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AIBU to ask how long is too long to be on the pill

(38 Posts)
user1469053841 Fri 07-Oct-16 19:20:26

(TLDR below: I've been on the pill for 13 years, is that too long?!)

I started my period when I was 13, it is hard to remember as it was so long ago but I think I had a couple of normal ish ones but then I had one long, continuous period. I think it was a good 3-4 months long before my mum gave up and took me to the doctor. The doctor put me on the pill for this reason, which I have been on ever since, apart from a 3 month break when I was 15 when the long horrendous period came back.

I am now 26. I am in a stable relationship and we live together. I am not ready for kids for a good 3-4 years but I desperately want kids in my life - fertility is VERY important to me.

There has been a lot of really negative press about the pill recently and says that it has been linked to depression etc (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-37551855). Also whenever I seem to mention to anyone I know that I've been on the pill this long, everyone looks horrified!

I am freaking out a bit. I never thought the pill had that bad side effects on me - I don't have acne and ever since I've been taking it I've had 4 day, light, regular periods - but it does occur to me I have been on the pill for so long I don't even know what I am like when I'm not on it. I'm overweight , seem to be hungrier than other people and find it difficult to shift and wonder if that also could be linked.

I'm also a little worried that ever since my original horrendous period I have constantly been taking hormones and what if I am actually masking a bigger problem that needs dealing with if I need to protect my fertility? I mentioned this to a doctor a while ago but he fobbed me off as he said no point worrying about that whilst I still wasn't ready for kids.

I'd really like people's advice/opinions if that's ok and also what any other alternatives I would even have!
x

Nowthereistwo Fri 07-Oct-16 19:31:43

I was on the pill for 13 years before ttc. 2 dc later and I've decided to have the hormonal coil.

Not sure what to recommend in your shoes.

HKHKHR Fri 07-Oct-16 20:01:01

If I were you I would come off the pill and use other precautions and see how your periods settle down. As you say children are very important to you in the future, you can give yourself time to seek medical help if the long periods come back.

All the best.

Crispsheets Fri 07-Oct-16 20:02:28

I was on the pill for 20 years without a break, then a further 5 years. No problems. Now on HRT.

positivity123 Fri 07-Oct-16 20:03:56

I'd go and have a chat with your GP or go to family planning and think about coming off it for a while to see what your cycles are like now. They may have settled down. I'd have a chat with your DP as well as you'll have to use condoms for a while.

RabbitsNap01 Fri 07-Oct-16 20:04:34

I was similar, on the pill for about, hmmm 9 years before ttc and it took 2 years and assistance (started trying at 28), I'd say go talk to your GP - I had a lot of waffle about 'well I takes at least 6 months for the pill to leave your body' and then it was 'the pill may have masked underlying irregularities', now, 9 years later I've got 2 wonderful dc and I wish I'd been able to start a bit earlier but it was fine in the end.

TroysMammy Fri 07-Oct-16 20:06:30

I've been on the pill for 31 years except for 2 different short occasions when I was not in a relationship. I remember asking a Doctor years ago if it is necessary to have a break from taking the pill and he said "we have a word for women who do that when they are in relationships, it's called Mum" grin.

CrohnicallyAspie Fri 07-Oct-16 20:13:18

I went on the pill aged about 16-17 and stayed on it till I ttc- so about 9 or 10 years. The doctors never mentioned that length of time on the pill was a concern.

After coming off the pill I had one period and then I was pregnant.

If you think you might want kids in 3-4 years then it might be an idea to try coming off the pill in advance of that, and try non-hormonal methods, to see if your cycle has settled down.

NeedMoreSleepOrSugar Fri 07-Oct-16 20:25:46

i was on the combined pill for about 15 years before ttc. Doctor did ask to review it after about 13 years, but only in case I'd prefer a longer term contraceptive. I had a brief spell on the PoP before going back on the combined - doctor had no issues with me going back to it. I have several issues that could cause fertility problems and the pill was never mentioned as a problem.

jmh740 Sat 08-Oct-16 08:29:44

I started taking the pill at 14 am now 42 and had a short break to conceive ds ( very short break conceived first month and other 2 were conceived when I was on the pill but probably not taking it 100% properly) gp is happy for me to continue although they did put me on the everyday pill about 4 years ago due to migraines.

bananafish81 Sat 08-Oct-16 10:10:23

I was on the pill on and off since I was 17

I was vaguely aware that I didn't really have regular periods when I hadn't been on the pill, but never paid it much attention

I didn't know that I had PCOS, and when I stopped the pill it took 10 months for me to get a period and only then got diagnosed with PCOS

Most people don't have menstrual issues and so their cycles will return to normal pretty soon after stopping the pill. However if you have a condition like PCOS or endometriosis the pill will have concealed the symptoms, so it's only when stopping it that sufferers may become aware they have it

I'd recommend coming off hormonal contraception before you want to start TTC and use a barrier method or copper IUD, so you can see what your natural cycles are actually like

airingcupboard Sat 08-Oct-16 10:12:44

Lot of I'll informed advice here. No harm in being on it so long, ovarian cancer risk drops with time on the pill..assuming no contraindications medically it's fine. I'm 43 and have been on the pill since aged 20. No intention of stopping any time soon.

LeatherAndLace Sat 08-Oct-16 10:14:51

I'd say go talk to your gp but all the ones I've spoken to don't seem to have a clue. Have you got a sexual health clinic near you?

If I was you I'd come off now and use condoms.

I was on it for years but since coming off I've noticed a big change in myself. Skin is better and my mental health has improved drastically.

bananafish81 Sat 08-Oct-16 10:16:09

I should stress that the pill didn't cause my fertility issues

It's just that it masked the underlying issue that had been there all along

Which was brilliant while I was on it! I don't regret being on the pill all that time

It's just the time it took to find out I had an underlying issue - 10 months with no cycles at all matters more when TTC than when not

specialsubject Sat 08-Oct-16 10:23:01

Without a time machine and a clone nothing can be proved, but there is no evidence for 'too long'. Some risk factors change with age, especially if combined with fat and smoking, so changing pill type may be recommended. Also all body chemistries are different.

30 plus years here, no problems - but that is my body chemistry.

redannie118 Sat 08-Oct-16 10:25:59

I understand your concerns,but I look at the pill as protecting me. On my mum's side of the family the women have all had horrific gynaecology problems meaning my Gm my Dm, all three of her sisters and my sister (so basically every woman in my family for 3 generations)all had hysterectomy by the age of 35. I'm the first one to hit 44 with no gynaecology problems at all and I put that down to being on the pil constantly from the age of 17 (apart from 2 1 year breaks to have my kids). I did swap to the mini pill at 40 from the combined pill but no issues at all

ILostItInTheEarlyNineties Sat 08-Oct-16 10:29:30

Your weight issues could be linked to the pill. Some do increase appetite. Your risk of a blood clot/thrombosis also increase with age and being overweight so for that reason you maybe advised to come off it when you hit 30.

Taking the pill for long periods will not damage your fertility.
If you want to ttc, I think it's advised to come off the pill for 6 months and use other contraception. The mirena coil would probably suit you. It will lighten your periods and only deliver hormones locally, although it stays in place for several years.

I think you can buy home testing ovulation kits (?) to test if you're ovulating normally which may reassure you but I'm not very clued up as to how these work. I don't think a doctor will investigate your fertility until you are contraceptive free and ttc for a year or more.

Spam88 Sat 08-Oct-16 10:39:20

troys Funny you should say that, my mum was under the impression you had to take a break from the pill which is how I ended up with my little sister.

bananafish81 Sat 08-Oct-16 10:41:06

There's two different questions here.

Is the pill safe to be on long term (yes).

And 'I want to TTC in the not too distant future could the pill have any impact on my fertility (no - but it can mask any underlying hormonal / menstrual issues that can affect fertility and so it can be helpful to come off hormonal birth control in advance of starting TTC to understand your cycles better)

The mirena can stop your periods BTW so a copper IUD would be more suitable if you're trying to understand your cycles in advance of planning to start TTC

Soontobenewmummy Sat 08-Oct-16 10:47:27

I was on the pill for 14 years, came off earlier this year and got pregnant straightaway (at 31). But, everyone's different and I don't think there's really any way of knowing for sure whether you can conceive until you actually start TTC. Perhaps it would give you peace of mind to come off the pill and establish your natural cycle? Good luck with whatever you decide

vulgarbunting Sat 08-Oct-16 11:24:01

I'm in the same position as you. On the pill for 16 years and want to TTC next year. I've come off the pill 6 months ago and am just getting used to my actual cycle. Super paranoid about being infertile as I have friends who are struggling to conceive. However I also have friends who have conceived immediately after stopping taking the pill after 16 years of being on it!

Crazycatlady123 Sat 08-Oct-16 12:10:20

I was on the pill for 12 years for similar reason, mini pill for most part which seemed to work much better for me. I don't think it's an unusual length of time to be on the pill, I'll definitely go back on it after my baby arrives. Condoms, coil etc just don't work for me.

Increased appetite and weight gain isn't anything unusual when you're on the pill, I was always hungry and found weight hard to shift!

I got pregnant straight away after coming off the pill, but I know not everyone is that fortunate, but I agree with your doctor until you're ready to try for kids there's no use worrying about it. Come off the pill about 2-3 years just before you want to start trying and see how your periods settle down.

TheMidnightHour Sat 08-Oct-16 13:27:33

I wouldn't come off the pill until I was able to say 'if we have a baby now that would be fine'. If you know you don't want kids for 3-4 years, then come off it in (let's say) 3 years and switch to condoms or whatever when you're thinking 'next year would be ideal but now would be ok'. The pill is clearly working for you and you may find it hard to use other methods perfectly and wind up with a surprising proof you are fertile.

The NHS won't do any fertility investigations until you've been actively trying for 1-3 years so there's little point imo about trying to start down that track when you might fall straight away. And I say this as someone who took 3 years ttc.

IrregularCommentary Sat 08-Oct-16 13:31:20

I started taking the pill aged 15 and was on it until 31. Came off it about 4 months before ttc so I got a chance to see what my normal cycle was like. Conceived first time of trying and DD is 4 weeks old tomorrow.

junemami Sat 08-Oct-16 13:34:32

You should come off the combined pill when you're 50, or earlier if any other medical contraindications, or if you want to get pregnant, or if you just want to. Otherwise there is no medical need to stop the pill.

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