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Birth control during treatment

kumphort Member Posts: 10

for the past 12 years I have happily been taking my birth control pills and happy with results. Now with an ER+ diagnosis they are suggesting I switch to a copper IUD. I don’t know why this is pushing me over the edge.

What did other people do during this time?

Does the hormone therapy after surgery prevents pregnancy as well ?


  • parakeetsrule
    parakeetsrule Member Posts: 605

    I got an IUD. It was easy and saved me lots of worry.

    Cancer treatment does not prevent pregnancy. It might be less likely, but if you are having sex during treatment you have to use birth control. Lots of cancer drugs are toxic to a fetus.

    Hormone treatment afterwards may or may not put you into menopause. So you'll still probably need birth control until it's confirmed you are in menopause.
  • salamandra
    salamandra Member Posts: 745

    I had a hormonal IUD put in the same day as my lump was found. All the docs wanted me to take it out. But it's progesterone only, not estrogen, and I kept doing research and pushing them on it. If you really want hormones, they probably won't love a hormonal IUD (it's not as safe as copper, because the hormones could impact breast cancer risk) but it's better than birth control pills (estrogen is known to impact breast cancer risk).

    I've had both copper and hormonal IUDs and I love how the hormonal IUD suppresses my period. But I do think copper is still a fantastic form of birth control for most women (all birth control has side effect for some women).

    But that's all practical stuff. Emotionally it may be pushing you over the edge because it's such a real every day impact /invasion on a part of your life you've got working, and that touches some of the most intimate physical and emotional aspects of our being. It's an early concretization of some of the very real but abstract losses that come with a breast cancer diagnosis. I think it's totally valid to feel this impact emotionally.

    I would say, birth control pills have a lot of impacts beyond birth control. If you've been taking them long term, or if you've been using them to help with other symptoms (migraines, pmdd, mood impacts etc), I think it's worth keeping your gynecologist and possibly psychiatrist in the loop as you come off them. That way hopefully you can quickly pick up on any symptoms that the pills have been helping and hopefully find other treatments.

  • DaughterOfBarb
    DaughterOfBarb Member Posts: 29

    I understand your feeling. I happily had hormonal IUDs (Mirena) for 15 years prior to dx, resulting in essentially no periods, which I loved. So I was hesitant to switch to a copper IUD and it's side effects. Since we are not having any more children, I had a uterine ablation, which reduces or eliminates periods. Its not FDA approved as a birth control method, but it significantly reduces the risk. We are using condoms until my husband's vasectomy. I found the lack of control over my body and being forced to make these decisions due to my dx very disheartening too. Good luck with your decision.

    ETA: Well said, Salamandra.

  • melbo
    melbo Member Posts: 266

    IUDs weren't an option for me — I had two previously and for whatever reason they would not stay in place. My cancer was not driven by estrogen, but my OBGYN really pushed me to stop birth control pills anyway. Since my husband and I did not ever want kids and I had been trying to get him to get a vasectomy for several years, I went off the pills and he went under the knife.

    He was fine with the idea of a vasectomy and agreed it was a great birth control option for us, but the reality of making appointments and actually following through were a problem for him. I said it was his body so he had to make the decision and make all the calls. A futureof condoms for birth control when there was no other choice finally pushed him to make the appointments he needed.

  • mountainmia
    mountainmia Member Posts: 857

    When I had chemo (at age 58, well into menopause, not getting pregnant with my husband who had a vasectomy 30 years ago), the chemo pharmacist recommended using a condom for sex during chemo, and for a couple of weeks or more after. (YES! You can still want and have sex during chemo!) IIRC, there were 2 reasons: 1) my lower immunity, and no need to introduce bacteria etc through sex, especially since my skin was also much more tender, and 2) to protect my husband from the chemicals in me.

    I don't know if this has anything to do with your situation, but just another comment on birth control use during treatment.