Friday, June 24, 2016

Breaking The Cycle Of Peddling The Pill

Since its inception, the Pill (oral hormonal contraception) has been almost synonymous with freedom, and a huge player in the women's equality movement, so much so, that now to come out as a woman and renounce this form of birth control (or hormone "balancing / regulating" agent as it's prescribed for some) is to be labelled "anti-feminist" or seen as someone fighting against the hard earned rights of women to look after ourselves as we see fit, and the necessary access to what we need in order to accomplish that.  Ok, ok some of our sisters are fighting on the wrong side, I'll give you that.  We see it everyday on the news, especially in an election year; women keeping other women down because ... well, I don't exactly know why, and I'd wager neither do they.
There is, however, another completely different anti-Pill (or more accurately anti-hormonal contraception) movement that's been rumbling for decades but is recently getting a little more recognition thanks to women voicing their concerns about the ravaging effects hormonal contraception (and other hormone based medical treatments) is having on women's bodies, and it has absolutely nothing to do with taking choices, or rights away from any of us.  Quite the opposite, actually, it's about empowering us to make healthy decisions for ourselves instead of relying on governments worldwide that could NOT care less about a single one of us (says the disgruntled ex-PoliSci major ... Just ask Flint, MI), a misogynistic, not to mention corrupt, medical system (especially in America, think AMA the Rockefeller Drug Empire, et al) that still seems to be thoroughly befuddled by female anatomy, and its intricate functions even in 2016 where we continue to be treated as hysterical little girls, and "prescribed" marriage and babies to fix us. Really?  When's the last time a man went to the doctor for a real physical problem, and was told to go have a baby? This is real.  This is the nonsense women have to deal with just trying to get legitimate medical help ... still.  Partner this with a wildly out of control pharmaceutical mafia that really doesn't care if each of us sprouted two tails as side-effects from the poison they fence just so long as they'll be allowed to create and manufacture a new medication to make it fall off, and then another after that to help us grieve the loss of the tails their side-effects created, and I think anyone could begin to see why women white-knuckle their freedom to choose the Pill as a form of contraception so ferociously even if it's probably not the safest, healthiest, and most accurate choice for hormone management, family planning, and cycle correction available to us.

Do I sound a little biased?  I admittedly am.  I have very strong opinions on not just this topic, but the entirety of the cut-now-ask-later, pill popping madness that is Western medicine, however, more than this I believe it is for every woman to decide what is right for her own health and well being, and to follow the correct path for her life, not mine.  We've all got our own walk to walk.  I don't want what I write here to be read as if I'm shaming anyone for choices, or decisions that need to be made, my purpose is to share what I know to be true in my own life, what I've found during my personal research, and to simply add my voice to this growing conversation in the event that a randomly googling woman facing a turning point with a head full of questions can find an answer here that she needed to find at this point in her life, like I (and many others) have had to do when we were unable to find the help we needed down traditional avenues.  I am by no stretch of the imagination, a medical professional, physician, or practitioner of any sort, nor do I pretend to be, I am, however, annoyed that women's wisdom has gone from being this sacred and celebrated knowledge to considered nothing more than wives tales and cockamamie nonsense.  With that said, what I write here will not be medical advice, it will be information, and lists of resources ready to be utilized by anyone interested in furthering their understanding.  

So, why this sudden attack on hormonal contraception?  First of all it's not exactly sudden, co-founder of the National Women's Health Network, author, journalist, and activist Barbara Seaman's book The Doctor's Case Against the Pill first hit shelves in 1969 where she questioned the use of high doses of estrogen coming at us in the form of a daily medication, and the potential for very serious, if not fatal, health risks.  Thirty-four years later she penned The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women: Exploding the Estrogen Myth where we see that she wasn't so wrong to be waving red flags the first time around.  I mean, we're talking about a drug where the side effects include:
Abdominal / stomach / chest pain including shortness of breath
Severe headaches, and migraines
Severe mood-swings, rage, depression, and anxiety
Blurred or loss of vision Swollen, aching, or throbbing legs (which can be a sign of Erythema Nodosum) Increased blood pressure
Gall bladder disease
Benign liver tumors
Increased cervical, and breast cancer risk
Heart attack, stroke, and blood clots
Deep vein thrombosis
Pulmonary embolism
Infertility
All of this can be mine for the low, low price of a monthly co-pay just because I don't want a baby right now?  Sign me up for some liver tumors, and a heart attack, please!  This sounds like utter madness to me, why are we accepting this?  I think part of the reason is because many women are straight up lied to in the doctor's office, I've had several friends (and strangers for that matter) tell me, "The doctor told me there were NO side-effects connected with the birth control pills I was being prescribed."  No ... None ... ZERO.  Has this physician just come back from a parallel universe where this is actually true?  For the record, right here and now there is absolutely NO birth control pill that is absolutely side-effect free.  For the rest of us, I believe the side-effects are majorly downplayed (many of which are only discussed if other risk factors are involved such as smoking, drinking, or obesity) and even then the words "slightly increase your risk" are used in a way that I feel offers a very false sense of comfort, and safety to the patient.  If your doctor, or healthcare practitioner HAS extensively discussed side-effects, and possible dangers with you count yourself lucky for finding a responsible, and well-informed provider, but know that this is not the norm for everyone, it is still a massive struggle for many women to get crucial, and accurate information during office visits.  Another reason I think we accept this dangerous drug into our daily lives, aside from sheer convenience, is that the list of side-effects is so abstract to young women today, kind of how the death, destruction, and absolute horror of foreign war is so incomprehensible to most spoiled Americans (myself included!) that we'll probably never fully wrap our heads around it until our peaceful and idyllic neighborhoods are reduced to rubble, or we're the ones suddenly, and inexplicably (to us) dealing with terrifying adverse health concerns because of some tiny tablet we were told was safe.  This is not a slight to all our little sisters out there, I was the same way.  Strokes, as far as I was concerned, weren't something young, healthy people had to worry or even think about until my thirty-six year old sister (THIRTY-SIX!) ended up in a hospital bed rendered unable to speak or move her body because of a left-brain stroke in the same week she was given a full, and complete "clean bill of health" (her doctor's words, not mine!) by her GP at her annual check-up.  At the time this was beyond shocking ... Now?  Knowing what I know about the healthcare and insurance industries as a whole, and the rampant gross negligence of both, I'm not surprised by what happened to her.  The point being, however, that this was my (possibly my entire family's) personal crash course in blood clots leading to stroke in young people, which like most pharmaceutical side-effects' severity it had all been too intangible for me to really grasp in my daily life.  This event in my sister's life had once, and for all made these things real, and visceral, and frankly terrifying to the degree that it forever changed how I viewed my health, physical body, and how I would be caring for it moving forward.  This is not to say that all of my decisions have now become fear-based, not at all in fact, I believe my decisions have become even more information-based, and that the well I draw from has just become larger in order to include true, first-hand health, and wellness accounts from regular people who have lived what they are telling, as I am no longer comfortable placing my trust solely with a dangerously inadequate medical system.

What's a young woman in a committed relationship, and in the prime of her reproductive years to do then, if not go the route of hormonal birth control?  Perhaps, implant a device (that comes in both hormonal, and non-hormonal options) that up until recently wasn't even recommended in the States for women who've never carried a pregnancy full-term, and can tear through her uterine wall, cause excessive pain, cramping, miserable sex, decreased libido, heavier and longer periods, infections, blockages, scar tissue, damage to other organs, the inevitable copper-poisoning, and unplanned pregnancy like our old friend the IUD, or "coil" as some people call it?  Jeepers, what a generous offer!  Thanks, but no.

I, like many women, don't think it's fair for it to even be an option to risk our own health and very lives just because we want to time our family planning around what works for us, and our relationships.  Put the pitchforks, and torches down ... This isn't some subversive call to action.  I'm not suggesting that we pull all options from the shelves that may pose health risks; some people are fine with that trade-off.  All I'm asking is why hasn't anything better ever been created for us?  Why did doctors, scientists, pharmaceutical reps, and everyone else in the chain stop with a job half done after developing such mediocre products?  If this were happening in a classroom it would be C- work, at best, and yet we're out here singing praises, and chanting "freedom" over things that simply don't deserve it.  Meanwhile, "new" and "improved" models of the same, dusty, old hormone based contraceptives are paraded around in front of us as if it's some how less of a pig because it's wearing lipstick now.  That's not to say advances in this area have all been an enormous waste of time, I think all study in this field have been a step in the right direction, but we're hardly at the goal line, and at this rate we'll never get there without scrutinizing potentially dangerous methods of birth control with valuable critical analysis methods.  An examination of what's working, and what isn't, is not a step backwards, in fact, it's the only way to move forward.

"Liberty is about our rights to question everything."
                  -Ai Weiwei 

And that's exactly what the people at German born Valley Electronics GmbH and sister company Valley Electronics AG (the makers of Lady-Comp®, Baby-Comp®, Pearly®, and Daysy® [daily synchronization]) have done for the last 25 years, and are continuing to do -- ask questions about birth control, and rethink our approach to it.  For so long we've talked about cycle tracking and the Fertility Awareness Method as a means to have a baby, but couldn't the same body literacy, and information be used to not have a baby as well?  The short answer: Absolutely!  Frankly, that's all I needed to hear to spark my own research into this world that reaches beyond natural contraception, and dives deep into the whole Pro-Period movement where women are discarding the shame and stigma surrounding our reproductive organs and menstruation, and embracing once again the wisdom, and knowledge we've become so removed from concerning women's health, and vitality.

My first step was connecting with other pro-natural-health women whose expertise ranged from skincare, to film making, to authorship, gynecology, holistic health coaching, and more to see if I could glean anything from their expertise that surpassed information that my 9th grade Phys. Ed. teacher relayed to us in a borrowed classroom whilst boys giggled every time a female body part was mentioned ... And I did.  So, maybe I wasn't exactly bowled over by new information, but I was impressed with the frankness with which it's shared, the lack of ego, and embarrassment during discussion, and the coming together of like-minded sisters looking for answers and to help one another find theirs as well. Grown folks having open, and honest dialogue that hasn't been bought and paid for by some entity with an agenda of its own, maybe that's what I found so wildly refreshing on this expedition for truth.

My next step was actually ordering the Daysy® fertility calculator, learning how to use it, syncing with the DaysyView app, and letting it get to know me (I will be one month into it by tomorrow, and according to the website, it takes about three full months for the device to really understand your body fluctuations, rhythms, and cycles covered in their extensive FAQ section).  Once it has familiarized itself with your personal cycle it can determine your fertility any day of the month with an accuracy of 99.3% using the same algorithm as the Lady-Comp® device which falls on the Pearl Index at 0.7 ranking it better than cervical caps, condoms, certain contraception patches, and even above NuvaRing, and birth control pill failure rates.  So, I can plan or prevent a pregnancy without harming my body, and with a failure rate less than some of our current most popular and trusted methods, and all it takes is a 30 second temperature reading per day?  Why isn't this being screamed from mountaintops?  I guess it's starting to, and that's a large part of the reason I'm adding my voice to the conversation -- This deserves our attention.  Women, and their partners need to know what's available to them in order to make informed, and healthy decisions for their own lives.

Now down to the brass tacks ...
How much does a Daysy® fertility calculator cost?  The Daysy® is currently retailing for $330.00 USD and is covered by many insurance companies using CODE: A9279 (note that you may need a letter from your doctor saying that you need or want the device), you may also shop THIS LINK (shameless plug) and receive a $10.00 reimbursement on your purchase, also by joining the Daysy® referral program as well you will receive an additional 10% referral commission on each device purchased through your own unique link like mine above.  TODAY ONLY (September 26, 2016) use code: CONTRACEPTION24 at checkout for 20% off your purchase price! Ok, so now you might be thinking "Girl, get real!  You want me to drop that kind of cash on a thermometer so you can get a kickback? Nice try!" 

No.  I don't care where you shop for this device.  I ordered mine, and joined the referral program in order to obtain first-hand experience, and understanding about the product myself to find out if I even like it let alone if I'd ever consider recommending it to anyone.  It turns out that I love it, the referral program works, I've already got a redemption pending, and I was able to score a coupon code from the ladies at The Fifth Vital Sign (which may still be available!) for an additional amount off, just find them on Instagram and ask for it, they'll fork it over if it's still live.  If you're still not sure you can swing it, contact Daysy® in the US & Canada at info@usa.daysy.me and ask about payment plans (for Europe: info@eu.daysy.me, and Switzerland: info@ch.daysy.me).

But it doesn't protect against STIs / STDs!!!  No, no it doesn't, and neither does the pill, patch, ring, shot, implant, IUD, caps, or countless other contraception options that have been trumpeted for years.  This device will help you plan or prevent pregnancies, and familiarize you with your cycle and more fully understand your body. That's it.  This is a device for women in situations they are comfortable not using barrier methods, it is not pretending to be something that it isn't.

So, it's basically just the Rhythm Method?   No.  The Rhythm Method (along with many period tracking apps available today) base their fertility predictions on a lot of assumptions when a woman documents her menstruation data, one being that every woman's cycle is the same length every month (28 - 30 days), and that ovulation always falls at the midway point.  This, as you can imagine, is not true for all women.  The Daysy® device is much more sophisticated than jotting down stop and start days, and guessing somewhere between a stop & start is a fertile window.  Read more here: The Problem With Period Trackers - Holly Grigg-Spall

I have painful, or heavy periods, acne, PCOS, migraines, endometriosis, etc.  Do I need to stay on birth control pills?  Not necessarily.  There are a few resources for you to check out if you have non-pregnancy reasons for using birth control pills, and you may be able to leave them behind for good if you've become unhappy with them and their effects on your body or mood, and mental health.

Christiane Northrup M.D. - What Are The Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance?
Holly Grigg-Spall - Author of Sweetening The Pill here, and here.
Jill Strom - The Basics of Birth Control 
Laura Briden - Author of Period Repair Manual - find her here
Nicole Jardim - Fix Your Period Quickstart Kit
Organic Olivia here, and here.

Further Reading:
Alanis.com
Jessa Blades
Lisa Lister - Author of Code Red & Love Your Lady Landscape
Ricki & Abby

Above all else, be your own guru.  Do not take my word for it, research, read, listen to your body, follow the signs you've been given to realize your goal of optimal health in all areas of your life.  

xoxo 

The Fine Print: 
FTC Affiliate Disclosure
Occasionally on this site you will find links to products I use regularly, have thoroughly vetted for my personal use, and stand behind. Rarely are these links to products or items from companies that I am affiliated with, however, if my affiliation with a particular company I have researched, and support can bring financial benefits to my readers in the form of extra savings on purchases through affiliate-link shopping or coupon codes, and as commission for myself, then I join up, and share it for regular readers, and the casual passersby alike to benefit from at no extra cost to you, or me.  These links will always be clearly, and obviously marked, or discussed.  I don't dig sneaky sales tactics no matter who or what they benefit. All opinions, or reviews posted on this blog are expressly my own, unbiased, and supported by my own testing and research, and belong solely to Stormy Peterson the author, and owner of The Longshoreman's Daughter. Below, you will find products and companies I'm passionate about, and thoroughly support.