Birth Control and Gynecologist

I’m not exactly sure where to post this but this seems to be the best place, so here I go.

First of all, how is one supposed to approach the issue of wanting to come off the birth control pill with her gynecologist?

When I was 11 years old I had issues of heavy bleeding during monthly periods. Mom takes me to the doctor and they prescribe me with birth control to control the heavy bleeding as well as the acne. I have never used it for anything else other than these 2 things: acne and heavy bleeding. I have always been celibate (currently living 98% of my life being single).

I realize the whole “taking birth control as medication” is not so much a black-or-white issue in the Church, but I made the decision that I just can’t stand taking “the pill” anymore as a medication. I know about the disastrous side-effects of birth control, not to mention the fact that doctors usually prescribe it to treat the symptom, not the problem. As a teenager I had no idea what “birth control” was. I realize that if I am ever called the vocation of marriage, birth control pills being taken as medication would have to go.

I often wonder why I duped myself for so long even though I have never used birth control as a contraceptive. I just can’t stand the fact that I’m “tricking” my body, messing up my hormones, and the fact that I’m just pumping my body full of these dangerous chemicals which are not needed.

I do not have any experience with discussing these things with doctors or my gynecologist. I’m assuming that I would have to tell her the history of why I was originally put on birth control, and how my heavy bleeding problem was never really addressed. I also realize that coming off “the pill” will make my hormones go crazy as well as the fact that I will probably return to heavy cramping and bleeding. I’m assuming also, that I would need to discuss alternative medications that I could take to combat the horrible cramping and bleeding I originally experienced?

Sorry for the long post but I’m assuming there are other women on CAF who have went through this process of “coming off the pill” and how I should go about discussing this with my gynecologist (not knowing how she is going to react and all). Note that I only need advice with how I should go about discussing this issue with my gynecologist.

I haven’t been in this situation, but is there any possibility that you could talk to a gynecologist who won’t give you a hard time about it, but will offer constructive advice?

I’m sure that someone here will chime in with a suggestion to speak to a NaPro doc, and I’ve heard they can be great! (They use only OBGYN-related technology and treatments approved by the Church.) If there’s one in your area and covered by your insurance, that may be a good place to start because they may be more familiar with other, non-hormonal-birth-control methods of handling your symptoms. However, not all non-NaPro OBGYNs will give you a hard time about it. Talk to other Catholic women in your area, and look on One More Soul’s website for doctor recommendations.

Before talking to your doctor, it might be helpful to make out a list of questions or concerns you have about this process. I.e., “What are my pain relief options? X and Y didn’t work for me back then; is there something else available now?” Etc.

Best of luck!

I had this discussion with my gynecologist. I started taking the Pill because the same gynecologist pressured me into going on it, even though I really didn’t need to and wasn’t sexually active at the time.

Here’s the thing: you don’t owe it to your gynecologist to remain on the prescription. Even if she writes you a new one, you don’t have to fill it. I would simply say, “I would like to stop using the Pill. I was put on it to alleviate these symptoms. In case these symptoms return, what else can I try to manage?” If she belittles you, thinks you’re making it up, or tells you there is no other way to manage the symptoms, then you can find a new one. My (happily former) gyn was like that. But not all are.

You might also find that your symptoms don’t return, or they do briefly as an adjustment to being off the medication and then you are fine. It’s not guaranteed that they will come back.

Good luck!

I tend to think the use of the pill as a legitimate medical treatment gets demonised a bit in Catholic circles, but…

As a patient you have the right to refuse any suggested treatment.

As a doctor your gynecologist has the obligation to recommend the best treatments available, and so you can probably expect a robust discussion. But you still have the right to refuse to take the pill and ask for alternative treatments.

Making a list of questions and concerns is a great idea. I will do that.

I have heard of NaPro Technology but there are currently no NaPro doctors in my area. I guess I just don’t know what my gynecologist will say. I do not know if she is pro-life or not. Is this something I’m allowed to ask her? I have only seen my gynecologist twice and she has always been nice, but then again I’ve never discussed birth control with her.

First of all I’ll state that I’m not a doctor, not a woman, and not Catholic. That said, here goes…

My wife has heavy monthly cycles too. So much so that it saps her energy. When she was on the pill she had normal predictable cycles and was ok. When she got off the pill the first few cycles were short (fewer days than usual from start to the next start), particularly heavy, and stuff I shouldn’t expand upon on this type of forum.

Not sure if your issue is similar, but most likely the treatment for your condition might involve a procedure which they only advise for women whom have already had children. That is why the pill ends up being symptom relief.

As far as tolerating the heavy cycles my best advice is basically 2 things :

  1. take a multi vitamin that includes iron.
  2. 7-10 days before “the visit” include more red meat and dark greens in your meals.

This will not resolve anything but it seems to lessen the fatigue somewhat.

I personally have not asked a doctor if they share my views, but I have let them know about my views and how that impacts my healthcare decisions. They don’t have to agree, but they do need to respect me. Good doctors will listen to their patients.

Now, I agree with underacloud that use of the Pill to alleviate the symptoms you’re having is legitimate. Hormone therapy is OK, and that’s what the Pill is. Medication is morally neutral. It’s intention that matters. You are not intending to use it to contracept. At the same time, I can understand your unease about continuing to use it, and your doctor should be respectful of that, because there are alternative treatments for your symptoms.

It’s possible that your gynecologist will not be receptive to you. But it’s also possible that she will. You won’t know unless you ask. Worst that can happen is you find out she’s not a good doctor for you after all and you find someone else. Even if you don’t have a NaPro doctor available, are there other gynecologists?

You can ask her; whether or not the question will be well-received depends on your relationship with her and how open she is with people she sees in a professional setting about that kind of thing.

One question I would ask is what is causing the heavy periods and then i would ask what are all the options for treatment that would promote fertility. Basically, indicate to your doctor you want to get to the bottom of this and treat the disease or disorder once and for all.

Keep in mind that some problems can be treated only with hormone pills or something even more radical like a hysterectomy. It isn’t wrong to take hormone pills to treat heavy periods, etc. even if you are engaging in the marital act. It’s only sinful if used specifically as a contraceptive.

I have never asked any of my doctors about their religious or moral beliefs, but I do expect them to respect mine.

Since I’ve dealt with many medical professionals, I have no problem letting them know (politely) that I am Catholic and pro-life, and I want my treatment options to reflect that. I’ve only had difficulty with one doctor (out of at least a dozen) who was a little too pushy about birth control even after I was clear that I didn’t want to take that route, so I simply found another one who was much more respectful (even though he didn’t always agree with me).

In your situation, I’d simply say something like, “I was put on the pill when I was 11 due to heavy bleeding during periods and to help with acne problems. I’d like to get off the pill now for personal (and/or religious) reasons. Do you think the heavy bleeding is likely to still be a problem, and if so, what are my treatment options?” (And, as a side note, if the acne returns, I’d probably go to a skin care specialist or dermatologist rather than a gynecologist for help with that.)

I don’t think you need to discuss your reasons in detail unless she asks in order to better accommodate your expectations… and even then, she should be respectful about it even if she doesn’t agree with your beliefs. She may truly believe that the pill is currently your best treatment option, but she should offer at least one “second-best” option.

As a woman, I will expand on what you have said, just enough to point out that the OP has a right to pursue treatment for the original problem - before going through half a lifetime of misery. I don’t know if she has painful cramps but heavy bleeding is a problem in itself as it can not only cause the anemia you describe but, well, it’s just gross and embarrassing and can restrict a gal in major areas of her life such as employment. When you go to the restroom and are in there 15-20 minutes, then finally come back to your workstation only to have to make a mad dash 2 minutes later :eek: and are seriously considering Depends, that’s a problem.

Endometrial ablation is the procedure that would cause infertility. I was 46 when I was considering it. But then things took a turn, a tumor was found, and I ended up going the hysterectomy route. One of my first thoughts upon awakening from anesthesia was “No more periods!” :extrahappy: Ahem. Back to the OP’s dilemma - you just have to be polite but firm and if you meet up with opposition from the doctor, keep asking questions such as “Well, what else is available?” or “What do you think about trying (whatever) as an alternative?” It also helps to know ahead of time what insurance companies will and won’t consider for your condition and possibly age bracket. I had asked about hysterectomy a few years before and been told things weren’t bad enough. I felt despair like there were no options. I kind of wonder if I should’ve pushed a bit harder. But in God’s timing it did finally work out. It seems to be one of those cases where it’s hard to convey to the doctor how much suffering it truly causes, and yet also respectfully decline the pill option because that isn’t working out - because it does seem that insurance companies tend to favor that one because it’s cheaper.

IMO BCP’s have made gynocologiats lazy!!!

Heavy bleeding, prescribe a pill … Well, what caused the heavy bleeding? In my personal experience, when I abstained from fake surgers (Sacarin, nutra sweet, stevia, and agavi) my menestration cycle went from super heavy mega flow to normal within a month. I told my BFF about this before she was scheduled for surgery, and she abstained from fake surgars too; resulted in no surgery. I know several people who have experienced endomitriosis (also huge fake surgar consumers) and have only been give a pill for their medical problems. When will these gynocologiats do real research instead of taking the lazy way of per scribing a pill?

Add to the research that when women digest birthcontrol pill and urinate they are polluting the water supply. Forbes indicates that it will cost million/billions to fix our water purifying systems to do the triple reverse osmosis filtration. forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2012/06/03/women-on-contraceptive-pill-should-pay-1500-a-year-more-tax/

Anyways, I’d imagine we would have more cures if doctors didn’t hand out BCP’s like candy and did real research.

The more I think about the corelation between gyno problems and artifical sweetners, the madder I get. Women use artificial sweeteners to get thin, get heavy periods, then are prescribed BCP’s ( which cause the woman to gain weight like she’s pregnant ) thereby causing her to consume more artificial sweeteners … Causing heavy flow to return … To which doctor prescribes heavier BCP (so lazy) … Causing a vicious cycle!!! Grrrrrrr.

Can’t anyone but me see this ugly correlation?!?!?

Hey OP,

As a previous poster mentioned, you can look for NFP-friendly doctors through OneMoreSoul. They aren’t all NaPro (since that’s specifically with the Creighton method), but they can still help you with a holistic approach. Even if your current doctor isn’t in the NFP scene, discuss alternatives.

Having needlessly suffered from “woman problems” like you, I finally found some relief after using tips from 2 books.
1.) “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Tony Weschler (a secular book but with tons of information) and
2.) “Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition” by Marilyn M. Shannon. They’re so informative, and a good for getting past that fear of asking about alternatives because you know what’s possible.

Way before running across these books, I did find that a certain syrupy granola bar made my face erupt like Mt. St. Helen’s, and someone else gets pimples when they eat pecans. :shrug: Plenty of fiber and water from fresh veggies doesn’t hurt, either. (Don’t want to get in trouble for providing any “medical” advice, but pm me if you’d like this acne veteran’s “secret weapon”. :thumbsup:

HerCrazierHalf, maybe your wife can find some extra relief with these, too! They address abnormally heavy bleeding, among other things. And, it works.

This pretty much sums up what I was trying to express in my last post. There’s no reason to be antagonistic (not that I think you would be), just courteous, clear, polite and firm.

If she disagrees with you, you might acknowledge that but still ask for her opinion: “I understand and respect your opinion on this, but it’s very important to me that I at least try getting off the birth control. For the sake of argument, if you had a patient who couldn’t use hormonal birth control for some health-related reason but who had these other symptoms, what would you suggest to her?”

As other posters have mentioned, of course, you don’t have to do this from a moral perspective, but I imagine judging from your OP you are aware of your options and wish to pursue ones other than HBC.

I’ll take a look and see. It is the oddest thing to know what causes it but also that the procedure to fix it carries a risk of causing infertility.

To the OP, one of the questions should be if the underlying condition is likely to get worse once off the pill. While on the pill the cause shrunk marginally, but after stopping the pill it got worse (measurably larger) than before.:shrug:

I had a similar situation, although my condition wasn’t as bad.

Where I live it’s difficult to find a doctor who will not take the easy way out by prescribing the pill and even more difficult to find one who will not look down on NFP, especially for religious reasons.

But I talked to my doctor about it right away, told her that I would accept the pill as the last possible option, but that I would like to try other methods before that. Emphasis on methodS, not one thing for two weeks and then the pill just because it’s easier.
I also talked to her about contraception, she knows we are on NFP and she is okay with that, she just wanted to make sure I was okay with a possible pregnancy as the outcome.

Be honest and don’t let them push you around. You can be polite and firm at the same time.
The doctor is working for you and it is his/her job to find a solution that works best for you, not for him/her.

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Since I am not catholic, i have been on the pill and had the coil for hormone therapy and birth control. After the coil caused havoc, I decided I didn’t want hormones anywhere near me. I simply stated this to my doctor. Doctors have a duty to offer the best treatment options, however you are not obliged to take it. You simply have to state that you wish to stop the pill since you are catholic.

There are non birth control meds available to control heavy periods. I was offered one but refused that too as I’m not keen on taking meds in general. I just put up with the once a month occurance and learned to live with it. Its called something like transaxamic acid (can’t spell it) if you want to ask the doc about it.

Often heavy periods are just bad luck so there isn’t much to address. There are tests to check for endometriosis or fibroids for example which can increase periods but again, its mainly things you have to live with. I had a fibroid removed but still have heavy periods. So taking a list of questions and discussing alternative tests/options is definitely a good idea.

Main point, doctors are supposed to be approachable and adaptable, never be afraid to say no, ask questions or ask for a second opinion

Your gynecologist should respect your desire not to be on the BCP. If not you should go to another gynecologist. There are many many medical reasons why you couldn’t take birth control pills anyway, like vein thrombosis, in which case you would need another treatment for the bleeding. You shouldn’t be afraid of expressing your preference to the doctor. Remember she’s heard and seen all kinds of weird things. This isn’t one of them.

I think the IUS is one of the most common treatments for heavy bleeding nowadays. It’s a form of contraception too, of course.

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