Monday, September 24, 2007


A couple of years ago while working a night shift on the maternity ward, I picked up a Macleans Magazine and began to read. The front cover displayed a young girl, maybe around age 14, dressed in a loose T-shirt and looking gaunt and troubled. Inside was an article that disturbed me. It revolved around a variety of new birth control pills that would be made available within the year. One claimed to provide ultimate freedom for young girls "suffering" with menstuation and fear of unwanted pregnancy. Advertisements stated they would only have to "deal" with a period three times a year, on a seasonal, rather than monthly, cycle.

I have been an advocate for women's health for years. And this has often included taking every opportunity I can to educate friends and fellow women about the dangers and health risks of using hormonal birth control: pills, shots and rings. So, I was extremely interested in the article and mulled over the potential health effects this new pill might have.

I kept the magazine in my file drawer, and have thought about it often over the last two years. I have wondered what ever became of the new, upcoming pills. Regretfully, I got busy researching other things that felt more desperate and immediately applicable to my life (like how to discipline a strong-willed two year old!) And up until now, I hadn't heard anything new.

But today, I received a disturbing email from a friend. And it has made me want to take a look at these new "luxuries" that are availble for women of child-bearing age.

Recently this past week, my cousin Nicole Dishuk
(age 31...newly graduated student with a doctoral degree about to start her new career as a Doctor...) was flown into a nearby hospital, because she passed out.
They found a blot clot in her neck, and immediately took her by helicopter to the ER to operate.
By the time they removed the right half of her skull torelieve the pressure on her brain, the clot had spread to her brain causing severe damage.
Since last Wednesday night, she was battling.. they induced her into a coma to stop the blood flow, they operated 3 times.
Finally, they said there was nothing left that they could do. They found multipleclots in the left side of her brain. The swelling wouldn't stop, and she was on life support..
She died at 4:30 yesterday. She leaves behind a husband, and a 2yr old Brandon and a 4yr old Justin.
The CAUSE of DEATH -they found was a birth control she was taking that allows you to only have your period 3 X's a year... They said it interrupts life's menstrual cycle, and although it is FDA approved... shouldn't be - So to the women in myaddress book - I ask you to boycott this product & deal with your period once a month - so you can live the rest of the months that your life has in store for you. Remember, you have a CYCLE for a reason!
The name of this new birth control pill is Lybrel. If you go to , you will find at least 26 pages of information regarding this drug. The second birth control pill is, Seasonique. If you go to the website of, , you will find 43 pages of information regarding this drug. The warnings and side effects regarding both pills are horrible. "

Now, I am skeptical of forwarded emails like this one. So I did a little research. It turns out that quite a bit about this email is true. Nicole did die of a stroke. And she was on Librel. However, "snopes" and other "urban-legend-debunking" websites are not able to access confidential medical information to verify ALL the claims of this email. All that to say, this email might not be 100% correct. Regardless, I am extremely concerned about the growing number of women in their 30's on the pill, who, with no other medical conditions or concerning histories, die of sudden strokes. And it concerns me that one of the major side effects of the pill is : death by stroke.

So, if you can, take a minute to check out the websites. And please make an informed decision in regard to hormonal birth control!

I would value any comments from lurkers and readers. I think this is a major issue for women in our era. And it concerns us on many levels.


Anonymous said...

Hey Kelley, It's Emily (Jones) Irvine here. I came across your face book page and found this link to your blog, lucky me! I like your post about hormonal birth control-yuck! The only side affect to not using it, is four babies for me!

melissa said...

Hi Kelley, I'm a lurker. I should introduce myself anyways, so I'm glad you asked for comments! My name is Melissa as you can see from my blogger identity, and we have mutual friends (Tamie and Daniel)~which is how I found your blog. I relish reading your posts because I have preschoolers too, and it seems we share some ideas (not just regarding preschoolers). Anyways, I find this topic to be frightening and sad. What safe alternatives do you usually point people towards? If I don't do something I know I'll wind up like the Duggars from TLC! Lol! But I have not opted for OCPs except for a short 4 month period of time because I take issue with the idea of breakthrough ovulation. I also don't like the idea of taking a daily medication that is not medically necessary. Now I can see that the health risks are also quite scary!

melissa said...

p.s. clicking on my name will not lead you to my personal blog. If you want to research me ;p I'm at


elizabeth said...

wow. good topic. our culture more and more wants to avoid all consquences and discomfort - i have heard of people even choosing abortion because a child would stop them from thier standard of living (SUVs ect) -

my priest has talked about how N American culture has denied that we have souls, so that people believe they are only material things and thus the point of life is to be a consumer and to have comfort. i think this whole issue is part of this larger issue -

people today do not even know who they are or what humans are.

biss said...

I saw that article in Maclean's too, and found it terribly troubling. I am saddened that our culture is so afraid of life. And death. And of being female. Women have been taught to fear their bodies and treat them with disdain, rather than to love, respect, cherish, and learn from their bodies.

Since I started doing natural family planning (thank you SO much for teaching me the ropes!), I have been both freed and warned. Because I chose to listen to my body instead of silence it, I discovered the cause of some seemingly "unrelated" health problems.
My husband and I also got pregnant on our first try, after a year and a half of using NFP. Sadly, we lost the baby (whom we named Metanoia). But had it not been for NFP, we never would have known I was pregnant, nor would we have understood why my body was acting so wonky after we lost the baby.

I was a hesitant "beginner" but am now completely convinced. The benefits of charting your cycle and letting your body have an influence on how you live your life go far beyond simple "family planning" issues. Doing so has helped me maintain and restore health, gain self respect, and repent. No miracle pill can do that.

Thank you, Kelley.

Mama Monk said...

Thank you for the comments. It is so good to be able to discuss this enormous issue openly. And to seek alternatives together as women.

Emily! It is good to hear from you. I love the beautiful pictures of your four kids on facebook. I would love to see you again and meet your children.

Melissa, thank you for visiting! I will gladly visit your family website. And in light of your comment, I will try to post again this week, about viable alternatives to Hormonal Birth Control. Thank you for asking!

Elizabeth- yes! It is an alarming issue. Especially when, like you said, we choose material possessions and a fixed standard of living instead of welcoming a new soul into our families. And I definitely agree that it is part of a much larger issue.

Biss--Thank you for your comment! And thank you for sharing about your miscarriage. I am sincerely sorry for your loss. And am so glad that you were able to know of your pregnancy, to learn of your body's needs and responses. I would be very interested to hear more details in another comment or personal email if you are willing to share.

Also, I am coming to Ottawa next month. If you are in the area still (are you?), I would really enjoy working out a visit together.

I'm going to try to do a post about NFP this week. Feel free to comment lots when I do!

Aaron & Ralina said...

Kelly, I appreciate your heart on all of this. Ten years ago, while working at a crisis pregnancy center, I began learning the truth about birth control and I was not only terrified by it, but extremely disconcerted. Not long after, we began learning about NFP and have adopted it in our marriage. We've discovered it to be a much better way of life and caring for our family than what the media would like us to believe. I've also done a bit of looking into the abortion/breast cancer link. If you've not researched that yet, I'm sure you would find it very interesting.

Mama Monk said...

Hi Ralina---

Thanks for your comment. I have done a bit of research into the link between breast cancer and abortion. Ironically, during my time working at a Crisis Pregnancy Center! Sounds like we have similiar interests. But, on your encouragement, I will take a look at it again and get refreshed on the topic. I'm sure there is lots more that I have to learn.

Anonymous said...

wow kelley, even the front page of the sites makes me wonder why any woman would want to take them!!! SCARY side effects, and they don't sound like scarce ones either. And if its less periods you're after, well, you get 4 regular ones and then multiple ones that could happen at any time. Doesn't sound fun to me!! I love charting and knowing *exactly* when I'm ovulating and when I'm going to get my period! Haven't had a baby yet we weren't trying for. Although I guess I'm starting to feel like we should leave it up to God--but charting would also let me know when I get pregnant! okay, so periods aren't my favorite, but isn't it amazing how God designed us?

leah j

Mama Monk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mama Monk said...

Hi Leah!

What form of charting do you use? I am going to do a post with Billings, Creighton, Sympto-Thermal, And Serena. I am interested to know if there is yet another system you use, or if you use one of those.

Thanks for visiting! Sure wish I could meet your family someday--

Love to you

7:30 AM

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