The ‘Pill’ and Stroke – One Woman’s Story

Holy Hormones Journal: This woman’s story was part of the Weekend Links sent by the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.
How many other women have experienced a similar adverse event to the birth control pill? Remember we are the medical experiments. And the birth control pill has been called in largest uncontrolled experiment in medical history. There are so many issues around hormone birth control and the suppression of the endocrine system. Please read this woman’s story – and then ask yourself – is the risk worth the benefit?

No wonder the ‘male pill’ won’t make it to market.

I Had a Stroke at 27 While on Hormonal Birth Control (And How To Know If You’re At Risk)

by Heather Murray
July 1, 2014

Reassembling memories of parts of your own life is a weird feeling. That said, I may never again experience anything as weird as feeling part


Freshly-drugged hospital patient selfie.

of my brain actively die.

I don’t really remember why I decided to harvest all of the thyme I’d grown that summer. Just a huge amount and for no good reason; all the people I know who use seasonings wouldn’t have used that much in the next year. I went back inside with this laughably huge harvest and my husband and a friend who was over made terrible and predictable tired puns involving old songs and bottles of thyme, but not so loud as to wake the toddler upstairs. I forgave them magnanimously for implying that I should plant parsley, sage, and rosemary and a short while later our friend left to head back home, tossing me funny little worried looks. I checked email one last time, wrote an oddly worded blog entry, took my hormonal birth control pill as near-religiously as I usually did, and dropped off to sleep.
I woke up in the middle of the night unable to tell my husband that something was wrong.
A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is often called a “mini stroke.” That’s a stupid term designed to avoid panic in patients and families. Take no crap on this; it’s a stroke. A blood clot in your brain’s vasculature cuts off downstream circulation and for a bit that part of your brain gets no oxygen. No tissue dies and generally there are no lasting effects. It’s only that in silence you’ve become much more likely to have a(nother) vascular brain injury than ever before.
Recently a friend posted some photos from a gathering in the year preceding that overenthusiastic thyme harvest. My then-fiancé and I attended but I was late because I was exhausted and slightly confused. I’d woken up in the middle of the night for no reason; my tongue felt fat and I couldn’t think. I said thickly to my fiancé “I feel weird,” but dropped back off to sleep. I woke up exhausted, drove to the gathering and on the way drove the front passenger tire off the road into a ditch.
Today that day and a few days after are hard-to-impossible to access in my memories. There’s just a hole. I only remember feeling completely sleepy and thickheaded. I don’t remember the pictures, but there I am.
In the last few years, various official bodies have updated guidelines for prescribing hormonal birth control. Patients who should be excluded include smokers, illegal drug users, and those with a history of strokes in their own or genetic family members’ history. The update included people who’ve had certain kinds of migraines which have visual effects. I’d had a couple in college. This update would come out after Night of the Terrible Thyme Puns.


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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.