Wrapping up #PCOSawarenessmonth

pcosSeptember was a month that gave women the perfect excuse to wear teal nail polish, all while embracing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and raising awareness to it. With over 198 tweets this year, #PCOSawarenessmonth was able to reach people from all corners of the globe – from the United States to South Africa to China and to our homeland, Australia!
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And what was most exciting is that 24% of contributors were male.
Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 11.24.23 pmIt’s great to see men getting involved in women’s health, as PCOS could affect their partners, mothers or even daughters. You shouldn’t be surprised if someone you love is affected by PCOS since 1 in 10 women between the ages of 18 to 44 have the hormone disorder.

So what exactly is PCOS?
In scientific terms, PCOS is when your body does not produce high enough levels of estrogen. This causes you to have ‘hyperandrogenism’ aka abnormally high testosterone levels (male sex hormone), which may cause ovulation to stop making it more difficult to have children. And for women that are able to fall pregnant, with PCOS they have an increased risk of miscarriage.

Or in short, PCOS is when you have imbalanced female sex hormones.

What are the consequences of PCOS?
– irregular or absence of menstrual periods
– acne, hormonal break outs
– weight gain/obesity/ difficulty losing weight
– excess hair growth
– depression
– cysts in ovaries
– difficulty getting pregnant
– miscarriages
– infertility

The Oral contraceptive pill and PCOS
Unfortunately, many women are frequently prescribed the pill as the first line of defence for their PCOS. The pill lowers testosterone levels in women with PCOS. This is pivotal for those with PCOS as testosterone at abnormally high levels is what triggers excess hair growth and acne as well as prevents ovulation. The intake of the pill will allow the user to temporarily regulate these symptoms and the symptoms listed above. Emphasis on the ‘temporarily’, as the truth is OCPs do NOT cure PCOS. Sadly, there is yet to be a PCOS. The disorder remains incurable and once the user gets off the pill, their PCOS symptoms will continue to affect them.

Women and their personal PCOS journeys
This is Liz Marie, who was diagnosed with PCOS at 25. Her raw and honest blog post will be of comfort and inspiration for those with PCOS and have had difficulty getting pregnant. You can find her post here:

And here is Amber Benge who managed to treat her PCOS by restoring hormonal balance in her body without prescription pills. Amber is a remarkable testament of treating PCOS symptoms naturally and holistically. You can find her here:

Don’t forget to share your PCOS journey with us on our Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/tbhthepill
Or Tweet us @tbhthepill

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JESSICA BIEL “I’ve been on the Pill for so long; how hard will it be to get pregnant?”

Jessica biel on the pill
Not only is she a beauty in blockbusters and a baby-mamma, but Biel is also empowering women all over the world to get in touch with their bodies! In a collaboration with Saundra Pelletier of non-profit organisation WomenCare Global, actress Jessica Biel is speaking from experience to educate women about their bodies. This project aims to deliver an online web-series of educational sex-ed videos to women. In an interview with Glamour magazine Jessica revealed that the motive behind her sex-ed project was her experience on the pill. Jessica explained that she felt confused about what would happen to her after she stopped taking the pill, “I’ve been on the Pill for so long; how hard will it be to get pregnant?” This decision was apart of plans fall pregnant with her husband Justin Timberlake; they’re now the parents to little Silas Randall.  The actress also admitted that, “suddenly I realized I really didn’t know what’s going on inside my own body. It was shocking.”

It is shocking that there are women out there who swallow a small pill every day and do not understand its long-term affects on their fertility and future offspring are. Day by day women are consuming synthetic hormones to purposefully prevent pregnancy and solve other health related issues. If you Google ‘the pill and its affect on pregnancy/babies/fertility etc’ you will find a whirlwind of contradictory studies. As many as there are articles and studies that celebrate the pill for its obsolete affects on fertility, there are also articles that condone the pill as a threat to offspring. From our own research we have found various studies that prove the pill poses potentially adverse affects on the user’s offspring however, all these articles also suggest that there has not been enough research to validate their claims with the pill only being used for a little over 60 years. Research has found a link between the use of oral contraceptives prior to conception (having a baby) and an increased risk of low birth weight babies and premature babies. This research includes a study of health records in Canada (2009) and recent study by University of Michigan Medical School.

Aside from birth weight, in some chances women have experienced delays in getting pregnant after being on the pill. In an article with the telegraph Dr Marilyn Glenville reported to “see(ing) cases where women in their thirties have no ovulated for two or three years after taking the contraceptive pill”. Dr Marilyn explains the absence of women’s menstrual periods; “the Pill artificially suppresses your hormones, effectively making your ovaries dormant. Sometimes it can make the reproductive system go into hibernation.”

So there it is ladies, “when you go off the pill it takes longer for you to get pregnant” is not just an old wives tale, it actually resonates with some women. If you are on the pill and are considering getting pregnant please consult your GP and inform them of your plans before proceeding to get off the pill. And remember every woman is different, you are not the same as her and she is not the same as you, so the oral contraceptives will have a different reaction for each woman and their pregnancy.

Who’s profiting from the pill? Bayer the Big Bad wolf

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Our previous post mentioned a host of oral contraceptive pills from Yaz to Zoely to Micogynon. In spite of their deceptively different names what these pills have in common is that they are ALL manufactured by a small handful of pharmaceutical companies including – Bayer, Teva and Watson. The most controversial of the pharma moguls is Bayer.

Bayer produces – Diane-35, Yasmine, Yaz, Beyaz, Safyral, Juliet-35, Yaz Flex, Levlen ED, Levlite, Tri-Levlen, Logynon, Microgynon-20-30-50, Microlevlen, Microlut, Mirena, Petibelle, Qlaira, Valette and Triquilar.

Bayer’s notoriety stems from the drug company’s bad track record of putting profits before consumer safety. Bayer first came to public attention in the 1980’s in the US when the company knowingly sold HIV and Hepatitis C infected blood and blood products to American consumers. 10,000 people were infected and some had died from the infection, causing Bayer to recall the products. Bayer then sold the recalled infected products to Asian and Latin American countries.

Here is a link to a news segment that aired in the 80’s about Bayer’s HIV and Hep C scandal 

And the most shocking part is that not one person from Bayer was indicted or investigated. Bayer basically infected trusting people with HIV. Those infected were compensated with $150 000, but can you really put such a price on someone’s health?

Today Bayer remains under public scrutiny for their oral contraceptive pills – Yaz and Yasmin. In 2008 and 2009 Yaz was the bestselling pill 7 years on and there have been multiple class action law suits from across the world, including Australia where Tindall Gask Bentley Law firm has engaged with over 465 women as of 2013. (To enquire about your own entitlements regarding Yaz or Yasmin click here)

Women pressing to sue Bayer over Yaz and Yasmin allege that the drugs were marketed in a way that exaggerated benefits such as acne and PMS reduction, undermining the serious risks associated with its use. As of 2006 since its release, 1000s of injuries and approximately 100 deaths are linked to Yaz and Yasmin through their adverse side effects (stroke, heart attack, blot clot, pulmonary embolism and gallbladder disease).

These deaths sadly include Brisbane student Tanya Hayes who was 24-years-old when she was taking Yasmin to control her acne. Tanya had suffered blood clotting in her lungs in 2008. Lakota Connell of Melbourne too died from a large blood clot. The 17-year-old had been 3 months in taking Yaz.

An study in the UK has also found that patients on Yaz and Yasmin pills are almost twice as likely to develop blood clots. However, in spite of these findings and the deaths and countless injuries Yaz and Yasmin pills remain on the market. So ladies, it’s up to you to inform educate yourself and make informed decisions about your wellbeing.

This post is dedicated in loving memory of Tanya and Lakota.

Blood clot sufferer Lakota and her twin sister Jo-Dene share their final embrace

Blood clot sufferer Lakota and her twin sister Jo-Dene share their final embrace

Why are there so many freaken pills around?

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Ever wondered why there are so many damn pills on the market? What’s the difference between Brenda and Juliet? Why is she on Diane and while you’re on Zoely?

From experience, I was prescribed Zoely merely because my GP was in abundance of Zoely sample packs (how convenient). After my first appointment I was given 2 packs. For FREE! Naïve as I was at the age of 19, I took them with the same satisfaction anyone would have given freebies. From hindsight this was a stupid move by my GP and myself. I should have asked questions. Why Zoely? Why not Brenda or Juliet or even Yaz? Is Zoely any better? What’s the difference and why does it cost twice as much? (Zoely $75AUD for 3 months)

If I were talking to my 19-year-old self, this is what I would have told her…In terms of combination (estrogen and progestin) oral contraceptive pills there are TWO main types – monophasic (one phase) pills and multiphasic (multiple phase) pills.

Monophasic pills

  • All active pills in the pack have the contain the same levels of estrogen and progestin in each pill
  • So regardless of what order you take them in, each pill is the same as it as the same dose for every active day
  • Examples – Microgynon-30/50, Nordette, Levlen, Monofeme, Norimin(1)-28, Brevinor-1(R)-28, Yasmin, Diane-35, Estelle-35, Juliet-35, Brenda-35, Valette, Microgynon-20, Loette, Yaz and Zoely

Multiphasic pills

  • The active pills contain different levels of hormones dosages through the month
  • There are 3 types of multiphasic pills:
    biphasic (2 different dosages), triphasic (3 different dosages) and quadphasic (4 different dosages)
  • Multiphasic pills must be taken in sequential order otherwise they will not be effective and you may experience breakthrough bleeding and unintended pregancy
  • Examples – Natazia, Aranelle-35, Enpresse-30/40, Ortho Tricyclen-35, TriNessa-35, Triphasil-30/40/50,

Monophasic pills are more popular as they are easier to take. Multiphasic pills only appeared because there were concerns about estrogen levels in monophasic pills. Which leads me to the numbers. Ever wondered why there are numbers attached to each pill name? This number is actually an indication of the amount of estrogen that is present in the pill.

  • LOW dose pills contain: 20 micrograms of estrogen e.g. Alesse-20
  • REGULAR dose pills contain: 30-34 micrograms of estrogen e.g. Brenda-35
  • HIGH dose pills contain 50+ micrograms of estrogen e.g. Microgynon-50

And how do you decide what dose is best for you? Well here are a few things you should know:

  • Increased levels of estrogen = the higher the risk of blood clots
  • Increased levels of estrogen = the higher the risk of breast cancer
  • Increased levels of estrogen = the higher the risk of weight gain
  • Increased levels of estrogen = the decrease in the thyroid hormones leading to hypothyroidism
  • Decreased levels of estrogen = the higher the risk of breakthrough bleeding
  • Decreased levels of estrogen = higher rates of discontinuation
  • Moderate levels of estrogen = reduces side effects and regulates periods

For user reviews on each contraception pill visit:
http://www.drugs.com/condition/contraception.html
This website can be a good way to gauge whether you should be questioning the symptoms you are experiencing on a specific pill.

The Pill – What are you swallowing?

WHATISINTHEPILLThe saying you are what you eat should not just apply to food, but also to the medication you consume. Women take oral hormonal contraceptives like Tic Tacs, with no questions, no worries. I mean why wouldn’t you? Doctors give them away like candy.

When it comes to food, you watch the sugar and fat content, likewise you should also be checking the amount of artificial hormones contained in the pill you take daily. Finding out what exactly is in your meds and their effect on your body should be as habitual as checking how many calories are in your muesli bar.

These are the questions you should ask and the answers you need to know:

Q. So what is in the oral contraceptive pill (OCP)?
– The synthetic hormones: estrogen and progestin

Q. What are the two types of OCPs?
– The mini pill and the combined pill

Q. And the difference?
– The mini pill contains only 1 type of synthetic hormone progestin
– The combined pill contained 2 types of synthetic hormones estrogen + progestin
– The combined pill balances out the side effects of only-progestin mini pills

Q. What is progestin and what does it do to your body while on the pill?
– Progestin makes the fluid at the opening of the uterus (womb) thicker preventing sperm from coming in and fertilising the egg like a plug
– Progestin prevents ovulation (release of an egg from ovaries)
– Progestin thins out the lining of the womb making it less receptive to a fertilised egg

Q. What are the side effects of progestin?
– breakthrough bleeding
– nausea
– breast tenderness
– weight gain
– mood swings
– increases risk of blood clots
– vaginal dryness

Q. What is estrogen and what does it do to your body while on the pill?
– Estrogen thickens the lining of the uterus to prevent breakthrough bleeding
– Estrogen triggers the production of a thin, watery muscus that interferes the sperm from fertilising the egg
– Estrogen also prevents ovulation

Q. What are the side effects of estrogen dominance? (too much estrogen)
– low sex drive
– bloating
– increases risk of blood clots
– weight gain
– headaches
– mood swings
– irregular periods
– excessive menstrual bleeding

Pressing for answers to some unanswered questions? Comment below or ask us from our Twitter or Facebook @tbhthepill.

#WorldSuicidePreventionDay

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To mark #WorldSuicidePreventionDay we will tribute this post to all women who have suffered from suicidal thoughts as a side effect of the pill. Contraceptive pills contain different levels of artificial estrogen, a hormone that prevents ovulation (release of an egg). Studies have shown that estrogen directly influences the emotional wellbeing of women. While most articles and doctors claim that the pill reduces PMS, it can also induce anxiety, depression, insomnia and mood swings. However, doctors will not warn you of this.To explain on a chemistry level, estrogen effects the production increases the production of neurosteroids, which can cause mood swings and anxiety. Simply said, estrogen from OCPs can trigger or worsen anxiety. Being on the pill raises the estrogen levels in your body as much as 100 times more than the body naturally produces.

Doctor Jerilynn Prior, a researcher and Professor of Endocrinology at the University of British Columbia has found that by preventing ovulation with the pill, this leads to estrogen to build up and actually worsen mood swings from PMS and emotional health.  The estrogen build up also prevents the thyroid gland from releasing hormones. This leads to the hypothyroidism (inactive thyroid) which causes you to feel mentally sluggish, foggy, depressed, over stressed and experience more unpredictable mood swings.

Hormones are often over looked when it comes to mental health. However, it is imperative that we bring awareness to the role hormonal imbalance, in particular estrogen dominance and its destructive effect on the mental health of women.

If you have or had experiences of any negative suicidal thoughts feel free to open up to us with your stories. We are hear to listen, you are not alone.

More information on the pill (Dr. Jerilynn Prior ‘The Pill at 50’)

Welcome to Tbh The Pill

We are a community of gal pals who share our experiences and questions about being on hormonal contraceptives or better known as ‘the pill’. As of late, the media has been sensationalising the benefits of ‘the pill’, claiming it reduces the risk of cancer and will assist with population control in developing countries. Although these may be positive outcomes, they have led to the lack of awareness to the pill’s adverse side effects such as blood clotting, hair loss, migraines, liver tumours and depression. With the pill as Australia’s #1 contraceptive method, this is extremely worrying as these effects can be life threatening. It is an unacceptable risk that society has normalised.

As a non-profit organisation we aim to raise awareness to the negative side effects of oral contraceptive pills. We want women to have a holistic understanding of the pill’s adverse effects so that they can weigh out the risk of using oral contraceptive pills against its perceived benefits (prevent unplanned pregnancy, reduce acne, regular periods etc.). Since the Continued Dispensing of PBS Medicines Act in 2012, that allows women to access oral hormonal contraceptives without a prescription, our cause has become increasingly more pertinent to the wellbeing of young women. The increase of the pill’s accessibility has given women the impression that regular health check ups and monitoring while on the pill are unnecessary. This is WRONG.

How many more young women need to die before society realises that the pill poses the potential of serious and at times life-threatening complications? Women as young as 16, have died from taking the pill. Women have a RIGHT to know exactly what is happening to their body under the influence of oral contraceptive pills and understand ALL the potential effects of its use.

Share your experience or questions with us on our Facebook or Twitter page and help raise awareness to the pill’s serious side effects #tbh.