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Instead of the Dishes » Health, Health & Fitness, Mommyhood, Product Reviews » Yaz and Axiety – My Personal Experience

Yaz and Axiety – My Personal Experience

This blog post is certainly more personal than normal. It is written in the hopes that it will help other women who are struggling with the side effects of Yaz, or any other birth control medication, perhaps without even realizing it. 

I have felt chronic anxiety twice in my life. The first time was 8 years ago as I experienced the demise of my first marriage. The second time is now. In hindsight, I have been having issues all summer long, but the major problems started at the end of September. In addition to anxiety that left me without the will or motivation to do much of anything (did you notice there have been fewer blog posts over the past month?), I’ve also seen a substantial increase in fatigue, migrane and severe headaches, and nausea and general food aversion. I’ve been going through the motions of life, ending each day exhausted after having to talk myself into doing anything beyond getting the kids to and from school and folding the laundry. October has been the month that wasn’t.

I have been on birth control in one form or another since I was 15, aside from the three or so years when I was either pregnant or breast feeding. I’ve been on a bit of everything, and some of them did have some bad side effects:

  • Ortho Tri-Cyclen
  • Depo-Provera Shot – weight gain, mood swings
  • Levelen
  • Mirena IUD – no regularity in my cycle, the IUD got “lost” and had to be removed
  • Loestrin – bloating, weight gain
  • Yaz Generic (Gianvi) – anxiety, fatigue, headaches, nausea

I have never had any medication cause as much chaos as Yaz. I started Yaz at the end of May while on vacation, and I was promptly rewarded with a light/sound sensitive migraine.  I remember telling my friend that I was traveling with that I could not remember the last time I had had a migraine, but I didn’t put two and two together. I also recall telling another friend later in the summer that I had had some feelings of anxiety that I could not explain, and those feelings returned occasionally but only for a day or two at a time. My face was much clearer while I was on Yaz, and I dropped about six pounds in the first two months, due mostly to the fact that I was so nauseous I couldn’t eat anything for about a week out of each month. The information that came with the pills said that this could happen for the first three months of taking the pill, so I just kept waiting for the nausea to go away.

At the end of September, all these symptoms worsened instead of getting better. What started as the usual nausea in week two of the pack quickly grew into crippling anxiety and the inability to sleep, which of course led to more fatigue and headaches. When I called my doctor’s office to get advice, the nurse phoned in a prescription for Loestrin.  I planned to finish the pack of Yaz I was on and then switching back to Loestrin, which I had originally ditched for Yaz because it was causing bloating.  However, as my symptoms worsened, I called the doctor’s office again. The nurse told me that Yaz should help anxiety, not make it worse, and that I should finish my pack if possible. As time went on, I decided to quit birth control completely.  I did finish my pack, and was relieved as the symptoms abated even before I was done with the pills.

But then the symptoms came back. The day before I took my last pill, everything went gray again. This was especially worrisome to me, as I quickly realized that I had absolutely no control over what my body was doing. After having felt perfectly fine and back to normal for five days, I was once again paralyzed by anxiety. I had planned a staycation weekend at home by myself while my husband took our kids camping, and it was torture. While I normally love “me” time, I could not function because I felt so anxious about being alone.  I couldn’t focus on any projects or enjoy myself. I didn’t feel like me at all.  It has taken over two weeks after quitting Yaz to feel semi-normal, although I am still experiencing bouts with all of the symptoms I had while on Yaz. The problem now is that I still don’t have control over the symptoms and I worry that I won’t be more prone to anxiety after having dealt with it for several weeks.

I took Yaz for a total of five months. During that time (and beyond) it has affected my happiness, my relationships, and my productivity. I have been off of it for three weeks now, so I don’t really know what the totally effects of it will be. I’m still trying to fathom how I got to be who I was for the past five months, and how I get back to being 100% the real me again.

The good news is that I have a great support team of friends who have been super helpful throughout all this. My husband has been very supportive (he meant well when he ran off and left me home alone for the weekend) and respects my decision to go off the pill entirely.  However, through the bulk of my struggles, he was traveling for business.  So, my friends, Lucy, Rebecca, Ashlee, and Meredith all helped me by checking on me, letting me whine to them, and keeping me company.  Lucy even took the time to go online and find out more about Yaz and its side effects (when even googling seemed like an insurmountable task for me). She found these forums full of women going through the same experience with Yaz as I was, and that alone made me feel a ton better:

So, two action items here (ok, really three):

First, if you can identify with this post (I honestly hope that you can’t), please reach out for help. Tap friends, family, and definitely your doctor’s office. Don’t be afraid or ashamed. In Lucy’s words, “be persistent until you get an answer from your doctor that helps you get better.” And, if you can’t do that, find a new doctor (as I am doing…).

Second, stop and listen to your body. If you have health concerns that you can’t find a cause for, consider what you are putting into your body and do some research. Part of the anguish I went through was regret over not having researched Yaz before I took it, and realizing that I’ve been pumping synthetic hormones into my body for far too many years.

Finally, if you know someone who is struggling with any of these issues, please share this post with them. I really do hope that my case is somewhat isolated (data from the drug company says less than 3% of the women who take Yaz will experience adverse side effects, although the instances of law suits against them would tell me otherwise), but I have already found that one of my friends was experiencing some of the same issues while taking Yaz, and didn’t even realize it until I told her my story.

I hope to follow this post with another post with some of the facts about birth control and how it works.  My specific issues were caused by Gianvi, the off-brand of Yaz, but certainly if you look online you will find posts and forums about negative side effects for almost any birth control pill.

Related Posts:

Thankfullness – A New Perspective
Coping with Yaz Withdrawl

Filed under: Health, Health & Fitness, Mommyhood, Product Reviews · Tags: , , , ,

21 Responses to "Yaz and Axiety – My Personal Experience"

  1. Brooke says:

    Fawn, Oh, how I can relate to this! It’s horrible. I had problems with several birth control pills back in graduate school and after, including Yaz. It took me into a tailspin of anxiety and changed my affect completely. I do hope you get back to your normal.

    Thinking back, though. I did have some intense symptoms a bit later in my adult life that my therapist and I attributed to my being on some version of the pill, because they pretty much totally went away when I got pregnant with Sadie. We figured the solution would just be to not ever go back on a hormonal contraceptive. But the symptoms came back with a vengeance not long after Sadie was born, and I’ve been on an SSRI since she was about 3 months old. Of course not saying that’s the same situation, but just putting it out there. Sometimes body chemistry can do its own thing without the influence of artificial hormones.

  2. Fawn says:

    Thanks so much for your comment, Brooke. Yes, I agree that hormones can (and will) definitely shift as we get older. I’m also wondering if pills like Yaz that are receptor blockers cause damage to our system that never gets repaired and thus makes us more likely to have issues later on. Certainly if things don’t get back to normal in the next couple months I will be looking at other options. Do you feel that what you are taking now does a good job of regulating? And do you still feel 100% like yourself?

  3. Shannon says:

    I do not have to worry about birth control anymore because fortunately my husband went and got the “ol snipparoo” but even when I had to be on birth control, we actually used other birth control methods instead of me going on birth control pills. I don’t have a lot of medical knowledge obviously with different types of birth control pills/injections/devices however just my intuition told me that they are just not good for your body. Especially these new ones coming out, I just feel that they have not been out on the market long enough to show any significant study research on them and the effects they have on a woman’s body. They either make your gain weight, extreme mood swings, or like you suffered with Fawn, anxiety. Who knows long term, what these can do to your body. When it comes to medications, I definitely take the more natural road. Anything I don’t have to take the better. This may be too much information, but I rather have used a condom w/ my husband then to go on birth control. It may not feel natural but if he wants a “natural acting wife” than he better be happy!! Why should I have to gain weight and be crazy just for a little fun? Sorry-that’s just my opinion.

  4. Fawn says:

    Here,here,Shannon! I still can’t believe I have been on bc for this long without giving it much thought. Never again! I’m hoping Craig will follow your hubby’s lead. :)

  5. Stephanie says:

    I sympathize with you completely. I went on Yaz just over a year ago with very similar symptoms. I was resentful of needing to do it (it was not for birth control in my case), but after a lot of research and talking with my doctor, it seemed the lesser of the evils. My doctor warned me that the first three months might be bad. They were, as was the forth. I felt like I was in a hole that I could see out of but couldn’t act on anything. I felt crazy. Holidays were a nightmare. Granted it was a stressful time regardless, but I sometimes had to call Mom and just cry. In my case, things got better. I still get blue when I get to the sugar pills. I’m fighting to improve my health in other ways so that hopefully, the pills will no longer be needed. I wish you the best.

  6. Fawn says:

    Stephanie, you are a stronger woman than I. I cannot imagine sticking through those symptoms. I think your description of being in a hole that you could see out of is spot-on. I hope that you can go pill free ASAP!

  7. Jessica says:

    Previous to meeting my husband six years ago I had already been on birth control for 10yrs. I just took them without every reading the material that came with it until I met Thomas and started to become more aware of medical stuff. I remember getting scared by some of the “possible” side effects and it just so happens that the FDA came out with an extra warning about the type of estrogen in the pill. I didn’t get off of them right away (I had a honeymoon to go on!), but dropped them within a month. I never had any problems, however, I now have a sort of peace of mind… that is until I get to “the change” then I have to make a decision about those hormones. :)

  8. Shannon says:

    Fawn, tell him I said to buck up and get it done. You had the babies, and he had the fun, so now it’s his turn! We sacrifice our bodies for our precious little ones, it won’t hurt them to have to sit for a couple of days w/ bags of frozen peas on you no where! It’s funny, Travis thought his “manhood” would be lost or his muscles would wilt away and every ounce of manly thing would be gone forever…it was ridiculous! Now he says it was no big deal and no side effects and his limbido did not change.

  9. Lucy says:

    I hate that you have gone through such a hard time, Fawn! Good for you for writing about your experience, so you can prevent other women going through the same thing. I totally agree with your friend Shannon – both posts. My husband and I need to get that scheduled too!

  10. Stan says:

    Fawn I had no idea the YAZ generic affected you so adversly. I thought you just didn’t like me any longer. Knowing how much Craig loves you, my guess would be that a vasectemy would be a no brainer. Tell him I’ll buy the peas. Thanks for letting your blog readers know of the devastating effects you experienced and, please, find a NEW doctor.

  11. Fawn says:

    Ugh, Jessica, I don’t even want to think about “the change”! I’m having enough problems without changing anything!! But yes, I think our generation is essentially going to be the lab rat for long-term effects of birth control. Scary.

  12. Fawn says:

    LOL. Shannon, I passed on your message and Craig just shook his head. I totally agree, though!

  13. Fawn says:

    Lucy, I still think we should check into a BOGO deal. :)

  14. Fawn says:

    Hi Dad. Going to see a new doctor tomorrow. Not sure about Craig and the peas though!

  15. […] of unfortunate events, I’ve lost the ability to label my health as resilient, and while my battle with Yaz birth control does not compare in any way with other, much more major maladies, it has been enough of a shock to […]

  16. Brooke says:

    I realized I never responded to your follow-up questions, Fawn (was good to see you Sunday, by the way). Yes, I really feel like what I’ve been on for the past two years has made a difference. I’d be happy to talk about it in real life if you’d like. Not much time for the typing at the moment… ;)

  17. […] Yaz and Anxiety – My Personal Experience Thankfulness – A New Perspective […]

  18. […] –  I found OvuView while I was looking for something to track symptoms when I was going through “withdrawl” from Yaz birth control.  The app is actually a fertility and ovulation tracker with the ability to track a myriad of […]

  19. […] have been interested in doing a juice detox cleanse for quite some time, and especially so since my hormones went all haywire when I stopped taking birth control.  I asked Craig, half jokingly, if he wanted to do a juice […]

  20. Julie Martin says:

    Thank you for this post. Although I know all the side effects I am experiencing in my 3rd week off Yaz are simply my hormones going haywire, the intense anxiety I have felt today makes it hard to be rationale and work this through. Did you ever feel like your heart was beating too fast? I don’t think it is – I think its the anxiety. I called my dr and a nurse answered and told me she had not heard of “Yaz withdrawal.” I can’t believe that with all that I have read online from women just like me. Thank you for helping me feel I’m not crazy because that’s exactly how i feel today!

  21. Fawn says:

    Hi Julie. You absolutely are not crazy. Yes, I remember the heart palpatations. If you feel like your heart is really racing, don’t hesitate to go have it checked out. There is a connection between birth control and heart problems. Also, if you feel like your doctor’s office is not answering your questions, keep asking until you get the answers your need, or find a new doctor that will listen to you. That’s what I had to do when I was dealing with all of this. Unfortunately it is true that many doctors and nurses have no idea what the side-effects/consequences of the medications they prescribe are, but there are doctors out there who are willing to do the extra work needed to educate themselves so that they can help you. I wish you strength and peace as you work though it. It is hell, but it does get better.

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