birth control pills

Birth Control - Choosing Between The Lesser of Evils

As a society, we are very lucky to have access to birth control and to be able to decide when or if we want to have children. The issue is that, for many people, birth control is less than ideal.

Be it a pill or an IUD, these contraception options act primarily by altering the hormone levels in your body, which can make you emotional, irritable, and sometimes feel as though you are not in control of your own state of being. Not to mention the slew of health risks that are associated with these medications.

For some, a copper IUD can increase bleeding and amplify the pain from natural periods, which at times can be incapacitating. Then there are the classic condoms, which can be inconvenient and risky at best. Of course, abstinence is a possibility, but it's not always preferable.

All this to say that none of these options are ideal and it can feel crushing to think that you must suffer with one of these choices for a huge chunk of your life, particularly when you have a heightened sensitivity to some of these symptoms. So the question is, given that these are all the options we have, how do we make the choice?

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Kim Ades: Hello, hello. My name is Kim Ades, I am the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching and the Co-founder of The Journal That Talks Back. Today you have just joined The Frame of Mind Coaching Podcast and today is Fridays with Ferne. Now, it may not actually be Friday, but I don't care, I like the sound of Fridays with Ferne, so we're keeping it. Ferne, welcome.  

[00:00:25] Ferne Kotlyar: Hello, hello! I almost thought you messed up the title there. [Chuckles]  

[00:00:29] Kim Ades: I didn't mess up anything. And for those of you who don't know, Ferne is my daughter and she comes onto the show every single week and starts a challenging, interesting, dynamic, confusing sometimes, conversation. So Ferne, what's on your mind?

[00:00:46] Ferne Kotlyar: Okay, so today, well, recently we ran a poll on Instagram and I think LinkedIn. What topic are people looking to hear about, and back by popular demand, this week we have Taboo Topics. So today I wanted to talk about something that is quite taboo, I would say. And interestingly, people don't like to talk about it, but I don't necessarily know why. I wanna talk about birth control.  

[00:01:15] Kim Ades: Okay.  

[00:01:16] Ferne Kotlyar: I think that, I mean, it applies to everyone, it's relevant for everyone and I think it's really important. And really what I kind of wanted to dive into is the fact that I don't know about, I think from the people I've spoken to, but I don't wanna speak for everyone here. It's really tough if you're sexually active as a woman to find a good method of birth control, at least in my opinion, from my experience.  

I find that the pills have had a really big effect on my mood, and if you've ever read the pills, you take out the instruction manual and it's a whole entire pamphlet full of risks and warnings and like, other medication you can't take it with and reasons why or certain types of cancers that it may cause, you're at higher risk for all these sorts of things, on top of all the other side effects that it has.  

And I know that's just one method of control, but I feel almost stuck sometimes because none of the methods of birth control are perfect. Like, they all have significant drawbacks and affect my life personally. So I guess kind of today I'm looking for advice of what to do if someone feels stuck in their method of birth control.

[00:02:33] Kim Ades: Yeah, so I'm not a birth control expert, but feeling stuck when you feel like you have no options is something I'm very familiar with, right? So the question is, do you actually have no options? So what you said is very important, "All the options feel imperfect to me. There's a drawback to every single option".

And so when you feel like that, you feel like you don't have control, you feel like you're sacrificing, you feel like you're compromising, but not in a good, healthy way. And that's not an ideal feeling, right? So part of it, and I know you a little bit, part of you--

[00:03:11] Ferne Kotlyar: Really?  

[00:03:12] Kim Ades: Just a bit. There are two levels of hardship. One is an emotional or a mental hardship, and one is like, "okay, what are the physical issues here?" Right? And the mental hardship part of it is "there should be a better solution".  

[00:03:28] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.  

[00:03:28] Kim Ades: "This should get better. It's not fair. Why do women have to suffer this way?"  

[00:03:33] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.  

[00:03:34] Kim Ades: Yes?  

[00:03:36] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, I mean, it's tough because it's a two-way-- like, if the baby doesn't come from one person, it's two people, but a woman has to bear not only the baby, but the preventative measures as well, and then if she gets pregnant, it's her fault, you know? So there are a whole bunch of other social issues involved with it, but I know that I shouldn't say "should" because that's a fallacy or whatever.  

[00:03:59] Kim Ades: [Laughs] Or whatever.  

[00:04:01] Ferne Kotlyar: [Chuckles]  

[00:04:03] Kim Ades: So when we struggle with what is, right? What is? What is, is that women get pregnant, men don't, period. Right? That is what is.  

[00:04:13] Ferne Kotlyar: Well, actually no period, because...  

[00:04:15] Kim Ades: But maybe one-- Right, no period.  

[00:04:17] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, okay.  

[00:04:18] Kim Ades: Ha ha. Who are you? Allan Friedman?  

[00:04:20] Ferne Kotlyar: [Laughs]  

[00:04:21] Kim Ades: But it's the fact maybe one day that will be different, but right now that is what is. And when we struggle, when we battle with what is, what happens is we cause ourselves multiple layers of pain.

So not only is there "which birth control method should I choose" question, "which one is the best for my physical and mental health", but now you're compounding the problem by battling with the right and wrongness of the whole thing. You know, it's not right that women need to take full responsibility when this is a two-way street.

[00:04:58] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.  

[00:04:58] Kim Ades: Right? Okay. So, the first thing we wanna do is say, "okay, well guess what? It's not a two-way street, it's a one way street". This is your journey, period.  

[00:05:06] Ferne Kotlyar: So how do you change the-- How do you create change if people just move on from that every time?  

[00:05:14] Kim Ades: If they move on from that? Well, there--  

[00:05:15] Ferne Kotlyar: Like, if people don't get upset over the fact that it's not a two-way street. How do you make change? 'Cause then we're just gonna have to suffer.  

[00:05:24] Kim Ades: Well, there are some people who are trying to study how men could get involved or have their levels of birth-- you know, can be play a role in birth control. Right? That's not my area of expertise. I'm not in science and I'm not studying birth control and I'm not running experiments and testing that out, so right now that's not in my hands and if it bothers me enough that I wanna get involved, I could. Right? That would be the action I would take. If that's the... Chair I wanna stand on. That's not the expression, but you got my idea, right?

[00:06:00] Ferne Kotlyar: [Chuckles]  

[00:06:01] Kim Ades: If that's the cross I wanna bear, right? That's the right expression. But it's not. And so if it's not the cross I wanna bear, then I need to kind of accept the way things are. And the way things are is that women get pregnant, men don't. It's the way it is.  

And so now the question is, okay, so if that's the way it is, and if in fact you are the one who is primarily responsible for birth control, and I think it's a discussion, it's something that you agree to, there are terms you agree to, but at the end of the day, you need to take care of your own body. Right?  

So now the question is what are my options and which one is the most ideal. And so, maybe there is-- None of those options are perfect, but one is better than the next for you. It's kind of like there's no perfect partner, but one of them is better for you.  

[00:06:57] Ferne Kotlyar: I know, my guy's pretty good.  

[00:06:59] Kim Ades: Your guy is very good. But I'm just saying nobody's perfect.

[00:07:04] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.  

[00:07:04] Kim Ades: Nothing is perfect. But what's the best option for me? And so, when you're considering what the best option is, perhaps you are reacting more strongly to the hormones in taking a pill, and maybe that's not the best option, but, Right. The solution is not to say "life isn't fair". The solution is to say, "Okay, so what are the other options? Let me look at it scientifically", and you're a scientist, so that helps... And say, "which direction should I go in? And let me try something new".  

And even if that trial isn't the best, it's to not give up after each new trial, to continue to try, right? Imagine if we had scientists who had failed experiments and said, "Okay, I give up. This sucks. Life isn't fair".  

[00:07:51] Ferne Kotlyar: [Chuckles] Some do.  

[00:07:53] Kim Ades: Right, but those aren't the best scientists in the world, right? Those aren't the ones who make progress in the world. So, in order to make progress, we need to decide that we're accepting the way things are, reality, we accept the way things are, and now which option is the one I'm gonna try next? And let me examine those, keeping in mind my particular reactions to different things. So you're gonna try.  

[00:08:22] Ferne Kotlyar: Can we talk more about those specific reactions? So we know that I get emotional because of all the hormones that are running rampant. How do you deal with those kinds of hormones that you don't know whether they're you or something else, a pill you're taking... Like, how do you reconcile what's really you and what's the medicine? How do you separate that?  

[00:08:46] Kim Ades: Yeah, there are a few ways. One is you talk to someone you trust, like your mother, and you say, "Hey, I feel out of sorts. Is this normal for me? How long this has been going on for? What do you think? Am I behaving in a way that's consistent with my nature or is something off for me?" Right? And so you talk to someone you trust and you ask for some feedback, and I think that's a very valuable thing to do.  

But the other thing is, again, I always go back to journaling because when you journal and you say, "okay, this thing happened and this is how I reacted", and you take a step back and then you go and you take a look and you say, "did I overreact? Is this consistent with who I want to be? Did I perhaps blow this out of proportion? Am I being extra sensitive?" Right?  

Like, let me kind of-- 'Cause when we remove ourselves from it and then come back to it, we're able to assess more rationally. And if you start to do that over a month, a week, a few months, right? You start to notice patterns where you say, "wow, I'm really, really being reactive to these things, which don't necessarily need or require that level of a reaction". I know you're a passionate person too, and so your passion comes out, we know that. But then some things don't require so much passion.  

[00:10:08] Ferne Kotlyar: It's always just passion? I mean, sometimes I get sad for some reason randomly that I don't necessarily know warrants that much sadness, and I don't know if that's passion.  

[00:10:19] Kim Ades: Well, I'm putting your emotional reaction, your intense emotional reaction into the bucket of passion. So it could be sadness, it could be anger, it could be frustration, it could be elation. Like, sometimes when you're happy, oh my God, you glow, you're gushing.

[00:10:40] Ferne Kotlyar: [Chuckles]  

[00:10:40] Kim Ades: You're like oozing with happiness. And sometimes I think I'm so happy she's happy, but that's a lot of happy, right?  

[00:10:47] Ferne Kotlyar: What's wrong with that?  

[00:10:50] Kim Ades: Nothing's wrong with that, if it's not extreme, if it's not something that is difficult to maintain, if it's not your natural state.

[00:11:04] Ferne Kotlyar: I think it's good to be happy.  

[00:11:06] Kim Ades: It's good to be happy. Sure it's good to be happy. In your case, I'm not so concerned about your happy moments, I'm concerned about what's causing you frustration. What's causing you to react? You know, if somebody says something, do you feel a sensitivity to it? And are you giving them too much of your power or too much of your emotional state?

So in your case, again, because I know you historically, you're pretty even keeled. Yes, you are passionate, but still pretty even keeled. And I've noticed, I think primarily because of the pills you're taking, you're a little bit more volatile, in a way that's not consistent with the person that I'm familiar with.

And so to me, there's something at play here where you're reacting more easily to things that if you were to take a step back from and then look at again, you might say, "yeah, that's didn't warrant that level of reaction".  

[00:12:09] Ferne Kotlyar: But, so what are my options? So I heard basically, so you have this emotional reaction, you suspect something's up, you kind of have two next steps: you talk to somebody, you're really familiar with someone that you know knows you for a really long time, you ask them to check in.  

The second thing you can do is journal. You could do both, of course... Journal kind of take notes where you're at, how you're feeling, and then look back on it and check out that difference between whether or not that was extreme. But from there, once you realize that, okay, something is up, this isn't working for me.  

[00:12:46] Kim Ades: Yeah.  

[00:12:47] Ferne Kotlyar: Kind of, you know, you have the copper IUD, which increases your cramping, and we all know that nobody wants that because cramps can be incapacitating.  

[00:12:57] Kim Ades: Yeah.  

[00:12:58] Ferne Kotlyar: And you have another IUD that is hormonal and inside of you instead of taking orally. So... I feel like these options aren't good enough, and they're not good. So how do I deal with that emotional-- Like, obviously I have to choose one, but how do you deal with the emotional feeling of "oh, none of these options are good enough and I'm gonna have to suffer"?  

[00:13:21] Kim Ades: Well, let's go there in a minute. Let's go back for a second and say, okay, so once you realize something's off, it's important to tell the people around you, "Hey, something's off", right? Like, "this is what I think I'm dealing with", so that they're more compassionate, they're more understanding when you're maybe a little bit off, right? They have more patience, more tolerance, and they will help you notice when you're reacting again unnecessarily or at a heightened level. So that's very important for you to do.  

But now let's talk about the options. I think, again, in this case, we have options. You know, when you say, "how do you deal with the emotional part?" I think the issue is-- how do we remove emotion? We remove emotion a little bit by looking at, okay, what are the facts? What are the consequences of each decision? And let's make a decision that tries to meet four basic criteria, right?  

So when we make decisions, we wanna make sure that they mean the following four criteria. Is it healthy? Is it engaging? Does it allow me to engage the way I want to? In your case. Does it align with my goals? And does it lead to an outcome or a desire that I have? And so you wanna assess, and in this case, the most important question is, is it healthy for me? And so...  

[00:14:41] Ferne Kotlyar: I don't know.  

[00:14:42] Kim Ades: You know, having cramps... That copper IUD does not give you the hormones that are messing you up right now, but it's gonna give you cramps, and for you, that's not a healthy choice. That could be debilitating, that could stop you from enjoying your life. And so that's not aligned with healthy, engaging, outlined with your goals or leading to an outcome you're looking for, right?  

[00:15:05] Ferne Kotlyar: But I don't know that any of them are healthy by those standards because they either mess with my emotions or my physical state. And so one way or another, it's not super healthy.

[00:15:16] Kim Ades: Not super healthy, but what we do is we go and we talk to a doctor who knows a little bit better, and we say "can you help me assess these?" And if you don't like that doctor, go to 10 doctors. Go to 10 doctors and find out what you wanna find out and get the reassurance you need. And then you're gonna try.

And just because you try doesn't mean you have to try forever. So you try the IUD that has local hormones and you see how it feels for three, four or five months. And if it's terrible, we remove it and we try another methodology.  

[00:15:49] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, I just heard putting it in and taking it out is really painful. So that's a big step... Hurdle you have to go through.  

[00:15:58] Kim Ades: It is a hurdle you have to go through. You're right. And maybe there's a way to minimize or mitigate that pain. And that's another question we could ask, right? How do we do it so that we don't feel as much as we-- To minimize the pain. And again, if you don't like the doctor you're seeing, luckily in Canada we have an option to see many doctors.

And so I would encourage you to not stop at one. Find somebody you're comfortable with, find someone who gives you the reassurance you're looking for, find someone who explains it clearly so that you are clear about the pros and the cons. And part of that is not giving up on the relationship with the doctor, right?

I know that you've been to several doctors and you walk away and kind of at the same place you started. You're unhappy with the conversation, you're unhappy with the decisions you're making or that are being made for you or the guidance you're getting, and so -- In fact, that's probably the single most important thing you need to do is go and hunt for the doctor who will walk you through your options and will help you make decisions effectively and calmly, rationally, not emotionally.

[00:17:08] Ferne Kotlyar: Okay, interesting advice.  

[00:17:10] Kim Ades: Dig until you find the right doctor.  

[00:17:14] Ferne Kotlyar: Sounds very time consuming. [Laughs]  

[00:17:16] Kim Ades: But you see, time consuming but critical. And part of it is not to get discouraged when you find a doctor that you're not happy with. You're gonna find a doctor you're not happy with, that's okay, keep looking until you find the doctor you love. It's like coaching, right? You know how many coaches I've looked for myself?  

[00:17:37] Ferne Kotlyar: How many?  

[00:17:38] Kim Ades: Until I found one that I liked, personally? So many. I can't tell you how many coaches I've had in my lifetime.  

[00:17:45] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, and you noticed a gap and you became one instead.  

[00:17:48] Kim Ades: I did notice a gap but I am also very, very confident in the coaches that we have. They're actually second to none, and that helped me understand what coaching needs to be compared to what I've seen out there. But for anyone who's looking for a coach, talk to 10 coaches before you choose one.  

Don't just choose one. Find one who gets you, who understands what you're dealing with, what your problem is, and provides a solution that feels like it resonates for you. Same thing for you. No different. You know, we had a client actually, who interviewed 17 coaches before he decided to go with Frame of Mind Coaching.  

[00:18:24] Ferne Kotlyar: Wow! That's awesome.  

[00:18:27] Kim Ades: Awesome. And now he is a coach for us with The Journal That Talks Back.  

[00:18:31] Ferne Kotlyar: Oh!  

[00:18:31] Kim Ades: He's amazing. But the point is, in your case, go and interview all the doctors, take the time. Yes, it requires effort, but this is your health you're talking about. It's worth the investment of your time to find what you're looking for.  

[00:18:47] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, that's fair.  

[00:18:49] Kim Ades: Fair?  

[00:18:50] Ferne Kotlyar: I guess so, I guess so.  

[00:18:53] Kim Ades: I guess so. And taking care of your emotional state and your physical state, it's crucial for you to do. Right?  

[00:19:02] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.  

[00:19:02] Kim Ades: It's gonna impact everything. It's gonna impact your performance at school, it's gonna impact your performance in all the projects that you're doing, your business, et cetera. And most of all, it will impact your relationships.  

[00:19:16] Ferne Kotlyar: Of course.  

[00:19:17] Kim Ades: Beautiful. All right, anything else you wanna discuss today?

[00:19:20] Ferne Kotlyar: That's it. That's all I got.  

[00:19:21] Kim Ades: That's it, that's all?  

[00:19:22] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.  

[00:19:23] Kim Ades: Okay. Thank you, that was a good one.  

[00:19:25] Ferne Kotlyar: Thank you.  

[00:19:25] Kim Ades: I thought it was a great conversation. For those of you who are unsure, I hope that this podcast gave you some food for thought. Again, you know, maybe you're dealing with a physical issue or not. The key is find the resources you need to help you make the right decisions, and don't stop till you find someone who you feel can really, really help you.

Until we see you next week. Ferne, thank you as always, for a good conversation.  

[00:19:54] Ferne Kotlyar: Thank you. Have a great week. Bye!  

[00:19:57] Kim Ades: Bye! See you later.

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