Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Storm Before the Calm

I usually hesitate ever so slightly before hitting the Publish button on my new blog posts. For this one, I'm just going for it.

Being a woman is a beating sometimes. We often get a bad wrap for being high maintenance, but it's really inherent to how we were made. We grow up with so many people telling us when the appropriate age is to start this or why to do that. Nothing is clear- there is always a gray area and women are always exceptions to certain rules. People wear me out with that kind of nonsense.

For months now my dermatologist has been trying to get me on birth control. I have finally agreed to try it, so this morning she launched into her speech on what to know, what to expect.

You might be thinking: "hold the phones, why aren't you on it already?!" and I'll answer that: no, because I have no need for it... no, I don't have sex and no, I'm not a nun. Glad we could clear the air on that one. Moving on!

The more important matter at hand was the effect that taking the pill will have on me physically and emotionally. I'm not worried about getting pregnant, I'm worried about what it's going to do to my skin and my body.

I have never been obsessive about food or my weight, but my complexion is a totally different beast. Having had a few minor rounds with bad skin and one major one in college, I will literally do anything to maintain clear, smooth skin. I fortunately do not have visible scars, marks, or redness from my past with acne. It isn't luck, it has come at an expensive price and at the hands of doctors and aestheticians.

In an effort to do one thing that works and in acknowledgment of the fact that I will not be able to continue taking the antibiotic I am currently on indefinitely, my dermatologist is recommending YAZ as my course of action.

I need to bite the bullet and start taking it; I know I do. I've got the prescription ready to go and I'm not so boldy going where millions of women have gone before. I actually went through a six-month stint of taking birth control after my sophomore year of college, which partly explains why I am averse to the idea of taking it again.

Since lists help everything... I made one for Me On The Pill:

1. I have had my current dermatologist for nearly two years; she understands my skin type.
2. My skin has been clear for about three years, so we are not in "damage control" mode. The last time I started the pill, my complexion was already bad.
3. I have an aggressive skin regimen- prescription face wash and topical creams for morning and night and a daily oral antibiotic that has worked wonders for my complexion, whereas the last time I started birth control, I was on no prescriptions and was using only a mild facial cleanser.
4. I live in Dallas, which is significantly less humid than Austin, where I was living at the time for a summer internship, which only aggravated my skin condition.
5. I was prescribed YAZ, which is what the derm herself takes, she told me, and she loves it. The last person who prescribed me the pill was a gynecologist who had seen me one time and was not taking into consideration my skincare needs.

1. Doctor said that my skin will "probably be worse" for three months. PROBABLY? What's the variable?! This is a huge minus for me. Why fix what isn't broken?
2. I was once on birth control and Accutane at the same time for about six months and absolutely hated it. (It is required by law that you are on birth control while taking Accutane.) My skin was terrible and I was in physical pain because of it. I'm not sure if it was either/or, or just the diabolical combination of both.
3. Mood swings and weight gain. I personally did not gain weight the last time I started the pill, but my emotions and hormones were definitely out of whack. Again, I'm not sure if it was the pill, the Accutane or both.
4. I have friends who have had nightmare-ish experiences with different kinds of birth control, including this one.

I've started assaulting some of my friends with questions about it, but I would love feedback from anyone on the pill- did you have breakouts, mood swings or weight gain as a result of starting it? Does anyone else take YAZ? Did everything kind of regulate after a few months or did you still feel like killing someone?

Good, bad, ugly, let me have it.

"Like religion, politics, and family planning, cereal is not a topic to be brought up in public. It's too controversial."
-Erma Bombeck


Mrs. D said...

I have been on the pill for 6 years now and it works great for me.
- I did not gain weight upon taking the pill. I asked my OB about this and he informed me that w/further science and all that, women don't really gain weight when they start taking the pill these days. None of my friends gained weight either. :)
- I never really had acne growing up, but about 3 months before going on the pill, I had the worst round of it I had ever had in my life. Then I started taking the pill and no more acne. I don't get any at all except for literally 1 or 2 small bumps during my cycle.
- I had really bad cramps w/my period and after the pill - POOF - they are gone. Enjoy a pain free cycle.
- I didn't have any mood swings after starting the pill either.. still don't have any.
- I have never taken YAZ, but some of my friends do. There are chances you might spot during the first few months (more like 1-2 mths) but that's just you getting used to being on the pill. I started out on Orthocyclen Lo Dose and after about 6 months I randomly started spotting, so my doctor bumped me up to the regular Orthocyclen and I have been on that for 5 1/2 years problem free.

I wouldn't worry too much about all of the horror stories you hear. I know lots of people on the pill and they don't have any of those problems. They have to tell you that there are all of those possible side affects because at least a few people experienced them. I bought a plastic rubbermaid storage box yesterday and it said on the label not to put small children in the box w/the lid on. It's the same thing.

Oh, if you do feel like you are having mood swings, there is a estrogen free pill as well. I would say give it a shot and just stay on top of cleansing your face. Sorry I wrote a book, but I hope this helps. Feel free to get back to me if you have any other questions, I don't mind. :)

insomniaclolita said...

The reason I dont take the pills are basically the weight gaining it would cause.

Once I'm in a medication so my period cycles will be more normal but then I gained 10 pounds it drives me crazy. I shed it off and never wanna take any hormonal pills ever since.

remember moments said...

I cannot offer any BC advice as it's been many years since I've taken it. I hope it works for you. Try not to stress as that may contribute to breaking out. I know it does for me.

Curious..why do you have to by law be on BC if you are taking Accutane?

Jacqueline said...

I know everyone's body responds different to the pill, but if it makes you feel any better, I didn't gain any weight on the pill and it actually improved my complexion.

The Joiners said...

Hi- so you probably didn't even know that I read your blog, but I do :) Amanda (Nelson) Joiner here, by the way- officially de-lurking! So here are my thoughts for you:

- I didn't get on the pill (Yasmin) until I got engaged, and I have had no skin or weight problems as a result. In fact, I think it has even contributed to me losing a little bit of weight.
-I'm not sure if the skin thing is helpful though, because I've never really had trouble with my skin. But that does mean, however, that it didn't make my skin worse! So there you go.
-Mood swings are a tough call- I usually get very irritable for the 3-4 days before I start... ask my husband for proof. But really, I feel like the rest of the time I am my normal self. But then again, my "normal self" also tends to be a tad moody :)

To sum, I have had a good experience with it. I don't know anything personally about Yaz, but you could always give it a try and switch after 2-3 months if you don't like it!

Good luck:)

And PS- I take it as a personal challenge to figure out which Chi O's you are referring to when you use initials for friends' names in your blog posts. Sometimes it's a real struggle!

justcallmenora said...

Every woman has a different reaction to birth control pills, but YAZ is one of the better ones on the market.

I have been on it for about 2 years now (after being on the patch before that and a different pill before that). I love YAZ. I haven't gained weight, my skin is really clear and my moodiness has seemed to dissipate every month.

But like I said before - every woman has a different reaction. Good luck!

Classy in Philadelphia said...

I'm on Yaz and it seriously hasn't affected my negatively at all. My skin isn't perfect though. I didn't gain weight, and it hasn't messed with my mood at all!

Cheryl said...

My boobs got bigger, and that's reason enough for me to continue taking the pill. Forever.

Anonymous said...

I don't know a lot about BC because I also choose to abstain from sex. However, I was on BC while taking Accutane, and it messed me up pretty bad (the Accutane that is). I would love to hear more about your experience on Accutane. Maybe it was being on the medicine during some formulative years of college, but I wouldn't recommend that to anyone. The negative doesn't outweigh the positive. Good luck with what you choose!

nory said...

I have taken several different pills in my life, all for medical reasons and I did have bad mood swings, swollen boobs but I never gained any weight from it and my complexion never got worse. It took about three months to get used to each kind of pill.

I am now on Nuva Ring which works very well for regulation of the monthly cycle, I have a great complexion, shorter periods and I don't have to remember to take anything. It's a very low-dose and I LOVE it.

All I can suggest is do what you are comfortable with, either way.

Good luck!

themanhattantransfer said...

Seriously thanks everyone- I am going to try it and pray for good results... I honestly think it was the Accutane that was my problem the first time.

For those of you inquiring about Accutane:

1. It is essentially the strongest prescription you can get to treat acne. It can cause severe, life-threatening birth defects if you get pregnant while taking it, and so you are required to take monthly blood tests to ensure you are not pregnant. You have to sign documents stating that you understand this and that you are on a primary form of birth control. You cannot donate blood while on Accutane or for a period of time after finishing your dosage.

2. The medicine itself, from my experience, completely purges your body's pores of oil and dries out your skin. In doing this, if you already have clogged pores, it causes you to break out because the medication expels everything under the surface. I got to a point of only having to wash my hair every third day, because of the lack of oil my body was producing.

My skin was ultra sensitive and I had bad breakouts for several months before my complexion cleared. I was definitely moody and miserable for a while. If I had it to do over again, I would not have taken it. After finishing Accutane I went through light and laser treatments, as well as doing rounds of microdermabrasion to repair the damage to my skin.

If anyone wants to know more, please feel free to email me!

Anonymous said...

you dont know me, i dont know you, but somehow i stumbled upon your blog and here we are...

dont do it!
on the list of cons, you fail to mention the increased risk of breast cancer, spider/varicose veins, increased risk of DVTs (blood clots), a risk of a dangerous increase in K+ (will make your heart stop)... I've been on YAZ for around 2 years, and was on Yasmin before that for about 2 years. (got on it because i got married) when i got on yasmin my hormones were crazy for about 3 months. i mean UNcontrollable. once i started taking YAZ i began to get heart palpitations, visible nasty veins which will later in life become even uglier varicose veins, and just my overall body feels OLD. everything pops and cracks. i'm 24. this shouldn't be the case. my good friend is also on YAZ and has the exact same issues. i can't say that all of this is attributable to the pill, but it all seems ever so slightly (or greatly) correlated. So, i got off of it and decided i'd rather risk getting pregant than do more harm to my body.

However, i didn't experience weight gain and what little acne i did experience went away. my question is, why take birth control if your face is under control now? i believe you'll be doing a lot more harm to your body that could potentially be life threatening (cancer, DVTs,..) by taking birth control. if you want to solve the acne problem, you have to get to the root of it without harming the rest of your body. just my humble observation and opinion..
good luck!

Carrie said...

Hello dear. I'm clearly a step behind everyone on this post, but I'm throwing my two cents in as well. I actually JUST started taking YAZ for the same reasons (as in, I've been on it for 3 weeks now). So far, so good. My dermatologist and gynecologist both raved about it, so I decided to try it. My dermatologist said it actually has acne medicine built into it...added bonus. My face hasn't gotten worse since I've started taking it, but that may have something to do with all the face wash and creams I'm using along with it. But again, I've just started.