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Low dose BC for teens


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Looking at options before our follow-up.

DD1 is having trouble with very heavy and frequent periods so I took her in yesterday and he mentioned us considering low dose bc. I know I personally have had terrible mood effects from bc pills and depo so I'm not keen on it. But I don't know if low dose has a better track record.

I took her in yesterday to test for anemia and rule out thyroid issues (I have Hashi's as does dh's mom and sister) and I know low thyroid can cause heavy periods.

Anyone btdt, have info?

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Not first-hand — but I knew people when I was younger who went on low-dose for this reason and it helped.

I don’t think it’s the same at all as depo.  Depo was new when I was that age and seemed like it did not help any with heavy periods or mood swings.

Ime — if someone ended up taking anxiety or depression medication — depo was horrible.

But I also knew someone, well, who was incredibly helped by low-dose, for heavy periods, and she had had mood swings and depression medication was being considered — and it improved a ton when she started low-dose.  She had a great experience.  This was when I was in high school.  
 

It has left me with a major hesitancy about depo but a good impression of low-dose.

 

Just to mention — I think with low-dose it’s a riskier bc because it is low enough that taking it a different time of day or missing one pill could make it not effective.  I think it’s often not as recommended for bc itself but good for managing period stuff.  This is my impression anyway.  
 

This is all 15-20 year old impressions also, to be fair.  Maybe depo has gotten better than it used to be.  I am skeptical of it but not of low-dose bc.  I think partly because it’s much easier to stop if there is a question of a side effect — with depo people were left wondering for months “is this a side effect of depo or is this separately anxiety or depression getting worse.”  

Edited by Lecka
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Different formulas cause different side effects. Some women have less emotional issues on the pill. I was on it for heavy periods for years and it didn’t cause emotional issues until my father died. I’d changed brands two weeks before because of breakthrough bleeding, and suddenly I wasn’t just grieving, I had no control of my emotions at all and couldn’t get out of bed. So if she finds the low dose or another formula works for her (and she probably will), she should know to watch out for emotional side effects years into the future. 

The only alternatives I’ve heard of that work are pretty extreme dietary changes. Basically you lower estrogen levels by getting rid of the foods that contain estrogen (fat, dairy, meats), so you’re left with a low fat vegan diet. Then instead of junk you add fiber with whole grains (oatmeal) and cruciferous vegetables (which has a fiber that binds to estrogen).

Do be aware that cruciferous vegetables can block iodine so be sure to either use iodized salt or an iodine supplement if she chooses to go that route. Not enough iodine can appear like a thyroid problem in blood work but reverse when iodine is added back in.

She may be able to do that diet for a short time only and still make a big difference. I did it for only a month in my 20’s and my periods were lighter and less crampy for close to a year. 

I’m pretty sure I learned about that approach from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PRCM) website. They probably have the same or better information up now. For example the omega-3 stuff has come out since then. I don’t know if adding flax oil would help or hurt. 

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My girls ended up with the Nexplanon.  It is a small rod inserted under the skin in the upper arm. It can be felt but not seen.   It works for 3 years.  They have gone from very heavy periods and cramping to just 1-2 days of very light periods.

They both love it and are on their second ones.  I was nervous as they are both of meds for seizures and moods but the Nexplanon has helped both of those issues.

Small amount if pain when they insert it but then nothing to remember, refill, etc for 3 years.

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I was on BC as a teen til after after I got married for heavy periods and intense cramps due to ovarian cysts and I took them for about 7 years. After I went off to try to start a family, it took me over 18 months to have a period and my new obgyn wasn't sure my hormone levels would ever support a pregnancy. Obviously, that turned out not to be the case, but it made for a very emotional and angst ridden time for me and I have had trouble with irregular periods and hormonal issues ever since. I don't have any medical proof, but I blame the extended use of BC pills during my development for messing me up hormonally. IMO, obgyns hand them out like candy to treat nearly every problem instead of looking at the root cause and I would think long and hard about it before I let my teen daughters go on them. YMMV, obviously.

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I was on regular bcp for a couple of years before ds and I was ok emotionally, but when I switched to a low-dose after he was born I became suicidal fairly quickly.  Yes, maybe it was a combination of ppd and bcp, but the ppd stayed when I stopped the bcp and never got that bad again.  Who knows; there’s my only experience.

if she is actually having trouble from the heavy periods, maybe seek another opinion if you can, to try and get to the root cause of the problem.   

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I was on regular BC as a teen for periods so heavy I wound up hospitalized with severe anemia.   That was the days before low dose.    I was on low dose in my 30's mainly for heavy periods still, got pregnant with ds within weeks of going off, with dd within two months, so the low dose didn't seem to cause any problems as far as that was concerned, nor I guess my long time on the regular pill when younger.     After my Level III ultrasound with my youngest, they told me I had the ovaries of a much younger woman (I was 38).   Wasn't quite sure what to say to that, thank you didn't seem quite appropriate,  

Oldest dd is on low dose and has been for quite a while.   She hasn't had any problems and the newer ones will work fine for BC, but you do have to take them the same time every day, and they do recommend a barrier method as well. 

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2 hours ago, Katy said:

The only alternatives I’ve heard of that work are pretty extreme dietary changes. Basically you lower estrogen levels by getting rid of the foods that contain estrogen (fat, dairy, meats), so you’re left with a low fat vegan diet. Then instead of junk you add fiber with whole grains (oatmeal) and cruciferous vegetables (which has a fiber that binds to estrogen).

Do be aware that cruciferous vegetables can block iodine so be sure to either use iodized salt or an iodine supplement if she chooses to go that route. Not enough iodine can appear like a thyroid problem in blood work but reverse when iodine is added back in.

She may be able to do that diet for a short time only and still make a big difference. I did it for only a month in my 20’s and my periods were lighter and less crampy for close to a year. 

Yes to this. I had heavy bleeding and debilitating pain, and a close-to-vegan whole foods diet helped tremendously. I ate no animal products except eggs, no white flour, no refined sugar, no fried foods. I didn't go on this diet expecting it to change anything about my period--I was concerned for animal welfare and my general health. It was a lovely and unexpected side effect. 

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I was on low dose progesterone only BC pills as a teen for period issues. I had no trouble with mood but it made me really nauseous. I never got used to it. It was like morning sickness lite- I'd be sick in the morning for an hour or so. I eventually quit because of it and have refused to go back on BC pills ever sense. 

If it were my daughter, I'd have no problems with her trying it for a month or 2 to see if it helped. 

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My dd was on BC (not sure which ones) for several years due to severe acne and endometriosis.  She never had any side-effects, and it really helped clear up her skin!  (Didn't help her endometriosis so much.)  Once she was off of the BC, her periods returned.

I was on BC as a teen because my periods were all over the place.  I'd sometimes have only two/year, and other times have one long one that would last two months.   It helped for as long as I was on it, and I had no side effects.

 

 

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I've been on Lo Loestrin FE for several years now and if all goes well, I will stay on it though menopause. I started it for terrible PMS/PMDD that gave me a menstrual migraine every single month. Then one day I was tempted to literally drive off a bridge due to the PMDD and that scared me enough to try oral BC again. I had had terrible experiences with traditional BC prior to Lo Loestrin. I felt like I had PMS all the freaking time on other pills. 

I think I had discharge for a long time when I started it, and I had acne for a while. But that all went away. I take the pills continuously, but there are only 2 "off days" a month instead of the usual 5. I really enjoy just being the same person all throughout the month.  

Depending on your insurance it can be pretty expensive. There is a discount card that is really easy to get so you don't have to spend more than $25 a month. Obviously I highly recommend this pill! 

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My DD tried numerous bcp and it didn't work well for her at all.  It caused worsening panic attacks, and her mood was so out of control that she just can't be on them.  She also gained a lot of weight on them, but like me she has PCOS so may well have gained weight anyway.  She says she would rather deal with the pain and heavy bleeding.  🙁

I was on low dose bcp once I got into college for heavy bleeding and cramping.  I didn't realize it was abnormal until I started talking to friends.  It helped with the bleeding and cramping but led to a huge weight gain.  After going off them when I got married I never had regular cycles.  Before I went on them it was sort of regular, afterward things were all over the place until a year ago when I got a nexplannon implant.

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I've been on BCP since about 15 for that reason. Went off of it when we wanted to have a child, but other than that (and one horrible year on depo, which I swear has messed up my body since), I've been on BCP. I used to have horrible cramps, heavy 10 day periods, and nausea. It was terrible. Now, I have a much more "normal" cycle .

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You might do some research on topical progesterone. Most heavy periods in teens are due to no ovulation (anovulation) www.aafp.org/afp/2020/0515/p633.html

Without ovulation, there is no progesterone released.

Our older daughter's doctor prescribed topical progesterone creme, compounded at a specific dosage, and it solved her menstruation difficulties (heavy periods with pain levels that caused her to faint). She used the prescription from about 14 years old to early 20s. (She did not experience any side effects from topical progesterone.) At that time, her periods starting getting very light/skipped. Her doctor weaned her off the progesterone, since he assumed she had started ovulating. Her periods have been fine since.

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Thank you to all your thoughts and experiences. 

I have always been very against bc from my own experience and being Catholic but wanted to go into this with an open mind if it is truly going to be helpful for her.

2 hours ago, iamonlyone said:

You might do some research on topical progesterone. Most heavy periods in teens are due to no ovulation (anovulation) www.aafp.org/afp/2020/0515/p633.html

Without ovulation, there is no progesterone released.

Our older daughter's doctor prescribed topical progesterone creme, compounded at a specific dosage, and it solved her menstruation difficulties (heavy periods with pain levels that caused her to faint). She used the prescription from about 14 years old to early 20s. (She did not experience any side effects from topical progesterone.) At that time, her periods starting getting very light/skipped. Her doctor weaned her off the progesterone, since he assumed she had started ovulating. Her periods have been fine since.

That is very helpful, I'd been looking for more specific info. This confirms what I'd read that it is most likely due to anovulation. I have used compounded progesterone cream myself so I am familiar with it. 

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I was on birth control (demulen) as a teen, perhaps for the anovulation mentioned above, though I remember the Dr saying she thought I was probably ovulating, but my testosterone levels were too high for some reason. My mom called them "hormone pills" and it was only by reading the package insert that I realized what their typical purpose was, haha. I wish the Drs had figured out what the actual problem was, but it didn't cause me any real problems. I think it made it easier for me to gain the"freshmen 15” in college, but I lost it easily while still on the pill, so no big deal. It was worth it to have my period under control, and when I went off it, I never had any issues.

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Yes, my dd went this route. I think she was 14yo. Her periods were absolutely *debilitating*. She could barely stand upright for two days a month. BC totally repaired it. Also, it helped with acne. No regrets. It was a great choice. 

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In terms of Catholic ethics, I've worked for two Catholic hospitals that did not cover birth control for contraception purposes but they both covered it (even when single) for hormonal issues like heavy/painful periods and a ruptured ovarian cyst.  I didn't even need to appeal, it was automatic. So I don't think there is an issue from an ethical perspective, at least while she isn't married.  And honestly I don't think there would be one while she was married, but I wasn't at the time so I can't be sure.

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I have an acquaintance who is a pediatric endocrinologist and one of her soapboxes is that bc pills shouldn’t be called that, but I can’t remember what she likes to call them. She says xxx, which has birth control as a side effect.  
 

My parents wouldn’t let me on them until I turned 18 and it was life changing for me. I’m pretty sure my parents regretted it. I am in my late 30s now and I have been on them pretty much continuously other than the 9 years I was pregnant and nursing. If all goes well, I hope to stay on until menopause. 

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6 hours ago, lovinmyboys said:

I have an acquaintance who is a pediatric endocrinologist and one of her soapboxes is that bc pills shouldn’t be called that, but I can’t remember what she likes to call them. She says xxx, which has birth control as a side effect.  
 

 

Our doctor presented the Nexplanon to my girls as something to help their cramps and make their periods lighter .  That sold them.   Due to their special needs, having babies isn't really in their future , so that was an added bonus that also made any effects in future fertility not a concern.

 

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7 hours ago, Katy said:

In terms of Catholic ethics, I've worked for two Catholic hospitals that did not cover birth control for contraception purposes but they both covered it (even when single) for hormonal issues like heavy/painful periods and a ruptured ovarian cyst.  I didn't even need to appeal, it was automatic. So I don't think there is an issue from an ethical perspective, at least while she isn't married.  And honestly I don't think there would be one while she was married, but I wasn't at the time so I can't be sure.

Yes, it wouldn't be an ethical issue for her case. It is just that I have heard that POV for a long time about all the negatives and they are obviously biased so I want to consider it with fresh eyes to make sure that I don't dismiss anything that could help her with incomplete info.

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22 hours ago, Katy said:

Different formulas cause different side effects. Some women have less emotional issues on the pill. I was on it for heavy periods for years and it didn’t cause emotional issues until my father died. I’d changed brands two weeks before because of breakthrough bleeding, and suddenly I wasn’t just grieving, I had no control of my emotions at all and couldn’t get out of bed. So if she finds the low dose or another formula works for her (and she probably will), she should know to watch out for emotional side effects years into the future. 

The only alternatives I’ve heard of that work are pretty extreme dietary changes. Basically you lower estrogen levels by getting rid of the foods that contain estrogen (fat, dairy, meats), so you’re left with a low fat vegan diet. Then instead of junk you add fiber with whole grains (oatmeal) and cruciferous vegetables (which has a fiber that binds to estrogen).

Do be aware that cruciferous vegetables can block iodine so be sure to either use iodized salt or an iodine supplement if she chooses to go that route. Not enough iodine can appear like a thyroid problem in blood work but reverse when iodine is added back in.

She may be able to do that diet for a short time only and still make a big difference. I did it for only a month in my 20’s and my periods were lighter and less crampy for close to a year. 

I’m pretty sure I learned about that approach from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PRCM) website. They probably have the same or better information up now. For example the omega-3 stuff has come out since then. I don’t know if adding flax oil would help or hurt. 

I love the idea of dietary changes as a natural help but that is not something she would be willing to do and I wouldn't force it at her age. 

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On 11/21/2020 at 3:54 AM, Paige said:

I was on low dose progesterone only BC pills as a teen for period issues. I had no trouble with mood but it made me really nauseous. I never got used to it. It was like morning sickness lite- I'd be sick in the morning for an hour or so. I eventually quit because of it and have refused to go back on BC pills ever sense. 

If it were my daughter, I'd have no problems with her trying it for a month or 2 to see if it helped. 

The only time I ever tried BC pills that happened.  I gave up and never took them again.  

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On 11/21/2020 at 12:10 AM, Momto6inIN said:

I was on BC as a teen til after after I got married for heavy periods and intense cramps due to ovarian cysts and I took them for about 7 years. After I went off to try to start a family, it took me over 18 months to have a period and my new obgyn wasn't sure my hormone levels would ever support a pregnancy. Obviously, that turned out not to be the case, but it made for a very emotional and angst ridden time for me and I have had trouble with irregular periods and hormonal issues ever since. I don't have any medical proof, but I blame the extended use of BC pills during my development for messing me up hormonally. IMO, obgyns hand them out like candy to treat nearly every problem instead of looking at the root cause and I would think long and hard about it before I let my teen daughters go on them. YMMV, obviously.

Same story here. 

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  • 4 months later...
On 11/20/2020 at 9:22 PM, Quill said:

Yes, my dd went this route. I think she was 14yo. Her periods were absolutely *debilitating*. She could barely stand upright for two days a month. BC totally repaired it. Also, it helped with acne. No regrets. It was a great choice. 

Quill - what pill did your DD use?  

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On 11/20/2020 at 6:30 AM, Soror said:

DD1 is having trouble with very heavy and frequent periods so I took her in yesterday and he mentioned us considering low dose bc. I know I personally have had terrible mood effects from bc pills and depo so I'm not keen on it. But I don't know if low dose has a better track record.

OP - did your DD end up trying the pill?  If so, which one and did it help her? 

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On 11/20/2020 at 7:45 AM, Ailaena said:

I was on regular bcp for a couple of years before ds and I was ok emotionally, but when I switched to a low-dose after he was born I became suicidal fairly quickly.  Yes, maybe it was a combination of ppd and bcp, but the ppd stayed when I stopped the bcp and never got that bad again.  Who knows; there’s my only experience.

if she is actually having trouble from the heavy periods, maybe seek another opinion if you can, to try and get to the root cause of the problem.   

I've had the opposite experience. I have taken traditional oral BC at different points in my life and I felt like I had bad PMS the whole time I was on them. Then when my PMDD became too much a few years ago (monthly migraine and suicidal ideation were the worst part), I tried low-dose BC and it's been like a miracle. I love having the same mood all month, and not having to cross out a week out of each month because I'll be worthless.  I am on Lo Loestrin FE-there are only 2 placebo pills a month.

So my DD15 has been having terrible mood swings before her period for years (on top of regular depression and anxiety). I'm convinced her PMS is why she ended up in the psych hospital for suicidal ideation once (it was certainly a contributing factor). And frankly, I couldn't stand the way she constantly picked at her younger siblings for days on end. Or the way she would accuse me of being ashamed of her out of the blue. And she also had nausea, bad cramps, etc. So she recently started on a low-dose oral BC (her doctor first tried a high dose of naproxen, which was supposed to be given a week before her period then a week into her period. But her cycle was never that regular and she could be on it for far too long. And it didn't help with her mood). 

She is having her first "period" this week. So far, I see an improvement. She had some cramping but it is not as bad, and her way out of control mood swings haven't happened yet (those could last for a good week before, so I'm happy we're halfway through her placebo week and not seeing anything). And I believe these are supposed to get better with time. She is on Cryselle. There are 7 placebo pills a month.

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My dd17 is on low dose for depression, and it has helped a lot. It also cleared up her acne and made her heavy periods much lighter. I had a bias against bc for religious reasons, too, but I see this as medication. Dd is not sexually active.

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We opted not to because DD preferred to try herbs first. She was old enough to make the call. We ordered Happy Healthy Hippie Go with the Flow and Maca from the same maker. She says it helped but she has converted to Orthodox and thinks the fasting and diet restrictions may have helped as well. 

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15 minutes ago, kristin0713 said:

I've been reading positive things about Lo Loestrin. I'm going to ask her doctor about this. 

I was surprised the NP prescribed something else for DD, TBH (we see the same PCP). But I suppose we can go to this for her if Cryselle doesn't prove that helpful. I know LoLo can be really pricey on some insurance plans, but there is a discount card that helps quite a bit. And my current insurance covers it 100%

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28 minutes ago, Tiberia said:

My dd17 is on low dose for depression, and it has helped a lot. It also cleared up her acne and made her heavy periods much lighter. I had a bias against bc for religious reasons, too, but I see this as medication. Dd is not sexually active.

This is so good to know.  She has so much anxiety about her period and at this point it is  becoming a mental health issue. She won't make plans for half the month because it's so debilitating and she's afraid to get it while she's out or have to cancel plans.  She is the farthest thing from sexually active. We've tried vitamins, herbs, diet.  NSAIDS are tearing up her stomach. She already has beautiful skin and I'm concerned about anything giving her acne but at this point I think we've exhausted our options. Honestly I don't care what it costs. I'm desperate to help her. 

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7 hours ago, kristin0713 said:

Quill - what pill did your DD use?  

It’s hard to remember now and they may not make it anymore, but I think it was Yaz or Yasmine. 

I still feel that was a great decision. 

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We started my now 17 year old about a year and a half ago, as a way to possibly deal with anxiety/ depression.  It didn't really work with that, and we wound up going to an antidepressant which DID work.  However, as a side effect, their acne completely cleared up, so they're staying on the birth control pills.  They also like knowing when they will get their period.  

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On 11/20/2020 at 8:48 AM, MercyA said:

Yes to this. I had heavy bleeding and debilitating pain, and a close-to-vegan whole foods diet helped tremendously. I ate no animal products except eggs, no white flour, no refined sugar, no fried foods. I didn't go on this diet expecting it to change anything about my period--I was concerned for animal welfare and my general health. It was a lovely and unexpected side effect. 

I can vouch for this effect of a plant based diet as well. Perimenopause has also been easy for me. I am 52 and haven't had a period for months, so I'm either done or very close to being done. I've never had a single hot flash or night sweat or any heavy bleeding or other symptoms that the women I know complain about. 

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On 11/20/2020 at 6:30 AM, Soror said:

Looking at options before our follow-up.

DD1 is having trouble with very heavy and frequent periods so I took her in yesterday and he mentioned us considering low dose bc. I know I personally have had terrible mood effects from bc pills and depo so I'm not keen on it. But I don't know if low dose has a better track record.

I took her in yesterday to test for anemia and rule out thyroid issues (I have Hashi's as does dh's mom and sister) and I know low thyroid can cause heavy periods.

Anyone btdt, have info?

The pills these days ar nothing lik the old ones - there are SO many options. Various mixes of different types of estrogen and progesterone forms. Depo made me want to kill myself, but I do fine on mixed hormone BC. 

On 11/20/2020 at 8:45 AM, Ailaena said:

I was on regular bcp for a couple of years before ds and I was ok emotionally, but when I switched to a low-dose after he was born I became suicidal fairly quickly.  Yes, maybe it was a combination of ppd and bcp, but the ppd stayed when I stopped the bcp and never got that bad again.  Who knows; there’s my only experience.

if she is actually having trouble from the heavy periods, maybe seek another opinion if you can, to try and get to the root cause of the problem.   

Low dose is usually progesterone heavy, and in some people progesteron makes them depressed, suicidal, sick, etc. Depo is also progesterone, but higher dose. Depo practically killed me - was depressed for th first time, angry, gained 15 pounds in 3 months, it was terrible. 

I do fine on regular birth control - although I do usually get breakthrough bleeding the first month or three, then it settles down nicely. Currently on Nuva ring and using it continuously to avoid periods all together. I started taking it to see if hormones were the cause of my depression, and it has helpd, and i'm taking it continuously with no periods to try to help with my low iron levels. 

My only issue with it is that my blood pressure is up, despite weight loss and exercise. Given that the only other time I had high blood pressure was pregnancy, it makes me wonder if going back on birth control is what triggered it this time. Likely will be going off of it soon to see if that is he case. 

 

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