Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My Story: Birth Control and Infertility

I saw an article today that the FDA has approved the sale of a non-perscription "Plan B" morning-after pill for teenagers. To learn more about it you can read HERE. It made me sad to think that poor young girls have one more reason to be sexually active; we have taken away one of the biggest "consequences" of the act. Or have we? I have learned recently that some of these "miracle" pills might have more consequences than we think.

I know that many of us are sensitive about the subject of birth control, but I would like to take this opportunity to share my story with you about how birth control has affected my life and why I have decided not to use it again.

As a teenager, when I fell away from my faith, I did not make the best decisions. This led to me falling into sexual sin which I am not at all proud of. At age 19 I struggled with a weird type of acne that actually developed inside my ear canal and was very painful. When my doctor suggested I go onto the birth control pill to help with the acne, I thought it was a great idea. I would get perfect skin, and I was protected from having children at that age.

I came to realize the error in my ways when I found my faith again, and I stepped away from my sexual sin. I will write more about this later, but let me take a moment to encourage all women who are reading this to stay strong and don't give in to sexual sin. It can only hurt your heart and your future marriage.

When I tried to stop taking the pill, my ear acne came back, so I stayed on it for a while longer. I ended up taking it a total of 3-4 years. I stopped taking it eventually, my cycle immediately regulated, and I never thought about it again. Now I am married and have been unable to have children. I have prayed and tried to come to terms with God's plan for my life. I resisted any kind of testing, even after I got pregnant last September and miscarried just a few days later.

Then my sister got involved in my story. She lost multiple babies through miscarriages, but was finally able to have her son several years ago. One day she started struggling with debilitating hip pain and no doctor could figure out what was wrong. After years with the pain, she went to a natural doctor who tested her hormones and found her progesterone levels were very low. The doctor helped her regulate her hormones and the pain is now gone! Miracle! The doctor also told her that low progesterone makes it difficult to keep a pregnancy, and may be a reason she miscarried so many times.

So a few months ago I got a call from my sister encouraging me to get my hormones checked. After I miscarried, she began to worry I had the same issue as her. I prayed about it and talked with my husband and we decided it was worth looking into. If my hormones were off, my body might be naturally aborting any pregnancy I have in the early stages, and I definitely think children need to be protected from day 1.

So I went to a doctor to speak with him about this, and imagine my shock when he asked if I had ever been on the birth control pill. He said that birth control pills are a very common cause of infertility because sometimes your body doesn't boot itself back up to make all the hormones it needs to when you stop feeding it hormones via pill. Even if your cycle looks completely normal, like mine did, it doesn't mean everything is just right. He said "women who take birth control pills are the #1 infertility patients". I was shocked. I was numb. I was so angry with myself.

I then asked him "Why don't they tell teenage girls this when they get put on the pill?! Why have I never heard any of this before?!"

And he said words that completely shocked me again: "Because teen pregnancy is a bigger issue and much harder to treat than infertility."

That completely floored me. You mean I wasn't fully informed about this because it is more important that teenage girls can have sex than married women can have babies? What a sad, sad world we live in when that becomes the normal way of thinking. 

I ended up getting my hormones checked and low and behold I had the same issue as my sister and the same issue the doctor said comes commonly with use of the birth control pills. My progesterone levels were too low to maintain a pregnancy or even to ovulate properly.

Now don't get me wrong, I believe that God is the author of life. But I also believe in medicine and that in a fallen world sometimes our bodies become just as corrupted by illness as our minds become corrupted with sin. It doesn't mean God can't overcome those illnesses if he wanted to. He could give me a baby right now if that was his will. But the point here is that my body itself is actually not balanced, and the last thing I wanted was to end up with the severe pain and issues my sister had or to be naturally aborting any pregnancies I was blessed with.

So I am currently working to correct my hormone imbalance and getting my body back to doing what it should be doing naturally. Hopefully this will make my body better able to carry a child, and I pray daily that God blesses us with one. But I also accept that if my body ends up balanced, I may still be unable to have a baby. I am choosing to trust God in that.

I know that many women take birth control pills for years and never have issues getting pregnant. But the problem is we never hear about the other women, who suffer from the consequences of taking the pill.

Society has taught us that these miracle pills are supposed to cure all female issues, and it has become normal to put teenage girls on them. Then our hearts break with all the stories of infertility and struggle. Don't get me wrong, I know there are many other causes of infertility than the birth control pill, but to learn that it is one of the largest contributors to these issues has broken my heart. It makes me wonder what kind of issues this new "Plan B" drug will cause for young girls before they've even begun to think about having a family.

My sister's issues began after she used birth control pills and an IUD. I have come to realize that God made my body to work in a very specific way. I need to honor the way I was made and honor the fact that children are meant to be the fruits of marriage. To learn more about why I will no longer use birth control, you can check out THIS post I wrote on population control.

I'd appreciate your prayers as I go through this time of healing. I am hopeful, but I know that the creation of life is ultimately in God's hands.

12 comments:

  1. I am also in the process of helping my body balance hormones, however my imbalance is brought on by a pituitary tumor. I was wondering what it was you were doing to help balance your hormones?

    By the way, I completely agree. The side effects of the birth control pill need to be more publicly known, ladies need to be warned. It is NOT a care-free pill!

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    1. I am taking a TON of vitamin supplements that my sister took to correct her imbalance, as well as changing my diet to encourage a hormone balance. If that does not work I will move on to using pharmaceuticals to fix the issue. The goal is to trick my body into producing what it needs on its own.

      I'm open to any ideas you may have to balance my hormones!

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    2. You can read my treatment plan on my blog: http://committedtojoy.jcenvisions.com/pituitary-tumor-update-treatment-plan/

      Basically it's a clean diet, chasteberry extract (AKA Vitex), and lots of greens. It has dramatically changed the way we eat. And the extract has really helped my symptoms, I have a high level of prolactin so I always feel like I'm in my first trimester, without even being pregnant. I hope some of this helps, although it sounds like you're already taking great steps in the right direction.

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  2. Praying for you and your husband.

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  3. Thank you for taking the time to share this. I had known that the pill causes many women to have fertility issues after being on it and then quitting, but I had never had a chance to actually read about someone's story. It was more just "one of those things" that I heard somewhere.
    I'm so happy for you that you're on the path to healing your body! I pray that God blesses your endeavors!

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing this, Amy! I took The Pill initially in marriage because I did not know of any other means. In time, I became conflicted regarding health, fertility and spiritual implications. I then learned about the Fertility Awareness Method. Through charting, I observed I was experiencing shortened phase related to insufficient progesterone. I then put the pieces together and realized that this was precisely the component of The Pill I was on, and now my body didn't seem to be able to manage things on its own. My husband and I have been trying to conceive, but without any luck so far. To desire a child and not have one is so painful. To realize that your choices could have created that result is even worse. It's such a deep ache in my heart that extends to so many young girls who are only presented with The Pill in response to reproductive or hormonal matters. Ultimately, I know it's each woman's decision. My heart is passionate, however, to at least present them with other options from which to make that choice. Thank you again for sharing your journey, and doing just that. I could easily relate and found such encouragement in being joined in standing against The Pill. I've been praying for a little one for my husband and I, and will also pray for your family as well. :)

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing Whitney! I 100% feel your pain, as it is the same that I live with as well. Like you, I charted my cycles, but did not see any issues in it. I never would have known about my progesterone issue unless I went in for a blood test like I did, because my cycle showed every sign that I was ovulating normally and everything.
      I'll be praying for you!

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  5. Amy thank you so much for taking the time to write this!! I hate to say it, but I have been hearing about this more and more - challenges with infertility after having been on the pill.

    It is interesting how your doctor mentioned that teen pregnancy has been determined to be an issue that needs to be addressed more than infertility. I have never been sexually active, but was put on the pill for about 8 months in college when I had some challenges with my cycle. Although the pill was supposed to fix things - it ended up messing more hormones up even more than they were before! Additionally, around that time I was living with 5 other girls - 4 of whom were also on the pill for reasons other than birth control (some even simply because it was more "convenient"). I don't think the dangers of the pill are spoken out about nearly enough - regardless of what ones position is on using birth control, the pill is being prescribed to so many women...and SO many teens! I wholeheartedly agree with Whitney - it is nice to find someone else who shares this same stance!

    You and your husband will be in my prayers!!

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  6. I pray that God would use these methods to correct your hormones so that your body will work as He so wisely designed it. And I hope that he blesses you with children to raise for His glory!

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  7. I pray that God would use these methods to heal your body back to how He so wisely designed it. And I hope he blesses you with children to raise for His glory!

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  8. I have been praying for your arms to be filled with a sweet little one regularly Amy!
    This whole issue of over-prescription of the pill (although I wish it didn't exist at all sometimes) and the issues it causes is something I get really upset about.
    I have two dear loved ones who have been impacted by the pill. A family member who was on it long term and got breast cancer (and was directly told by her oncologist that it was caused by long-term Pill use, although no one ever told her of that risk when they gave her the scripts), and a dear family member who was on it from early teens due to hormone issues, and struggled for three years to conceive a child. She also had progesterone issues, but figured it out herself after being told that she was infertile and needed IVF. After discovering the progesterone problem she treated it naturally and was slowly healed. Her little boy is 5 weeks old this week :)
    I am believing for you in prayer sister! Isn't it a mercy that, even though we are wayward and may suffer physically for choices made in the past- that our father God makes a way for us? (I speak of the knowledge and availability He has provided to heal the low progesterone women experience as a result of Pill usage). He is so good!

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  9. That's frightening to think about. TMI time: I've been on the pill since I was about 16, so for 12 years, off and on. Without it, my cycle isn't regular in that it doesn't exist without the pill. I've always been worried I won't be able to have children because of the lack of a period but now it's even scarier to think about.

    Definitely praying for your hormones to get back to good. I love that your faith doesn't seem to fade over all of this and that you seem to be giving it to God and letting it go, so to speak. I know that something good will happen for you. You'll make a wonderful mama one day.

    -Amber
    (xmydearambellina.com)

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I love to fellowship with others and hear what they have to say. I would ask, however, that you be mindful of what you write and try to be uplifting and respectful. Thank you for sharing!