Oh hell, I think maybe I want the cramps back...
September 9, 2011 6:13 AM   Subscribe

Is being borderline-weepy and extremely short-tempered a normal part of adjusting to hormonal birth control or should I call my doctor?

I started hormonal birth control for the first time earlier this week because of worsening cramps every month (ie, pretty much a solid week of pain at this point). Three days ago, I felt a little sad at bedtime; two days ago, sad all evening; yesterday, ragingly bitchy and sad all afternoon and into the evening. This is completely out of left field for me -- even with normal PMS, I might have one day where I'm in an inexplicable foul mood (even with the ridiculous cramping!).

So, is this pretty much expected in the first week or so, or should I call my doctor? How long should I put up with it in the hopes that it will go away? I have a big deadline coming up at work in the next two or three months, and I need to be able to cope. We had a meeting about it yesterday and it took all my willpower to not either scream at someone (which I don't do), or burst into tears (also a thing I don't do, at least not easily), and really nothing happened in the meeting that was much of a big deal -- it was just my newfound inability to handle any stress.
posted by Blue Jello Elf to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Oh forgot to mention, the pill in question is Loestrin, in case that's relevant to anyone.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 6:15 AM on September 9, 2011

It isn't unusual for birth control, no. And yeah, it kinda sucks.

But there are other formulas of pills out there that may not do that to you. I'd give it another couple weeks, then speak to your doctor to see if they can tinker with which pill they give you a bit.

(Disclaimer: I ultimately decided to not use BC pills any more after trying them for a spell, for this very reason. This was in the early 90's, when there were fewer options available for this very tinkering, but when I had occasion to use them again I decided not to. So I may have a bit of a bias.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:19 AM on September 9, 2011

I think it's pretty normal, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't talk to your doctor about it. I basically had a year of raging PMS when I was on Depo Provera in 2005. I wish I'd realized what was happening and asked about switching to something else, it sure would have made a big difference in the course of my life.
posted by ErikaB at 6:20 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not unusual, especially for the first week. Give it a few more weeks, and see if it evens out.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:38 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

No experience with Loestrin, but yeah, there's often a transitional period full of side effects and a week is nothing, really. (They've taken a couple of months to settle for me before, and some just didn't settle.) You will likely have to stick that out for a bit with any pill, and it's hard to tell the difference between the unsuitable ones and the adjustment period until you've waited, but another pill may well include a new set of transitional symptoms if you go and change.

That said, you call the shots, so it may be worth talking to your doctor about coming off it or trying something else once you're fed up. In the meantime, go easy on yourself and remember it's the pill when the moods go funny.
posted by carbide at 6:40 AM on September 9, 2011

Most doctors will strongly urge you to stick it out for three months before switching, to see if your body gets used to the hormones. That unfortunately overlaps with your deadlines, but you'll probably have an adjustment period with any switch (whether it be elevated stress, breakthrough bleeding, whatever). If I were you I'd talk to my doctor and, if she recommends staying on the pill for a bit longer, just stick with the devil I know, especially since it will probably get better over the next few weeks. You'll probably feel a lot better after your first period on the pill.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:42 AM on September 9, 2011

PS- I'm on Loestrin too, and so far have only had the nice side effects (hi, clear skin and bigger boobs), but when I was on Desogen, I was a psychotic, pudgy wreck. There's really no way to predict how a particular person will react to a particular pill.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:47 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was on a birth control pill that I loved and it pretty much made sure I didn't have PMS, had light periods etc (Ironically, it was Desogen that I loved unlike oinopaponton above). Then I moved and went to a new place that refused to give me that brand and they put me on one (Ortho Tri-Cyclen) that turned me into a raging lunatic. So even though a certain amount of hormonal issues are probably normal, it may be that you need to try a different brand.
posted by Kimberly at 7:08 AM on September 9, 2011

I do not use hormonal birth control for this reason plus the fact that it eliminated my libido altogether. I tried several different brands and they all made me insane and out of control emotionally. I think some individuals are susceptible to the emotional side effects, while others are completely impervious and don't understand what you are talking about when you mention it.

I, too, tried for several months but was unable to tolerate to the emotional disruption. I wish you luck - I know many women who have loved Yaz and Yasmin and had no trouble. I could not take even these popular pills, but responses to HBC are extremely idiosyncratic.
posted by Punctual at 7:41 AM on September 9, 2011

Kimberly's story underscores to me that every body is different. I started on Orthocyclen, and came back to the doctor after a month to check in, told her things were okay but my boobs hurt. She said that was an estrogen thing, and tried me on Loestrin (lower estrogen, higher progesterone). I was a sobbing lunatic with a hair trigger rages. I wasn't scheduled to come back in for a consult on how I liked it for another month, but she said over the phone I could go back to the Othrocyclen if I'd rather, so I did. And the physical effects weren't as bad the second time around (i.e. weeks 5-6 on that pill)

So, in the first week or so, it's hard to say whether you'll adjust soon or whether this is a permanent side-effect for you. Call your doctor and ask if you should change things out now or ride it through to the end of the packet. Note, if you can't ask your doctor without breaking into tears over the phone, they'll probably recommend changing things right away.
posted by aimedwander at 7:44 AM on September 9, 2011

I took me about 3 weeks to stop wanting to cry 20 times a day. I felt irritable, defensive, and, most of all, overburdened. At the time my husband and I were providing full-time home care for a badly injured friend, which was very poor timing, but I think I would have felt the same if somebody had just asked me to close the door or turn on the light.

It does go away.
posted by Cygnet at 7:45 AM on September 9, 2011

There's a three month "adjustment period" to any pill where you should anticipate side effects like this. That being said, I had such marked emotional side effects from Loestrin--the fifth pill I was on in the span of 8 years--that I just gave up on the pill altogether about one month in. Only you can decide whether or not you can live with this.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:49 AM on September 9, 2011

It might go away or...not.

I have had extreme mood changes with the pill (3 or 4 types) plus dead libido. It would take lots of willpower not to explode at my partner for...breathing. Sitting on the couch. You get the picture. I can't imagine any actual stress.

Maybe waiting until this project is over to tinker with your hormones is the way to go? Up to you, I certainly understand why you'd be done with horrible periods (also had those).
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:56 AM on September 9, 2011

Tell your doctor now, and tell your doctor again in a couple of weeks and two months if it doesn't even out.

Being on the pill broke my metabolism and made me crazy, so I had to pursue other options.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:58 AM on September 9, 2011

I quit the pill because of side effects like these. It may well be that they subside within a few weeks - mine did not.

I want you to be very aware of the fact that these mood swings are coming from the pills. I was borderline suicidal from depression and I kept thinking there was something wrong with me.

But it's not you - it's the hormones from the pills. Keep that in mind.
posted by mai at 10:33 AM on September 9, 2011


I just got off Loestrin and it along with Yaz made me suicidal. It is NOT normal to feel shitty on the pill at any time, I don't care what doctors say.

You also might be progesterone intolerant like I am. I am now on Zovia which is an estrogen pill -- the mood swings are significantly less severe and though I've gained a little wait, my periods have been reduced to spotting.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:12 AM on September 9, 2011

I'd go ahead & mention it to your doctor now. Like others have said, she'll probably recommend that you stick with it for a bit. However, I think it's good to make her aware of any potential issues at the start.

I'm on Loestrin & have been fine with it. I switched to it after bursting into tears in the doctor's office when I was on Orthocyclen, and that was after just over a month.
posted by bibliophibianj at 11:58 AM on September 9, 2011

It's fairly normal and fun fun fun!
posted by mleigh at 2:08 PM on September 9, 2011

When I started birth control pills and got all emotional, my doctor suggested that I try vitamin B6. It worked for me. Even after I went off the pill, I would take the B6 whenever I noticed that my period (or PMS) was making me moody. I have no idea if this is a documented benefit of B6 - you should probably call the doctor's office and ask them before taking medical advice from me.
posted by metahawk at 3:55 PM on September 9, 2011

Thanks everyone! I started feeling a lot more like myself all of a sudden yesterday afternoon, but it was good to have the reassurance that probably I didn't need to run to the doctor's office ASAP. Here's hoping the normalcy sticks around -- I'm still having intermittent nausea but that I can tolerate!
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 6:13 PM on September 11, 2011

« Older Mixing infant formula with hot water   |   Bubbles? Rice? Bubbly Rice? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.