going to be thrilled, but at the same time it makes me so angry that a pharmacy would just switch you without warning and tell you that the pills are the same, even though the inactive ingredients are obviously totally different.

    • ashlynn May 30, 2012, 4:47 pm

      I’ve been on the pill for 4.5 years now (started with a brand name, went to generic, and then went to a different generic, and I liked it at first and I really don’t have any major issues, but I’m wondering if it’s causing some minor issues like my acne. And, about the depression issue, I’ve wondered why I’ve felt like a different person and not my same fun self as I used to be. And, it’s hard for me not to think the pills have something to do with it. But, other than the pill, I don’t really know what I would use. It’s such a difficult decision.

      • Fallon May 31, 2012, 12:15 pm

        Have you looked into NuvaRing at all? This is only my third week on it and my first type of hormonal birth control, but so far I’m really pleased. I know that many possible side affects won’t make their appearance for a while, but so far it’s been smooth sailing. My best friend did, however, gain about seven pounds while on it and didn’t change her diet/exercise habits. Weight gain is the most common complaint I’ve heard.

        It is one of the more expensive hormonal options depending on what your insurance will cover; for me the lower margin of error is worth it. My insurance covers all but $60 for a two month supply – two rings – and my parents flexible spending account covers the remainder. It’s a low dose of combined hormones that are locally administered and carry a lesser risk of blood clots. It’s also very easy in insert and forget about. Every few showers I check to make sure it’s up high enough, and my boyfriend hasn’t been able to feel it at all. Might be worth looking into!

  • veronica May 30, 2012, 4:22 pm

    ( that should’ve read “8hr stretches at night” )

  • Valerie May 30, 2012, 4:26 pm

    Great post! Just a heads up, if you want to continue using the Diva Cup, you might want to do a bit more research about IUDs. I’m on the Pill, but I’ve heard horror stories about IUDs, and cups, and suction, and OH DEAR YOU KNOW WHERE THIS IS GOING! Good luck with whatever you choose!

    • Hannah June 3, 2012, 10:10 pm

      I was going to say the same thing! I just read that the diva cup is a no-no with IUDs. Let’s not go there!

  • Erika May 30, 2012, 4:27 pm

    I am still using the LAM – our son is 9.5 months old and I still have not gotten my cycle back. I hate the thought of having to use any type of birth control once I do get it back but I have decide to use the NuvaRing once I do. We looked into the IUD but it wasn’t cost effective – since it lasts for so long but we don’t want to wait 10 more years for another kid.

  • Josie May 30, 2012, 4:27 pm

    My husband and I use the Creighton Model. It is based on your mucus levels which you chart daily. It’s interesting to have your husband ask you every night about your mucus during the day 🙂 There are “rules” to follow but it is a very easy model to get used to and understand. I felt more empowered going off the pill and using this model than I did when I was on the pill. I actually know what my body is doing now that I’m off the pill.
    We are definitely proof that this model works. We conceived our first child, due end of September, on the third day of fertility which was suppose to be a day of abstinence (we weren’t trying to get pregnant). Mind you, on the third day of fertility there is only a 5% chance of getting pregnant so those “rules” are definitely there for a reason if you are trying to not get pregnant. We plan on using the Creighton Model postnatal as well.

    • Katherine May 30, 2012, 7:32 pm

      Same story here and love the creighton method! I am due end of Sept as well and got pregnant on the third day of fertility. I tried the fertility awareness at first and it was so confusing. The creighton model is great!

    • Hilary May 31, 2012, 2:41 pm

      Shout out from another Creighton Model user! Love it

  • Jayce May 30, 2012, 4:27 pm

    I have PCOS, and we tried for 18 months before conceiving (actually with one miscarriage at the year mark). Our baby was conceived on Clomid and is due in 5 days (come on baby!), and we have no plans to use any BC whatsoever until we are done having kids. We may have a couple more super close or not be able to conceive on our own at all – who knows! If it came to BC in the future, we would do a vasectomy or condoms. I will never ever use hormonal BC again (hid the PCOS), and, while I know it’s a sticky subject, would never ever use the IUD as it only changes the uterine environment and does not prevent fertilization. For me, I’ve realized that the planning aspect is not in my hands, so we will let God do as he wills for our family.

    • Hannah May 30, 2012, 8:32 pm

      Congrats on your baby to be! Sounds like you’ve been through a lot.

  • Ange @ The Urban Cowgirl May 30, 2012, 4:28 pm

    My nephews are currently 15 months apart, so the LAM method didn’t work for her. You ovulate before you get your period, so not having a period isn’t really an indicator of whether LAM is effective, or not.

  • Alyssa @ Don't Look Down May 30, 2012, 4:42 pm

    I currently have the Implanon and I’m really surprised no one has mentioned it yet. Implanon is a hormonal birth control that is implanted in your arm and lasts for up to 3 years. I’ve had mine for almost 3 years now and am getting it removed soon. Although it was nice to not remember to take a pill everyday or have to use condoms, it does have some drawbacks. My periods were extremely irregular–anything from spotting most days near the beginning to not having a period for 6 months. A friend of mine also experienced much more moodiness and depression with hers. I am honestly not sad to see it go and will probably be going back to the pill, although I have debated only using condoms for a while to see how my body reacts.
    I think it’s disappointing that there isn’t better options for birth control out there.

  • Meghan May 30, 2012, 4:42 pm

    I had the copper IUD for 10 years. It was removed in july of 2010 and 2 months later I was pregnant. I have been a huge advocate of the copper IUD. Despite the initial 2-3 months of heavy periods and cramping, it was fairly non-exsistant. It was easy to manually check, easier if you have a plastic speculum, mirror and flashlight. Since the birth of my son, we have been using condoms. I should tell you that I hate condoms, but I hate being on synthetic hormones more. Having just turned 36 and wanting to be pregnant again in the next year or 2, the IUD didn’t seem worth it this go around.

    I wish for you a wonderful birth and look forward to the stories!

  • SaraJoan May 30, 2012, 4:45 pm

    My own experience has been as follows: I’ve never used the pill, having been scared off it by watching a friend go through withdrawal when she stopped taking it; I relied on condoms before I was ready to get pregnant; it took us almost a year of trying to get pregnant the first time (I had no clue how to time things); I discovered and used FAM between pregnancies after the first, and got pregnant as soon as we started trying with #2 and #3, despite my cycles being somewhat unpredictable (though interestingly, they were much less so after my first pregnancy); I’ve breastfed all four; we were using FAM but being knowingly careless when we conceived #4.

    As far as the IUD goes: my only caution would be that if you go that route, be sure the person placing it really knows what they’re doing. A friend went that route (after her first three) and the mistake resulted not only in a much loved but unplanned fourth, but also 2+ years of back pain followed by surgery to remove the IUD which had migrated (she’d been told “it must have fallen out” when the pregnancy was discovered). No idea how common this is, I’ve not tried to research it.

    I’m not trying to be a downer or an alarmist, I just know how shocked my friend was — not at the IUD’s failure to keep her from getting pregnant, but at the manner in which it failed.

    I’m really impressed that you’re wiling to have this conversation in public! Have fun being in the home stretch!

  • Amanda May 30, 2012, 4:48 pm

    Hi C,

    I’m so excited for your arrival date. You’re going to be an awesome mom. <3

    I had a Paraguard IUD for nearly eight years and was very happy. The best things about the IUD were not having to worry about BC each month and not having to worry about hormones wreaking havoc with my body. The worst things were the insertion (supposedly it hurts less once you've had a child), the painful cramping for a couple days each month, and the heavy flow for a couple of days. However, if you know to anticipate those last two items, it's not so bad. I would recommend it.

  • Amy R. May 30, 2012, 4:52 pm

    Just wanted to give my 2 cents on the Paragaurd IUD– this may be TMI but oh well :).

    I had the Paragaurd inserted when my husband and I got married and I had it in for about 1 year before having any issues with it. It was very convenient because there was no pill to remember or anything to “put on” before sex. I will have to say that sometimes my husband could feel the string that comes down from your cervix into your vagina. After having the IUD inserted for about a year I started having very heavy and long periods and this lasted for about 3 months where I was having basically a 3 week period and about a week without bleeding each month. I should have went to the dr. BEFORE 3 months but when I mentioned what was happening to my mother-in-law she made me go in. They did an exam and found that the IUD had moved in my uterus and had implanted itself into the side of my uterus. They removed it right away and I went on the pill (which I am now not a fan of either ;)).

    Everyone has their own experiences and my sister-in-law had the Merena for 6 years about and never had a single issue so you never know.

    Congrats on being 38 weeks by the way! I bet you are so excited! I am 28 weeks and CANT WAIT to be where you are and be so close to meeting our precious baby.

    • Amanda May 30, 2012, 5:03 pm

      Amy R said: “I was having basically a 3 week period and about a week without bleeding each month.”

      You poor thing!

  • Johanna B May 30, 2012, 4:53 pm

    My current method of BC is having gone through menopause. It’s nice not to have to deal with “it” anymore. Insert either BC or periods for the word it. I do know several women who got pregnant while breastfeeding. My daughter is one of them. Glad you stated the criteria for successful LAM and I’m glad “we” know so much more than we did when I was trying to get pg. As always – yours posts on this topic are amazing.

  • Danielle May 30, 2012, 4:54 pm

    I know there are differing opinions on it but personally the mini-pill worked wonderfully for me. No side effects (maybe a headache once in a while now that I think back) and ‘reliable enough’ at 94% rather than the 99%. Also, my supply did not suffer at all.

  • Rebecca May 30, 2012, 5:02 pm

    I have a feeling that BC (before and after) depends on the person. I know someone who had a baby when they were in their 40s. The same thing isn’t going to work the same way for everyone because every body is different.

    Someone told me there’s one that you get inserted into your arm–kind of like an IUD, I guess? I don’t know for sure, but that’s what I’ve heard. And I just Googled it and apparently it’s called Implanon. Except it only lasts three years versus other methods’longer timeframes.

  • laura May 30, 2012, 5:12 pm

    Every women I know is using some sort of hormonal birth control. With that being said. I am baffled. I have tried many brands of oral contraceptives when I first became sexually active and they all made me a raging crazy person. I have been using condoms for a decade and I love them. Many of my girl friends say that they hate the feeling of them, but to be honest, I could never feel the difference using ultra thins. I have also never had any malfunctions with said condoms and my boyfriend of seven years has never once complained. Maybe my situation is the acceptation to the rule 🙂

  • Nicolette May 30, 2012, 5:17 pm

    I found the following article about non-hormonal birth control for men. Very interesting…takes about fifteen minutes to do and lasts for up to 10 years.


    • Jen May 30, 2012, 8:23 pm

      That is awesome! It’s a shame that it’s not better known (and probably never will be) because, as the article says, it’s not a money maker for pharmaceutical companies.

  • Bianca May 30, 2012, 5:21 pm

    I had an IUD inserted after the birth of my 2nd baby girl. I thought about the copper one but, decided against it because she was actually concieved while I was on the pill so, didn’t want to risk it. TMI but, I’ll share some of my expierences. 1) I was constantly bleeding from the time it was put in until my check up a month later to make sure it was still in the right place. ( annoying spotting but, easy to deal with) 2) also, during that time I was cramping for a few weeks. Felt like my period was going to start 3) the first couple of times that my DH and i went horizo ntal it felt strange , and the wire string hurt him a few times. So, it may take a few time to get used to for both of you. 4) you can’t really do anything too rough or you will knock that puppy out of place. Lol. Moral of the story…I’m back on the pill. Haha. I kind of miss it because it was nice not having a period or having to worry about taking something. But, when you have more than 1 kid, you’re grateful for every period. Lol

  • kristin s. May 30, 2012, 5:24 pm

    I’m not a moma but I did use the copper iud. It was wonderful for birth control however it caused my hair to fallout. I mean not just a little but enough for my fiance and hairdresser to comment on how my hair was thinner and I had a bald spot on the back of my head. The reason I wanted the copper iud was because it didn’t have any hormones (my body doesn’t tolerate them). Needless to say i got bloodwork but it didn’t show any difficiences or abnormalities that would explain the hair loss and greasyness. The next week I had it taken out and in less than a week my hair stopped falling out! It’s more common than I thoght when I started researchin it more. So just keep that in mind.

  • miss pip kelly May 30, 2012, 5:24 pm

    I’ve been on the pill for just over 10 years now and do often wonder whether there’s a better option but when it comes down to it, it works for me physically and emotionally so I’m not too fussed about changing.

  • Claire May 30, 2012, 5:26 pm

    Sorry if this is too personal, but about a year ago went off the pill after a long time on it and like you, I’m having trouble with the FAM method because my cycles are irregular. Did your cycles become more regular after you went off the Pill the second time? I’m worried that my weird cycles are going to effect my fertility.

    • Caitlin May 30, 2012, 5:27 pm

      They were a little weird but not too much – I would say give it six months and if it hasn’t leveled out, talk to your doctor. There’s another comment thread about about how a normal period can vary by as much as 7 days, so you may be more normal than you think, depending on how far apart your periods are. Did you read TCOYF?

      • Claire May 31, 2012, 6:35 pm

        Thanks for the response! Yep, I read the book. When I say “irregular” I don’t mean I’m off by a few days…I mean I vary an enormous amount from cycle to cycle, with no clear reason why (although it may be stress since I’m in a PhD program ha ha). I sometimes have cycles that are 28 days and sometimes have cycles that are like 55 days long. It’s odd.

  • Christina May 30, 2012, 5:26 pm

    I’ve been using, and 100% love, my Mirena IUD for going on 8 years now, this is m 2nd. It does have very, very slight hormones but I prefer that over the copper. Also, the effective rate is very comforting when you are not ready for another little one just yet. I will use this method for as long as possible.
    However, it is important to note that a very common side effect of the IUD is a lack of periods. I’ve not had my period in 7.5 years. I still get mood swings and feel my body go through the natural process but no bleeding/spotting. I completely LOVE this aspect, so freeing. But you mentioned that you want to “know if my body is functioning the way it should” so, something to consider.

    • Christina May 30, 2012, 5:37 pm

      Sorry, also, the Dr. mentions that if you feel anything more than typical period cramping 2-3 days after insertion to come back in. You shouldn’t feel anything 2-3 days later. I felt one cramp at insertion but after that no pain at all, you actually start to forget the IUD is even there. Also, I can feel for the strings if I ever feel the need to. I was paranoid that it would just fall out (if it moves, at all, you will know immediately. It’s a snug fit in there) the first two months so I checked often, now, I rarely ever check. My husband has only felt the strings once during sex. He noticed them but it wasn’t painful or horribly awkward, he was a bit preoccupied 😉 You can tell the Dr. how long or short you would like the strings as well. Finally, they’re not wires, they are plastic, think fishing line, it will not collect bacteria. If I can answer any other questions please let me know.

      • stacey May 30, 2012, 7:51 pm

        I just got the Mirena IUD about a week ago. I had minor cramping the first two days, was fine for two days, and then I started having horrible cramps. WORST CRAMPS OF MY LIFE. I immediately went to my nurse practitioner. She checked me and sad everything looks normal and in the right place, and she sees this sometimes with IUD’s. I have read like you said that I should only be cramping for 2-3 days and now it is 8 days later and I am still having horrible cramps. Does anyone else have experience with this??

        • Christina May 31, 2012, 2:28 pm

          No, That is not normal. If you are having horrible cramps after 8 days there is an issue somewhere. Weather it be movement with the IUD or just your body not accepting it. Have you had any pregnancies/children? I’ve heard that women who have not been pregnant before do not adjust well to the IUD as there uterus has not experienced such a stretching before. I would look to another Dr. Regardless of the problem if you go to the Dr. with intense pains over the course of more than a week they need to give you more than just a “looks normal”. I know insurance can be a real pain but finding a new Dr. could make your life a LOT better.

          • Christina May 31, 2012, 2:30 pm

            Oh my gosh, sorry for those horrendous typos. So embarrassing.
            (Whether. their)

  • Dani from Oz May 30, 2012, 5:29 pm

    I exclusively demand fed both my babies, no pacifiers, no bottles and I got my periods exactly 8 weeks after giving birth. The first method you discussed would not have worked for me personally. So my husband and I stuck with the ‘timing’ method, where I tracked my cycles. Like you, we would not have been upset if we fell pregnant but we not actively wanting to try. This did work for us as we didn’t fall pregnant with our second child until our first was 2 years old and we were trying.

    I have an IUD (I have a mirena – not sure if it’s the same name in the US), which I got in February of last year. I am happy with it.

    • Dani from Oz May 30, 2012, 5:50 pm

      Just wanted to add that I got the IUD for other reasons to do with my period and not for birth control reasons. My husband had cancer while I was pregnant with our second and so it is physically impossible for us to now conceive naturally.

  • Elle May 30, 2012, 5:31 pm

    I was on the pill for about four years in order to keep down a beginning of endometriosis, but I quit as it was making me feel so sick. A few years later my sister went on the pill to balance the hormones as she was suffering from really bad acne (despite having a very regular period) and after just a few months she noticed a swelling under her breast and had a 3cm large lump removed. The gyno and the surgeons believe this was a side effect of the pill, as the rate of breast lumps in women who use the pill is very high.

    Personally, I believe in the FAM method only, especially for ethical reasons. I know this is a point that may raise some debate, but I’m pro-life and I feel I should not have to hide it.

    The IUD would seem the ideal BC method, but as someone already pointed out, this does not exclude conception of an embryo, which will not find a hospitable place to attach, thus procuring you an abortion.

    The FAM method allows you to learn to read the signs of your body (I’m very irregular, but I wasn’t paying attention to so many subtle signs my body was giving me). For extra “safety” it can also be used together with electronic tools like the LadyComp, it just requires a few months to learn how your own body works.

  • Shellie May 30, 2012, 5:36 pm

    I have been using the Paragard IUD since June 2008! Well, I had it removed once back in late 2009 because I *thought* I wanted to try for another but changed my mind and got it back in late 2010 and I LOVE IT. My cycles are regular and I have no side effects. With the last IUD I could sometimes “feel” it? Especially before my cycle started but I don’t think I’ve had that since I’ve had this last one put in. I was in no way going to touch hormonal birth control, so this seemed the best option for us, since we hate condoms!

  • Linda @ Lemons May 30, 2012, 5:42 pm

    I was on the pill for 30 years. Do I win a prize?

    I went off when I was trying to get pregnant, which I did both times within one month. Otherwise I stayed on the pill until 5 years ago when I went off for 6 months and had horrible physical and emotional problems, so I went back on. This year I switched from the pill to HRT, since the average age of menopause is 51 and I hit that mark.

    Most women don’t do this like I did, but it is not unusual.

  • Kristen @ The Concrete Runnee May 30, 2012, 5:51 pm

    My baby is now 7 months and I have been on the Mini Pill since 6 weeks postpartum. I wanted to do Merena (hormonal IUD) but my insurance didn’t cover it and it was too expensive out of pocket. I’ve never had problems taking the pill in the past, but it’s a whole other world with a baby. But we are extra careful, using condoms in addition to the pill. I still have not gotten my period back so I’m not too worried, but I’m totally not ready for a 2nd anytime soon!

  • Hillary May 30, 2012, 5:53 pm

    I’ve never been on the Pill. I have an extremely high risk for breast cancer, and no doctor will “allow” me to go on it for fear of what the hormones may do to increase my already ridiculously high odds of developing the disease. I guess you can’t miss what you’ve never had? I seem to be ok without it, and to be honest, I kind of like the idea that artificial hormones aren’t ruling my cycle!

  • Shelby May 30, 2012, 5:53 pm

    I have to say that my switch to Paragard was amazing! I was super happy on the NuvaRing, but I ended up having medical issues that made taking artificial hormones less-than-great.

    My insertion experience was miserable (maybe traumatizing), and for the first 4 months, I hated it. But I told myself that I would stick with it for 6 months to see, and by that time it was generally okay, and now, nearly 2 years out, I’m sorry I didn’t do it sooner! I do have heavier periods, but switching to a DivaCup made me not really notice/care about that so much.

    Just one woman’s experience, but I can honestly say that I wouldn’t go back to artificial hormones for anything.

  • Katie @ Soulshine and Sassafras May 30, 2012, 5:58 pm

    I’ve mostly been an (unintentional) Celibate Sally for the past year, so I’ve given my body a break from birth control until I’m having regular sex again. When I am having sex on a regular basis, I use a low-estrogen pill AND condoms. It’s probably a little excessive, but after a couple pregnancy scares I am not messing around.

  • Rachel May 30, 2012, 6:06 pm

    I would like to throw out that I personally know someone who had seizures while using the IUD. She found out she had become pregnant while on the IUD (the sperm did fertilize the egg.) But, “If an egg does become fertilized, implantation on the wall of the uterus is prevented because copper changes the lining of the uterus.” (http://www.emedicinehealth.com/birth_control_intrauterine_devices_iuds/article_em.htm)
    I have found through my research that seizures are common while using the IUD. I don’t mean to be controversial, just please be careful.

  • Crystal May 30, 2012, 6:20 pm

    We used LAM after my first and it worked fine since I didn’t ovulate for 14 months and we knew we wanted more than one so if my periods came back sooner and I got pregnant, no biggie. We used it after the second again just b/c we were lazyand never got around to making a decision and I got pregnant before I even had my first period. Oops. So baby 3 will be spaced a bit closer than the plan, but it’s not a big deal since we wanted 3. After this though DH is getting a vasectomy and I’m either getting my tubes tied or Mirena put in. I am done. Being pregnant, nursing or both for 4+ years is rewarding and awesome at times, but rough.

  • Ashley May 30, 2012, 6:22 pm

    Great topic Caitlin! This is a very important issue that should be discussed more openly. I used different forms of hormonal birth control, also for about 10 years. I do work in public health and am aware of the health risks that the hormones present, and eventually decided, though I am single and childless, that I did not want to be on the hormones anymore either. I ended up settling on the Mirena IUD, even though it is technically hormonal, it has VERY LOW doses of progesterone. With hormonal birth control, the main concern of mine was the estrogen. I will admit that the insertion (VERY QUICK), and the first week with it were not painful, but tolerably uncomfortable. Since then I have had little to no PMS symptoms, and actually stopped getting my period. I always had irregular and very light periods too, and the IUD can often make them lighter, or make them not come at all. I spotted a little bit at first but have not had a period all year, which is nice. The IUD was also 100% covered, so the money I’m saving between not buying pills every month, not needing tampons anymore, and not having any um, accidentally ruined undies, is a great bonus! I know not everyone has as positive an experience as I did – one of my friends even had a complication with it coming out of place initially and had it reinserted (but now loves it!), but I am a big fan of IUDs as an alternative to hormonal bc!

  • Christine May 30, 2012, 6:24 pm

    Have you heard about the Mirena IUD? It’s supposed to be fantastic with less side effects than the copper version.

  • Ali May 30, 2012, 6:28 pm

    Seriously Caitlin awesome post! I too was put on the pill at 16. My body responds like crazy to any medicine and i gained anout 10 lbs. I have since heard horrible stories about other teens who got on yaz and had it wreak havoc on their body. When I finally got off my body skipped periods for so long my doctors weren’t even sure if I had ammenorea from that or my eating disorder two years later. Women definitely need more information about all the potential side effects from birth control, I would even like long term studies to come out before pills are allowed to hit the market.
    Paragard sounds good, I’d definitely look into it. Congrats on 38 weeks 🙂

  • Portia May 30, 2012, 6:30 pm

    I tried the copper IUD and while I liked it in some respects (didn’t ever have to think about it), there were three major detractors and I ended up having it removed after a few months. 1. I could feel it in there and it made lying on my stomach uncomfortable. 2. My husband could feel the “string” that hangs out and he didn’t like the sensation. 3. This won’t apply to you, but I had yearly MRIs on my head and neck for MS, and it vibrated and felt totally unsafe, even though they said it was okay. (If you have any metal in your body that’s near where they are doing he MRI, the metal can get pulled out of your body by the heavy duty magnets. So now we practice FAM.

  • Jen in TX May 30, 2012, 6:41 pm

    I’ve used the Sympto-Thermal Method of National Family Planning my entire adult life (20+ years). It has been 100% effective for me (plus all-natural with no side effects!). You can find more information here: http://www.ccli.org. Having a history of breast cancer in my family, I would NOT go on the pill.

  • Nikka May 30, 2012, 7:01 pm

    After trying several different variations of birth control over the years (the pill being my least favorite for similar reasons), I found and fell in love with the copper IUD. I have experienced no known side effects since I had the IUD inserted 3 years ago. I love getting my natural period, and I love not worrying about taking a daily/weekly/monthly contraceptive.
    Hope you find what works for you! Thanks for sharing!

  • Kim T May 30, 2012, 7:02 pm

    What about diaphragm? I used that in between kids. Granted you have to be a little more organized about it. But I found it more comfortable than the IUD. However, I did get an IUD when I absolutely did not want to get pregnant. If we hadn’t been sure we were done having kids, I would have kept the IUD. However, I had a few issues with it (spotting, husband could feel string) and he was ready to get a vasectomy. That’s been my most favorite method by far. However, not an option if you still want to get pregnant of course.

    • Alyse May 30, 2012, 8:07 pm

      I was going to suggest a diaphragm as well. It seems to me they aren’t frequently used anymore, but the freedom is pretty amazing. You don’t have to have anything taken out at the dr’s office OR wait for your body to even out when it’s not use.

      When I get married I’d like to go off the pill and get a diaphragm. 🙂

      • Molly May 31, 2012, 2:08 pm

        I recommend a diaphragm, too. As the previous posters mentioned it does require a little prior planning, but it’s not hormones and it’s not semi-permanent like the IUD.

        I went off the pill three years ago because I was having migraines during the non-hormone week of the pill, which put me at risk for stroke – as soon I as told my NP she took me off the pill and I decided to try the diaphragm because I’d been wanting to get away from the hormonal stuff for a while.

        You would probably get used to using the diaphragm quickly since you use a diva-cup.

        • Alex June 5, 2012, 1:00 pm

          I love my diaphragm! And it’s much easier to insert tha a menstrual cup 🙂

  • Jolene (Homespun Heritage) May 30, 2012, 7:06 pm

    We did not use any birth control after the birth of our last child and there will be 2.5 yrs between this little one and my next up! My little one weaned at 20 months and we were pregnant again when she was 22 months…so just 2 months after she weaned!

    We will do the same again after this baby is born…we simply leave it up to the Lord. We adore children, all children, and will be at 7 after this (3 by birth and 4 by adoption) one comes in September. We welcome however many we are blessed with…by both birth and adoption!

  • Caryln May 30, 2012, 7:12 pm

    I’m currently being OWNED by the pill. I tried to stop taking it and my body went ABSOLUTELY crazy!I would really like to find some alternative BC though.

  • Lissa May 30, 2012, 7:13 pm

    My husband and I haven’t been happy with birth control options for a couple years. I don’t do well on the pill and we hate condoms. We have no interest in having kids right now and we’re not sure we ever will. We’re moving to Kuwait in August (we’re teachers) and I think I’ve decided to go the IUD route. I’ve talked to several friends (nurses & who have it) and they have nothing bad to say. I’ll be going with Mirena because I’ve heard better things about it. I’m excited to see what happens (but a little nervous too)!

  • Amanda Perry @ Sistas of Strength May 30, 2012, 7:17 pm

    Loved reading all of this. My son is almost 1 and I still have no idea what I want to do. Probably by the time I figure it out I’ll be ready for #2. haha…I took the mini pill and it was ok. Then I went back on the regular pill and hated it. Night sweats and major meltdowns every month. I’m thinking about the IUD and have heard so many good/bad things! 🙂 (BTW – I can’t believe you are 38 weeks already. It feels like it went so fast!!)

  • Sharon May 30, 2012, 7:19 pm

    I’ve gotten the Depo-Provera shot for years. You just get a shot every 3 months -easy.

  • Nicole May 30, 2012, 7:20 pm

    Great to read all these comments as this is something I’m going to have to make a decision on come September.

    I was on hormonal BC for 12 years- in the beginning I did the depo shot because it was “easier” but I’d end up having longer periods at the end of each 3 month cycle after not having one the first two. With the pill, I don’t recall any major side effects and was super regular. I do have irregular paps, but I know that’s caused by the HPV that won’t go away.

    We were concerned when we started trying last August that it might take a long time since I was on BC for so long (and all our friends seemed to be having issues with getting pregnant), but we got really lucky and conceived in December.

    At one of my next appointments I’ll be discussing options with my doctor. I definitely don’t want to mess with milk production, but the thought of inserting a foreign object creeps me out- which is why I don’t think that will work for me.

  • Jessica May 30, 2012, 7:24 pm

    Didn’t read all of the comments, but I would REALLY advise against using LAM as your only method of BC. While yes, it CAN be effective, it’s not for sure. First thing my doctor said before I was discharged at the hospital was “just because you just had a baby doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant” (and I was EBFing). It also loses effectiveness if you use pacifiers or bottles (even with pumped breast milk). There’s also no guarantee that you won’t get your period back at 6 weeks. I know many women who exclusively breastfed (no pumping/bottles/pacifiers/anything) and their babies nursed all the time, but they still got their periods back early (often irregular). Though I suppose if you get your period back, then you can use FAM again.

  • Leslie May 30, 2012, 7:53 pm

    I use mirena 5 yr iud, only mirena 5 yr provides 99% effective plus no period EVER! You will spot for 3-4 months and get frustrated and then BAM – no more period for 5 yrs! It is great.

  • Cynthia May 30, 2012, 7:53 pm

    Up until recently, I had an IUD. I actually had the Mirena inserted. The only reason I had it removed is because my husband and I are trying to conceive. I had it in for the full five years and I LOVED it. I loved not having to think about it. And the pill gives me horrible migraines so I needed something that didn’t use as many hormones. I would recommend it. I had no ill effects at all.

  • Leatitia May 30, 2012, 8:04 pm

    I’ve been exclusively breastfeeding for the lAst 11 months and i just for m’y first period! However, i’ve been taking the pills since my son is 5 months old because you never know.

    I’m horrible at taking the pill everyday so i had th IUD Mirena installed Monday. A bit of cramping at insertion and light cramps for thé rest of the day. The next day, no cramps, I feel totally normal! Since it’s good for 5 years , I’m very happy I chose this option!

  • Jenny May 30, 2012, 8:10 pm

    Just gotta put it out there (I work as a postpartum nurse) – our discharge instructions always include the fact that LAM is NOT an effective means of birth control. You can be ovulating even though your period has not returned, and many women can get pregnant during that time and not know. In addition, quickly becoming pregnant again is very hard on your body, as the uterus, ligaments, joints, etc have not gone back to a non-pregnant state.

  • Angie May 30, 2012, 8:11 pm

    I had the Mirena between kids #3 and 4. I loved it until my body started reacting strangely and I had it removed. Then we were using condoms until my hubby decided to get snipped. He did not decide soon enough, and now we have a wonderful and unexpected gift! I am at almost a year EBF and no sign of my period even though it came back much earlier with my previous EBF babies.

  • BroccoliHut May 30, 2012, 8:16 pm

    I agree that there is a lack of education on the side effects of the Pill. I was put on it when I was 19 to help bring back my periods (I had amenorrhea for about four years), but the gynecologist never explained to me the advantages and disadvantages of the Pill; she just assumed that I would take it to fix the problem and that would be the end of it. If I have daughters, I hope they will get a better understanding of such medications before taking them!

  • Allyson May 30, 2012, 8:27 pm

    Just wanted to add at I have a LAM baby. No period, breast feeding almost ever 1.5,hours day and night and m, got pregnant when my daughter was 3 months old. It has been very difficult with having babies 1 year apart. Just wanted to rpthrow my .02 in. 🙂

  • Claire May 30, 2012, 8:35 pm

    After all three of my childern I exclusively breastfed until th 5-6 month time when solids were slowly introduced. I contunued to breastfeed until they were all about 12-14 months old and weaned spontaneously. I’m one of those women who is completely infertile until I totally ceased breastfeeding altogether. My period did not return until all three were totally weaned. I think the most improtant thing with LAM is that you need to understand FAM – this allows you to know whether or not you are ovulating. The tricky thing with LAM is that you will ovulate before you first period returns, so you can’t assume you are not fertile just because you haven’t got your peiod back yet. It was so great not having to worry about birth control during pregnancy and breastfeeding. I had 6 years where I was doing one or the other. Now that my youngest is 2 and a half, we still haven’t really dealt with birth control properly. Basically I watch out for signs of ovulation (it helps that I have a pretty regular cycle) and we avoid that time. My husband has had a vasectomy referral sitting on our desk for about a year but we haven’t acted on it yet – it is so permanent! I’m like you, I was on the pill for about 10 years prior to having kids, and went through abnormal pap smears, and I just don’t want to go down the hormonal route again. I dislike taking any form of medication.

    • Marissa C May 30, 2012, 10:42 pm

      Yes this!

  • Kattrina May 30, 2012, 8:37 pm

    I am wondering about birth control after the baby too. I have really enjoyed not being on the pill. I have very regular periods and feel so much better when not taking them. However, it seems the best BC for me after the baby comes. I don’t really trust LAM to work so well and if things like menstrual cycles run in the family my sister got her period back the month after giving birth (for both her children), even though she was EBF (and not pumping). We definitely can’t afford daycare for two children right now so another baby isn’t really in the cards for us. I have considered an IUD but a few people I know had serious cramping and pain from the insertion and it doesn’t sound pleasant. Plus, I tend to get a lot of yeast infections and bacterial infections which can become serious problems with an IUD. So, I guess I’ll be on the mini-pill and hoping for the best. I might like to try FAM one day, when my normal periods return, but will probably wait until another baby is not so scary.

    Good luck with your decision!

  • kelly May 30, 2012, 8:44 pm

    I got an iud when I was 7 weeks pp (although it is the Mirena, not the copper kind). I love it! The first month kind of sucked because I had spotting every day.. but since then.. nada! I feel no hormonal side effects that I did on the pill and breastfeeding has been going great (my daughter is now 7 months). If it’s the right fit for you, I highly recommend it!

  • Ashley // Our Little Apartment May 30, 2012, 8:51 pm

    We used LAM for a while after having my son (he’s 21 months now). You know how to monitor your fertile signs, yes? If your cervical mucus looks fertile, you are probably ovulating and should start using condoms or pull out (surprisingly effective).

    I am super wary of hormonal BC, but also don’t want a copper IUD until I’m done with kids (there is a risk of causing fertility problems). It’s a tough issue and I really, REALLY wish there was another option that didn’t involve barriers or fertility problems.

    Glad you’re being so candid!

  • JenRD May 30, 2012, 9:11 pm

    I went on Paraguard at my 6 week post partum visit and never looked back! Minor cramping during insertion, but that lasted an hour, and neither myself or my husband can tell its there. I am 9 months post partum, but still breastfeeding and have not gotten my period yet, so I can not attest to painful periods. I would just say make sure you trust your doctor, and he/she has experience inserting the device. Then there should be no problem with bacteria or pain!

  • Earthy Nicole May 30, 2012, 9:35 pm

    Whew… I could get into a really long story of my birth control choices over the years but I’ll skip to the most recent: About a year after giving birth, I had the Paragard put in. The first time, I nearly fainted in the parking lot because of a ‘vasovagal response’. Then after about a month, the IUD started coming out and had to be removed. Then I had it re-inserted (thank goodness insurance covered that!), and kept it in for a year in hopes that the negative side effects I had would subside over time. They didn’t… I could hardly leave the house on the heaviest days of my period because it caused SUCH heavy bleeding and I had to supplement my already healthy diet with iron pills because of the loss. I felt desperate because I would have rather had that than hormonal bc, but I don’t know if I want another child. Since then, I’ve had the IUD removed and rely on the FAM method. I feel like I’ve got a very good grasp on the concept and feel more in control of my body because of it. I feel like I worry much less about the side effects of any birth control and it’s free(ish)! I don’t want to dissuade you, I just thought you’d like to hear another experience (I know I always like to!).


  • Kristin May 30, 2012, 9:39 pm

    I’m 12 weeks post pardum and I’ve had some days of spotting, a few days where I thought my cervical mucus was fertile. Im exclusively breastfeeding and we are using condoms ( and abstinence haha) as birth control. I talked to my gyno who said that I may “spot” on and off while breastfeeding. He said the pill affects supply and not to get the IUD if I plan to have another baby in the next few yrs. He also asked if we’d be ok with a “whoopsie” and although I’d prefer not to be knocked up for our wedding in nov we would be fine with another. I do not feel comfortable using breastfeeding as birth control!

  • Carrie May 30, 2012, 9:57 pm

    I have an IUD and it’s the best thing I’ve done. I don’t have to remember to take anything, make sure something is right, etc. My youngest is 8 and I have had it since then. Had it changed a few years ago and it was slightly uncomfortable, but tolerable. Periods are very light. The IUD was the best decision for me!

  • Alicia May 30, 2012, 10:03 pm

    Since you are comfortable with the diva cup, you may want to consider a diaphragm.

  • Brenda May 30, 2012, 10:07 pm

    One of my co-workers used the LAM method AND got pregnant at 6 weeks postpartum…. she now has a 14 month old and a 3 month old. A while back, another colleague confided in me that she thought exclusively breastfeeding would be enough, but she ended up pregnant at 8 weeks pp. That is two too many people I know who’ve had it fail to make me feel comfortable with it. I ended up going on the mini-pill after my son was born, and I hated it. The thought of the IUD was unappealing though. There really isn’t a good option.

    When they’re going to invent the male pill??? Aren’t there some women out there researching it?

  • JessicaE May 30, 2012, 10:10 pm

    My sister got pregnant while breastfeeding 🙂 It can happen quite often.

  • Shannon May 30, 2012, 10:35 pm

    Just so you know…I had an IUD for about 6 months. In that time frame, I had bacteria vaginosis (twice) and 4 yeast infections. I was never prone to these and was the worst thing I had ever done. I had it removed immediately and guess what? All infections were gone and I haven’t had any issue again and it’s been 2 years.

  • Samantha May 30, 2012, 10:36 pm

    I’m so glad you wrote this post! I’m thinking about the copper IUD too because I have a blood disorder that prevents me from being on anything hormonal. But the idea still terrifies me because a family member had an IUD back in the day, she scarred and was unable to bear children after. I’ve been putting off a decision for two years now…

  • Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction May 30, 2012, 10:41 pm

    I have been on the pill for about 5 years now due to PCOS and have the same worries as most women with the disorder. I know that the pill is just masking the underlying problem, but my doctor reassures me that I should not have any side effects once I get off and try to conceive (not for a while!) I can’t help but think about what these artificial hormones are doing to my body, but at the same time without the pill I had SUPER long and heavy periods one month and then none the next. I can never go back to that, and sometimes worry about if that will happen when I try to get prego.

    Anyways, I think condoms/pulling out are the best and safest method. It’s not the best, and its probably annoying, but to me it’s better than a pill or a copper device! And, if you want more kids in the future, it’s alright if it’s not exactly 100% accurate.

    About that MALE birth control….I will jump for JOY when they invent that!

  • Staci May 30, 2012, 10:48 pm

    You look mah-velous!!! I can’t believe it’s been 38 weeks.

    I’ve been on every birth control (almost) known to man. After I had my son, I used Mirena for four and a half years. I had very few side effects, with the exception of zero period. It did take some time for mine to start up again, but otherwise, I really liked it.

  • Marissa C May 30, 2012, 10:55 pm

    WAIT WAIT WAIT!! There is another way!

    LAM is great, but physical time spent away from your baby, breastfeeding, not co-sleeping, etc. can all affect the return of your fertility. I would only rely on LAM if you are truly with your baby and exclusively breastfeeding 24/7 (with a few hours away here and there of course). Most people cant do that nowadays, hence so many failures.

    However, you can still do a version of FAM specifically designed for the postpartum period. I don’t think TCOYF details this, but there are signs you can watch out for to detect ovulation before your first postpartum period (not common, but the cause of most postpartum doubles). Spotting can make even distinguishing your period difficult, so it is nice to have the rules. They also account for formula feeding, pumping, and exclusive breastfeeding.

    We learned via CCL (the Catholic organization responsible for the sympto-thermal method almost identical to FAM). We’ve been using it for 6 months and have been very happy with it. If you can get past the snippets of Catholic teaching in the book, you can order it and learn yourself or find a class. They will not say no because you aren’t Catholic.

    We’ve used it for 6 months and have been very happy. It can still be confusing, but it is better than nothing.



    Whew…my 6 month old has hit the keyboard 3 times and deleted this post!

    • Caitlin May 31, 2012, 8:45 am

      Oh man, this is a good point, which I didn’t think of… I will be traveling a lot for work beginning when the baby is 4 months old.

  • Megan May 30, 2012, 11:29 pm

    LAM baby right here. I don’t doubt the method works but there are a few exceptions to every rule I suppose. I have loooooong anticipated the release of the male birth control pill. I’m very interested to see how that is accepted/practiced by the male population.

  • Nicole May 30, 2012, 11:43 pm

    A former Mirena IUD user here with a lot of negative side effects…

    I had been on birth control pills for years when I decided that I wanted a low hormone option. My body had always been sensitive to ‘extra’ estrogen, even with low dose pills. I was also tired of forking over money every few months for pills. So after some research I thought the Mirena was a good choice.

    Insertion was painful (almost passed out) but aside from that I had no complaints for the first year. Then by the second year, I noticed that I could feel it in my uterus. As if it was pushing against the walls. My husband also said he could feel it during sex. And most times sex became painful. Then I started getting ovarian cysts every few months during the time I was supposed to have a period. They were so painful that I was confined to a bed for the day. And then there was the horrible cystic acne on my chin and forehead. I grew up with perfect skin so the acne at 25 was puzzling and upsetting. Turns out all of these symptoms are side effects of the Mirena.

    I finally talked to my (new bc of a move) doctor about all of my issues. He explained that even though the Mirena has a small amount of progesterone, it can be enough to give your body a hormonal imbalance. He also said 1 out of 10 women have the same problems with the Mirena, and I happened to be one. I had it removed almost two years ago and I feel so much better.

    I know you said you were interested in the copper IUD but its still good to hear other IUD side effects. After I had my IUD removed I did a lot of research and found that many women had issues with both versions. Something you might want to look into as well. However, I have no doubt you will anyway because you’re a very smart and informed woman already 🙂

    Good luck in your decisions and on the upcoming birth of your baby!

  • Emily May 30, 2012, 11:51 pm

    My sister had a Mirena placed, which only worked for about 6 months because she got pregnant with it in place. It somehow moved, became embedded in her cervix, and now my beautiful 4th niece is here (who just turned one year!). Her story makes me leery of using any form of IUD, but I have also heard positive stories from using them. Good luck!

  • Megan May 30, 2012, 11:52 pm

    I haven’t read the past posts about birth control, but it seems to me there’s another option that’s not included – condoms? I made the choice to go off the pill/nuva ring about 3 years ago – I never felt like my ‘normal self’, menstrualy speaking (I just made up a word!) The husband and I use condoms. Although I know he doesn’t LOVE them/this method (he would much rather be alfresco) it’s worked for us so far.

  • Heather May 30, 2012, 11:52 pm

    I had an IMPLANON put in my arm last August and I LOVE it. I was a previous pill user but my job schedule was making it difficult to remember to take it at the same time. It is a small toothpick-size device that is inserted into your upper inner arm. It’s not hormone free, (I believe the type in this device is etonogestrel) but like the IUD, you don’t have to think about it and it lasts up to 3 years. You can take it out before without any side affects.
    I did have the interesting “side effect” of not having any more periods after the first month or two (which is kind of fine by me..). I have other friends who have the same device and continue to have normal periods, but I always had very light ones on the pill so I suppose it has just went away..
    Anyways, just my bc experience. Happy home stretch!

    • Heather May 31, 2012, 12:03 am

      eeek mind lopping off my last name on this post please? didn’t think before I typed that…

  • Emily May 31, 2012, 12:01 am

    I had paraguard for a while. I loved the idea of it but hated it in action.. my periods and the 1-2 days before them were SO much more painful. Sometimes I couldn’t really do anything except lay in a ball. I gave it about 9 months before finally getting it removed and going back to the pill. I would try the one that has a small amount of hormones if I did it again. I love that you never have to think about it.

  • Megan May 31, 2012, 1:32 am

    Just a funny/cute observation: in all of your weekly pregnancy updates, you say you’re feeling “pretty good.” I come to expect those exact words each time.

    So excited for you! I check everyday to see if you’ve gone into labor.

    • Caitlin May 31, 2012, 8:46 am

      hahah not so bad, not so great… pretty good.

  • fitpeanut May 31, 2012, 1:47 am

    I want to try the copper IUD but my doctor is not crazy about it because I never had any children (Im 23) and I had an ovarian surgery a few years ago, so he thinks it’s risky (there is a infection risk even if the doctor is really careful). And if it goes wrong, I could maybe never have any children … :/
    But I don’t want the pill either…

  • Alexis May 31, 2012, 3:25 am

    I love that you breach all the subjects that we think about! I love this and going back and reading when you went off the Pill because in Jan I went off of it for the first time in 11 years. My husband is deployed so I thought it would be a good time to give my body a break from it, and I was bracing myself for all the negatives that so many people claim the Pill causes, like no period. Honestly, I was completely on track on a 28 day cycle from the first month I was off the Pill! No withdrawal symptoms either. But what I finally couldn’t take any longer and after 4 months went back on it- my skin!! I’ve never in my life had bad skin and I’ve been like a hormonal teenager with horrible acne. I couldn’t take it any longer! So I’m glad to know my fertility seems ok and am depressed to know I apparently have adult acne haha.

    Also, not to scare you but my best friend used LAM… and now she has 2 daughters that are 11.5 months apart!!! Just thought you should know;) Though she had gone back to work when she got pregnant the second time so she was pumping during the day 4 days a week and breastfeeding directly the rest of the time. But her period never returned!

  • Sarah May 31, 2012, 5:47 am

    Just so you know, lactational infertility did not work for me. I know when I ovulate as I get very uncomfortable ovulation pain in the 3-4 days prior to ovulation (confirmed by temperature taking etc etc).
    My first baby was fully breastfed and when he was about 11 or 12 weeks old I got ovulation pain (nearly fell over…. but luckily knew what it was!!!) and two weeks later got my period. He was less than 4 months and the only he’d ever had bottles were expressed breastmilk. He was a BIG eater – always over the 97th percentile so I BF a lot.
    I was still BF him when I got pregnant (intentionally) when he was 11 months old. BF till he self weaned when I was about 8 or 9 weeks pregnant. Got ovulation pain and then period about 3 months into fully BF the second time round as well.
    Now have a mirena (in about 3 months)…. I just kept forgetting the pill. I used to keep it next to my toothbrush – but that doesn’t work with small children who also brush teeth!!! Mirena is great as my period is about 2 days long. Still get mild ov. pain so I know things are still working!!

    As for the pill mucking things up. There is a theory that many women go on it in their late teens/early 20s and have rarely paid attention to their cycles which may have been irregular anyway. So when they come off the pill after 10+ years their irregular cycles start up again (as usual) but they are expecting textbook…. just lack of awareness when you are young as it doens’t matter too much back then.

  • Anna May 31, 2012, 6:07 am

    Good question….totally thought exclusive bf would prevent preg. But I got pregnant when my lo was 8 months without even getting a period. It truly only takes one time! I was shocked since it took us a year to have our first! I’m leary about an iud and hate hormones so when I have baby 2 in a few months, I have no idea what we should do. Thank goodness we have time.

  • jen May 31, 2012, 7:04 am

    all of my friends use hormonal birth control, and have never had any problems. me? besides the fact that my hair was dramatically falling out (which is a common side-effect, my dr told me. funny, if it was so common why didnt she mention that when we discussed birth control? safe to say i switched doctors), i just didnt feel like me. i went off it a year ago, when the thought of being a bald bride kept me up at night, and im so glad i did, bc i feel so much better, and it took a good 7 months for my period to become more normal, and my hair to stop falling out. now that were open to babies, i wish i had never started BC in the first place.

  • Verna May 31, 2012, 7:17 am

    I was on the copper IUD before I got married and I loved it. After my son was born I never got a period until he was 8 months old. We actively started trying at that point and still didn’t get pregnant until he was 1. My daughter is 7 1/2 months and I haven’t had a period yet. We are no were near ready to try again but for us “pull and pray” works good enough. ; )

    • Verna May 31, 2012, 10:04 am

      I should add that we use the withdrawl method even before my periods return.

  • Michele Albert May 31, 2012, 7:59 am

    I love reading your blog, you are not afraid to tackle the tough subjects that we should ALL be talking about with each other, our husbands/signifigant others and our doctors. Thank you for that! I was never able to have children after 7 long years of trying so I can’t offer any insight into your question but I wish you luck with whatever decision you make!

    I am keeping my fingers crossed that you have an easy delivery, a healthy baby, and you don’t go in to labor at night! Best wishes!

    • Caitlin May 31, 2012, 8:47 am

      thanks for reading!

  • Kath May 31, 2012, 8:44 am

    I could never trust breastfeeding alone. One of my close friends in town just got her period after 6 weeks and she was nursing TWO boys, one exclusively. Too risky for me…

    I’d like to go to FAM because I really enjoyed my cycles before getting pregnant, but I honestly think I’ll get the Mirena IUD again. I loved it, had no symptoms, got my period right away afterwards and had no periods. I’m OK with that small dose of hormones.

  • Sara May 31, 2012, 9:05 am

    I have been thinking about going off the pill (we want to try to conceive this winter or early spring) but I’m afraid we’ll have a baby sooner if we’re not using something really reliable (like condoms or the pill). It wouldn’t be the end of the world if I got pregnant now, but I’m a bit overweight and wanted to lose at least some weight before conceiving (and we still have a little debt to pay off!) Anyway, good post and I enjoyed reading all the discussion! I’ve been having weird symptoms to my pill lately (cramping throughout the month, a heavy period, then a light one…) but my gyno insists the pill is safe.

  • heathwe May 31, 2012, 9:10 am

    I sort of think of the LAM method as similar to the pill in regards to efficacy. Under perfect conditions the efficacy is high, but I think meeting all those conditions perfectly is difficult and why women wind up pregnant using either method.
    You could always use the LAM method as your foundation and add to it monitoring other signs of fertility (like cervical mucus) and use a back up method only during the times you suspect fertility to be high. This will work with your travel as well.

    • heather May 31, 2012, 9:14 am

      mistyped my own name above! Oops! I am 37 weeks according to my doctor (38 according to me, ha ha). I still don’t know what I am going to do for BC. LAM is not likely an option for me. I started my period exactly 28 days after my daughter was born and I am turned off my the idea of not allowing an embryo to implant. Like you, if I were to get pregnant, it would not be a catastrophe for my family. Luckily, I have pretty obvious fertility signs so that will be helpful.

  • Clare May 31, 2012, 9:17 am

    Funny you should mention the male pill.. I was reading the newspaper on my way home the other day and apparently some researchers have discovered the ‘key’ to creating a male contraceptive pill – I say it won’t be long! This link here goes into a bit more detail, very interesting 🙂


    You look gorgeous by the way!

  • Alex @ Raw Recovery May 31, 2012, 9:47 am

    I actually went to a philosophy colloquium that discussed the male pill and how they actually are working on it. The philosopher who was presenting introduced the idea that in an ideal world, both men and women would be on birth control that would have no side effects for either party and no permanent damage would result or impact fertility, and that if that were to happen, then both a man and woman would have to consent to going off of birth control to procreate. It was really interesting because of the implications for population control, reducing the amount of unwanted pregnancies, etc. Obviously there are ethical concerns and political ramifications of such an idea, were the conjecture to be enforced but it’s interesting to consider none the less.

    • Marissa C May 31, 2012, 5:29 pm

      Ironically NFP meets your criteria 😉

  • colleen May 31, 2012, 9:52 am

    After I got off the pill (10 yrs ago) I haven’t thought about going back. We’ve used condoms (which I know would be pricing for you) and good old chance. The best method for us was getting the husband snipped after number 3. LOL!

  • Lisa May 31, 2012, 10:00 am

    I’m not sure if anyone else mentioned this about the IUD (I didn’t read through all the comments) but when I was in law school, in bankruptcy class, one of the main cases we studied was the bankrupty of A. H. Robins Company, the producer of the IUD, in 1985 due to the severe impact it had on the health of women and some eventual children. It is graphic and horrible and I won’t go into details. Obviously, it was a while ago, the design has changed significantly and science has progressed. But after reading that case, no matter how wonderful the IUD might be now, 30 years later, I will never be able to bring myself to use it. It terrified me.

  • Amanda K. May 31, 2012, 10:08 am

    when my dr. asked me what we wanted to use as birth control, i almost started laughing. are you kidding? do you see this eight-pound birth control in my arms???

    for real, though, be wary of LAM. in the hospital every nurse and doctor warned me against it, and before i was discharged my doc looked me in the eye and said, “Amanda. Be aware that breastfeeding is not birth control. If you don’t believe me, I want you to know that I have a woman in labor right now who has a 10-month old.”

    we used condoms because I didn’t want any hormones while nursing, even though some are supposed to be safe, i just preferr to stay away from them for this short phase of life. (the pill worked great for me before, and i’ll probably go back to it later.)

  • Marie May 31, 2012, 10:18 am

    Britney Spears used the LAM method. That’s all I’m saying.

  • Jess May 31, 2012, 10:18 am

    Almost there! I had my daughter at 38.5 weeks. I was also worried about my water breaking in public, but it broke in my bathroom at home. It’s actually more likely that your water will break at night or in the early morning hours. no idea why but that is what my midwife told me.

    We have been using condoms for the past nearly 11 months. I hate them, husband hates them, but I didn’t want to take the mini pill or get an IUD because we’re planning on having another child in the next year or so. I don’t trust NFP enough to make it our sole form of BC and breastfeeding cannot be trusted as a form of BC. I know too many people who’ve gotten pregnant while EBF like myself.

  • Amy @oveAmyx May 31, 2012, 10:27 am


    I’m late to the party but wanted to sleep on it because I wanted to be helpful without being offensive. To put my comment in perspective I have a relatively ‘easy’ almost 11 week old baby.

    Firstly I’m going to remind you that you appear to have had a fairly straight forward pregnancy as I did. But I’m sure you will admit that it has still been demanding. It’s how my pregnancy was and how being a new mum is. The idea of being pregnant as well as being a new mum scares the shit out of me! So if I were you, I’d cross out the bit about ‘if I get pregnant after 6 months…’ out. Though obviously this isn’t the case for everyone blah blah :o)

    Secondly, I was heavily warned off LAM by every health professional I spoke to, apparently you have to be very scheduled and regular with feeds <— even my easy going boy doesn't allow a regimented schedule of anything lol Given my first point I just felt it posed too much of a risk.

    Thirdly, I have a brain thing so my Doctors will only permit the mirena coil or mini pill. Any other options, they feel, would put me at risk so I assume these are the 'gentlest' forms of contraception. The copper IUD isn't something really offered here but having read up on them I'm not keen on the idea personally.

    Hopefully we'll be ready for #2 within a few years so we've gone for the mini-pill. Although I still need to start them before re-opening the playground haha

    Amy x

  • Katie of Cabbage Ranch May 31, 2012, 10:49 am

    I just saw your morning post saying you were rethinking the LAM method. I didn’t say anything yesterday because I’m not personally educated in that method… but my grandmother used it, and my mom and aunt are 10 1/2 months apart. They grew up verrry close, which was great for them… but as a mother I was thinking RUN AWAY! Haha!

  • Kris May 31, 2012, 11:11 am

    I have to say after reading most of these comments that I’m baffled by use of methods that are pretty risky in terms of accidental pregnancy (LAM, pull and pray) when there are so many other options. I couldn’t take the pill (high blood pressure, migraines) and IUDs weren’t recommended for women w/o children (a few years ago). We used either condoms or a diaphragm for years with no accidents. I know it’s such a personal choice, but it kills me that educated women think they won’t get pregnant with non-barrier or hormonal methods, and I hate to think of teens using pull and pray. Sixteen and Pregnant/Teen Mom anyone?

    • Kris May 31, 2012, 11:13 am

      Oops, non-barrier or non-hormonal methods

    • kate May 31, 2012, 3:10 pm

      We partake in pull and pray (though there isnt much praying taking place) and have for years. I react poorly to hormones, had bad luck with the low hormone nuvaring, havent had children, and am really sensitive to condoms of all kinds. We arent trying to get pregnant but we are stable and healthy enough as far as jobs and relationship is concerned that we would welcome it. I guess there isnt a birth control suitable enough to my needs, which is why weve gone all natural as we can, of course with risks associated.

  • Colleen May 31, 2012, 11:18 am

    I have had a ParaGard IUD for 8 years and I have been incredibly happy with it. I got mine at age 22, quite young but it was the right choice for me. Before getting the IUD, I was constantly terrified that I was pregnant. Since I was on hormonal birth control at the time it was an irrational fear, but I suffered nonetheless. The IUD changed my life by freeing me from that paranoia. I admit that the IUD was VERY painful for the first few months. I experienced a lot of crippling cramps during that period. However, after that phase passed I basically never have cramps, and my periods are no heavier than they had been before. I love feeling confident that I will not get pregnant before I’m ready. It’s also very cost effective and basically 0 maintenance.

  • Cristina @ Tiny Perfect Bites May 31, 2012, 11:25 am

    I have been on the pill for a very long time, and have not had any issues with it. I asked my doctor about an IUD several years ago, but she recommended that I wait until after I’m finished having children, due to risks of infection. I do like the idea of something without hormones.

    LAM makes me nervous–a friend has two children less than a year apart because of it. If I were to try it it would be in conjunction with a barrier method.

  • Morgan @ Morganshines May 31, 2012, 11:31 am

    I had the Paragard placed Feb. 2011…had very bad cramps with it for a while…then in March of 2012, I found out we are expecting our “Less than 1 out of 100” baby. Obviously with odds like that, I believe this baby is meant to be 🙂 Our “IUD” baby is due in November.

  • Ang May 31, 2012, 11:49 am

    I have the copper IUD. I was on the pill for around 15 years and had to quit because my hormone levels became completely out of whack. I was having two periods a month! The cramps and bleeding are slightly worse than when I was using no birth control or the pill but they are tolerable for me. I like not having to think about anything.

    My mother-in-law used LAM and got pregnant four months after my husband was born.

  • Lindsay May 31, 2012, 12:16 pm

    LAM has I think 6 or so factors to it (it’s been a while) but I do remember that 1) no schedules, feed baby on demand. 2) no pacifiers, fingers, etc. your boob is the pacifier and the bc maker. 3) no more than 6 hours between feedings (allowed to happen 1x in 24 hr period. 4) At least 6 feeding in 24 hr period, 1.5 hour total boob time. 5) cosleep/baby close to you, take at least one nap together (baby pheromones help) 6) no supplementing, including extra pumped milk, I did rarely give a bottle of bm but made sure to pump roughly when baby ate it. Most who say they EBF and LAM didnt work, didn’t actually if you probe their circumstances. You have to be primal in your actions if you want primal birth control!! I got these from following sympto thermal method, charted through Sympto app on iPhone) I was super strict about waking DD up at the six hour mark the first 90 days. After that, I got more lax (didnt really need to worry, it was after her birthday that she slept longer than 8.) but always fed on demand, no pacifiers. Baby born march 1, first period thanksgiving weekend, next pregnancy late January following the “prefer not, but F it, let’s roll the dice” method the whole winter. Baby two due in October! I’ll be repeating exactly as I have for this next post partum phase.

    • Marissa C May 31, 2012, 2:01 pm

      Exactly this…I think people forget with NFP methods you have to follow the rules exactly or its effectiveness decreases. Just like if you skip a few pills in your pack artificial BC’s effectiveness decreases too! Yet NFP gets all sorts of bad rap. No one would say, “Well, I skipped a few pills/didn’t use a condom/etc. and got pregnant that BC sucks” but do the same thing for NFP methods.

  • Lindsey May 31, 2012, 12:26 pm

    This might be a little off point and random but think that birth control (and the control of it) should remain in the realm of the woman. I agree that would be great if there was something beyond condoms and snips for men but for some reason I’m relieved that there is not. I can’t really explain or rationalize why though. I support research for it and all but I’m ok with controling that area of life.

    Good luck with your final few weeks on pregnacy. You look so happy and definitely personify the term ‘glowing.’

  • a-nonny-mouse May 31, 2012, 12:41 pm

    My experience with paraguard has been very positive.

    I had bad cramping the first day I got it, and for a couple periods after that. After receiving an acupuncture treatment (where, or where could you get one, Caitlin?) they subsided to less than pre-paraguard. My periods also have lightened overall. I give it five stars for being low maintenance and cost-effective in the long term. And it doesn’t interfere with any of the activities for which you need it in the first place. Perfect BC in my book.

  • Jenn May 31, 2012, 1:06 pm

    My Stepmom got pregnant while breastfeeding. Her period hadn’t ever started up again after giving birth (and didn’t have any other symptoms like morning sickness etc.) so she didn’t find out she was pregnant with my youngest brother until she was nearly 5 months along.

  • Nikki May 31, 2012, 1:18 pm

    I know people who used LAM for birth control, my granny included when ended up pregnant BEFORE they showed their first period. My two uncles are “Catholic Twins” Less than a year apart! Since we know we get pregnant at ovulation which happens before a period a first period is not a great sign to say you are no longer going through amnorrhea… as unless you feel ovulation and/or checking mucus and temps it isn’t completely reliable… that is my personal opinion. So that made me paranoid all the time when I was still breastfeeding. Always paranoid that a nauseated feeling or tiredness was a pregnancy symptom. We went through a lot of wasted tests! BC is a very personal choice between a couple… and I wish you luck in finding what will work the best for you and your hubby! I can’t believe any day now we can get a labour and delivery report! I am excited for you!
    Enjoy every minute of your little one, as they all say it goes by too quickly… I didn’t believe it and remember wishing for the day to come where they could do this, or this developmental step… and now I have an 11 and almost 9 year old and I wish I could get some of those days back! Now I live vicariously through all my friends, and blogs for babies and pregnancies (as half the blogs I read are all just having babies now! Crazy!!)
    All the best Caitlin!

  • Katie May 31, 2012, 1:24 pm

    I think only 8-10% of women go into labor by their water breaking as their first sign. That being said, although it happens differently for every woman, there was no mistaking my water breaking. I was in the shower and when I got out and debated the hospital for a few hours, then finally went to the hospital, it ‘broke’ (and i mean gushed) throughout checking into triage and getting settled into labor and delivery. It was a little embarrassing, but no doubt at all it was my water breaking! So fun this time is for you! Good luck!

  • Ali May 31, 2012, 1:40 pm

    Great post!

    I am currently an IUD user (without kids) and it was unbelievably painful to insert – nearly passed out, and I normally have pretty good pain tolerance. At the time, my doc said that the best time to put an IUD in is actually immediately after a baby is born, when the cervix is already wide open. Apparently they can just pop it in painlessly after the placenta is delivered. Maybe something to think about if you’re not going to rely exclusively on LAM?

    • AmandaonMaui June 1, 2012, 7:54 pm

      My sister had her IUD put in directly after giving birth to her son. Some docs like to wait, some don’t think it’s necessary.

  • Tamara May 31, 2012, 1:53 pm

    An IUD *can* cover up some symptoms of female issues. At least it did with me. I had an IUD for about 6 years through med school and then 2 years after. Hubby and I decided to try for a baby last year so I had it removed. I had assumed that my very heavy, painful periods and week of spotting before my period was all related to the IUD.

    Nope, turns out I have stage 4 endometriosis which was causing most of the symptoms.

  • Hilary May 31, 2012, 2:31 pm

    I haven’t read the comments so I may be repeating. I would suggest you also read Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing by Sheila Kippley if you want a natural approach to birth spacing. It is written from a Catholic perspective, but I don’t remember it being too much for a non-religious person.

    In my experience and what I’ve heard from my LLL groups, it really just depends on the woman. Some women don’t start ovulating for a year (or until they completely wean) and some women ovulate right away, regardless if you are following the ‘rules’ or not. My son was breastfed and never took a pacifier or bottle. I got my first period right before his first birthday and had two long cycles before we conceived baby #2, due any day now. Worked perfectly for us!

    Personally, it strikes me that you said the IUD makes the uterus inhospitable for a fertilized embryo. That means it’s possible you conceive a baby and pass it out. I don’t know what your feelings are about that, but to me that’s a baby, implanted or not. Just something to think about and if you are ok with that.

  • Jill Will Run May 31, 2012, 2:35 pm

    Lots of interesting info here! Postpartum birth control is something I’ve started to think about. (Although, honestly… I’ve not enjoyed pregnancy so my thoughts kept turning toward permanent solutions! Probably not the best state of mind to make those decisions! LOL!) Anyway, I considered Paragard but my husband thinks that we’ll be wanting to get pregnant again a year after this baby is born because “we’re getting old” but there is no way I want that. It seemed expensive to me to have that put in for such a short time.

    I will never use a hormonal birth control again because that masked symptoms while I was in the throes of my eating disorder, convincing me I was not as sick as I truly was. But I suspect we’ll use condoms until we make the more or no more kids decision after this.

    Lots of people have shared stories like this, but… my mom was using LAM after I was born. She got pregnant, miscarried and then later got pregnant again. My brother and I are 17-months apart, which is better than 9-10 but still pretty close. (Great for us while growing up, seems really hard on the parents to me now as an adult expecting a child.)

  • Lindsay May 31, 2012, 3:24 pm

    I am not a mother yet; however, I am not on the pill either. My husband actually brought to my attention how unsafe the pill is which led to further research. My final opinion is that it’s not safe. I went off the pill about nine months ago.

    I’m interested to see what others say in the comments about IUD.

  • Lily May 31, 2012, 4:08 pm

    I do not recommend the Paraguard. Once I got that thing put in, I bled for 2 years straight.

  • Jenny May 31, 2012, 9:50 pm

    Off the pill since February 2008 and have been using condoms. There is no way in my mind that synthetic hormones can be good in our bodies. Are condoms fun for a married couple, no… But we feel confident that we’re minimizing my exposure to toxins.

  • Emily June 1, 2012, 8:35 am

    I know you’ve probably been told this a gazillion times but that picture of you look so radiant and glowing, I hope I look a quarter as radiant as yo when I’m pregnant.

    I use the pill for iron deficiency, I’m not vegetarian but my periods were so heavy and I had polycystic ovaries so the doctor suggested the pill. Since being on it though I hardly get a period which the doctor seems to think is nothing to worry about.

    If I was sexually active I’d probably opt for something different. But because you’ll have had a baby have you considered a mirena?

  • Jess June 3, 2012, 8:22 am

    A friend of mine was breastfeeding her first baby, and her supply was low, and it turned out her supply was low because she was already pregnant. She now has two babies, 13 months apart.

  • Tina June 4, 2012, 2:33 pm

    I had to laugh at LAM–that’s what my partner’s colleague did. And currently she is planning her one year old’s birthday and about 6 or 7 months preggers with twins!

    We went with Mirena. I hated it at first–irregular bleeding and heavier periods for first two months–but now I’m regular again and have much lighter periods.

  • Samantha Cernock June 5, 2012, 7:24 am

    Thank you so much for posting this! I’ve been trying to figure out what birth control method we would use. My daughter is 11 months and I still haven’t had the return of my cycle but I know it could be any moment. I’ve had bad experiences with hormonal birth control and an even worse experience with Mirena. Last night I picked up the book you recommended, and am excited to try something without a reliance on hormones.

  • Jackie June 5, 2012, 4:19 pm

    VCF – vaginal contraceptive film. Look it up – non hormonal and 93% effective when used correctly.

  • Holly June 11, 2012, 10:49 pm

    Great discussion. LAM worked for us. I still haven’t had a period and my son has been on solids for months. (I take a preg test every couple months to be sure) at this point I’d be happy with another but I’m not in a hurry so we’ll keep breastfeeding until he’s two or so.
    LAM also worked for my sister–she actually had to wean to get baby number 2 and she got pregnant one cycle after weaning.
    From the discussion it sounds like we’re the exception to the rule but I think not since the research shows otherwise.

    • Lisa June 29, 2012, 2:48 am

      I’m like Holly (and my sister is the same as well) – as long as I was BF, whether it was once a day when they were 13/14mths, or all the time as newborns, I didn’t get pregnant – and my period always took about 8-10wks to come back after completely stopping breastfeeding so I’m sure I never ovulated until totally stopped. We’ve got 5 children, 4 planned, the last a “sort of” surprise, and have used natural methods since we got married 25yrs ago – I think every woman should be off hormonal BC for a period in their lives so they know how their body works/feels through each cycle. Then again, even now, I wouldn’t be heartbroken if we had another one 😉

  • Jodi July 2, 2012, 10:17 am

    I’ve used FAM for over 3 years- to prevent pregnancy when I was first married and to conceive after 2.5 years. It worked great! I love that it’s all natural- you’re not putting anything into your body. And we got pregnant our second month of trying! 🙂

  • Lara July 25, 2012, 11:30 am

    Hey Caitlin! Just reading this post as I am 38 weeks today 🙂 Quick question…have you discussed what you ended up deciding to use for post-baby birth control?

    • Caitlin July 25, 2012, 12:36 pm

      I’m getting the copper IUD inserted in a few weeks

  • Heidi August 29, 2012, 4:55 pm

    I agree that many doctors tell you nothing about the side effects of being on birth control. I went on the pill at age 14 (to deal with irregular periods) and was on it for a good 15 years, until a doctor suggested trying going off it because my cortisol was so high. Cortisol immediately plunged, and I feel way better not taking those hormones. Not being on bc also really allows you to see what your body is doing with its cycles and whether you need to address anything. I never had a doctor ask me anything about being on it before this one, and I’m so glad she did. Super high cortisol levels are not a good thing.

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