#6 Reasons why the pill shouldn’t be made over-the-counter

over-the-counter pill

Still unconvinced by our previous post? We have compiled a list of reasons why oral contraceptive pills should be regulated and not made available over-the-counter.

  1. With so many oral contraceptive pills on the market and a lot of medical jargon, choosing the right pill to suit you can be confusing. Doctors are qualified to prescribe medication so why wouldn’t you go to them for the right recommendations?
  2. No compulsory check-ups? Then to hell with screening for cervical/breast cancer, STI’s or getting a pap test! According to the National Cancer Institute itself, “A number of studies suggest that current use of oral contraceptives (birth control pills) appears to slightly increase the risk of breast cancer, especially among younger women.
  3. Because not everyone can check their own blood pressure and prevent blood clots. Despite being rare, the sudden health of a young health woman because of a blood clot can be devastating. Sadly this can happen even with the current requirement for a doctor’s prescription.
  4. How much do you really know about IUDs and implants? The uptake of the very effective, long-acting and reversible contraceptives methods as IUDs are low in Australia. This may be an indicator that doctors are not able to spend time with women discussing all the contraceptive options available.
  5. Already priced between $15-$283 (3 month pack) do you want to pay more than what you’re already paying for the pill? Plan B (the morning after pill) became more expensive when it went over-the-counter. If that happened to the pill, it could be unaffordable for many women.
  6. Who’s going to checkout that migraine, change in vision, hearing or motion and caution you to get off the pill?

And those are just 6 reasons why the oral contraceptive pill should only be made available with a prescription and mandatory regular health check ups.

Got more reasons? Or still unconvinced? Let us know in the comment section or sound off on our Twitter or Facebook page.

The Pill without a prescription?

Pill

Continuing on from our last blog post where we discussed the accessibility of oral contraceptive pills to young adolescent girls, today’s agenda will cover the overall accessibility of the pill in Australia.

Since 2012 the National Health (continued dispensing) determination act has allowed the contraceptive pill to be made available for emergencies over-the-counter without a prescription. To test this out I went to the pharmacy and asked them if I could buy a pack of oral contraceptives (I haven’t had prescription nor spoken to a doctor about oral contraceptives in almost 2 years). And surely enough, after a few questions that I could easily navigate around with a few lies, I was offered a fresh pack. This is disturbing. What if I suffered from severe migraines? What if I had high blood pressure? What if I was pregnant?

If you are on the contraceptive pill it is IMPERATIVE that you attend regular check ups and answer honestly to the questions asked by your GP. They can gauge whether you’re at risk of developing any harmful side effects and prevent further health risks, that is why it is so important that the pill remains regulated and not made as accessible as a pack of tic tacs.

Let us hear your thoughts on the accessibility of oral contraceptive pills in the comment section, our Twitter or Facebook page. Should they be made over-the-counter or more regulated?

So easy even a twelvie could buy the contraceptive pill in Australia

tooyoungforthepill

TBH when I was 12 I still thought avocados were a vegetable and that cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis. Needless to say, I was not prepared to grab myself a pack of pills to take everyday for the rest of my life until I wanted to fall pregnant.

17, 38 whatever age you are in Australia you are able to get the pill from a doctor depending on what the doctor thinks of your maturity levels. There is no age restriction for the pill; technically you just need to have your period. If you’re over the age of 14 you can get a prescription without your parent’s signature. All you need is a Medicare card really and the contraceptive pill is in your hands.

So why is this alarming?

Here at TBH The Pill we worry about whether the clear benefits of hormonal contraception in adulthood can be experienced by adolescent girls, some as young as eleven or twelve years old. With the contraceptive pill’s imperfect administration and high discontinuation rates, they aren’t that great as contraception. Aside from that, there are also additional, physiological concerns. What are the effects of giving doses of hormones to young girls with newly developing hormones? Where irregularity is regular in adolescence does the pill effect the feedback loop between the brain and the gonads is priming and developing in this period of puberty? The sensitivity of the feedback loop is being established. And if the pill floods this feedback loop with extra hormones, does this alter its sensitivity? It is a question worth testing.

By flooding adolescent girls with hormones during puberty, the pill is regulating a cycle that normally is irregular the contraceptive is increasing estrogen exposure. And it is known that high lifetime estrogen exposure is a risk factor for breast cancer and other reproductive cancers.

Let us hear your thoughts on prescribing young girls with the contraceptive pill in the comment section, our Twitter or Facebook page. Should they be prescribed artificial hormones in their developing stages?

When acne meets the pill

Acne and the pill

Acne, those dreaded spots that invade your complexion and attack your self-esteem leaving you defenceless to their aches and scars. For those causalities, GPs and dermatologists often pigeon hole us into using oral contraceptive pills as a weapon for acne prevention. And when we’re desperate, we fall into the trap of taking the prescription and buying pills for temporary relief from acne. Emphasis on temporary* here. In America a survey found 14% of women are on oral contraceptive pills for acne treatment. That is, 7 in 50 US women who have resorted to taking synthetic hormones to repress male hormones (testosterone) in their bodies and prevent acne. Despite these women are able to live acne-free lives thanks to the pill, their bodies are actually mimicking the state of pregnancy without actually being pregnant. Hence where the saying “your skin is glowing” is derived from (the higher hormone levels during pregnancy). And what happens when you stop the pill or post partum and your hormones try to rebalance themselves without the pill?

Guess who’s back, back again?

Acne’s back. Tell a friend.

Acne and the appearance of your skin is a reflection of what is occurring inside your body. When you are off the pill, acne is a very common side effect. This is due to the hormone levels in your body. It is a love-hate relationship. Dr Jennifer Ashton, obstetrician and gynaecologist explains that, “the pill contains the same hormones that your body makes, called estrogen and progestin, just in different amounts, so it can override your body’s signals to release an egg (or ovulate). Consequently, it also lowers your body’s testosterone level, which in turn can reduce acne.” Testosterone is the hormone that increases your body’s oil production. When the body has too much testosterone it over-stimulates the skin’s oil glands, making everything super oily. So by decreasing your testosterone level, you are lowering your oil production. And since oils breed from bacteria and bacteria leads to acne, you are reducing your acne breakouts.

Now on the flipside, as we have stressed, every woman has a different reaction to each pill. Dr. Ashton says, “the tricky part is that sometimes there’s a flare before the suppression occurs, which can temporarily make acne worse before it gets better. Sometimes the initial flare-ups occur because some pills’ progestin can have a pseudo-testosterone effect, which can cause a surge in breakouts.”
Another major con is that, the pill does NOT cure acne. Hormonal contraceptives are just a band-aid, because birth control pills don’t address the underlying cause. Acne is skin deep. It’s all got to do with your hormones. When perfectly balanced, your skin will be radiate. Dematoglist Dr. Jaliman recommends tackling acne with dietary changes, specifically a low-glycemic diet. A low-glycemic diet calls for no refined carbs, gluten and dairy basically everything that will spike up your insulin levels and consequently your androgen (testosterone) level.

So before you hop on that pill for acne, know that acne is skin-deep and dietary changes are far more sustainable than oral contraceptive pills that may have irreversible side effects. There are plenty of fish (acne solutions) in the see, don’t settle for the easy one.

Respond below in the comments or join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Natural lifestyle changes to treat your PCOS

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PCOS symptom relief alternatives to The Pill
Instead of popping pills charged with synthetic hormones everyday, opt for more sustainable alternatives, such as changes to your diet, essential oils and perhaps acupuncture.

  • “DITCH THE PILL AND DIET”
    Instead of resorting to prescription pills, focus on lifestyle changes, which can improve PCOS symptoms. For instance, this list provides the do’s and don’t for controlling your PCOS.

    DON’T’s
    – alcohol
    – nicotine
    – caffeine
    – sugar
    – processed foods
    – dairy products
    as they cause inflammation

    DO’s
    – broccoli
    – cabbage
    – kale
    – brussel sprouts
    – celery
    – cucumber
    – lettuce
    – spinach
    – radishes
    as they are good for managing estrogen levels
    – nuts
    – seeds
    – sprouts
    – spirulina
    – legumes
    – beans
    as they are plant-based protein good for keeping your blood sugar, weight and hormones under control

  • “ESSENTIAL OIL ME UP”
    Geranium oil
    will help you with your exhaustion and releases the correct amount of hormones into your body.Lavender oil
    will help you relax and decrease the chances of you developing PCOS-related depression
  • “ACU ’PUNCH’ THE PILL AWAY”
    There have been numerous studies that prove the benefit of acupuncture for treating PCOS. In the 2321 cases of PCOS studied, it has been found that acupuncture is just as effective as Western medicine in managing PCOS symptoms. Research found that acupuncture, as well as acupuncture combined with Chinese herbal medicines, are helpful in in reducing PCOS effects on the body such as insulin resistance, testosterone and weight!

If you have any other solutions to relieving PCOS symptoms sound off in the comment section and encourage women to research alternatives to the oral contraceptive pill.

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!
Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 11.24.10 pm

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

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

profitting

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