CommunityBrowse groupsBlogEtiquetteInvite Your friendsSuccess Stories


Progestin Advice (not for the easily offended)

My periods are fairly irregular (12 days long, with only 15 days, or 20, or 25, or 14 days between them...) and over the past few months have become increasingly painful. I am "a fainter," as my mom says, and my response to pain tends to be passing out...with the result that I nearly keeled over into a lemon display at our local grocery store last month.

I went to Planned Parenthood to see about getting back on the pill, which I took between the ages of 18 and 23. I'm 29 now, and I stopped taking the pill because it gave me screaming migraine headaches. (Desogen, Nordette, Alesse, Demulin, Ortho-Tricyclin, Lo-Ovril--I felt like I took them all.)

I do not have any medical problems that would account for this--past doctors have always told me that the pain is "normal" and that I should take more B vitamins, exercise more (yeah, as in MORE than running 1/2 an hour 5 days a week and walking everywhere in my urban hometown).

Anyway, because of my migraine history and some mood swing problems, PP recommended progestin. I then heard horror stories from three friends about how progestin made them gain weight, gave them _unpredictable_ periods that sometimes lasted for months, etc. The whole reason I want a pill is so that my period is regular, predictable, and not so painful.

Any advice/experience y'all might have is really appreciated. I _cannot_ take medicine that makes me gain weight because I will stop eating. (Already 30 lbs overweight and have a hard time finding clothes that fit me as I'm 5' 9".)

Tue. Feb 27, 8:40am

Add comment  
Prior to going onto depo provera, I would have very painful and heavy 7 day periods. Once I went on depo, I had spotting for about 6 months then no period and none of the pain or migraines. Those were the good aspects of it.

The bad aspects were a definite increase in my appetite which resulted in weight gain. I also read the horror stories on depo, and there are some bad ones. A definite draw back of it is that once you get the shot it's in your system for a minimum of 3 months.

Also, my doctor is now reccommending that I get off of depo because studies now show that it leaches calcium and should be used less than 2 years (I've been on it for 4). I am now going to switch to the pill, but am also worried about spotting, irregular periods, and whether or not the pain and migraines will come back. However, I am also hoping that my appetite will return to what it used to be and maybe help me lose some of this weight!

I wish doctors were more sensitive to the extreme pain, nausea, and dizziness that some women experience. I have been to several doctors over the years. One said to "eat more lamb", another prescribed me ibprufen, all including my gynecologists, pretty much have always told me "live with it". Living in fear of excruciating pain, nausea, and dizziness is not something I want to do for the next 20 years! Doctor's responses to these problems are very frustrating.

I wish you the best of luck.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007, 9:27 AM

Add comment
Depo WILL make you gain weight.

Have you looked into an IUD? I have the Mirena one that does have some hormones but I haven't noticed any weight gain with it. I haven't had a period in nearly 3 years. I do have some bloating around that time of the month but generally no cramping no periods. The Mirena IUD is good for 5 years without you doing anything but can be removed at any time without affecting fertility.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007, 9:54 AM

Add comment
I'm afraid I don't have any bc advice, but please try to look out for anaemia as that can make you faint as well and will likely hinder your efforts to exercise as regularly as you'd like to (I know you said you do, but you didn't mention weight training, etc.) Just a thought. Best of luck to you.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007, 11:01 AM

Add comment
Demulen, which you have taken before, is a high-progestin pill.

I had problems similar to yours before I went on Demulen, and it worked wonders for me. However, it sounds like you have an additional problem with migraines, and you might want to get something for that as well.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007, 11:02 AM

Add comment
Not the 9:45 poster, but please ask your doctor to do their research. Study after study has shown there is no cause to consider age or lack of childbirth as contra-indications for IUDs nor is this accepted in the vast majority of the world, hence why it is the number one used reversable for of birth control on the planet. I've had one since I was 22, having had no children. I am now 26 and have had no complications, only relief.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007, 2:50 PM

Add comment
i had awefull periods, irregular and i felt like a truck ran me over for 2 week. i am on loestrin and decided 5 years ago to start taking my pills everyday without the week break to induce a period. for me this has worked great. i have NO period, no pms, no headaches, nothing. they do make a pill that is just for that but since the pill im on is the same dose every day it works the same. maybe look into that.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007, 3:36 PM

Add comment
OP--Kids, exercise, herbs?

Thanks for the comments so far! I do not have children and I'm 29. I have friends who have had IUDs and got them removed and were able to conceive without difficulties. (I know that "this friend of mine" is not always a reliable scientist, but it does really help to know people who have personal experience with different things, for me at least.)

I run on the Arc Trainer or treadmill for 45 minutes to an hour two or three days a week, along with running for 1/2 an hour and doing weight training 3 days a week (a total of 5 to 6 gym days a week). I've been doing this for about 4 months. I also take iron supplements (for the possible anemia) and multivitamins with calcium. Prior to the 'new workout' regime, I was doing 1/2 an hour of cardio plus the weights 3 times a week for about six months. I am not losing weight and so decided to keep closer track of my diet and to add more cardio.

That exercise leaves aside the dog...who needs walking even after the gym!

Anybody have any luck with herbal supplements for PMS?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007, 5:30 PM

Add comment
To the poster about Depo Provera

Ask your doc to send you for a bone density scan before you let him take you off the Depo.

I've been on Depo now for almost 10 years. A year or so ago when the "news" about Depo causing calcium loss came out, my doc sent me for a density scan. Apparently, my bones are about 15% MORE dense than the average for my age group.

Yes, it DID cause me to gain some weight, but only about 15 lbs over the first 6 months or so that I was on it. I didn't do anything extra (step up my exercise or reduce my eating) at the time, because I didn't realize THEN why I was gaining weight.

Granted, there *IS* a possibility that the Depo Provera is the REASON I'm having trouble taking extra weight off right now, but I'll happily trade that and the fact of NO periods for the past 10 years, for the problems I had before I went on Depo, plus the monthly "fun".

Tuesday, February 27, 2007, 11:15 PM

Add comment
Please read this!

I had a lot of problems with my cycle and was on birth control in my late 20s and 30s. About 3 years ago I switched to one of the second/third generation birth control pills and I felt great. No more migraine, regular periods, etc.

But last fall I was diagnosed with a BLOOD CLOT in my leg. No joke. There is a lot of growing evidence of the connection between the increased progestin levels in these new BCPs and higher occurances of blood clots.

And let me share: I was on a 6x per week training program: on my bike for 6-8 hours a week, weight training 3x per week, pilates, boxing, yoga, etc. Non smoker light drinker.

I'm lucky that it was just in my leg and not in my lung. This can kill you. Maybe you can find a specialist to talk to about your options. Educate yourself on the risks and at least know the warning signs. I waited 4-5 days before I went to the ER because I thought it was a biking injury. Scary.


Wednesday, February 28, 2007, 10:10 AM

Add comment
link above

is from the New York Times...about the risks of progestin on DVT (deep vein thrombosis/blood clots)

Wednesday, February 28, 2007, 10:13 AM

Add comment
Chinese medicine

I had heavy, painful periods for years. Literally unable to function the 2nd day of my period. I have always been athletic and nutrtionally-saavy. While going to my acupuncturist for a (seeminly) unrelated issue she asked how heavy my periods were. I told her. A few months later my periods became very light, within a few months after that I weasn't even aware I was going to get my period, except for breast tenderness on some months. She had been treating me with acupuncture and herbs. IT WORKS. Now at 50 I am sailing through menopause with few symptoms and those are relatively mild. I owe it to the years of Chinese medicine.

Get yourself to a good acupuncturist. The doctors that tell you to live with it should be barred from practice. In a chinese approach, something is out of balance, a healthy person does not have the symptoms you have. Medical docs will never see that.

Good luck!!

Thursday, March 01, 2007, 8:04 AM

Add comment
I used to get such terrible cramps while pmsing that I occasionally had to miss work. Two things helped- cutting wheat and corn and corn sugars out of my diet. Now, I get minimal pain. And any pain I get is neutralised by a herbal supp called "FSCII" by Nature's Sunshine. I however have been blessed to always get my period every 27-30 days without a pill...

Thursday, March 01, 2007, 1:10 PM

Add comment

I have PCOS and had the most horrific cramps imaginable. I'd tried everything from BC pills, hormones, Lamaze breathing techniques, pain killers. muscle relaxers, etc. The only BC pill that has ever worked for me is the newer Yaz. It's a lifesaver.

Friday, June 15, 2007, 1:36 PM

Add comment
I second that - I had severe migraines and taking the regular pill on a regular schedule,ie,21 days, then 7 "no pill" days, still left me with headaches. After doing some research, I decided to take the pills every day, and the same ones as you mention , loestrin. The headaches now come maybe 1once a month and are not severe, I usually just take an imitrex and I'm fine. There is no reason to take the pill the old way. I think what causes the headaches is the up and down cycle, but if you take them every day, that doesn't happen. It has really really changed my life around, because I don't have to go home from work, etc, because my headaches are not severe as they were and I don't get them as often. PLUS the added factor of NOT having a period makes life SOOOOO much better. No muss, no fuss, and no headaches. I use to dread going on vacation because of headaches & periods and would try to schedule vacation around Non-period times, but instead, this works like a charm. Sorry, but I can't agree with anyone who says that their period makes them feel like a women, I just can't buy that. There are also more benefits of having less periods. The number of periods that women have now are many more than every before, we are starting younger and ending at a later age. This is not what your body was meant to do and some doctors says having less periods is betterfor you, NOT worst. I'm 49 and have been doing this for the last 5 years, I don't need to take birthcontrol, (my husband had a vastecomy(sp?), but I don't want to get those headaches again!

Friday, June 15, 2007, 8:36 PM

Add comment
I've been on Depo since the beginning of 2006. Yes weight gain is a strong possibility. I did gain weight, but it was my own fault. I didn't know how it was going to affect my eating habits. Since you are aware that you will want to eat more, just keep in mind that it is the hormones and practice control. I do NOT regret going on the shot, I plan on staying on it.My periods were quite painful before, but that was not my reason for using depo. Your body needs to get used the hormone so you period will be unpredictable once or maybe twice. It takes some time. Some women will stop getting a period entirely, some spot during their time of the month. If your having doubts, just try it, but it's going to take more then 3 months to know if it's for you. Three months is just the beginning. Good Luck.

Friday, March 28, 2008, 9:44 AM

Add comment
I think everyone on here is correct... OP, keep in mind that these chamicals affect people is totally different ways, and that no matter what you're askiing about, you'll be able to find a 'horror story' with it. For me, I ditch it all together and focused on homeopathic remedys, which works for me. If you're comfortable, follow your doctors advice and see if it helps. You can always just stop taking it and find something else. Good luck to you!

Friday, March 28, 2008, 9:56 AM

Add comment

Related Content:

How To Lose Weight- The Basics
Weight Watchers Points System
The Fat Smash Diet
The Eat To Live Diet
The Beck Diet Solution
How To Get The Motivation To Lose Weight


How To Be Successful Using PEERtrainer

How To Burn Fat
Online Weight Loss Support- How It Works
Does Green Tea Help You Lose Weight?
Tips On Using PEERtrainer
Visit The PEERtrainer Community
Diet and Fitness Resources


Weight Watchers Meetings
Learning To Inspire Others: You Already Are
Writing Down Your Daily Workouts
Spending Money On A Personal Trainer?
How I Became A Marathon Runner


Preventive Health

How To Prevent Injuries During Your Workout
Flu Season: Should You Take The Flu Shot?
Are You Really Ready To Start PEERtrainer?
Super Foods That Can Boost Your Energy
Reversing Disease Through Nutrition

New Diet and Fitness Articles:

Weight Watchers Points Plus
How To Adjust Your Body To Exercise
New: Weight Watchers Momentum Program
New: PEERtrainer Blog Archive
Review Of The New Weight Watchers Momentum Program

Weight Loss Motivation by Joshua Wayne:

Why Simple Goal Setting Is Not Enough
How To Delay Short Term Gratification
How To Stay Motivated
How To Exercise With A Busy Schedule

Real World Nutrition and Fitness Questions

Can Weight Lifting Help You Lose Weight?
Are Protein Drinks Safe?
Nutrition As Medicine?

Everyday Weight Loss Tips

How To Eat Healthy At A Party
How To Eat Out And Still Lose Weight
The Three Bite Rule
Tips On How To Stop A Binge