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for not wanting my 16 yr to go on the oill?

39 replies

theminder · 05/04/2011 09:43

My 16 my old has been having a nasty tummy before and during her period. Am I unreasonable for not wanting her to take the pill because of health reasons? My family, unfortunately are prone to cancer, when a relative has died its usually cancer related, therefore I don't want my daughter to take something that could provoke cancer. We have been to doctor and the medication he prescribed did not work. Is the pill the only answer? Surely there's something else?

OP posts:

TattyDevine · 05/04/2011 09:45

Is the pill that badly linked to cancer? I think it can slightly increase your risk of the hormonal type of breast cancer? Not just cancer in general?

I'd discuss your concerns with your GP about the risk/benefit - were your relatives of the hormonal cancer type or other cancers? I think this might be relevant though I might be wrong which is why you might run it by your GP.

It might be that the implant is better if its heavy periods? Once again, a question for your GP...


Chil1234 · 05/04/2011 10:13

YABU.... All kinds of common things have the potential to be carginogenic from cigarette smoke to pollution to dietary choices. If her GP thinks that a prescription of the contraceptive pill would successfully treat her 'nasty tummy' then don't turn it down out of hand because of imagined risks, but talk through the real risks given your family history.


BlingLoving · 05/04/2011 10:18

I've never heard that the pill is likely to lead to cancer. And considering the millions of women taking it globally, I'd think it would be more of a concern if that was the case.

What I would say is that if she's having very heavy periods and a lot of pain, if you can,get a referral to a gynaecologist. I'm always slightly concerned by the chilled out response GPs have to this and it should be monitored.


carat · 05/04/2011 10:22

what about the depo injection? lasts for three months at a time.

Just point out to her that if she's having sexing sex to use a condom to protect against an sti etc etc. I'm amazed at the number of teenagers that believe that the pill etc protects them against everything, even herpes.


vvviola · 05/04/2011 10:30

As someone who suffered extremely badly with painful periods and related vommiting etc - I only wish I'd gone on the pill earlier. (My family history was completely unknown as I'm adopted, but my usually very cautious doctor had absolutely no issues with prescribing the pill for me, and I think, there are actually certain types of cancer that they suggest can be lowered among those who have taken the pill - can't quite remember the details)

However - before it was even offered as an option to me, I had a rake of tests. Full blood work (I think they may have been looking for thyroid issues, I can't remember for sure), u/s scans at various stages of my cycle (which, as they took place at the local maternity hospital, led to some interesting gossip!), as well as about 4 or 5 different type of pain killers/anti-inflamatories. Maybe you/she could look into the causes for what's going on with her periods first - before trying the pill?

In my case, there was no underlying cause, just heavy periods, and the pill did sort it out.

I wouldn't recommend the depo injection though - I think there are more side affects to it than the pill.


JemimaMuddleFuck · 05/04/2011 10:37

I would also be unhappy about my 16 year old going on the pill for "health" reasons.
There is some evidence (I believe) that the pill may be related to an increased incidence of breast cancer particularly. I am currently undergoing genetic counselling because of an increased risk of familial breast cancer. It is not the currently identified gene (BBC1 & 2 I think ?); but an as yet unidentified gene in my case.
I only conclude that I have been advised that I should avoid HRT and my Daughters should avoid hormone based contraceptives until the gene is identified on the basis that they believe there is an increased risk.

I wouldn't want to medicate because it seems that they are treating the symptom rather than the cause. I would want to know the cause; so a referral to a GYNAE would be something that I would insist upon.

I also had a nasty tummy (in my late 20's) associated with my periods and it was Endometriosis.I was not taking the pill or any oral contraceptive at the time; but I believe that if I had been doing so, my symptoms would have been masked and my long term fertility compromised.


IWantAnotherBaby · 05/04/2011 11:02

Gynaecologists would be very unimpressed to receive referrals for period problems such as these! Dysmenorrhoea (painful periods) and menorrhagia (heavy periods) are ends of a normal spectrum of period symptoms; some women get them and it does not in any way indicate a problem. usual treatments are tranexamic acid (for heavy periods), mefenamic acid (for pain) and the contraceptive pill to suppress the cycle and thus control all symptoms.

If all these fail, and there is any reson to believe there is a more serious problem, THEN gynaecology referral MAY be appropriate. Earlier referral, though, just means the gynae will do what the GP should have done, and give a trial of treatment as above. Further investigation is rarely indicated in young girls.

To the OP, yes there are other things that she can try (talk to your GP again), but cancer should be very low on your list of concerns with the pill. It will only be prescribed where the benefits from doing so are considered to far outweigh the risks, as in the vast majority of cases.


PinkIsMyFavouriteCrayon · 05/04/2011 11:08

read this The pill can reduce the chance of getting some cancers as well


theowlwhowasafraidofthedark · 05/04/2011 11:12

As a 16 yr old the decision is hers to make not yours.


speakercorner · 05/04/2011 11:14

Half my school year did this, and the 'health reasons' was just a cover story. I found that the pill massively affected my moods - came off it in my mid 20s and never ever went back on it. A friend had a stroke at 18 which was connected to taking the Pill.

I think I would look at the causes, and other, more natural, solutions rather than mess around with her hormones at the age of 16. Acupuncture? Dietary solutions? Natural supplements? Read up on it, and try some other solutions first.


Vigilanteawarenessraiser · 05/04/2011 11:22

Oh dear God.
IWantAnotherBaby, are you a GP or a gynaecologist? If so, what you've written is quite worrying. Symptoms like these can be a sign of endometriosis. Studies have shown that a high percentage of girls with severe period pain and heavy periods have the condition.
In my case, my GP took your line, and I ended up needing very extensive surgery in my mid 20s, including a bowel resection. I have been left with bowel problems as a result, which may never resolve.
I don't have time to link to evidence now (just off to the hospital for yet another round of invasive anorectal physiology) but will be happy to point you in the right direction later if you want.

Theminder, I'm sorry your daughter is going through this, and I don't want to worry you - but I always think it is worth getting these things investigated if they are that severe, in view of the evidence. If she doesn't have endometriosis, it will set your mind at rest, and any decent gynaecologist will be able to give advice on managing the problems she has. If she does have it, early diagnosis and treatment can be hugely beneficial.

I'll be back this evening after hospital trip.


darleneconnor · 05/04/2011 11:28

It's her choice and nothing to do with you.

I dont think you sound very well informed about the risks and benefits of taking the pill. Cancer is not 1 thing. What cancers did your relatives have? the pill increases the risks of some but reduces the risks of others.

I have no idea what a 'nasty tummy' is either, could you please explain?


vvviola · 05/04/2011 11:28

IWantanotherBaby - to be fair, while they may be at the extreme ends of the normal spectrum, it doesn't mean there's no point in looking at underlying causes. I would lose minimum of 3 days per cycle from school/work due to vommiting, pain and fainting. And while the pill did eventually work for me (and it was really only childbirth that regulated my periods properly), I was glad to know for certain that it was just me being at the extreme ends of the normal spectrum - and not something else.

I'm not sure how the system works in the UK, but do investigations of this sort always require a gynae referral? I know in Ireland, my blood work & scans were organised by my GP. I didn't get a gynae referral, but possible underlying causes were well investigated. I also had plenty of GPs just throw prescriptions at me assuming (I suppose) that I was just being a moany teenager - including the particularly charming uni doctor who told me to get a grip, and prescribed what would have been an overdose of paracetamol (thank goodness for a vigilant pharmacist).


JemimaMuddleFuck · 05/04/2011 11:30

IWAB whilst I agree in part, I also disagree.

On starting periods, young Women experience symptoms and changes that are different; and as a consequence are often associated with stress regarding the unfamiliar.
As a Mother of Daughters; I try to convey that change is stressful and they are changes that will take time to assimilate. I bring a lifetime of experience of menstruation to guide my DDs in valid choices.

Increased/reduced bowel activity and digestive discomfort is oft associated with menstruation. As are increased/reduced energy levels.

I entirely disagree that the pill is the way to go. I also disagree that the benefits outweigh the risks.

The risks are not clearly identified; and in fact valid research is lacking. We simply don't know.

I will revise my advise in my earlier post; it was sweeping and generalised.

OP. Look at your DD's diet and fluid intake. One of my Daughter's cut out water/fluids when she was having pre-menstrual bloating ( a logical response); and was having constipation/tummy problems as a consequence.

Her period discomfort has reduced since she increased water and fibre before and during her period. Both expands the bowel.

A young Woman should know her body, her cycle before medicating it.

The Pill is not without harm.
Years ago there was a "spoof" medical article (all the data about the female pill); but it was presented as a new Male contraceptive . The medical profession rose in uproar to ban it.

It's an easy prescription for any GP; but that doesn't make it right.


JemimaMuddleFuck · 05/04/2011 11:40

Pink. That's all well and good; I'm sure it does reduce cancer in some cases.

The only information that I have at present is that I have a 29% increased risk of breast cancer due to (as yet) unidentified gene. There is already a 1 in 9 chance of breast cancer; so my odds are substantially reduced.

So, if; I was a Young Woman (starting menstruation and a sexual life all over again) I wouldn't take any hormone based contraception.

But then I love condoms; the pause, the excitement, the wonderful anticipation. And then ... the langerous and delightful sprawling when there is no wet patch.


sparechange · 05/04/2011 12:10

Being on the pill actually reduces your chances of getting most female cancers, and this is well-documented.
I read a really interseting article about this which explained how. Put very basically, cancers are caused by cells reproducing, and something going wrong, so an imperfect cell is created, and then subsequently reproduces itself.
With periods, the cell multiplication takes place with every cycle.
If you are on the pill and using it to skip periods, there are fewer cycles, thus fewer cell multiplications, thus less chance of getting cancer.

From a more practical point of view, I suffered with really horrible and painful periods as a teenager, and my mother forbade me from going on the pill, because she was convinced it would somehow make me go and have lots of sex.

What it actually did was make me resent her, ignore any other (sensible) advice she gave me, and sneak off to another doctor to get the pill anyway, thus lying to her. And it also made me convinced that I would never be able to cope with the pain of labour and shouldn't have children, which took me a lot longer to overcome.


vj32 · 05/04/2011 13:21

I used to regularly faint during my periods as a teenager. I tried some other medication first, but it didn't really help. At no point was it ever suggested that this was anything other than normal. I was on different pills for about 9 years.

The long term effects of the pill are not known - but the shorter term are. And they suggest that as with all medications there are positives and negatives. For me the positives - of being much less likely to faint and put myself at risk of danger - outweighed the small additional risk of breast cancer.

I also incidentally found that putting on weight helped. My worst incidents of fainting etc were when I was at uni, exercising like mad and not eating properly.


LDNmummy · 05/04/2011 13:36

I would be more worried about the hormonal effects. I took the pill for the first time at 16 and since have tried every single form of contraceptive only to find out that I am alergic to them all and they do not do my body any good. My doctor calls me a hypersensitive type of person because my body does not take kindly to hormonal contraceptives including the implant or latex even.

But on the other hand I had extremely painful and irregular periods when I was young and though the pill didn't do much for the pain, it did regulate them eventually.

You say nasty tummy so I wonder how severe it actually is. I used to be in so much pain and become so faint I would get dizzy or throw up. Can she not just take feminax or another pain killer for this problem?


LineRunner · 05/04/2011 13:51

She's 16 and it really is her decision, legally as well as ethically.

My daughter is thinking about the same choice - she misses at least a day of school a month because of extreme pain and vomiting.

Poor kids.


Vallhala · 05/04/2011 13:58

As Jemima says. I have advised both my teenaged girls against taking the pill when they come to needing contraception for similar reasons. I have had breast cancer which was hormone fuelled but which was not for any identifiable reason (ie I was under 40, a size 8 to 10, didn't eat meat, no family history of breast cancer etc etc). I've been offered genetic testing but have refused it.

The only possible link was the Pill and despite consequent surgery which launched me into instant menopause (very nastily at that) I am unable to take HRT as a result. There is no way I would encourage my girls to take the Pill.


HappySeven · 05/04/2011 14:04

I'm with vj32. I used to vomit and faint with period pain and it was very disruptive to my life. The pill was a really useful medication (I started on it at 15). I didn't have sex till years later. How bad is it for her? Does it stop her leading a normal life?

If you think she could be hoping to use the pill as a contraception then I think you need to talk to her about safe sex because being on the pill or not isn't what will stop her having sex.

I wouldn't worry about increased risk of cancer because the pill has been shown to reduce the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers which have a higher mortality rate than breast cancer and the evidence for the pill increasing the risk of breast cancer is when women have been on it for 5 or more years. She might find she only needs it short-term and I'm sure her GP will have considered the risks for her but maybe it's worth having a chat especially if you are concerned about a family link to cancer.


HappySeven · 05/04/2011 14:09

Vallhala, I am very sorry to hear about your illness. Did your oncologist suggest it had been caused by the pill? I think sadly sometimes we are just unlucky and these things happen. Not everyone who has lung cancer was a smoker. I hope you have made a full recovery and best wishes for the future.


Lawm01 · 05/04/2011 14:14

I had horribly painful periods, right from the very start.

Fainting, vomitting, diarroah (sp, sorry, you know what I mean!). I was put on the pill, but it didn't help, I was told to take ibuprofen, paracetamol etc, but nothing helped. I missed so much school and work. And relationships suffered because I was so miserable.

I was fobbed off for about 15 years, until I found a lovely new GP who took me seriously and referred me for investigation. It was discovered that I had endometriosis, doubtless this had been the prob all along. I had laser surgery to remove some of it, but didn't get much relief, sadly.

The only medication that I found helped was mefanamic acid which I had to take from 2 days before I expected my period.

I then had my DD but never had a period again, so I can't say whether or not childbirth relieved the symptoms (which I've been told is often the only permanent solution).

What I'm say is (getting back to the topic), don't let your daughter be fobbed off if nothing is helping her symptoms. Make sure she is taken seriously and investigations taken.


EldonAve · 05/04/2011 14:20

I disagree with IWantAnotherBaby
Our local hospital has a gynae clinic specifically for menorrhagia


QueenStromba · 05/04/2011 15:00

I hate the way GPs never take you seriously about menstrual problems. I had really painful, heavy and irregular periods as a teenager but doctors just used to tell me that I wasn't losing as much blood as I thought (I was having to change a super plus tampon every 2-3 hours on my heavier days) and just to take paracetamol for the pain (some months I couldn't even keep a tablet down long enough for it to do anything). When I was 18/19 I had a period every second week for a few months and when I went to the doctor she dismissed me saying that I was probably remembering it wrong - like a week on, week off, week on etc was difficult to keep track of. That eventually cleared up on its own but I still had the heavy and painful periods which were pretty much sorted out by going on the combined pill so I spent my early 20s putting myself back on the pill when my periods got bad. I had been fine for the last few years, still really heavy but having pain I could deal with until yesterday. I've been in pretty much constant pain since I woke up yesterday despite dosing myself to the eyeballs with codeine and paracetamol, although strangely I've had barely any bleeding at all. I've been on the mini pill since the start of the year with a 3 week break where I had the implant so it must be something to do with that. I'm sitting here wondering if there is any point at all in seeing the doctor about it, I'm thinking probably not.

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