Contraceptives

PLAN your 'contraception career'- learn about LOW DOSE birth control, side effects and contraceptive options

I am SO sorry for leaving the room but – yes, I’m still here

Filed under: Hormonal Contraceptives — Carole at 2:07 pm on Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I sincerely hope that all those lovely people who have been visiting my blog over the past few years will read this and understand that sometimes life just ‘happens’ and when it does our priorities are forced to change.  For me this has meant dealing with a family tragedy and flying solo at work so that I just could not spend the research time needed to maintain this site.   I felt that I could not take the information down though as I have received so many heart warming and encouraging testimonials that I would feel worse than I do already (see a few below and apologies if I have got  your name wrong).

THANK YOU - in case I have missed replying personally to those of you who have sent me lovely comments, thank you for taking the time and trouble to write to me. It’s wonderful to find out that my posts are actually read by at least one person and that the extensive research I pass on is appreciated.

So… I am still wearing my reviewer hat, I still believe that honest and up to date information on all forms of birth control should be readily accessible and easy to understand for anyone and everyone with a contraception career to manage.  I hope to continue to do my bit to contribute to this even though it may be to grandchildren  (male and female) from a rocking chair with a blanket over my knees!

Do I write my own posts? Just to answer Gertrude below-  I don’t use guest writers, I research, compile and write all my own posts and to answer Jayden- I have not been posting regularly Jayden, not because I’m famous (bless you – I value my freedom too much to want fame!) but because family and work have had to come first.

So that you’ll know how bad I feel about ‘leaving the room’- here are some of the lovely comments I’ve received:

“I absolutely love your blog and find almost all of your post’s
to be precisely what I’m looking for. Do you offer guest writers to
write content to suit your needs? I wouldn’t mind creating a post or
elaborating on most of the subjects you write about here.
Again, awesome weblog! “  Gertrude …wikimeds.webstarts.com

“May I just say that you are so talented. You combine knowledge with wit and make people feel comfortable. You have a gift. I really hope you come back and write more.”  Grace

“Admiring the commitment you put into your website and detailed information you offer. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed information. Fantastic read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account. ” Tyrone

“I needed to create you one bit of remark so as to say thanks a lot once again relating to the great information you’ve documented on this site. It was extremely open-handed of people like you in giving extensively what exactly numerous people would’ve supplied as an e-book to make some money for their own end, specifically now that you could possibly have tried it in case you desired. The advice additionally acted to become good way to fully grasp some people have the same dream similar to my personal own to understand more when it comes to this matter. I think there are several more enjoyable occasions in the future for individuals who read carefully your blog.”    JParker

“You are so wonderful!!! I have become obsessed with your blog and I
spend most of my work hours reading all your archives.
And I made a blog account JUST to post comments. I wish
I’d found out about sooner, and I wish you updated as much as you did in the past!
You must be constantly busy now though because you’re so famous!!”  Jayden

I shall post again, hopefully soon but to those visitors whose queries have been unanswered, please accept my sincere apologies.  I ask you to understand my voluntary position in hosting this blog and sincerely hope that you have managed to get the help you needed quickly enough to avoid any further stress..

Blessings to you all, talk soon

Carole

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Latest news re NuvaRing and Essure

Filed under: Latest News — Carole at 1:52 pm on Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hope you all had a safe and very happy Christmas and are well organized, with your birth control methods for 2014. Just passing on this latest news for your information with a reminder to take responsibility for thorough research of any method of birth control you are considering and to discuss the risks with a qualified health professional :

“DrugNews has added health warnings from experts such as the New England Journal of Medicine showing vaginal ring contraceptives like NuvaRing may result in a 6.5 times increased risk of blood clots.” Read the article here.

Erin Brockovitch has entered the Essure conversation after reports of serious side effects have been experienced by some women. There is now a Facebook group for women who have had problems.

The FDA insist there is no link between the procedure and the symptoms as described.

 

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Check your batch no. for this low dose birth control pill

Filed under: Latest News — Carole at 4:56 pm on Monday, September 2, 2013

Health Canada has issued a Type 1 and 2 recall of the oral contraceptive birth control pill Freya-28. Contact your  pharmacist or health care provider if you think you may be affected by this recall.

Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. product lot numbers 3739F001B and 3739F002B may contain a placebo (green) pill in place of an active (white) pill. Correct packaging should contain three rows of seven active (white) pills per row and one row of seven placebo (green) pills. As a result, the effectiveness of the Freya-28 product to prevent pregnancy may be reduced resulting in a potential risk of an unplanned pregnancy.

If you have this brand of low dose birth control, or think you may be affected by this recall,  use a back up barrier method of contraception until you have checked in with a health professional or returned to your place of purchase to get the batch checked.

Residents of Ottawa can order one pack of free condoms on line here

Check to see if you have an extra green pill in your pack, (you should have 7) which means that you do not have sufficient quantities of active pills.  Freya- 21 is NOT affected.

freya1photo courtesy Market Wired

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No More Low Dose Birth Control Pills Needed?

Filed under: Latest News — Carole at 2:54 pm on Monday, July 22, 2013

“You’ll never need a daily dose of hormones again”,  no,  not even from one of the low dose birth control pills I have reviewed-

OR have an implant inserted

OR have another contraceptive injection

OR have an IUD fitted…

And… you’ll always know when you are at your most fertile and able to plan a pregnancy…  Sound to good to be true?

Well, watch this space, ladies -  if the ‘Clue ‘ app is further developed to include some planned hardware that will make it more reliable and predictive in accurately assessing what is going on in your body throughout your menstrual cycle, it could end up telling you when it’s absolutely safe, or not, to have sex.  Stories of distressing side effects could be relics of the past, only serving to amuse the incredulous next gen.

Period tracking apps, pill taking reminders and pocket contraception guides have been around for a while and GUIDES is probably the most generous description I’d use for them but a new medical app, called CLUE, designed by a 34 yr. old female  entrepreneur, Ida Tin,  could just possibly end up being a revolutionary, new, ‘no dose’ birth control’ method that banishes hormonal contraceptives to the medical archives.

“Hang on darling,  I’ll just check my phone!” Of course you and your partner will still need to use the Clue app responsibly, like any other method of birth control.  User error would increase the risk factor.  Some discreet phone checking before the big pash would be advisable if “new age’ coitus interruptus isn’t to become the butt of a few stand up jokes too.

How does Clue work?

You enter details about your moods, pain levels and other aspects of your menstrual cycles via the app. Over time, it employs these data to learn about your cycles, and use them to predict your fertility. This app does not deliver a ‘one size fits all’  outcome but is designed to cater for each woman’s unique menstrual cycle patterns and all the associated factors she experiences. If this app helps us to stop dosing ourselves daily with hormones, to better understand how our body functions and to live more in sync with our bodies then I think it’s worth a close look.

Are we surprised that it’s a female who has stepped up to transform the family planning industry?

“Hundreds of women around the world have already tested the app, including designers from Apple, Frog, and IDEO.” Mike LaVigne, head of user experience at Clue.

N. B. The app is still in the final stages of development and  it shouldn’t be used as a contraceptive aid until the hardware component is released. I can’t believe I’m tapping this but… the Clue app definitely WILL NOT protect you from catching an STI!!!! Click to watch a short video on Clue here.

 

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Latest Low Dose Birth Control To Consider Part 2

Filed under: Implants and IUDs,Latest News — Carole at 6:04 pm on Wednesday, June 12, 2013

To complete my review of the latest low dose birth control IUD, Skyla, I’ll list some of the common side effects and finish off with a list of who should  NOT use this low dose hormonal IUD. This will make the post a rather gloomy and ‘bullet laden’ one I’m afraid but like other important decisions you face, you’ll do yourself a favour by addressing the Cons as well as the Pros. Your final choice will then be more informed and you’ll feel as though you’ve balanced the risks.

Common Side Effects of Skyla – remember to discuss your individual medical history and these possible side effects with your own doctor before using Skyla.

  • slight discomfort, dizziness and/or spotting during or after placement of the IUD (see your doctor if either of these symptoms do not go away fairly quickly i.e within 30 mins)
  • changes in your bleeding pattern- spotting can occur between periods during the first 3-6 months after insertion and your periods may be heavier for a while although often bleeding becomes lighter
  • missed periods- or an absence of periods altogether. 1 in 16 women stop having periods after a year of using Skyla (i in 5 with Mirena) It is wise to get a check up if you go for 6 weeks or more without a period. Your periods will return once the IUD is removed.
  • cyst on the ovary – this happens to around 14% of women using Skyla and in they often disappear in a few weeks. Cysts can cause pain and if they persist, may need to be removed.
  • the IUD comes out by itself – called expulsion and happens to approximately 3 women in 100. If this happens use a condom until you can get back to your doctor or family planning clinic

Skyla does not protect against STIs or HIV

Now for the more serious and far less common possible side effects

  • pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)- although this is usually sexually transmitted, less than 1% of Skyla users get this so it is vital that if you experience symptoms of PID (long lasting bleeds, low abdominal pain, painful sex, chills/fever, unusual vaginal discharge) you go straight to your doctor
  • severe pain or fever immediately following insertion of your IUD – this could indicate a life threatening infection
  • perforation of the uterus- an IUD can become attached to or go through the wall of the uterus causing scarring, possible damage or infection to other organs outside the uterus and no longer preventing pregnancy. Surgery will be needed to remove the IUD. The risk of perforation has been shown to increase for women who are breastfeeding

Drug Interactions – check the labels on your drugs for anything that refers to ‘enzyme alteration’ and for interactions with Skyla. St. John’s wort is well known for its possible effect on all types of hormonal birth control so include this in the Skyla list too. While I cannot possibly cover every drug here, those drugs and herbal meds that induce enzyme action may affect the serum concentration (and therefore effectiveness) of the progestin in Skyla. Some of these include:

Bosentan

Carbamazepine

Efavirenz

Felbamate

Griseofulvin

Nevirapine

Oxcarbazepine

Phenytoin

Rifabutin

Rifampin

Topiramate

and finally…

Rule Skyla out as option if:

  • you are or might be pregnant
  • have an intrauterine device in your uterus already
  • have unexplained bleeding from your vagina
  • have an untreated pelvic infection now or get infections easily – especially if you have multiple sexual partners or your partner has multiple sexual partners
  • have had PID – unless you have had a normal pregnancy after the infection went away
  • have had a serious pelvic infection in the past 3 months after a pregnancy
  • have problems with your immune system
  • have abused/abuse intravenous drugs
  • have or suspect you might have cancer of the uterus or cervix
  • have or have had, breast cancer or any other cancer that is sensitive to progestin (found in Skyla)
  • have large fibroids in your uterus – these change the shape of the uterine cavity
  • you are allergic to any components of Skyla, which include levonorgestrel, silicone, polyethylene, silver, silica, barium sulfate or iron oxide
  • have liver disease or liver tumors

I feel this a ‘DOH!” moment but…I have to cover all those ‘I wonder ifs’ – NO – Skyla cannot be used as emergency contraception.

IUDs are 99% effective AND offer a non hormonal option (Paragard)

In spite of the shudders IUDs still bring to some of you, they remain one of the most effective (99% up to 3yrs.) worry free, long term, reversible, contraceptive options. As soon as Skyla is removed, you can become pregnant and if you cannot tolerate synthetic hormones of any kind, Paragard is an option.

Phew! A long post but hopefully one that will serve as a quick reference for you or a friend if you’re comparing types of IUDs.

To finish on a lighter note – did you know that 90% of sperm always swim to the right?

 

 

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Latest Low Dose Birth Control To Consider

Filed under: Implants and IUDs,Latest News — Carole at 12:26 pm on Friday, June 7, 2013

I am reviewing the latest low dose birth control IUD called Skyla and comparing it to the other two popular brands of IUD, Mirena and Paragard.  Skyla is made by the same company that makes Mirena. Skyla has been approved by the FDA and has been available for sale since February this year.  Skyla has been designed for women who have not had children because it is smaller than the other IUDS on the market but it is fine for women who have had children also (see “Myth about IUDs” below) The review will be in two posts, this first one will give the basic review and the next post will look at the side effects, drug interactions and who should NOT use Skyla.

How does Skyla work?

No surprises here: Like other IUDs,  Skyla is a small, T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus by a health care provider in about 15 minutes. Skyla works by releasing a low dose of levonorgestrel, a hormone that thickens cervical mucus and blocks sperm.

How is Skyla different from other IUDs? Mainly in size, length of effectiveness and hormone dose.

Smaller Size

Skyla is a slightly smaller IUD than both Mirena and Paragard, being 1.1inches x 1.2inches.  ( Mirena = 1.3 in. sq. ) and has a narrower insertion tube of 0.15 inches wide, (Mirena = 0.19 inches wide) that helps place the device into the uterus.

Skyla lasts for 3yrs. which may not be long enough for some of you since – Mirena  lasts for 5 yrs. and Paragard, a copper IUD, lasts for up to 12 yrs. You need to weigh up the advantage of the lower dose of progestin and possible fewer side effects, versus the shorter period of effectiveness. A new Skyla IUD can be inserted immediately following removal of an expired one for another 3 yrs. of protection.

Hormone Dose

Skyla contains synthetic progestin only,no estrogen  -13.5 mg of levonorgestrel (LNG) released at a rate of approximately 14 mcg/day after 24 days. This rate decreases progressively to 5 mcg/day after 3 years. The average release rate of LNG in the body is approximately 6 mcg/day over a period of 3 years.

Mirena – Initial release rate of levonorgestrel is 20 mcg per day; this rate is reduced to approx. 10mcg/day after 5 years.

Paragard – no hormone released, copper IUD protects for up to 12yrs.

Myth about IUDsModern IUDs are safely used by millions of women who haven’t had a child so why the rumours that IUDs are only suitable for women who have had children?

It’s all about the initial studies that were carried out and the law. The FDA approved Mirena based on studies that included only women who had a child, so Bayer is prohibited by law from talking about any other kinds of women in their advertising—it’s considered an “off-label” use.

Skyla, on the other hand, was tested and FDA-approved for women who have no children so the company will be able to advertise directly to those women.

Side Effects

Skyla releases levonorgestrel into the uterus, not the bloodstream like other hormonal methods and as it is milder than other hormonal birth control methods you may not have issues with it even if you’ve had issues with other hormonal methods in the past…to be continued in the next post…

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Low Dose Birth Control Pill recalled

Filed under: Latest News — Carole at 9:16 am on Friday, June 7, 2013

179 batches of the low dose birth control pill, Cilest, have been recalled in Europe, Asia and Latin America by Johnson & Johnson because one of Cilest’s active  ingredients was not being released into the body  as quickly as it should have been.

These particular batches, which were manufcatured in or after 2011, were recalled following a routine internal test that showed that one active ingredient (which would have been either the estrogen or progestin element) did not lead to “a defined specification”.

The company claims that this does NOT affect the safety or effectiveness of the pill so the recall is only at pharmacy and distributor level. No formal press release was issued. Cilest is not sold in the US but is sold in 43 other countries.

 

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Plan B ‘over the counter’ – use responsibly

Filed under: Emergency Contraception,Latest News — Carole at 12:26 pm on Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Soon, women in the US may be able to buy Plan B, the emergency contraceptive, over the counter, regardless of age.

Currently, unless you’re over 17, Plan B has only been available to you on a prescription in the US.  A federal judge has recently reversed this FDA ruling so not surprisingly, there are mixed reactions. If you believe in a woman’s reproductive rights, as I do, you will agree (with certain other beliefs also) that this is a step in the right direction.

The main concerns about having Plan B available OTC are listed below – I highly recommend these as issues for healthy discussion amongst friends, with a parent, your partner or at the next school lesson on health and sexuality.  The dialogue will probably bring up a far longer list of concerns over unwanted pregnancies,  STI’s,  sexual assault and failed contraception – which is just what is needed right?

Health and Social Concerns:

  • that STI’s will increase
  • that women will bypass screening for STI’s
  • that young girls will be encouraged to make the decision to use Plan B before they are ready
  • that this bypasses parental authority and decreases parent /daughter communication (much to discuss here)

Moral Concerns:

  • that we are teaching teens that morals don’t matter as long they know who they are and feel OK about the choices they make
  • that to make emergency contraception easy to obtain is to remove the necessity for young girls to make moral decisions and to understand the consequences that come from our behaviours
  • that Plan B may causes abortion -  Plan B is most effective if taken within 48hrs, with a declining effect up to 72hrs.  It takes 5-12 days from an egg’s fertilization to its implantation – do the math.

The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, citing new research, declared last March that Plan B does not inhibit implantation but instead blocks fertilization.  If your conscience will not allow you to use Plan B due to religious or moral reasons -  a copper IUD, inserted within 5 days of intercourse,  is the other option for emergency contraception.

At the chemist

All pharmacists should handle requests for Plan B sensitively and confidentially. A few simple questions will be asked before the pills are handed over  regardless of whether or not ‘the mum, teacher, partner or best friend talk’  has taken place. A pharmacist may also be in a position to offer  ‘frequent flyers’  some helpful family planning literature, local FP clinic contacts or some other form of non intrusive support.

If I’ve taken Plan B do I need to keep taking the pill?

Yes, Plan B does not protect you for the rest of your cycle.  On the day following the day on which you took Plan B continue to take the rest of the pack as usual BUT use a barrier method such as a condom for the next 7 days and if it happens that the week includes the ‘dummy’ (inactive) pills, DISCARD them and start a new pack. Plan B should NOT be used more than twice a month and should certainly not be relied upon as your only form of continuous birth control.

Plan B is not a low dose form of birth control, it contains progestin only, no estrogen – but your regular pack of low dose birth control pills is likely to contain instructions on how to use its pills in an emergency situation.

If you don’t get a period within 3 weeks after taking Plan B – See a doctor, get a pregnancy test.

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Your Body – On & Off The Pill

Filed under: Contraceptive Pill- How it Works — Carole at 4:14 pm on Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Your Body On and Off The Pill   -  I found this great explanation by Susie Cameron & Alice Ellis of what actually happens in your body when you take the birth control pill (low dose or not) so I am passing it on as basic background information or refresher info to help you when choosing or swapping  your birth control pill.  Read the full story via the link above if you are also suffering ‘crappy’ side effects from your birth control pill and would like more details about specific pills that alleviate specific side effects.
“Your body off the pill

If your ovaries aren’t lulled into a sleep-like state by the pill, they would remain hard at work producing the majority of the oestrogen in your body. In the middle of the reproductive cycle just before ovulation, their oestrogen production would skyrocket.

That’s a signal to the brain that it’s time for one of the ovaries to release an egg. The extra oestrogen also triggers preparation of the uterine lining for a possible pregnancy. When the egg is released, the ovaries lower their oestrogen output and start producing large amounts of progesterone.

High levels of progesterone in the blood send a message to the brain that ovulation has occurred so it prevents the ovaries from releasing another egg.

If you were to become pregnant at this point, the ovaries would continue to make progesterone, which would help build up the uterine lining even more, as well as cause cervical mucus to get thick and sticky, preventing foreign substances including sperm from entering the uterus. If you don’t become pregnant, production of oestrogen and progesterone drops to its lowest point. These low levels of hormones let the brain know the body isn’t knocked up, and for a few days the uterine lining weakens, sloughs off, and occasionally causes embarrassing moments and impossible-to-remove stains.

Your body on the pill

There are dozens of oral contraceptives available, but they all prevent pregnancy with synthetic hormones that confuse your reproductive system. The most commonly used synthetic oestrogen in birth control pills is ethinyl estradiol (EE). The pill delivers a steady dose of EE that’s higher than the amount of oestrogen your body would normally produce. As a result, the oestrogen level in your blood never peaks in the same way it would if you weren’t on the pill, so there’s no signal to the brain to release an egg, and hence no baby. All pills that contain EE also contain synthetic progesterone, called progestogen. Known as combination pills, they combine the pregnancy-preventing effects of both hormones. Like EE, the levels of progestogen in the pill are higher than your body would usually produce, and that progestogen is present during your whole cycle rather than just two weeks after ovulation. The constantly high level makes pregnancy virtually impossible, keeping ovaries from releasing an egg and making the cervical mucus so thick and sticky that sperm is blocked from entering the uterus.

Some pills contain only progestogen and are known as POPs, or mini-pills. They rely largely on the hormones’ effect on cervical mucus to prevent pregnancy. Women who take progestogen-only pills get pregnant slightly more often than women on combination pills. This is because the progestogen in one pill only remains effective for 24 hours, so a new pill must be taken at the same time every day.”

Thanks Susie and Alice.

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No Low Dose Birth Control EVER Ladies

Filed under: Latest News — Carole at 5:39 pm on Wednesday, September 5, 2012

If, for whatever reason, you are ‘over’ using low dose birth control and are considering a permanent method of contraception- preferably without surgery – then the improved version of Essure may be worth a look when it comes to a surgery near you in a few years.  Canada and Mexico are currently trialling the new version and the US expects to begin theirs next year.

600,000 women worldwide have chosen to have the tiny Essure coil inserted into their fallopian tubes rather than stay on low dose birth control. Previously, it took 1- 3 months before these pioneers were given the ‘thumbs up’ that scar tissue had formed around the coil and stymied the journeying of their partner’s eager swimmers.  Back up birth control also had to be used  for 90 days immediately following the procedure to ensure that no determined little Olympian spermo made it through to their egg.

With the new version of Essure there is No waiting period, probably no 90 day imaging testing needed and no back up birth control required.
From Day One of the procedure, 99.8% pregnancy protection is provided and you will be able to walk away from the clinic in the knowledge that, well, ‘that’s it folks!’

HOW is this newer version of Essure different if it’s inserted in the same way? It’s the addition of a HYDROGEL plug which is placed at the tip of the coil on insertion and which immediately and temporarily blocks the sperm from getting past while the surrounding tissue grows to permanently block the tube as before.

What is Hydrogel and is it safe? Well, if you have used :

  • contact lenses
  • disposable diapers
  • wound dressings
  • nipple soothing gel pads
  • water retaining granules in your potting mix

…you have handled Hydrogel.

Hydrogel or aquagel, is made from polymers (plastics) that love water (hence capturing urine in diapers) The water content makes them very flexible and ‘body friendly’. All synthetic polymers for medical use are subjected to stringent toxity tests.
There is a news video on the NEW ESSURE here.

The next post will have the latest news on a NON Hormonal, reversible birth control pill for MEN (don’t sigh, this JQ1 molecule actually looks like a goer) If this ‘accidental’ discovery leads to less  hormonal manipulation of  female fertility and is a non intrusive, ‘palatable’ form of  male birth control, it deserves a ‘fair go’.   Comments welcome!

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