I’m a 20-year-old college student currently studying abroad. Right before I left the States in August, I went on birth control for medical reasons. The last couple of years, I’ve had severe cramps and a heavy flow that began to interfere with my ability to function in school, my jobs, and social situations. I also experience headaches, backaches, dizziness, and nausea. Basically, it’s the worst week+ ever. After talking to my doctor, she prescribed a specific dosage of BC to help clear up these problems. So far it’s been amazing. I feel like I have my life back.
My question is, what happens when I get married someday? Do I have to stop taking the BC, even though I’m using it for medical reasons?
I’m sorry if this question has been answered already. This is just a situation I want to consider carefully. Thank you!
As of now, you are not using the medication as birth control, so you are not sinning. I will say that many OBGYNs are very quick to prescribe the stuff wthout any physical or blood tests to determine the underlying problem of what was causing your original symptoms, which is a pretty dangerous practice considering the known side effects of estrogen based birth control pills. You don’t say what your diagnosis was or if any diagnosis effort was done on the part of your doctor before writing this prescription, so if you think a second opinion might be warrented, you should probably seek one out. I used to have very painful cramps and irregular cycles and I was actually afraid to go to the OBGYN because I was sure he would just try to put me on birth control for the rest of my life. When I finally went I found out that I had irregular production of progesterone and that I needed to be treated for that. Estrogen based birth control would have been the exact opposite of what I needed.
Once a woman knows for sure that the birth control medication is the best and most reasonable option for her medical issues, and the purpose is not simply to contracept, then it is not sinful for her to take it. There’s alot of strong opinons on the subject, but I tend to agree that it is best for a married couple to abstain for a few days during her fertile period is both prudent and moral because the plain truth is that the pill doesn’t always work and doing so can prevent or at least lesson a known chance of a chemical abortion.
Strictly speaking, you are not taking “birth control” now. You are simply taking medicine to treat a specific illness, which is never sinful. Contraception is a goal, not a drug.
Even if you were married, it would not necessarily be sinful to take this medicine. However, the unintended side effect of disrupting your fertility could be damaging your relationship with your husband. You may elevate sex other intimacy, and find yourselves emotionally unprepared if you become pregnant anyways. As a single woman now, you may also be more tempted to engage in illicit sexual relationships.
So long as you remain chaste*, you are not sinning by taking this medicine, especially in the short term. Over the long term, you may ask your doctors about less invasive treatments that don’t disrupt your fertility.
*Chasity applies to both single and married individuals. For those who are single, it means refraining from overtly sexual relationships and all forms of illicit sexual stimulation. For those who are married, it means having a sexual relationship with only one’s spouse, and refraining from the goal of contraception.
As with any medication, there are side effects, this would include using a bc pill for medical reasons. The side effect would be possible infertility, but also an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and other things.
While it may be what your doctor prescribed, as they did with my wife and her ovarian cysts, you might want to look for a more natural alternative that isn’t harmful to your body.
You are not sinning, but I would not consider it the best option.
When you return and if/when you get married, I’d find a doctor that understands the female body and can give you a better treatment option than bc pills. The longer you are on the pill the more at risk you are for terrible side effects like blood clots and increased risk of breast cancer. As one pro life doctor told me, the pill only MASKS the symptoms…
Disclaimer: I’m no medical person and this is not medical advice.
That said, some doctors are surprisingly uninterested in resolving the CAUSE of physical problems than they are in medicating the symptoms, even indefinitely. It might be a good idea to get a second opinion from an OBGYN who professes to be interested in actually diagnosing the problem and investigating the potential for resolving it without resorting to indefinite hormonal treatments.
But as said by others, if the primary intent is to address medical symptoms rather than to attempt to have sex with no resulting babies, it’s not innately sinful. Some will argue that the pill sometimes acts to prevent implantation rather than suppressing ovulation. That’s a concern, but it’s hard to tell where the science falls as the chance of that happening is disputed. Most pills do come with a fine print sheet disclosing that risk though. That says something…
Allegra is making a great point. Too many doctors like to put teenagers on birth control when there is not a real need for it and there are too many downsides. Maybe a second opinion wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Thanks for the responses. I’m not looking for another medication. This looked like my only viable option. My doctor did not “rush” into prescribing this to me. She truly felt that it would be my best choice in the circumstances, and I trust her. I’m well aware of possible side effects and am willing to take that chance with my body. It’s absolute torture feeling limited by your own body-- I’m okay with doing this.
I won’t presume to guess how thoroughly you have already discussed your options, so I offer the following only as general advise.
The medicine you’re taking likely works by replacing your natural cycle with a predetermined cycle dictated varying the amount of hormone in the pill you take each day. You must then take the pills strictly in order to properly regulate your cycle.
Some women simply have a natural cycle that is not uniform, and such hormonal medicine may be the best solution. Others might have some underlying condition that is causing the disruption, and other treatments might be available.
The best thing you can do is become educated about the medicines you are taking and about the causes of severe cramps and cycle disruption so that you can have an informed conversation with your doctor.
By being better informed about your condition, you can better work with your doctor to find the best treatment, especially once marriage and children are on the horizon.
No advice for you, but wanted to let you know that you’re not alone. I’m on BCP for debilitating cramps as well, and it’s not a hasty decision or easy to drop. I’ve tried various other things, from teas to supplements to other drugs, and the only thing that made an appreciable dent was the hormonal pills. I even tried going off them for a time to see if things were better with age, and while things were fine at first, the pain and irregular cycles eventually returned, thus making it necessary for me to take the pills. Also unmarried, so I will have to figure some things out if/when that changes.
Just wanted to give you a bit of support, since so many people seem to be cavalierly brushing aside your problem with the advice to find something else. I know how tough this situation can be and at least for me, my doctors weren’t quick to prescribe BCP. I think this is something you shouldn’t worry about for now, but discuss it with your priest when it becomes pertinent. In the end, you’re hearing from people on the internet, and not your spiritual adviser or medical doctor, for a subject that really does need a personal touch.
I’m glad your feeling better, and that you have a sympathetic doctor.
It is possible, though, that there are options she doesn’t know about. Many well-meaning doctors told me the Pill was my best option when I was your age. They were very mistaken. I have recently been undergoing treatment for painful cycles by a doctor with extensive training in Naprotechnology. Look it up when you have a chance. My body is now being healed–truly healed, and probably for good. When you get back to the States, consider getting a second opinion from an OBGYN worth fellowship training in NaPro. Most ACOG-trained docs don’t know how to truly fix what’s going on, because their training doesn’t go that far. It is worth it to be sure you really know what all your options really are. Don’t wait until your body can’t remember what it feels like to be healthy.
I also had these problems when I was your age and my doctor wanted to put me on the pill too. I didn’t want to do that (even though I was single and chaste like yourself, so there was no moral problem) because I knew that it could compromise my health in other ways. I did find another medication (through another doctor) that helped relieve my problems. Charting my cycle helped me to take that medication at the optimum time to prevent the pain etc before it developed.
Since I married and had children, I haven’t had that pain and other menstrual problems.
I now teach Natural Family Planning and frequently see people who have not been able to conceive after a prolonged period on the Pill for medical reasons.
There is no moral dilemma for you in taking the Pill now, but I would advise you to follow up some of the medical contacts you’ve been given to get to the root of your health problems. It’s better done sooner, rather than later, for the sake of your future good health and so that you can enter into marriage (if that is your calling) without added difficulties.
I’ll be praying for your good health.
If you suffered from stage 4 or 5 endometriosis then you would thank God everyday for whatever hormones work to help you survive the pain in between frequent laproscopic surgeries to remove endos that have invaded not only your reproductive organs, but your intestines and other vital regions.