Spitefulness is very effective as birth control
September 2, 2009 4:26 PM   Subscribe

How do I keep Yaz from wrecking my relationship?

Hoo boy, this is going to be a multi-part question.

I started taking my first HBCP (Yaz) almost a month ago. My doc recommended it because it's low-estrogen (unless I'm mistaken, one of the lowest doses out there), clears up acne, and is generally good for first-timers. I understand that it's supposed to take about 3 months for your body to adjust to these things.

Week 1 was an absolute mess (mostly gastrointestinal) as I got used to the pill. Week 2 was better, physically. The issue that I'm having is that since Week 1, I have been a nasty, spiteful, irritable, hateful, miserable bitch. This is not PMSing mood swings. This is 100% of the time being in a bad mood. Someone passes me on the road, I get angry. Somebody stops in the supermarket to look at the types of soup, I see red.

Unfortunately, since he's the person that I interact with the most, my boyfriend takes the brunt of it. I yell at him for anything and everything; he gets dressed too slow, he lets his alarm ring too long, his music is too loud, he's not attentive enough to me (and by now, who could blame him?). It's been a month of this already. I don't know if he can stand another two months, and it hasn't been easy on me either. YANMD, and I'll be talking to my gyno about this later in the week. I understand that every woman is a special snowflake, but I'm looking for personal experiences. So here are my questions:

1. How long does it really take for your emotions to level out after you start taking the pill? After a month, is it likely that I'll get through this phase?

2. Apart from being a bitch, I enjoy Yaz. I really do. No weight gain, shorter period, clear skin. But if I need to switch to another pill (or a hormonal or non-hormonal alternative), which are likely to have the tamest side-effects?

3. If I really do need to "tough it out" until my hormones regulate, is there anything I can do to put a lid on my temper? Meditation, counting to 10, whatever? I guess it's too much to ask, but is it possible that there is a nutrient that I'm lacking (like a B-vitamin for low libido)?

Thanks in advance. My boyfriend thanks you too.
posted by specialagentwebb to Health & Fitness (30 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I took Yaz because I have PMDD. PMDD's symptoms are a lot like what you're experiencing on Yaz, from the sounds of it. What I've read is that women who don't suffer from PMDD tend to have a harder time emotionally on Yaz than those who do. YMMV, of course, but it's possible this isn't the right pill for you.
posted by hollisimo at 4:30 PM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yaz made me an evil, irritable bitch, too. I think I was on it for more than half a year, and things got progressively worse until I got off it. There are many birth control pills, and you should keep looking until you find one that works for you. Also, there are other (in my personal experience, better) methods of birth control, such as an IUD.
posted by halogen at 4:32 PM on September 2, 2009

Ooof, this sounds miserable. It's like normal PMS x 100. I feel really bad for you.

I'm on Apri, a generic version of the low-dosage Ortho Tri-Cyclin. It's been pretty good to me; everything you requested in #2, except I did notice weight gain.

Other pills have not been so kind; when I went on actual non-generic Ortho, I spent the first two months with 0 libido and general irritability. So the reaction you're having is not unheard of, though it's not good for your relationships at all (mine didn't survive).
posted by olinerd at 4:34 PM on September 2, 2009

I took Yaz last summer for six weeks, with similar, nightmarish, TERRIBLE outcomes. I bailed, and haven't looked back at HBC since.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:34 PM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I sometimes get hormone or pill induced temper tantrums, and it really helps for me to tell myself that it's just the pills talking, the world isn't really falling down on my head just to spite me, and that it'll go away. It's just the chemicals talking.

I was on Yasmin for awhile which I liked for the relative lack of side effects, although I did tend to start to lose my temper more often at the end of the pack. Now I'm on Ocella, generic Yasmin, which I cannot recommend right now, due to my most recent AskMe :)
posted by amethysts at 4:37 PM on September 2, 2009

Best answer: OK, I know all about being a mega-bitch to the person I love the most. Been there, sent a postcard.

First, you need to sit down when you're calm and discuss this stuff with your boyfriend. Let him vent his feelings. Then, ask him to pick a phrase that means, "Babe, you're being a bitch and it's really hurting me." (that could be the phrase, but lots of guys don't want to say the second part)

Here's the hard part. When you hear that phrase in the future, stop. Even if you think you're entirely justified this one time, immediately cease whatever you're doing or ranting about. Take a breather. Asses your emotional and physical needs. Are you tired? Are you hungry? Do you need a hug? Do you need some time by yourself?

Pretty soon, you'll start ranting like I do: "I'm really pissed off that you are late all the time... but that's because I'm really tired/hormonal/pissed off about everything... and now that I think about it you're rarely late..." And my husband says, "OK, do you want me to make you some tea?" And we don't fight.

It pretty much comes down to self awareness.

As for other pills, I'm on Loestrin 24, without any side effects as far as I can see. Maybe a little acne but it's hard to tell. Like Yaz, it has a very low hormone dose, but it's a different hormone so you'll likely react differently.
posted by muddgirl at 4:37 PM on September 2, 2009 [8 favorites]

Try the NuvaRing, which is very low-dose and may not have the same crazy effects on your emotions (in the personal anecdote category, it had zero effect on my moods even when I first started, but again there's the special snowflake effect you alluded to). There's also the Mirena IUD, that's partially hormonal but at a super-low dose, since it can rely primarily on the IUD effect and the hormones are essentially there to make your periods better.
Basically, you shouldn't have to put up with this shit; there's a method of birth control out there for you, and it's bound to be better than this. If I were you I'd certainly go for a different formulation, and I'd also look into those lower-dose types listed above. Good luck!
posted by you're a kitty! at 4:39 PM on September 2, 2009

Hormone balance is tricky (it is much more about ratios than about absolute levels), and can totally control your mood. This page suggests that hormone balance is most importantly a question of progesterone, estrogen and testosterone in women (women also have testosterone, and men actually have more estrogen AND more testosterone than women do, it is just that for most women they have relatively more estrogen than they do testosterone).

Just speaking anecdotally, a number of people I have spoken to who have used steroids (testosterone analogs) report an elevated mood, increased confidence and better sex life, to the extent that they are hard to stop using once started.

I suggest talking to your doctor about possibly taking other hormones to fix the balance and thus your mood, or (perhaps better) using some treatment that will not affect your mood so drastically.
posted by idiopath at 4:40 PM on September 2, 2009

As a first timer, do you have a follow up with your doctor, in say three months? That's how it worked for me. I think the first week I was on Junel, I was miserable like you are experiencing. The month progressed and it was a weird rollercoaster of other common side effects. But within the first month, things subsided, and month 2 was a hell of a lot better.

It's not a perfect science. Not every pill fits every woman's needs. Go back to your doctor, tell them what is going on and how absolutely horrible things are, and perhaps they can get you on another low dose pill.
posted by jerseygirl at 4:42 PM on September 2, 2009

For some reason I missed the tag indicating this is birth control, so it needs to mess up your hormone levels to work. Consider an IUD or some other non-hormonal treatment.
posted by idiopath at 4:43 PM on September 2, 2009

Most docs will give you the "three months" window for adjustment, but for me it didn't take that long to get past the yucky part and start feeling comfortable with it. I'd say if you don't see any changes within the next few weeks, and it continues to be *this* disruptive and uncomfortable for you, talk to your doc. For me, one specific pill has worked really well--I had to switch to a different pill for some reason once, and the dosage was only a TINY bit different but was made with a different progesterone as well, and I had some very troubling psychological/emotional symptoms until I went back to the regular one. This tends to be one of those things that becomes an unexpected adventure for a lot of us... you have to try one thing and then try the next thing and then try another, until you find the right solution for you.
posted by so_gracefully at 4:44 PM on September 2, 2009

Best answer: 1. It varies, from woman to woman and from pill to pill. I was a PMS monster on some pills for years, a crying mess on others but only for a few months, and emotionally fine on others from the start.

2. Again, it can vary. Personally, I had several very good years on Loestrin in terms of low incidence of physical and emotional side effects. However, increasingly unpleasant side effects gradually started creeping in after about four years, and none of the hormonal BC I tried after that was ever any better -- in fact, they made everything even worse (including the Nuvaring, which made me so despondent that I remember standing in the grocery store trying to come up with reasons not to put my basket down and just walk into traffic to get killed by a bus. This is not an exaggeration. I went home, took it out, and felt better within 12 hours.). In the end, I gave up hormones entirely and switched to the Fertility Awareness Method (as outlined in this book) about three years ago.

3. It's hard to say. You could tough it out and find that you do indeed regulate after a few months, and meditation and yoga will certainly help you on that score. But you might tough it out for a few months and find that it doesn't get any better. The thing is, hormonal BC just isn't the best option for all women, all the time, despite the marketing ploys that try to make us think so. (God knows I wish it were, though!) Sometimes it's just a lot of trial and error (and crying). I'm sorry you're going through this.
posted by scody at 4:46 PM on September 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers so far. They've given me a bit to think about.

jerseygirl - I do have a follow-up at the 3-month mark. That's another 8 weeks though, and I'm not sure how long I can stand being so awful to those who are close to me.
posted by specialagentwebb at 4:47 PM on September 2, 2009

i would totally advise you ditch this pill for a different pill. I took yaz for three weeks and experienced the same thing. kudos to you for being a champ and dealing with the mood swings. I take the generic form of demulen (can't think of the name right now) so ask you doctor for that as an option. its also a low dosage hormone. good luck and hang in there!
posted by dmbfan93 at 4:55 PM on September 2, 2009

I really don't think you should become a total uncontrollable bitch 24-7 for your birth control, and I don't think it's worth it to wait 3 months on this one. I have had a positive experience with the nuvaring which is very low hormone because it is delivering the hormones directly to you instead of going through the lining of the gut. I tried it as a precursor to getting an IUD and I'm glad I did, since it is almost as simple and without any sort of painful insertion process. Vitamin B was recommended to me by my gyn for mood swings and it is harmless to add, if you aren't supplementing with that already.

But seriously, call your doctor and ask for something else! And ask your boyfriend for patience while you go through this.
posted by ch1x0r at 5:09 PM on September 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

I took the original Yasmin for several years before giving up on HBCPs completely because of mood swings. I think some of us just can't tolerate the hormonal side effects - I used to make the joke that the reason BCPs are effective is that they made me too emotionally unattractive for anybody to get too close!
posted by chez shoes at 5:10 PM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Orthotricyclen-Lo worked well for me...
posted by bunny hugger at 5:29 PM on September 2, 2009

Ditch it! There is no point in electively taking something that makes you so unhappy. Pick up some condoms, stop taking it and call your doctor to find out about something else. Make sure you talk to your boyfriend about how these things work as he should help you watch out for weird side effects. Good luck!
posted by amanda at 5:32 PM on September 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Whatever you decide to do regarding Yaz versus other forms of birth control, you need to realize that it's going to take some time. During that time, while you're waiting for doctor's appointments or trying to adjust to a new pill, your behavior probably isn't going to change. Your boyfriend will still be taking the brunt of it.

So, I'm 2nding muddgirl about talking with your boyfriend, making sure he knows that the pills are the reason for your bitchiness, and working out a signal so he can let you know when you're off on a rant.

Trying to deal with relationship problems or (worse) a break-up while you're working out this thing with the pills would make what is already a bad situation far worse.
posted by DrGail at 5:34 PM on September 2, 2009

I've praised Yaz here before. The first time I used it, it was the best bcp experience I'd ever had. I went back on earlier this year, and was ready to check myself into a psychiatric hospital because it messed me up so bad. The only difference between the two times is that I'm taking an antidepressant now. I stopped taking it after six weeks.
posted by Ruki at 6:08 PM on September 2, 2009

I had the same side effects on Yaz. It took me a month to figure out why I was so irritable, and yes my dear boyfriend took the brunt of the rage. I told him on our anniversary (our anniversary!) of all days that I had finally figured out why I was being so mean and snappish, and he forgave me. He said that he was starting to wonder "is it something about me? have I changed in my behavior towards her?" and starting to question himself, till he realized it was me. I'm glad I figured it out and asked for pardon within a month, and after that I quit the Yaz cold, did back up barrier methods, and went on my beloved pill, Apri (generic Desogen). Same good effects: no weight gain, no diminished sex life, clear skin, but with no batshit insanity. I just recently switched to an IUD (the Mirena), which releases hormones locally in the uterus. So far, it's awesome. I feel very mellow. I haven't yet experienced an uptick in skin oiliness or acne, but feeling overall calm and upbeat and not having to remember to take a pill is really great.
posted by dhn at 7:21 PM on September 2, 2009

Best answer: I haven't tried Yaz, but Ortho Tri-Cyclen did something very similar to me. In the week I took it, I stayed home sick for most of it because the gastrointestinal effects were so terrible.

I also got the raging-bitch syndrome with the awareness that what I was doing didn't make any rational sense. Let me tell you, nothing like knowing you're being irrationally pissed off to make you even MORE irrationally pissed off.

I'd say stop taking the pill. It isn't worth it, especially not with how many alternatives exist! I'm now on the nuvaring, which doesn't trigger either the behavioral or gastrointestinal changes and leaves me a lot more stable.

My husband comments:
"Depending on your relationship and how frankly you can talk to each other without offense, tell him to call you on it. Then, if you're not aware of what you're doing, you then will be and can work to control it, whereas if you ARE aware of what you're doing, then you'll know that you're not fooling anyone and to knock it off. It can be done in a way that's not offensive. I say, 'Easy, killer' with a smile and a chuckle and it really helped/helps."
posted by bookdragoness at 7:22 PM on September 2, 2009

IANAD and I haven't tried Yaz but I've heard that if you don't have symptoms of PMDD it isn't good to take it (can't remember who told me that).

If you want low dose you can also try Loestrin24. I switched to it after experiencing horrible anxiety with Seasonale. The downside is that there is no generic so it can be a bit pricey. But, your drs office might hook you up with some samples.
posted by Nolechick11 at 7:35 PM on September 2, 2009

I had the same problem with every birth control pill I tried (Loestrin, Apri, several others). The Nuvaring is the only HBC that didn't turn me into a crazy bitch or give me major mood issues. However, I gave it up after about 18 months, when I realized it was killing my libido. I have been happily and successfully using the Fertility Awareness Method for almost two years now, and definitely recommend it and the book that Scody linked to.

Nthing that you should not wait 3 months to switch. That's a long time to not feel like yourself.
posted by apricot at 9:54 PM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh my god. Horrible. I had a similar experience with the pill. (Not Yaz, I don't think. Quite a few years ago.)

Don't listen to the doctor, listen to your body. If it's making you miserable insist on trying another kind. If that doesn't work the pill just might not work for you. And that's OK. There are other birth control options.

In the meantime explain to your boyfriend that yes, this is really hormonal, and yes, you are going to do something about it. I'd suggest going off immediately though, to be honest. You shouldn't have to deal with this.
posted by miss tea at 4:04 AM on September 3, 2009

In past threads on a similar topic, I found this chart informative, may be a more recent version somewhere.
posted by ejaned8 at 6:23 AM on September 3, 2009

OKay, so you've got a 3-month follow-up. As I know from totally freaking out in a similar situation, that's a long long time to wait. Call your doctor's office. Tell them that you really really must see a doctor very soon. If you are me, the chances of bursting into tears in this process is quite high, thus reinforcing your case. You sound like you're in an excellent state of mind to be more demanding than you might normally be, and that's a good thing for this context.
Schedule an appointment, discuss how crappily it's going. Timing your appointment for the "off-week" of the cycle if possible means that if you get a new prescription, you can start week 1 of the new pill on your current schedule.
posted by aimedwander at 8:01 AM on September 3, 2009

i did lose my temper on yaz too...but it did clear up my acne.
posted by runningoutoftime at 10:02 AM on September 3, 2009

Like chez shoes, I had terrible emotional side effects on Yasmin. Switch now! There are many more pills to try. I had better luck with Aviane/Alesse (no crying fits), but it wasn't side-effect-free. (Read: low libido!) I'm going to try the NuvaRing next, but if that doesn't work out, I'm out of the hormone business for good.

Keep looking - there are so many options out there, you don't need to stay on one that has intolerable side effects.
posted by slenderloris at 6:42 PM on September 3, 2009

Response by poster: Update:

Despite a lot of the advice in this thread, I decided to stick with Yaz for just a bit longer. Boy, did it pay off! Now, at the end of the second month of Yaz, my moods are incredibly stable. My skin is clear, I haven't put on weight, and I'm generally quite pleased with the results. Libido was low for a bit, but once I started taking a multivitamin, I found that it improved.

Muddgirl, your advice was priceless. If I could mark it "bestest answer", I would!
posted by specialagentwebb at 5:58 PM on October 3, 2009

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