Contraceptive Pill: Why We Need To Be Aware

I’ve been umming and ahhing about writing a post like this for such a long time now but I’ve held back in fear of sounding contriving and patronising and like I’m forcing points upon you. That’s not what I want to do. What I want to do is aim to bring this subject to light, to really get to the core of my viewpoint and to generally make young (and older) women cautious and clued up when it comes to making the suitable decision for their own health. Funnily enough, it wasn’t the many birth control fatality stories in the media, or the fact a year ago today I told my unrevealed tale of being a teen stroke survivor which contracted from that mini contraceptive pill, but it was in fact Grace’s tweet back in March where she used her platform to inform of the exact same case only devastatingly with her own relative. It often takes an influencer to influence you (which makes obvious sense, of course) and that it did. I thought, as the months went by, that it’s time for me to raise awareness and encourage reflection from my own perspective. The perspective that knows just damn well how dangerous it can be.

People are different, what works for some doesn’t work for others and I’m not about to lecture you on how you should take care of yourself. I’m not invalidating that a hormonal contraceptive pill is a safe and effective method to use, I’m not denying the fact to suffer a casualty is a rare occurrence (because it is) but what I am saying is women need to be able to weigh up the pros and the cons and take control of their own body.

I’m not even going to go in to the possible scenarios surrounding the contraceptive pill and their adjoined problems because that’s not my job. Even though I’ve experienced the worst possible outcome of a blood clot, I still don’t know the full potential negative impact it can have on an individual because it is never! discussed! widely! Common sense will tell you the contraceptive pill can produce physical changes, mess with your emotions, trigger wild mood swings, migraines, elevated blood pressure etc and a quick, often terrifying, Google search will confirm the heightened more severe factors of potential stroke, heart attack, increased risk of cancer, and so on. From mild to moderate, the crazy experiences vary and what worries me is the widespread usage of these drugs without the implications being addressed and women being fully aware of the symptoms.

The contraceptive pill does have some associated health risks, there’s no passing by that. When you visit your doctor, they’ll probably briefly give you an uninformative description and then send you away with a prescription for a long, multi-syllabic word that you can’t even pronounce never mind know the hazardous unpredictability of. It’s all well and good having easy access to a quick fix but to not have any questions answered isn’t okay – especially for someone with an anxious mind (like me). It’s important to feel comfortable on treatment that both does the job but doesn’t make life intolerable. If the side effects of the contraceptive pill are taking away the constitution then it really isn’t worth it.

As a young, naive girl sat in that doctor’s office not once did I ask for them to lay out the jeopardy for me to process and base this on my choice to walk away empty handed or to go ahead, anyway. The leaflet itself is off putting and enough to deter you but truthfully, how many people read through precisely and how many people think it’s just scaremongering? No doubt most of the time you’ll be fine and breeze through without a need to point out these weird feelings that aren’t familiar but what I want to stress is, it is possible to be on the other end of those catastrophic consequences. It’s like the lengthy terms and conditions, you tick the box without reading carefully and if ever you’re stuck in a predicament you no longer have the opportunity to reverse the damage because you’ve already agreed to the contract. Often enough you’re just put straight on to the most commonly prescribed contraceptive pill without realising how this can affect you and that’s that. I want that procedure to be handled differently!

Throughout my teen life I swapped the contraceptive pill a couple of times because it really didn’t agree with me and I should have taken that as a warning sign from then on! I don’t think the medical professionals really delve into any personal concerns, nor do they have the funds or the time unfortunately, so to educate yourself is key. You don’t have to be neglectful, to smoke, drink, and have a bad diet. This can happen to anyone. I’m not even going to dance around the fact I could have died, because it’s true. I could be six foot under right now, not sat here expressing my thoughts in the second chance I was so lucky to grasp. That’s not me attempting to pile you with fear, or regret, or guilt, that’s just me being 100% honest. Marvelon was given to me without 17 year old me being apprised of the more eminent risk of this particular contraceptive pill being a strong indicator for blood clots, and it happened. I didn’t ever think I’d be a victim of this uncommon misfortune, but I was (I guess you don’t ever think it’s going to happen until it does!). I had a large blood clot on my brain that hadn’t travelled from my leg or my lungs, but which formed directly into one of the most important parts of my brain and shut off all normal functioning. Blood supply was cut, I had a stroke, simple as that. That tiny tablet I’d taken orally for just a few months had the power to destroy my life and I wasn’t even the slightest bit alert or enlightened.

My only symptoms were severe headache, vomiting and intense sleepiness so it’s not as if I could have caught it early before the extremity hit. I couldn’t have predicted it or prevented it but my formed judgement could have done. The option being left in your own hands is vital. Be careful. Read up on the prospects. Talk to your GP about any anxieties. Request regular check ups. Emphasise your desire to be told outright what to expect and most primarily, be in tune with yourself. Note the foreign signs, listen to your body, recognise what doesn’t feel right and take it from there. Only you can decide whether it’s wise to stay on the pill, to try another approach, or to remove yourself completely.

Having a stroke hasn’t just made me a stronger person mentally, it’s made me more cautious and has unclouded my responsive system. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is another topic to discuss but it really does frighten me when I hear of other women on the pill being taken ill with similar – and sometimes worse – symptoms to those I had; it makes my stomach instinctively sink. Not to say it is going to end up the same and is probably something entirely out of the range of synthetic hormones interfering with your health but as someone who’s suffered the wrath of this sometimes deadly drug, it’s my duty to inform, to advise, and to forewarn. I don’t want to see this happen to anybody else. I want to prevent anybody else’s life being ruined in the way mine was so prematurely.

I hope I haven’t offended anyone whilst lifting the weight from my chest, I just really felt this was necessary as the next step in my stroke storytelling and hopefully you can see where I’m coming from. I never want to reprimand in my discourse, I just want to spread the word in a vigilant manner. I also want to thank those still sticking around for my lazy intermittent stance in the blog world. It was my blog’s fourth birthday on Sunday and that for me is surreal. Without every like, retweet, comment, email, community spirit, and encouragement, I doubt I’d be still here so THANK YOU. I promise to celebrate with a little something to give back as soon as I get my head and my priorities in the right place.

Bridie x