Thursday, August 6, 2009

Estrogen Pee and Me!

I was reminded of this "eco-change" after reading Green as a Thistle's book; "Sleeping Naked Is Green" (a fantastic read, seriously!). This is another little bit of an overshare slippage... here goes!

"The Pill". Even the title requires some sort of "duh duh duuuuuhh" or at least ominous music. As soon as sex becomes a part of your life, usually oral contraceptives follows suite. The majority of women between 16 and 40 take, or have taken oral contraceptives of some sort at one time. As a teen that grew up in the 90's, I was a part of the "newish" trend for mothers and daughters to be more open with each other and "The Pill" was more accepted. We were also a part of a whole slew of women who would be on "The Pill" for lengthy periods of time, as many of us were going to University and starting families later in life. That's one huge guinea pig testing right there.

Oral Contraceptives are basically synthetic hormones that mimic the "pregnant body mode", forcing the woman's body to prevent their eggs from attaching to the uterine wall. Or something like that. In any case, women have been prescribed "The Pill" for various reasons- ranging from baby repellant to a pimple remedy, to decrease heavy flows, to help with cramping or all of the above. Did you know that a male version of the oral contraceptive was created, tested and deemed equally safe and effective as the female version? Several focus groups and surveys revealed that A) the majority of men reported they would never take it and B) most women reported they wouldn't trust their man to take it appropriately....

I took the pill for 8 years and have tried every. single. one. out there. I have. Eight whole years of swallowing synthetic estrogen, progesterone, androgens into my blood stream three weeks of the month. Have you read the possible side effect list on the huge, ridiculously small font, Japanese, English, Spanish, French pamphlets? They range from liver disease and blood clots to cancer. Oh, but only if you smoke and live a terrible lifestyle at the same time. Phew- I am SO safe. However, if you want a scary read- check out this site's research and stats on breast cancer and the pill...ack!

Ok, so as a late teen and early twenty-something my thoughts were primarily on the baby-repellant aspect- seriously those babies had to STAY AWAY. I didn't really care much about the long term effects of what it did to my body, those types of things happen to "the others", not moi. There was also no way in h*** I was taking "The Needle" (cue even SCARIER music). If a change in hormonal levels made me bonkers (i.e. from Tri-Cyclen) what would a HUGE shot of hormones do all at once? I'd be running down the street naked and shaking my fists angrily. A traumatic sight.

However a few years ago I began reading about what all those synthetic hormones were doing to our water eco-systems. Hah, never mind MY health, our Earth is suffering??? OMG stop the anti-baby pill! Who knew that a portion of fake estrogen/progesterone/androgen was being unceremoniously peed out into our lakes and rivers? My pee is creating mutant three head frogs?? Oh Goddess, this canNOT be good. According to Adria Vasil (Ecoholic), 1.5 million Canadian women are peeing out synthetic estrogen every day. Also, American researchers have found that the fertility of trout that were exposed to even super-low doses (80x lower than thoses found in the "wild") of estradiol found in oral contraceptives was affected. The patch and vaginal rings also pump out more hormones, resulting in more being peed out into the waterways (as our sewer systems are not set up to deal with filtering and processing synthetic chemicals... Halifax still has floatables for goodness sake!) and on average 25,000 patches being put into the landfills EACH WEEK. (Ecoholic, 2006).

Alright, I have to admit that even THOSE stats weren't enough to make me consider alternate options. Finally, it was my body that made the ultimate decision. After three years of continual spotting, and needing "feminine products" for about 50% of my time (that's 1.5 years of spotting), I gave up and went to see a Gynecologist. She was very friendly and had cloth blankets instead of those terrible paper throw-out ones (yay eco-gyno!). Who knew that 8 consecutive years of hormones could result in an eroded cervix lining? Since I'd tried every single oral contraceptive out there for a period of at least 3 to 6 months each, her verdict- stop, get an IUD (no way!) or deal.

I stopped about five months ago.

I was nervous, my body hasn't had a "normal" cycle in EIGHT YEARS. What were they like when I was 18? I barely remember. I am pleased to report that so far it has been fantastic- more mood swings, more cramping, more pimples.... but the important thing- NO SPOTTING. At all. Zip. Cue crazy arm swinging, butt wiggling dance with a happy happy smile. Also, I can actually predict to the minute when I'm going to start, run to the bathroom with my DivaCup all ready. It's cool to be more in tune with my body. Because she is beautiful. :)

So how are we keeping babies away?? Definitely NOT the rhythm method- I am way too flaky to keep track of that. Regular latex... still not ideal- but one step at a time right?

sigh- what a personal post. Strangely, it feels more personal than the whole parental unit-in-law fight one from earlier. My mom reads this- so sorry if it was TMI (too much info) for you... lol. LOVE YOU!

Blessings and for those Haligonians/Maritimers Eco-Yogi/ni's: Happy Sunshine!!

Article authored by EcoYogini at (keepin' away the babies, one post at a time)


  1. I've been on birth control pills for 13 years, so I feel ya on trying a gazillion of them!

    But I never had the spotting issue. It's mostly been within the exact day that I predict it will start.

    The only problem I have had was I recently had abnormal pap a few months ago. I had to get a colposcopy done where they took 4 biopsies of my cervix because I tested positive for HPV. Luckily it's pre-cancer low grade - whew!

    But now seeing that you had cervix issues from being on the pill for so long, makes me wonder if my cervix issues is also related to me being on the pill for so long. I hope not, because it still isn't enough for me to stop the pill.

  2. Why not use a coil?

    I tried the injections for a while. It was fine when I was on them. It wasn't long before I stopped having periods altogether. When I stopped having them, I knew my periods would start again at some point. I had no idea when and it took months but when it did! Oh Boy! I was irrational! Never ever something I would recommend....

    I always had a nagging feeling that the pill was a watered down version of the same and that I didn't entirely like it. Not surprisingly I stopped using it years ago and I don't regret it...

    I havn't made the step to the coil but I shall, just like I shall use the diva cup...

  3. Thanks for this. I just realized I've been on the pill for about 11 years now. I started taking them in 8th grade due to cramps that caused fainting. I usually skip a month once per year. I too will NOT get an IUD, ring, shot, or arm implant (do they still do those?). The older I get, the more uncomfortable I am getting with taking the pills. And as far as the man pills - why do women always have to be the responsible ones!?

  4. Sharper: I'm glad that it was pre-cancer, low grade! good for you for getting everything checked out!

    the thing about the pill, is there are studies that link it to cancer... from breast cancer onward. Perhaps you should talk to your doctor about alternatives? I understand about not wanting to stop taking it. Andrew was really persuasive, he said he thought it was terrible that I was taking synthetic- cancer-linked hormones just to stop babies... when we could use other methods.

    Rose: well... the coil releases more hormones. that and I'm not really wanting to try something that is inserted for long periods of time, if it doesn't work (which I'm thinking since the hormones are what's destroying my cervix, then more of them released in a different manner probably won't change things) then I'll have to take it out again :S I do personally believe that birth control is a highly personal matter, each woman is different.
    Yay DivaCup! :)

    Kristin: haha, I think it had more to do with we were the ones "stuck" with the ultimate consequence...

  5. yeah i'd like to go off birth control for all the reasons you mentioned but can't figure out a way. (boyfriend hates condoms, rhythm method is too scary). how nice of your guy to help you stop! argh.

  6. I was on the pill for 14 years before I stopped. I also tried every single one out there and I found that it damped my sex drive (who would have thought you wouldn't want to have sex when you are always pregnant...or so your body thinks) and made me an emotionless drone (the only one that didn't make me a crazy moody freak). So I talked to my Dr. and she recommended (since I am in a long term monogamous relationship) the IUD Mirena ( It still has quite a list of side effects but they are better than those of the PILL. The nice thing is that is lasts 5 years and my menstrual cycle has completely stopped but I do still feel the cycle of hormones in my body since only a small dose of hormone is released directly in the uterus and is not a huge dose like the PILL. It is so far my contraception of choice, I can use latex if needed but I am pretty sensitive to it.

    So all in all all methods have some impact on our bodies and the environment either directly or indirectly. I mean how many condoms have you seen littering the shores or floating in the water of Halifax Harbour? Too many for my not all are made of latex and most are made of synthetic latex which likely has some waste/effluent in its production. I won't even go into the lubricants and spermicides! I ran across this article and thought you might be interested

    It seems the truly only method of eco/body friendly birth control is the rhythm method...the only issue is reliability!

    Thanks for this! :)

  7. Julia: I think Alli's suggestion is a definate alternative. I hope you find a way!

    Alli: that's cool that the IUD is working for you, the 'type' you mention is what the gynecologist also recommended. In BC it would have cost me 500$ (not covered by my plan or MSI). Since I'm a big baby though, any kind of invasive thing makes me nervous lol.
    Thanks for sharing the info! I will look into it :)

  8. I asked my doctor about the IUD and she told me it was just for women who have already had babies--not exactly what I had read on the Internet though. It's so confusing. This is testing my comfort level with sharing personal info! Let's just say I stopped peeing out hormones into our water systems early this year.

  9. Hee hee!

    Speaking of over sharing, at least your post made no mention of naked, oil boob massages!

    Since starting my herbal apprenticeship, I have been reading about wild carrot as a natural contraceptive.

    Since I'm not on the pill either (been through the spotting issues and then some!) and only use condoms with my partner, coupled with a lazy rhythm method, I'm very keen to explore the possibilities here.


  10. I didn't realise the coil released hormones. Maybe they improved it and added hormones to it.... I have no idea.

    I just know I don't want to be on the pill!

  11. I tried the Pill only once and had such a bad reaction to it that I never did it again. It always seemed un-natural to me. And there aren't a lot of things that do seem natural, ha ha! I keep track of my cycle with charts and basal body temp checks, etc., which is great, though I would never, at this point in my life, do that without ALSO using condoms. (Again, not ideal, and not exactly eco-licious, but a start, as you said).

    I recommend the book Taking Control of Your Fertility. Great read. It made me a little mad, though. The author points out that men are fertile 100% of the time, and we are only fertile for a few days of our cycle - yet WE are the ones who are forced to take hormones to control our fertility. It is great in terms of controlling our bodies, our destinies, etc., but this isn't 50/50, and it should be.

    Bravo on this post - I have been considering writing about it, too, as it is a big deal to me. I've never been keen on the Pill (though I certainly wouldn't discourage someone from taking it if it worked for them). I just want to open a dialogue about it and see more men taking responsibility for this issue.

  12. i've been taking birth control for 17 years. eek. i always switch brands, types, go off it, go back on. it's awful. i even got an IUD but as soon as it was inserted, my body ejected it right back out. the doc said she'd never seen that happen before. i long for the day when they come up with a better method of birth control. :( (besides abstinence, that is!)

  13. I made the switch to the low low dose iud about a year ago and I'm very thankful I did. The hormones levels are much lower which make me happy and its completely hassle free....and it makes your periods lighter. I don't even need to wear my diva cup now!

  14. I was on NuvaRing for ~3 years and never really had a problem with it. I started doing some research though, and found all the things you mentioned. That was enough to convince me to go horomone-free. I've now had a copper IUD for 1.5 years and LOVE it. It's lightened my flow, gotten rid of my previously horrible cramps, and is so cheap ($70 for 5 years). Everyone's body works best on different things, but if you're considering an IUD I totally recommend it.


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