Statistics state that PCOD/PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian disease/syndrome) is present in ten to fifteen percent of women. A sufferer myself since the age of eleven, I have met over twenty-five women who have PCOS/PCOD as well. The medical community often prescribes oral contraceptive birth control pills to try to combat this disease, but I personally think it is a worthless approach. For my own case of PCOD/PCOS, oral contraceptives are far worse than the disease itself.
Birth Control Pills to Regulate Menstrual Cycle with PCOS/PCOD
For average women, oral contraceptives are usually pain-free or with mild symptoms. With PCOD, it can be a nightmare. I had no periods at all, called amenorrhea. I did not cramp or bloat or feel anything at all but normal health. Cue the Pill. I had never been in such protracted discomfort in my young life. I was given several different brands over the span of about six years. All of them induced nausea, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, and extraordinary bleeding episodes.
I heard the litany of ‘all women need to have a period’ for years (this thinking has since been questioned in the medical community) , and swallowed the pills down thinking I was doing the right thing. Finally, unwilling to vomit even one more time, I cast aside my oral contraceptives and finally felt healthy again for the first time in years. All negative side effects ceased after the final period. I feel much better. My body has shut down and I have no cycle at all- no bleeding whatsoever, no cramps, no bloating.
Mental Effects of Oral Contraceptives with PCOS/PCOD
During my time on the Pill, I was an emotional wreck. I mean, think about it. You are taking drugs to tell your body that you’re pregnant for three weeks out of the month. If you have a standard physiology, pregnancy is normal and you adapt. With PCOD, randomly-occurring, natural pregnancy is rather rare, especially if you lack a cycle completely as I do. While on the Pill, I was depressed, irritable, angered easily to the point of aggression, and cried. All the time. Over nothing. These unreasonable swings stopped almost immediately after quitting The Pill. They returned full-force when I tried fertility as an adult, and stopped again when I quit fertility (hormone) treatments.
When you think about it, this is not surprising considering that your brain and emotions function in part by hormones. Change your hormones and your mood will change. Of course, being in severe discomfort, and sometimes outright pain, for a week and a half every month did nothing to improve my moods, either.
Oral Contraceptives to Combat Unwanted Facial Hair and Acne with PCOD
I have never had much acne, but I started growing the signature PCOD facial hair by the time I was 13. The Pill did nothing to stop or slow the hair, and never improved my occasional outbreaks. In fact, some brands, especially Ortho-Tri-Cyclen, made me break out worse. No hormone or drug has ever stopped the hair growth, and I use conventional, non-drug methods to groom myself. It is a small price to pay to feel otherwise healthy.
Consider the Vested Interest Angle and the Scarce Research
There is a lot of money to be made by convincing women who feel otherwise fine to take medications to treat PCOD/PCOS. If you, like me, feel fine and just lack a cycle- why on Earth would you take oral contraceptives to make yourself feel unwell all in the name of ‘normalcy’?
The medical community has no idea what causes PCOD, all they have are theories. It does indeed raise the likelihood of future gynecological issues, but making yourself sick now (a concrete fact if you are like me) just to avoid some possible problem in the future (a hunch or a trend) just doesn’t add up. Don’t be a consumer of something that makes you sick just to be ‘normal’- all it does it line others’ pockets, lighten your wallet, and make you unwell. Stick to your screenings to catch any other gynecologic issues early, but don’t live in fear.
Fear Tactics Pushing The Pill for PCOD/PCOS
I realize that the medical community shrieks dire warnings at women who refuse to treat PCOD/PCOS with hormone therapies/The Pill. Talk of ovarian, uterine or cervical cancer can be terrifying- but a good gynecologist can screen you for these issues and help you catch them early. As for the future fertility impact- I have seen both sides of the fence and after careful weighing of others’ experiences, I have decided to leave my PCOD alone until I am ready to begin fertility treatments again. I see no reason to torture myself if the end result is not a child. You, of course, may feel differently. Please be aware that I have seen five pregnancies in PCOD sufferers, both those that treated before hormone-assisted fertility attempts and those that did not. Both groups gave birth to live, healthy babies.
I do not possess a medical degree, but I do have common sense. I know what ‘well’ feels like, and I certainly know what ‘very sick’ feels like. All forms of the Pill and hormone treatments made me feel very sick both physically and mentally. This is just my personal experience and that of other sufferers I’ve spoken with and known for decades, in some cases. But know this, you are not alone if you too have PCOD and cannot tolerate oral contraceptive birth control pills or other hormone therapies.
If you have PCOD/PCOS and are having painful symptoms such as cramps, bloating, or excessive bleeding, oral contraceptives may work to your advantage. However, if you feel great and are just concerned about your lack of cycle or unpredictable-but-painless cycle, The Pill may not be the answer and may make things far worse. I cannot advocate their use to start a cycle up for the sole purposes of being ‘normal’ or to combat possible, treatable future health risks.