Do you remember my boob sweat story? The part about the doctor who told me I could cure my chonic anxiety and depression by going to church more? Well, she did. And at the time, I was in such a state, that I was focusing on making sure SHE wasn’t uncomfortable more than my own great need for help (the non church variety, mind you).

After this meeting I never saw her again. I never went to have another physical at Kaiser, instead I moved to Seattle and started seeing a fabulous doctor there. And then I moved back, hooked onto Kamel’s insurance and landed back at the obnoxious Mcdonalds-of-healthcare-Kaiser. Whatever, it was insurance. And! For the first time in a year! I wasn’t paying gobs and gobs of money for my birth control. Wahooo!!

Last month I went to get my 3 month of yaz refill, only to discover my doctor was holding them hostage. She said I had to schedule a pap or else she wouldn’t refill further, AND that she was giving me a prescription of yasmin as a courtesy. Well fuck you very much, doctor lady. But what was I to do? It was all they were willing to offer me when I went to pick up my *surprise* prescription, so I took it and left.

Immediately from the start of the months cycle I knew something was up. That whole first week I was snippy and anxious. Every morning I was pissed at Kamel for no particular reason. Every day at work I was jumpy – thinking lint was a bug, or getting offended and paranoid by insignificant remarks. By week two I was having all of those symptoms AND my boobs were killing me. They were super swollen and ached non stop. It was during this second week when I realized I basically had been having pms from the get-go of these pills. A little twittering, a little googling, and I discovered yasmin has MORE estrogen than yaz. Frustrating, considering I was on yaz in the first place to cut the awful physical symptoms of pms (massive bloating, the boob thing, and spiked anxiety), and here I was having an entire month of pms. Awesome. Let’s plan a wedding on top of that, shall we?

So, towards the end of the second week I was completely fed up and went home from work to schedule an appointment for the vagina and kick my current doctor to the curb. That appointment was supposed to be today, but since yasmin has longer period cycles than yaz (by 3 days), I had to cancel due to … uhh… complications.

So, I called kaiser yesterday to get a rescheduled appointment, but of COURSE they didn’t have anything that wasn’t in the middle of the GD day until May. Nothing before 9am and nothing after 4pm, meaning I would have to take work off – which means I don’t get paid, which we really can’t afford at the moment. And not just one hour off, no no, it would be like 3 hours because I have to commute to San Jose. Gah. And I swear to god I got the stupidest telephone operator ever.

“What’s your name?”

“Lauren. L-A-U-”


“No, Lauren.”



“Oohhh… L-A-U-R-A-N?”


So now I’m waiting for the doctor to call me sometime today. But god knows what that will do. All I really want is a new prescription, but somehow that just seems too difficult.

My issues are these:
1) Since when is it ok for doctors to switch up a person’s perscritption without a) asking them about it or b) seeing them first.

2) Why do I have to be bleeding to death in order to get a reasonably timed appointment THIS MONTH. Kamel seems to be able to go to the doctor same day, for all of his phantom aches and pains, but me? Never. It’s always a 3 month wait. Grumble, health system! GRUMBLE! And now I’m on a full month of pms thank you very much, I’m likely to lose my fucking mind pretty soon. And for the love of god, don’t come within 3 feet of my boobs or I’ll chop your arm off.

37 thoughts on “Hormones”

  1. I have always thought it was crap that they force a woman to get a pap smear to get birth control. I understand that women don’t like pap smears and this is one way of getting them to come in for them, but it feels like trickery and that because I’m a woman they must hold my birth control hostage to get a prescription. Like I won’t take care of my own health unless I’m threatened with with pregnancy. Ugh.

    I have found some walk-in clinics will give you a new prescription for birth control, no questions asked and no pap smear required. Would your insurance cover a walk-in clinic?

  2. Ohhh you poor, poor thing. I just had serious PMS for the first time in a really LONG time (I have the Mirena) so I semi-feel your pain right now. Sorry you’re having a tough time of it – hope you get a great lady-doctor at your next appt.

  3. I have no insurance right now so…no doctor and no birth control. It sucks. I also went through the same thing when my old insurance raised the cost of brands and my old BC didn’t come in generic. I seriously thought I was having a mental breakdown, like legitimately worried about being committed at one point. It was that bad. Thank god I realized it was the increased hormones and got it switched to something else.

  4. This pisses me off for two reasons:

    1. A little warning, please? You went back in for a refill and she said no. Um, bullshit. If they HAVE to hold it hostage (which is a whole other problem), they should have you schedule right then and there, and provide you with a prescription that will cover you until that appointment … be that 1 week or 3 months from now … you know, the way you do it with EVERY OTHER DAILY MEDICATION EVER.

    Oh, and what if you were one of the people who uses birth control to help with other issues (endomitriosis for example) … where, you know, switching or going off for a while can impact your health? What a bitch that doctor was.


    2. The switching brands without consulting you is NOT ok. I know many many many women who tried 6 or 7 brands before finding a good fit … so, to switch it up? Eff that.

    Then again, this is Kaiser we’re talking about. The ones that told a friend who was violently miscarrying to “wait it out at home” and when we insisted she see a doctor (we were at the ER) was told to “contact her regular doctor and make an appointment”. Regular doctor was on vacation and no one else would help. We ended up taking her to a non-Kaiser hospital where she got the care she needed. It still pisses me off.

  5. When I didn’t have insurance I relied on Planned Parenthood for my prescriptions. Not only do they have a sliding fee scale that is based on your income, they have most forms of birth control in their office (from what I remember). I found my now favorite birth control based on a recommendation from a PP doc – low hormone, no weight gain, no moodiness. See what your options are and look up Yasmin & Yaz I’ve heard some things about their side effects that make them sound pretty nasty. I’m sorry things are sucky, hopefully the get better sooner rather than later.

  6. this is SERIOUSLY not ok. as a physician myself i can say i would NEVER do this. and the terrible thing is that crummy doctor who switched your prescription knew that the hormone levels were different. she should have at least warned you if she was going to be such a b!&Ch.

    birth control is such a huge scam to begin with. how about the fact that insurance will pay for viagra, but the copay on birth control is outrageous…

    sorry for your troubles, and with PMS on top of it!! hang in there.

  7. holy crap. again, your stories about kaiser horrify me! but I am totally happy with them! west coast kaiser sucks ballz.

    I was on yasmin for a while and didn’t have such extreme issues but it definitely threw my emotions for a loop, and I had the boob pain sometimes! sorry you’re going through thissss!

  8. Oh my god, don’t even get me started on OB/GYNs. I had never had a single good experience with them until I started going to this wonderful midwife last year. She is the greatest thing since sliced bread and would never consider changing my birth control without telling me. (My pharmacist, on the other hand, did just that a few months ago, but to a different generic, which worked out just fine.)

    The thing that made me decide “no more lady doctors ever again only nurses for me please” was this horrible story: I went for my annual exam two years ago to a new doctor. The appointment took three months to get, and when I finally was in there, I waited an hour to see her for approximately 4 minutes. Then, a few days later, she called to tell me I had chlamydia, and then when I said, “But I’ve only ever had sex with one person! Maybe it’s a false positive?” she said, “Well, he’s cheated on you. False positives don’t happen. Call him.” And so then I cried and yelled at Roger in my office for a half hour, who assumed I’d cheated on him, since he knew he hadn’t cheated on me. So then he gets tested (a process significantly worse for men than for women) and it comes back clean, and both of us take antibiotics for a week just in case, and he is ever more convinced that I must have cheated on him. I have to wait a month for my follow up, and during this time, I convince myself, because I have absolutely no memory of sleeping with any other person in my entire life, that my dentist must have raped me while I was unconscious and getting my wisdom teeth out earlier that year. Roger and I spend hours on the phone everyday (because we live five hours apart) discussing how horrible the situation is but how we are going to get through it. I cry every single day. Every. Single. Day. When I go in for my follow up, I cry to the doctor and say, “His test came back clean” and she says, “Did you see it yourself? He’s probably lying about it.” and I say, “Even if it was positive, we use condoms every time.” and she raises her eyebrows in suspicion, and I say, “I think my dentist raped me.” It is only at this point, after a month of agony, that she agrees to my near-constant pleas that it might have been a false-positive, and agrees to give me a test to see if I have any of the antibodies that prove it was in your system at some point, and smugly says, “I’m just warning you, you might not like what comes back.” She calls a week later, says, “I have good news, it looks like you were right! False positive. Funny how that happens sometimes, isn’t it?” UM, NO, CRAZY DOCTOR WHO DOESN’T TRUST ME AND MAKES ME AND MY BOYFRIEND OF HALF-A-DECADE NOT TRUST EACH OTHER EITHER. IT ISN’T FUNNY AT ALL. Then she said goodbye without apologizing at all, thus convincing me I would never be able to have a baby because I could never go to the ob/gyn again.

    That was a novel, but I felt I needed to tell it. I hear your angsty-hormonal rage against women’s healthcare. I hear it loud and clear.

    1. ok first, you totally win the horrible story game (WAY TO SHOW ME UP!) hehe. But jesus H christ. Was there some way to report her? I mean, oh my god… talk about the worst experience of your life. And to think your dentist raped you!! That is the ultimate mind fuck.

      and it kind of made me laugh – in a hindsight kind of way – that you would think your dentist raped you because that’s so something that I would do, and then later feel totally ridiculous for thinking, and then for years later kamel would be making fun of me because “dude, you totally thought your dentist raped you.” hahaha…. possibly not at all funny in real life, possibly only funny in my mind. ha!

      1. Yeah, the overall experience was awful, and still isn’t really funny two years later, but I definitely laugh about the dentist thing. He’s one of the nicest guys ever, and has done oral surgery on my whole family and many of my friends, and is actually a wonderful surgeon who I would never have suspected of something like that otherwise. Even then, I was a skeptical he would do something so horrible… but what else could it have been?! Oh, right. My first idea all along.

  9. DUDE. I am so pissed for you. I thought about switching to Yaz because I’m pretty sure I get PMDD (my body goes bananas, I ALWAYS think I’m probably pregnant right before my period comes because everything is so puffy and painful and weird) but it’s pretty expensive and complicated to switch. I’ve been on the pill since I got my first period (it was rough), so for over 10 years. In that time, I’ve switched around only twice, and it was miserable both times. I feel you.


    1. Hey, I don’t know if it helps, but Yaz has a generic right now. I got switched to it (by my insurance company) when it became available and although I HATE generics for things like birth control (just enough of that variance can jack you up), this one seems to work okay.
      But I never had the physical symptoms, just the emotional changes, so I don’t know if that helps….

      1. I LOVE yaz. I’m on the evil yasmin right now and all I want is to be switched baaaaaack. For whatever reason, my good doctor (in seattle) took me off the generic and said specifically to do the brand name… dunno why but I trust that woman with my vagina. haha

        1. So I think someone said this below – but have you had a serious chat with a *proper* (ie, not borderline professionally negligent) doctor about the ramifications of Yaz and Yasmin?

          It sounds like your doctor is fairly shit, to put it mildly (seriously, there are major risks with changing someone’s prescriptions, doing it without even telling them is mental). And if that is the case more generally, I’d be worried that she wasn’t giving you the full lowdown on the drugs themselves.

          The background to the question is that I was on Yasmin and then Yaz for less than a year and as a direct result ended up with a massive Deep Vein Thrombosis near my left hip.

          I’m slim, active, not and never been a smoker, no family history – just the change in birth control. (Before that I was on Implanon which was awesome.)

          After the 8cm clot was under-warfarinised (my own negligent doctor story for another day) I ended up with a 40cm clot from my knee to my abdomen, growing swiftly upwards. Catheter-directed thrombolysis in the Intensive Care Unit followed, and the upshot is that I’ve got a stent in my iliac vein, I’m on warfarin for life, and I can never use hormonal birth control again.

          Needless to say, it was all a bit of a mindfuck – and it would have been even if it were just an awful accident.

          Turns out though that Yaz and Yasmin both carry a significantly increased risk of clotting, even if you aren’t in another risk group.

          I’m a lawyer, and pretty OCD *ahem* “risk averse” – and if I’d been told that up front, it might well have changed my choices. It made me SO ANGRY that it was never even mentioned – it was just the normal “not a smoker? fine, this is the one for you”.

          That’s unacceptable, but acknowledging that it happens a lot has made me more likely to really press my doctors about the risks of everything (plus, warfarin is contra-indicated with every single other drug and being on 15mg daily means I have to have some interesting conversations every time they prescribe something πŸ™‚

          So – please take my freaky tale into account, remember that it isn’t that freaky after all (apparently DVT is fairly common! who knew! I thought it was a bit like getting struck by lightning) and have a serious talk with a doctor.

          Finally, if she won’t take you seriously and actually talk to you about stuff, change doctors. Do whatever it takes to find someone who is so obsessively careful with your health that it actually starts to annoy you. Seriously. Even in Australia, with great medical care, last year cost me $10,000+ in health stuff. It’s not worth it. (and the pain! they never tell you DVT hurts, either)

      2. that does help! thanks Alyssa, I’ll look into it. I’ve got my yearly BC-ransom pap coming up πŸ™‚ and Lauren, thanks for the yaz recommendation

        1. hahaha I love that we’re all now calling it the BC ransom pap. And to think – all of these years I have been feeling SO guilty about it all, and really – it’s just the lame ass peice of shit example of women’s health care. Eyes are open.

  10. Dude. That sucks. They totally changed your perscription WITHOUT TELLING YOU??? What the fuck!? I’m pretty sure that is NOT okay. And ditto to what Sarah said; so many women go through a ton of brands before they find one that doesn’t make them crazy (I got lucky and had a good fit the first brand that I tried). Geez, what assholes.

    I’m really sorry you have to deal with this crap πŸ™ And ouch to the boob pain.

  11. You can go to PP and get a percription same visit without a physical if you have one scheduled. Call first and ask, but they carry almost all the big brands of BC. They will ususally give you several months at a time too. Might help and make things easier until you have time to get to a Dr.

    And I’m with kaiser. They originally had me at the wrong location, but I was able to call and switch to one closer to my house. (Im a SF person too!) They have an office in the city, one in Daly City, and then a few further south.

    Hope this helps!

    1. Yes, I was also going to suggest PP.

      I think you should call this dr. lady and say, “Listen lady, my boobs hurt. I’m moody and jumpy. I’m not to be trifled with. Get me an appointment. Now.”

      What a frustrating experience!

  12. Get a different dr if at all possible. I am working to get off of hormonal bc (go IUD) but very carefully and only if it’s okay for my body. The dr here was awful, just essentially poked a finger inside of me and said “get back on hormones.” I left there and sobbed because I felt so un-listened-to and marginalized as a female (male dr who was clearly uncomfortable discussing a period).

    NOT okay about the switching of your prescription. I’m pro-planned-parenthood because they need our support and are always respectful of your choices.

    1. Yes. I switched immediately and am seeing a new doctor NEXT WEEK WEEEE!!! I just got the voicemail!! So hopefully this will be better. And planned parenthood is awesome, but with kaiser you have to keep it in the family as far as cost goes. So we shall see. I’ve heard amazing things about kaiser, just none of those amazing things have been my experiences. So… yeah.

  13. Oh. My. God. I think I almost had an aneurysm reading this, Lauren. (And the subsequent comments.) Women’s health is so obviously a low priority in our country when the comments to posts like these are always filled with horror stories.

    I was on Kaiser for several years and now get university insurance/healthcare through my grad program. It’s such an amazing difference. (Also, our on-campus health center has nurse practitioners conduct paps and do basic OB-GYN stuff… and I really prefer it. NPs are just trained so differently and I feel like they have a more caring/personal approach.)

    1. Yes. My gynecological care in college far surpassed what I receive now – basically now it translates to if I’m not pregnant, they couldn’t care less. Babies = $$$$

  14. How awful. I think it’s pretty disgusting to withhold birth control to force you to get a smear. It is important, but there are conditions that can make a smear test a tiny bit difficult, although in fairness they also make the thing you need the birth control for a tiny bit difficult too. Unless of course you’re taking the birth control for health! Which makes it even worse to withhold it. And changing your prescription without telling you? And you’re paying for this.

  15. UGH I had the same thing happen to me! First, they suddenly announce my prescription is “expired” and I can’t get birth control without a pap. Ok, fine. Then, AFTER the doctor’s appointment, I go to the pharmany to pick up my prescription, and they have given me NOT Yaz, but the generic version of Yasmin. NOT THE SAME THING!

    And also, regarding getting quicker appointments–have you thought of seeing a physician’s assistant instead of a doctor? I started doing this a few years ago and haven’t looked back. They can do almost everything a doctor can, but the wait time for an appointment is MUCH shorter.

  16. This is going to make me sound all smug and British and oh-our-healthcare-and-benefits-are-SO-great-and-isn’t-life-on-our-backward-little-island-SO-awesome, but hey, I’m just going to own it: the two things that struck me about your post weren’t the two things you listed. They were:

    1. You have to pay for birth control?

    2. You have to take UNPAID time off work to go to the DOCTOR??

    I have read a few posts recently from American women who have just have kids having to go back to work like six weeks later for financial reasons, and some who don’t get any paid maternity leave AT ALL – add this to your post, and it all just seems (to an outsider who admittedly knows relatively little about the history and culture that underlies the American healthcare/benefits system) totally messed up. Does it not enrage you?

    (oh, and 3 – they hold your birth control ransom until you have a smear test? WTF??!)

    1. I’m Australian and was immediately struck by exactly the same things, and that you can’t choose which doctor you go to! People complain about the medical system here, but really we have it good. I was horrified about the 6 week maternity leave thing too – but that is for another day.

      I had so much trouble on the pill Lauren – all the issues you describe. I honestly can’t imagine being changed over. If she was giving you a courtesy script, why couldn’t she have made it for the same thing?

      Could you go off it for a while and use condoms? It’s a pain, but you might feel better!

  17. I got an IUD 2 1/2 years ago.

    1 1/2 years ago, I went for my 1 year pap checkup. I waited 45 min in the waiting room for an appt. I made ONE YEAR IN ADVANCE. I then went into the exam room, and waited an additional half hour. My appointment was all of 10 min long.

    My doctor asks me TWICE when my last period was. TWICE, I had to remind him, that HE inserted my Minera, which stops periods.

    It was obnoxious. I elected not to return to them. I haven’t had time to make an annual appointment (was going to just go to my PCP at my regular physical, but I’m overdue on that, too), so I haven’t transferred my records.

    THEY SENT ME A LETTER AND TOOK THE LIBERTY OF MAKING AN APPOINTMENT FOR ME. I guess when you can’t hold your birth control hostage, this is what is done?

    Why, you ask? Because “their records indicated” I hadn’t been there in over 3 years. Never mind that it’s been LESS THAN THREE YEARS since I got the damn Mirena!

    I left them a scathing voicemail canceling the appointment. I haven’t heard from them since.

  18. I’m not one to fear monger – but Yaz and yasmin are pretty much the devil. They royally messed up my body, and caused my 27 year old cousin to have a stroke. She’s ok, but it was effing scary. I try to warn every woman I know! Glad you are moving onto a different kind!

  19. oh my god I am glad I dont live in America. The whole drama you all speak of confuses me!

    I call my GP today and make an appointment to see her tomorrow or the next day (and its usually able to be at a time that suits me for work, so I just finish early / start late and make up the small amount of missed time later). She does my PAP smear as indicated, gives me my pill, discusses issues before changing prescriptions and ALSO does all the other things a Dr should do, like prescribing antibiotics for my chest infections.

    All for about $30NZ a visit (about $20US). And one variant of each type of BC pills are government subsidised, so I pay $3 for 6 months prescription. Worth that small cost I have to say!

    I had to change my birth control two years ago, because new research revealed that I was contra-indicated for what I was taking. To avoid stuffing up my system entirely, my lovely GP gave me a three month prescription for what I was already on, and some literature and told me to call in and leave a message with what I would like to move on to and she would have the prescription written up that day.

    Sorry, but I really love my GP. I’ve never had a truly bad GP (and I’ve seen a LOT of them because I’ve moved towns a lot).

    I really pity you all who have had such bad experiences…

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