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    Old 04-01-2008, 10:52 AM   #1
    ajpa
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    starting birth control pills (seasonale) questions

    Just got back from my first 3 month blood draw since finding out I have anemia.
    My dr just prescribed seasonale birth control pills for me to reduce bleeding during periods. She thinks I have endometriosis. For some reason I feel nervous about this. I've never taken bcp before, except trying it once decades ago (I got nausea from it then and stopped).
    Seasonale apparently is the kind which has a 4 periods/year pattern.
    Anyway, anyone been made to start bcps --did your body handle it ok?
    I'm afraid of side effects, specially weight gain, acne ... because I'm already prone to that.

     
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    Old 04-02-2008, 12:07 AM   #2
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    Re: starting birth control pills (seasonale) questions

    Hi ajpa,

    It's a fairly common approach, to treat anemic pre-menopausal women with BCP to help control monthly bleeding. Even though the doctor said you might have endometriosis, could it be that she was thinking out loud? Sometimes my doctor does that and scares me half to death. The thing is, endometriosis really needs to be ruled out with specific tests. And I am happy to give my anecdotal story if it helps calm your fears. My mother had endometriosis and had to have a total hysterectomy. My sister also has it, so you can imagine when I started experiencing horrible periods and cramping, I was certain that I had it too. Well, even with all those odds against me, it turned out I don't have it. But I did have to have alot of evil tests to rule it out, so you should really press your dr. to at least do an ultrasound to see if there is anything abnormal.

    Second, regarding BCP. I find in my experience that gynecologists are rather inclined to hand out these exotic and rather expensive BCP that the drug reps are pushing. That's not to say it isn't a perfectly appropriate pill for you. It may be. My doctor put me on something that had the potential to raise potassium levels and was a "mood elevator". It was also 30 bucks a month. This seemed rather silly to me because the pill has been around forever. After I balked at the price at month 2, I asked her to find something equally effective but without the added risks and the high price and the glamorous packaging. She put me on a generic BCP that even has iron pills during the placebo week. So, I am telling this to perhaps explain the rationale for being put on Seasonale. It may not be a choice that proves to be practical to the patient. And if you find this is the case, please don't be afraid to ask for something else. There are literally hundreds of BCP types out there.

    Lastly, I understand your fears of the pill. I had them too. If you expressed your negative experience with the pill many years ago to your doctor and she still put you on them, it's probably because BCP is a much lower dose than when we took it in the old days. I read or heard somewhere that the BCP they gave women in my mother's day had enough progesterone to sterilize an elephant. Even the pill I took in my twenties had waaay more hormones in it than they have now and the side effects were similar to what you describe. Maybe it's because I am **cough** OLDER, now and my body handles it differently, but I'm not having the weight gain or the acne this time. So they are mostly safe and worth a try in order to help your anemia, which has higher risks comparatively, but that's my opinion. I'm starting on month 5 of taking the pill and I am still waiting to see if my anemia improves. I felt so lousy because of the anemia that I would take or do almost anything to feel better. You just reach that point where fear and feeling crummy start to battle it out and the fear loses, you know what I mean?



    Keep us posted. I am sure there will be stuff I can learn from your experience, since ours are very similar.

    Good luck!!

     
    Old 04-02-2008, 08:29 AM   #3
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    Re: starting birth control pills (seasonale) questions

    Hi ChickieLou. Thanks for replying.

    My dr suspects endo, based on the symptoms I've reported. She's not done tests except for a pelvic exam to feel for fibroids (negative). No ultrasound and no laparoscopy. I have not asked for it either, since the pain has been bearable (only 1 day/night of intense cramps a month).

    It's hard to explain why I'm so worried about taking hormones. Partly is that I am truly so depressed (history of it prior to anemia) that I am afraid of anything that might push me over the edge into despair again. It feels so risky to me; like I can't afford to try and see, you know? I feel like I don't have a big margin of error to play with when it comes to taking something that could have a big impact on my emotional balance. (I am currently taking a low dose of paxil which has been really helpful these past 3 months.)

    Another reason is that I guess I don't trust my body not to get side-effects -- I always seem to get the unusual ones.

    Dr want me to take the bcp to prevent bleeding. But from what I've read, it seems like a lot of times endo progresses anyway for a lot of women who take bcps, and many eventually get breakthrough bleeding then eventually followed by the never-ending period. (Maybe it's just my depression speaking, but I can totally see that happening to me.)

    I think I'm going to try to look at herbal teas and stuff like that first, and maybe try to exercise despite this lethargy, before I try bcps. The goal is to reduce the estrogen floating around in me, right?

    Thanks again.

     
    Old 04-02-2008, 10:07 AM   #4
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    Re: starting birth control pills (seasonale) questions

    ajpa, there are other procedures that would help control your bleeding, but you would want to talk to your doctor about the implications with fertility.

    I am sort of stunned, based on the symptoms you have described here, that your doctor immediately went to the diagnosis of endometriosis without at least an ultrasound. It doesn't even sound like you have it. It does sound like you have a very rough monthly cycle that might very easily be controlled with BCP. Another person on these boards has had a good response to herbal treatments that a naturopath gave to her to even out her monthly cycle. Perhaps that is an option. Exercise won't do anything for anemia or excessive menstrual bleeding. Nor will eating the right foods and teas. Yes, estrogen dominance can be the reason for the terrible periods. But has your PCP recommended also suggested exploring the other common reasons for anemia such as digestive and GI conditions?

    After reading all the tests that many of us have been through here, you might find that if your doctor feels you only the need the pill to fix your bleeding, you're one of the lucky ones.

    Have you shared your complete medical history including the depression with your doctor? I would suggest maybe adding a PCP to your cadre of health care professionals and have him/her treat you as an entire patient. The OBGYN is a great place to start, but there can be lots of other reasons for anemia besides the bleeding and your goal should be to get to the bottom of what is causing it and to stop it immediately. My OBGYN is in the same system as my PCP and they share lab results, treatment options etc. But she was by no means qualified to make recommendations on the other causes of anemia.

    Last edited by ChickieLou; 04-02-2008 at 10:10 AM.

     
    Old 04-02-2008, 10:38 AM   #5
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    Re: starting birth control pills (seasonale) questions

    Actually my dr is a PCP, and I'm wondering if I should go to a obgyn. LOL.

    She did say I have a tipped uterus and I've been googling that -- apparently that by itself could cause the symptoms I'm experiencing. I might not have endo at all.

    I asked about possible GI bleeding, but she said that at this point, if I have heavy periods, then it's much more likely to be causing the anemia than anything else.

    Last edited by ajpa; 04-02-2008 at 10:39 AM.

     
    Old 04-02-2008, 02:37 PM   #6
    ChickieLou
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    Re: starting birth control pills (seasonale) questions

    Yeah, I would leave the endometriosis diagnosis to the OBGYN and if you do go to one, she may also have a better BCP in mind for you to take, and one that factors your fear of them in.

    I would definitely do that. I hope you start to feel better soon!


     
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