Wednesday, February 26, 2014

my birth control story

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For as along as I can remember (in my married life), I have been the person that women come to with questions about birth control. I think it's because I'm vocal about it and have been for a long time. Not necessarily how I feel about it ethically, but just in general. I'm knowledgeable on the topic and so, as a young married woman, I tended to talk about it often.

I'm not afraid to talk about anything related to sex. Especially with fellow Christian women. I mean, why does it all have to be so taboo anyway? Look, I don't want to hear about the details of your personal sex life, but to stay absolutely silent on the topic, I think, can give young Christian women the wrong idea about sex. And also leave them with a ton of questions. Bottom line: God created sex. It's a good thing. We are supposed to enjoy it within the proper context (heterosexual monogamous marriage). There is an entire book of the Bible dedicated to a husband and wife enjoying each other, sexually.

But back to the topic.

I guess it all started when Ben and I were first married. I got on the pill immediately. Because, well, that's what you do when you don't want kids right away. I hate that I did it without researching or asking seriously important questions, but as many women do, I did. No questions asked. The first kind of birth control I took was Yasmin. Ya know, the one that is under scrutiny and was sued for dangerous side effects. Within a couple months I noticed it was causing some harsh side effects in me. Mostly that for at least a week straight during my cycle, I was continuously running to the bathroom to throw up, as if I was experiencing morning sickness. It was not good.

From Yasmin, my doctor switched me to Ortho Tri Cyclen. Although, I'm pretty sure it was the generic because I'm cheap like that. For a while it was fine but then I started noticing some of the same side effects. It was during this same time that Ben returned home from a deployment to the Middle East and we were moved to Camp Pendleton, which meant I would see a new doctor. During my first appointment with her, I asked if there was a lower dose birth control pill that she could recommend. Her answer was, "well, have you tried Ortho Tri Cyclen- Lo?" I responded that yes, I knew of it, but what were my other options? And this is where my interest in the topic of birth control was piqued.

She didn't have an answer.

Granted, she was a family practice doctor and not an OBGYN. But still, she was prescribing birth control pills to I'm sure, hundreds of women on Camp Pendleton, and yet she could only tell me about one brand of birth control pill: Ortho Tri Cyclen. I was a bit baffled. It seriously made me question how much doctors really know about the drugs they are prescribing.

Eventually we landed on trying the Nuva-Ring (yet another birth control company currently in a lawsuit). I guess she knew about other types of hormonal birth control, just not different types of birth control pills.

And this is what set me off as far as birth control goes. I used the Nuva-Ring for 3 months. Almost immediately I noticed a change in my hormones. I had zero interest in sex. Zero. My husband was getting ready to leave for Iraq for 7 months and I didn't want to have sex. Something was not right.

Something needed to change.

While Ben was deployed that time around, I moved up north to Sacramento to live with a friend and finish my Associates Degree. One of the courses I took while there was Human Sexuality. And while it was obviously a very, well, sexually explicit class, it was very eye-opening. Not only did I learn about all forms of birth control, but it caused me to want to dig deeper into the subject of birth control, how exactly each type worked, and what the options are outside of hormonal drugs. I started to ask questions about why my doctors hadn't offered other options. Why hadn't I heard from anyone about what I should and shouldn't consider as an alternative birth control method?

And that's when I began to talk about it more and more with my friends. I was curious about what other couples were using for birth control. How did they come to that decision? And in turn friends began coming to be for advice and suggestions.

It was around this same time that Ben and I stopped using hormonal birth control altogether. You can read more about why we decided that here. We instead opted for barrier methods until we felt it was time to start trying for kids. It was also around that time that I began counseling at a crisis pregnancy center. One of the topics we often discussed with the young women in our center was birth control, because many of them were on it or considering using it in the future. There were several different pamphlets we used and I really took the time to read each one and educate myself further. It was at that time that I learned how the IUD actually works, that it's different from other hormonal birth control methods.

I've been off hormonal birth control for 7 years (I was on it for 3 and couldn't find a single one that didn't have a negative side effect). We have 2 kids, and I'm currently pregnant. In total I've been pregnant 7 times (you can read about our pregnancy loss experiences here) and you know, not a single one of those pregnancies was an "accident." I put that in quotations because I believe that no child is an accident. God is sovereign over all wombs. He opens and closes them at His will. We need only to seek His guidance and trust His provision. But my point is that we weren't surprised by any of those pregnancies. None of them were unexpected.

Currently, well, we don't use birth control because I'm pregnant. Which is a great method by the way! The only method, other than abstinence that is 100% effective. I assure you, you won't get pregnant while already pregnant! But when I'm not pregnant, we use Natural Family Planning (NFP) and if I'm nursing, I use the Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM). Both work fantastically well. Neither requires a woman in inundate her body with synthetic hormones, which are considered by the WHO to be a Class 1 Carcinogen. Natural Family Planning allows us to work with our natural biological processes rather than changing them altogether.

If you are considering NFP, which I highly suggest you should, this is a great resource to begin with. You can take a quiz to see which method of NFP would work best for you. There are also a number of great apps to help you track. Most recently, Kindara has received a ton of praise for helping 10,000 women get pregnant. But it works just as well to keep you from conceiving. I also recommend reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Know your body. Learn how to work with your body. God created it and He created fertility.

So I'm curious, what is your birth control story? Are you on it? Not on it? How did you decide that? Have you had crazy side-effects from birth control? If you don't feel comfortable discussing it in the comments, please feel free to email me! I really enjoy discussing this topic and answering any questions about it.


  1. I love this so much. So many women have no idea how bad the pill is. A friend of mine was even hospitalized after trying Yasmin. I tried the pill for a year, and it completely messed me up, so I now refuse to use any sort of hormonal birth control. And I love what you said about God opening and closing all wombs. In the end, that's what I have to trust completely when it comes to having kids.

  2. This is so interesting!!!! I love that you encourage open conversations about sex and birth control.. too many people keep the information to themselves. That isn't good for anybody!! I was put on birth control when I was in college. Not to avoid pregnancy, it was for different, menstrual cycle related issues. They thought a low dose birth control would help me. It did, however, it also made me feel terrible in completely different ways. I felt like my personality was totally different! I didn't want to do anything. Looking back, I think I was on the verge of depression. Luckily, when the dose ran out I stopped taking it. I didn't like the way I was feeling and figured we could try an alternate approach to my issue. Now, I am about to get married and I think it's important to look at the different options out there. Since majority of people don't ever talk about it, I know pretty much nothing. You've inspired me to take matters into my own hands. Before I take any pills or other medication or anything I will be doing my research!

  3. I got on the Mirena, because I'm no good at taking pills. And to be honest, I don't really think about birth control and Christianity (not saying that I shouldn't, I just don't really).

    So, all that aside, I wish I had known how my weight and hormones would've been affected. And how hard it is to get pregnant afterwards. And how sucky it was to get it in and get it out (since I hadn't ever been pregnant before and my uterus muscles weren't stretched out).

    I wish I had never done it. But again, not really for moral reasons, just for familial ones.

  4. can i just tell you how much i appreciate you? i really do. and i know i don't know you that well, but you are one of the wives/moms i would like to be like one day. i admire you and your heart for the lord.

    i also appreciate this post so much. i am not seeing anyone, nor do will i be getting married anytime soon, unless God surprises me by plopping a man in front of me out of the blue (hahaha ) but this was so so helpful. i have been recently learning about methods of birth control from my science class and just out of general curiosity because i want to have some sort of "plan" (and i use that word loosely) for when i do get married in the future.

    God bless you jessi. i am thankful for you!

  5. We are relatively new Catholics (I know you are not catholic) and we struggled to embrace the teachings of the church in this area. We had a fourth child, and then "unexpectedly" a fifth, both have special needs and we have grown so much in our faith during the last three years. We have fully embraced the teachings on life and family. We do currently use the creighton method of NFP, which has been wonderful. We find openness to life and the communication needed to be successful with NFP to be marriage building.