I am 34 years old, and up until last year, I had been on the Birth Control Pill for the last 12 years.
I stopped taking the Pill after a series of information started to “make it’s way” to me.
Since doing some reading on the Pill and how it affects us, I believe I dropped the ball on my health on this one.
Since I was 20, I was ingesting hormones labeled as OK by the medical community and accepted by society as a form of birth control, without even having a second thought on what this could actually mean for my overall health.
And I mean overall health – I’m not talking about an STD (pill or no pill, no one should be having sex without condoms unless you’re in a long-term relationship and both partners are monogamous and have been tested).
When I saw my doctor for my first ever prescription for the Pill, I did the standard safety question thing, “Are there any side effects?”
And she said matter-of-factly, “Weight gain, bloatedness, a little emotional…”
I felt I did my part asking the safety question and after deciding I could deal with those side effects, so began a decade-long journey, of which I have to say, I’m glad has come to an end.
For those 12 years, I was very happy on the Pill as I didn’t experience any of the three things the doctor listed (well nothing out of the ordinary). She had also stressed that she was putting me on a very low dose Pill, so “not to worry too much”.
As for things like blood clots which I was aware of, I settled by reasoning that out as a rare event, and so I immediately dismissed myself from that statistic.
But on the whole, I never experienced any real problem with the Pill. I was quite happy to be on it because it was so convenient. In fact, my periods got lighter (I would bleed for only a few days and a panty liner was sufficient) and to me this was a benefit! There was no reason to stop.
But then, in the last half of last year, for some reason I started seeing things about the Pill. Several media coverages on it found its way to me. The facts I read lingered and started playing in my mind.
The first one was about a woman who said the Pill nearly killed her.
She had suffered a blood clot in the lung. In the article she mentioned that the likelihood of a blood clot for a woman who’s not on birth control pills is two or three for every 10,000 but eight or nine for every 10,000 for those who are.
These odds increase if you smoked, have a sedentary lifestyle, or have a genetic clotting disorder, which it later turned out this lady had.
After reading that article, I started to challenge how much we trust medication or treatments and allow certain things to go into our body just because someone says it’s alright and that the odds of anything going wrong is “there, but very slim”.
I can understand if I’m going in to the hospital with a clot and they have to give me drugs to thin it. Yes, in that instance that’s a risk I want to take to see if my life can be spared.
But was I making a mistake about my health by electively take in drugs or hormones that could actually be an additional contributor to potentially causing a clot or something else harmful simply so that I can avoid getting pregnant?
It just didn’t make sense to me that I was taking a risk with my health like this (and there were other health risks apart from blood clots). It seemed very one-sided from a gender perspective for the sake of getting off on simple pleasures without dealing with the “baby repercussion”. Women were taking the risks here.
And then as I was pondering on this thought after reading the article, I stumbled upon this 2-minute video below which then got me thinking about a host of other possible side effects I might not have been thinking about as well – our psychological state.
The video also got me thinking about PMS and crazy bouts. Another reason why I thought the Pill was working on me was because I felt like I wasn’t going crazy or losing my mind. I didn’t have days where I had so much unexplainable rage that I wanted to kill someone. To me, that was PMS. Perhaps that’s how I perceived society and the media’s projection of it.
But after watching the video, I did realize that at least once a month (not necessarily near my period) I would have, “I’m so tired of this all I want to get away from everyone” days and I would keep to myself for a day or two. I wouldn’t feel like talking or going out, and would do certain things to lift my mood like listen to Dusty Springfield songs all night as I enjoyed a few glasses of wine or bubbly. Alone. No company please.
I would also find certain things particularly irritable (randomly), whether I actually had an outward reaction or not. Things would bug me and I would suppress it.
Then more articles found its way to me – articles of how the Pill affects how we select and feel about our partners; women finding their husbands more or less attractive after getting off the Pill, experiencing increased libido when there was none for a long time since being on the Pill, general feeling of happiness…
Finally I found this article which sealed the deal on getting off it. It was about the six things your period can tell you about your health – once I got to number four on the list (frequency of your period) I was sold.
When we get our periods, how heavy they are, the regularity of which they happen, spotting in between periods, etc. are all overall health indicators for us women. Here I was happy to have light periods and to be able to predict and control when I could get my periods, when on the other hand I actually had no indicator or idea as to how my overall reproductive system and general health was doing on its own.
I was muting one way my body could speak to me.
And so I decided to stop. Something didn’t seem right about taking hormones anymore. That’s how I saw the Pill. Hormone manipulation.
I could think of a few things that felt off with me as well perhaps as a result of hormones, and I thought it was time to finally get off the Pill and see if I felt different, if things got better.
I started to wonder who I was – what if all my emotions and decisions were all influenced by the Pill? After all, I’d been on the Pill since I was 20 – I honestly couldn’t even remember what it was like to be without it.
So I decided to stop. Maybe I was being influenced by everything I was reading, but I decided getting off it wouldn’t cause any harm at all. After all, I was going back to the way nature intended – that couldn’t hurt.
The first thing I noticed was my boobs got sore. They were so tender and achy – I couldn’t even run my hand against it in the shower. Putting a bra on was a little ouch. It was a though I was a teenager again and my breasts were developing. That kind of tender.
It was a bit bizarre – it wasn’t like my boobs were actually indeed getting bigger though!
This lasted a couple of months, and is now completely gone, and I do get the occasional tenderness before my period arrives but it’s nothing out of the ordinary. I still question what that initial bout of pain was, but that just validated to me that something unnatural was happening before and this is probably how my body was adjusting without the hormone manipulation.
I also discovered that my periods were on time without the Pill. When I first got off the Pill, I got my period in 26 days. Then it was 27. Now I’m at a regular cycle – 28 days on the dot. That was a huge relief to me. I worked, yay!
But the other big shift was how OK I suddenly felt about everything. I mean I generally am OK about life, but just like everyone else, I would have these ups and down days, and I’d have to manage certain thoughts and emotions. Without the Pill though, it was easier to be happy, and suddenly things that would annoy or bug me before, was suddenly laughable.
It was a huge shift. I was having emotional clarity and the weight of my cares became significantly lighter. Don’t get me wrong, I still have ups and down days – trying to juggle it all is tough, but it’s not so bad anymore.
It’s as though an invisible pressure has dissipated.
And then there was also finding my husband even more attractive (the scruffier the better), and the increased libido I was experiencing. It was all adding up – I was feeling great all around. Thank you Nature.
I’m so glad I made this choice, and I do urge women to think about this as well. We all understand why the Pill is there and the need it serves. I get it. But I want to raise the question for most of us who take it as a lifestyle choice: “Is it really worth it?”
The most important thing is that we own our health. If we’re going to ingest something, be it the Pill or other supplementation for health or weight or whatever, do the research.
Understand and own what you’re about to put your body through, and most importantly, if something is nagging within you that tells you it might not feel right, listen. Don’t let anyone tell you that any supplement will be great for you without you fully deciding and owning that for yourself.
Your body, your rules.
Have you been on and off the Pill and noticed anything different? Share your thoughts with us!