My husband and I have discussed whether or not we're done having kids about a dozen times, but the reality is we're not sure. The idea of having a third child with two little ones already running around is scary.
I can only say with certainty that we are closed for business for now. But I refuse to take birth control pills or any other form of preventative measures to prevent pregnancy.
Some people think we're nuts for going this route, including my OB-Gyn (although he wouldn't say it out loud). My annual check-ups usually involve him asking what we plan on doing for birth control. He tells me my options and write a prescription that never gets filled.
There's just something about popping a pill, wearing a patch or having something inserted into my vagina that freaks me out. I know this may sound a bit crazy to some, but there is a story behind this fear.
I remember counting the days leading up to my wedding. Like every couple, my husband and I looked forward to consummating our marriage. But after tracking my cycle, I realized that I'd be in the middle of my menstrual cycle.
There was no way to change the wedding date at such short notice. So my doctor recommended a birth control pill that would stop my period. However, rather than throw off my cycle, the pill caused daily spotting. To make matters worse, I later found out that I developed uterine polyps.
Even though there isn't a confirmed link between the two, it just seemed a bit odd that I developed this condition following taking birth control pills. After further research, I found out that polyps are caused by increased levels of estrogen that could overstimulate the uterine wall, causing the small tree-like stumps to form in my uterus.
While there are tons of birth control pills that have a low dose of estrogen, there are some that may contain high levels. Others contain a different amount of estrogen throughout the cycle, mimicking the body's natural makeup. There are also pills without estrogen and merely depend on progesterone to prevent pregnancy.
It may seems silly to connect the condition with my birth control experience. But the truth is there's no way of knowing for sure if there is a commonality between the two—and that alone scares me.
I realize there are many positive side effects to birth control too (such as preventing acne, PMS, heavy periods and mood swings. Research also has shown that birth control pills can slightly lower the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer). But the negative effects like the polyps as well as dizziness and unwanted weight gain among other things freaked me out and outweighed the potential for positive outcomes.
Plus when it comes to breast cancer, the jury is still out. According to breastcancer.org, birth control pills may overstimulate breast cells, which can increase the risk of breast cancer.
Of course there are other things to consider regarding preventing pregnancy, which my husband and I along with my doctor have also discussed, like the patch and vaginal insert. But I'm not comfortable with a foreign object placed on or outside my body either.
According to ABC News, the patch is a bit more risky because it delivers a higher level of estrogen than hormonal birth control pills do. Based on my experience with polyps and knowing that they can return due to increase estrogen level, I wouldn't want to take that chance.
But polyps aren't my only concern when it comes to the patch. ABC News also reports that compared to other female hormonal birth control, the patch has a higher risk for strokes, clots and heart attacks.
And as far as IUDs are concerned, I definitely wouldn't go that route. A friend once told me that her IUD went missing and it took her doctor forever to find it! (No, IUDs don't travel outside the abdomen, but IUDs can perforate the walls of the uterus. It's rare but it happens). Apparently, she's not alone.
One woman reported vaginal bleeding, hair loss, weight gain, headaches, severe stomach pain, depression, memory loss and other symptoms. Further examination revealed that the IUD was embedded in her myometrium, which is the middle layer of the uterine wall.
If you ask me, the risks just aren't worth it. Until there are better birth control alternatives for women, or until my husband and I are ready for baby No. 3, we're going to continue doing things the all natural way. Each month I track my ovulation and do the dance around those days. I know it isn't foolproof, but it works for us.