No Birth Control Pill Has Worked For Me

Question

I have been on birth control since I was like 16. Every birth control I have been on, works for like a month and then I break through and bleed for like three weeks. I have been to my Ob/Gyn and he has changed my birth control countless times and I have had a D&C and nothing seems to be working. My step-mother told me that maybe I shouldn’t be on the pill, but if I go off the pill my periods will be hell. I’m so lost, confused, and VERY frustrated. What do I do?
Melissa

Answer

Dear Melissa,

From your information, it sounds as though the birth control pill was recommended to you because of heavy, painful periods. Unfortunately many women both young and old suffer from these symptoms. What is more unfortunate is that most women don’t get a thorough diagnosis which can be as upsetting as the symptoms.

It has yet to be established why you are having heavy, painful, and possibly irregular periods. There are many reasons such as thyroid dysfunction, endometriosis, fibroids, and endocrine (hormones) to name a few.

The thyroid can be tested by blood tests which should contain an analysis of the active thyroid hormones as well as the TSH (the stimulating hormone). Endometriosis can really only be diagnosed by surgery. The Ob/Gyn can look closely at the pelvic organs for even miniscule amounts of endometrial tissue. The best technique is called “near contact laparoscopy” in which the surgeon ablates (burns off) even the smallest amounts of endometriosis. Many times only the large, obvious tissue blebs are taken off and small blebs are left to still cause problems. With your D&C, it is unlikely that there is a fibroid present. It can be checked by ultrasound.

Hormone dysfunction can contribute to your symptoms. It would be most helpful to have you learn from a certified teacher how to chart your menstrual cycles and to learn where you are bleeding and with what frequency. A trained physician can then be specific in obtaining laboratory tests on the hormones to see where they may be abnormal. Knowing why your cycles are not normal is essential in treating them properly. For instance, many young women are put on the birth control pill to control their periods when what they need is a correction of their progesterone level.

Additionally, the birth control pill may be masking an underlying condition called polycystic ovarian disease which should be treated with a diabetes pill not the birth control pill.

I would strongly encourage you to have CANFP help you find a certified natural family planning teacher or Certified Fertility Care teacher who will teach you how to chart the important biological signs of your fertility cycles. They can then direct you to a physician who has been trained in looking at these charts and how to use them. This will not only help you get a specific diagnosis but you will also be more knowledgeable about your own health. Charting your cycles will be invaluable over your lifetime.

I hope that this helps! Please let us know how your are progressing!

Gretchen V. Marsh, D.O.

Answered By:

Gretchen Marsh, D.O.
Dr. Marsh graduated from Western University of Health Sciences in 1987 in Pomona, CA and is board certified in Family Medicine by the American Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians. She has been certified as a NaProTechnology® Medical Consultant (NaPro) and Creighton model Fertility Care System (CrMS) teacher since 2001. She and her husband, Jon, have 5 sons and live in the Reno region, where she sees patients in person, in addition to her telehealth services offered via MyCatholicDoctor.com

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