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Mood Swings, Bloating, Night Sweats, Hot Flashes & All That YAZ

Posted Sep 23 2009 2:52pm

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I have had a couple of readers ask me recently if I’ve heard of or know anything about the currently popular birth control pill, YAZ  that some women are taking for perimenopause.  The answers are:

Yes and Not much.

I know enough, as I’m sure you do, to know that birth control pills in general  can short-circuit your hormonal wiring pretty badly.  Personally, being the sensitive creature that I am, I’ve never been able to take birth control pills for any extended period of time without unraveling.

As a young woman, young, as in my twenties, I enjoyed very timely and darn near unnoticable menstrual cycles (please don’t hate me).  They came, they went and I hardly knew they were there. However, for reasons, I still can’t explain, I decided I should take birth control pills. (I was young, what can I say)

All these years later, at fifty-two years of age, I can still remember the knotty and extremely painful menstrual cramps I experienced while on them.  It felt like my ovaries were tying themselves into a knot, winding up very tightly and then releasing suddenly, giving me a very painful and odd, internal tumbling sensation.  Consequently, I stopped taking them and for the next ten or so years, continued to enjoy my relatively unnoticable menstrual cycles again.

When I met my first husband in my early thirties, I decided it might not be a bad idea to consider birth control once again.  So, I happily trotted to the nearest OB/GYN and purchased another prescription.  Within one month of taking them I noticed what I would now characterize as my first bono-fide hormonally induced mood swing.

I’ve often said that I had never experienced PMS before I entered into perimenopause.  And it’s true.  I didn’t.  I had no clue what PMS was.  I mean, I knew by definition, but honest to God, ladies, I had never experienced it. So, when this birth-control pill induced edginess hit me, it was VERY clear to me what was causing it.

Pre-birth control pills:  Happy-go-lucky-Magnolia. 

Post-birth control pills:  Magnolia-the-domestic-terrorist.

Yet, even with this personal experience and knowledge of how birth control pills have affected my body chemistry, I desperately accepted them, once again (and, frankly,  totally against my better judgment)  in my mid-forties while in the worst part of my perimenopause. 

Within one month it was clear that not only was the added synthetic estrogen/progesterone NOT helping my perimenopause symtpoms, but I was now a perimenopause-psycho.  Squared.  I had heard there were women who had successfully taken birth control pills, but frankly, ladies, I was just not one of them.

But, as we all know, birth control pills have passed through many evolutions and stages since they first made the scene in the 1960’s.  Our doctors know more and so supposedly, according to the medical community anyway, birth control pills of the 21’st century are far superior to the birth control pills of the dark ages of the 20th century. So, given that:

What about YAZ?

 

Well, again, outside of the spiffy marketing campaign and the entirely cute name, I don’t know much at all.  Being the cynic that I am, I tend to believe that pharmaceutical companies have an agenda.  I want to believe there are honorable people who are involved in the development and production of the many medicines that we all consume quite regularly.  

But, generally speaking, I tend to believe that somebody, somewhere, has something to gain from promoting YAZ to young and not so young, perimenopausal women.  But, personal opinions aside, what I can  offer you  is some information put out by YAZ, et. al., and you can make your own decision.

                                               What is YAZ?

YAZ is a new birthcontrol pill that is marketed specifically to prevent pregnancy and for women with PMDD.  PMDD, if you do not know, is PMS gone nuclear.  

PMDD stands for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, which is characterized by extreme   PMS symptoms of anxiety, depression, irritability, trouble concentrating, lack of energy, sleep or appetite changes, breast tenderness, joint or muscle pain, headache, and weight gain. 

So, essentially, if you have experienced your garden variety symptoms of PMS, then split a couple of atoms and you now understand PMDD:  It’s PMS that goes ka-boom. 

YAZ is composed of the synthetic hormones drospirenone/ethinyl estradiol and is manufactured by Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals

According to an article at Drugs.com:

Drospirenone and ethinyl estradiolprevent ovulation (the release of an egg from an ovary) and also cause changes in your cervical and uterine lining, making it harder for sperm to reach the uterus and harder for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterus.

The combination of drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol is used as contraception to prevent pregnancy. It is also used to treat moderate acne in women who are at least 14 years old and have started having menstrual periods, and who wish to use birth control pills to prevent pregnancy.

This medication is also used to treat the symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), such as anxiety, depression, irritability, trouble concentrating, lack of energy, sleep or appetite changes, breast tenderness, joint or muscle pain, headache, and weight gain.

Is YAZ safe?

Well, ladies, at our age, don’t we  know by now that ALL drugs carry some risk?  YAZ, like every other birth control pill that has ever been or likely will be on the market, carries with it an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.  Especially if you have a personal history of circulation problems or blood clots. 

YAZ is not recommended for people with diabetes, because, as you probably also know, diabetes can cause circulatory problems and thus, an increased risk of blood clots.  If you have adrenal gland disorders or a history of liver or kidney disease, you should not take YAZ.  

And I would also suspect that the generic warnings of “if you are over thirty-five and/or smoke, do not take birth control pills.” (Which may very well put us in an awkward position, because, well, I’m just going to take a wild guess here and presume if you are reading this blog you are over thirty-five. :)  ) But, really, ladies, as with any medication, always, always, ALWAYS talk to your doctor or a trusted medical professional  before you take it. 

Here’s my Take on it

 

Perimenopause and how we experience it is as individual as we are.  I do not believe that any approach to managing our symptoms is a one-size-fits-all.  So, though I personally wouldn’t take YAZ, it does not mean that you cannot take them and have good results. Weigh the risks against the benefits and make your decision.  

And with any decision you make, make it with confidence that it is the right one for you and apologize to no one over it. I tend to be a “ if it works and it’s not immoral, destructive or hurtful to you oranyone else, then do it”   kind of person anyway. 

I wouldn’t dream of telling you what you should or shouldn’t take for your symptoms.  But, I can continue to provide guidance and offer as much accurate information as possible and then you can make that decision for yourself. 

Many women are now singing the praises of bioidentical hormones.  From what I know of them, I tend to lean in that direction, though, in all honesty, I never went the full blown bio route myself.  I do plan to offer more posts  in the future on them, so be sure and watch for those. In the meantime, take YAZ if you feel comfortable and soldier on!  In due time, perimenopause will pass and it won’t matter whatever got you through the night anyway!

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