Pros, cons, timing, choice and side-effects
If thinking about starting (or changing) hormonal contraception, here are three suggestions:
1. Do the pros outweigh the cons?
The menstrual cycle is a window into our health and wellbeing, and the hormones of the cycle are vital for our growth, development, physical and mental health. The menstrual cycle is a valuable asset of our female physiology. So when we think about suppressing the marvellous menstrual cycle, it has to be because the benefits of using hormonal contraception are important enough in the context of your own cycle, your relationships and your life.
Birth control can be achieved via condoms, caps, diaphragms and strategic abstinence, and menstrual cycle symptoms can be managed via diet and lifestyle changes and non-prescription interventions.
Diet, sleep, stress, training and recovery can all play a huge part in influencing the menstrual cycle and its symptoms. So by tracking the cycle and tuning into the body, women can zoom in on symptoms, understand their causes and triggers and begin to tackle problems at the source.
If, on balance, the benefits you gain from using hormonal contraception are worth it, you are now making an informed decision, that’s right for you. Go for it.
2. Don’t start or change your hormonal contraception just before a big event
Side effects or reactions are always a possibility, and women have been reported to experience as many symptoms as a result of using hormonal contraception as they have as a result of the menstrual cycle. Unfortunately there’s no robust way to predict how you’ll react to the synthetic hormones, so if you do plan to start or change your method of hormonal contraception, do it well in advance of any significant dates in your sporting or life-events calendar so you can be sure it’s working for you.
3. No appointments with Doctor Google
Google ‘hormonal contraception’ and you’ll find more scare-stories than you can read.
But in the same way people are more inclined to write negative reviews than positive ones, reports of bad experiences warp the fact that countless women’s lives or training or symptoms or outlook have changed for the better thanks to hormonal contraception.
Also, if you want accurate information on hormonal contraception, stick to credible and legitimate sources and, in all cases, talk it through with a GP or medical professional you trust before making any big decisions. There’s a great website about using hormonal contraception, how to find the right solution for you and experiences from other users at thelowdown.com.
Side effects of hormonal contraception
Contraception is no different to every other kind of medication: it can cause side-effects and bad reactions; it can cause flare ups in existing medical conditions and it can interfere/ interact with other meds.
Hence why it’s vital to have an informed discussion with a medical professional (that you trust) about choosing the right form of hormonal contraception for you and your lifestyle.
Hormonal contraception is known to cause side effects including:
- Fluid retention
- Headaches / migraines
- Mood swings
- Weight gain
… and many more. As in all matters to do with the menstrual cycle/ hormones, all women are unique – and reactions to hormonal contraception can be equally unique.
So while we do recommend you aim to stick with any new form of hormonal contraception for around three months (so any flare ups and side effects have time to calm down), you may experience an extreme reaction and decide you want an exit.
If that happens, exit is usually pretty simple. If it’s a pill you can stop taking it and if it’s an IUD or implant it can come out.
But a bad reaction to the injection is less instant. Injections are designed to last in three-month cycles so, once you’re jabbed, you’ll have to bear the side-effects for 12 weeks or so.
Remember – it’s a personal choice
At The Well HQ, we strongly advocate that hormonal contraception is a personal choice. If you have the information, and it’s safe, and you decide it’s right for you … then go for it, stay informed, and don’t look back.
We simply argue that women need to be able to critically assess the (hormonal) contraception options out there and find the best and most comfortable fit between what’s available and your unique health, life and lifestyle profile.
The information contained on this website is for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide health advice, diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. Always seek medical advice.
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