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Author tells: “Without extra hormones my body goes crazy

Taking the pill – yes or no? Opinions are known to differ on this question. After all, women supply their bodies with foreign hormones on a daily basis, and not infrequently over a long period of time. Our author is 24 years old and took the pill for many years. Why there was no alternative for her and what solution she has found today.

Many young women are often prescribed the pill almost as a matter of course – for reasons of contraception, because their menstrual cycle is irregular, or simply because their skin is acting up. I, too, started taking the pill at the age of 14. In my case, the issue was the extreme pain that accompanied me almost from my first period. My body and the hormones – an experience report.

The pill as a remedy for severe period pains

Once a month I had such severe abdominal pain that I lost all appetite, I could no longer sleep and even going to the sink became an almost impossible marathon. In addition, I had headaches and nausea very early on, and for about three days I was almost completely knocked out. Without painkillers I couldn’t do much, especially not ten-hour school days. Fortunately, a friend of my mother was a gynecologist and specialist for endometriosis. She suspected early on that I might be affected. That’s why the pill wasn’t a contraceptive for me at first. Rather, it was this magical thing that miraculously spared me pain and ensured that I didn’t feel any different than all those who didn’t keel over in class because of severe pain.

Pill
The birth control pill is prescribed especially for young women with severe pain and bad skinPhoto: Getty Images

Positive side effects as a (welcome) bonus

In the beginning I stopped taking the pill every now and then for a few days to let the bleeding come, but in consultation with my gynecologist I soon stopped taking it because of my pain. When I was 15, I also took part in a one-year endometriosis study, during which I studied the disease more closely. At first, the image of it in my head was frightening: I imagined wild growths in my abdomen running amok once a month to torment me. But with time and the absence of period pains, this spectre became increasingly harmless, and at times I even forgot about the disease. In addition, I noticed that, in contrast to many of my peers, I had a much better complexion and my hair was less greasy – for a teenage girl in the middle of puberty, this was no small realization.

Hormones, the body and the risks

Ich glaube nicht, dass nur die positiven Nebenwirkungen der Grund waren, warum ich mich erst vergleichsweise spät mit den negativen Aspekten der Hormoneinnahme auseinandersetzte. Da ich schon so früh begonnen hatte, gehörte die Pill für mich einfach zum Alltag dazu. Erst mit 20 begann ich mich für die mahnenden Stimmen zu interessieren, die von Thrombose, Depression, Herz-Kreislauf-Erkrankungen, gehemmter Libido, Schilddrüsenunterfunktion etc. berichteten. Ich beschäftigte mich intensiv mit diesen Nebenwirkungen und machte mich schlau über alles, was mit der "Pill für den Mann" zusammenhing. Warum sollte ich mich als Frau diversen Risiken aussetzen, während die Entwicklung eines Pendants für Männer wegen genau dieser Risiken nicht weitergeführt wird? Vor drei Jahren – 2017 – reifte in mir dann der Wunsch, die Pill endgültig abzusetzen. Vielleicht hatte ich die Schmerzen ja schlimmer in Erinnerung, als sie tatsächlich waren. Vielleicht hatte ich mit meiner guten Haut einfach nur Glück gehabt. Und vielleicht war ja sogar die Pill dafür verantwortlich, dass ich gelegentlich sehr nah am Wasser gebaut bin etc.

My body and the hormones – the unschöne discontinuation disaster.

Im Januar 2018 setzte ich die Pill das erste Mal nach acht Jahren ab – und bereute es umgehend. Die Schmerzen waren sofort wieder da, die Kopfschmerzen und die Übelkeit sogar noch heftiger als jemals zuvor. Drei Monate lang lag ich während meiner Regel mit Krämpfen im Bett und ärgerte mich wahnsinnig über mich und meine Weinerlichkeit. Schmerztabletten so wie früher wollte ich keine nehmen, rückblickend bin ich mir heute fast sicher, dass das eine wenig hilfreiche Trotzreaktion war. Auch sonst bemerkte ich einige Veränderungen: Mein Hautbild verschlechterte sich, anfangs drastisch, dann wurde es schrittweise wieder besser. Außerdem nahm ich einige Kilogramm zu, ohne dass ich an meiner täglichen Fitness- und Ernährungsroutine irgendetwas geändert hatte. Das Bewusstsein darüber, dass mein Körper all die Jahre unter Einfluss von Hormonen gestanden hatte und nun einfach versuchte, ohne sie zurecht zu kommen, erschreckte mich.

Back to the foreign hormones – but without the pill!

After four months, I buckled. My quality of life had declined rapidly, the time between my cycles was dominated by the fear of the next menstruation. However, all this did not weigh as heavily on me as the fact that my mucous membrane had thickened considerably. My husband and I did not and do not have a specific desire to have children, but the prospect of no longer having a choice at the age of 22 was not particularly appealing. So hormones were needed again, but I definitely didn’t want to go back to the pill. The solution for me was a hormonal IUD, which my gynecologist also advised me to use. By releasing the hormones locally, the dose is much lower and still effective. In the meantime, I have had this IUD for 2 years, and it will continue to work according to plan for the next 3 years. Then the effect wears off and I have to think about what to do next.

Hormone IUD
The hormonal IUD is inserted by the gynecologist and releases hormones only locally Photo: Getty Images

My life with the hormonal IUD

In fact, the IUD keeps me largely symptom-free. Immediately after insertion, I had slight pressure pains in my abdomen for two days, and the unpleasant sensation during sex lasted for about a month. At the beginning, I had the IUD checked twice, but now I only have to go to the gynecologist once a year. When I do get regular bleeding, it’s really only after heavy physical activity, such as a particularly hard training session. The usual accompanying symptoms, such as migraines, are fortunately much less severe and are now well under control for me. My skin has never been as good as it was when I was a teenager (sounds almost paradoxical!), but overall I feel better in my body than I did when I was still taking the pill. And a thousand times more comfortable than without the support of extra hormones.