In this article I want to talk about the birth control pill and why you shouldn’t take it. I will tell you about my own experiences and I hope this will make you think about your choice of contraceptives. At first I will tell you about my journey taking the pill and in the second half of this article I will tell you about my journey without taking the pill. You can read everything or just the part you’re most interested in.
TAKING THE PILL
When I was 17 I started to take the birth control pill. I did this for 2 reasons. My main reason was to not get pregnant. I was in a serious relationship and not the biggest condom fan. Buying condoms cost money too and the birth control pill I could get for free. So it seemed to be a good choice. My mum was on it, from since I can remember and many other people I knew were too. I didn’t see any harm in it, but almost saw it as a next step in life. My hope was also to get rid of my acne. I struggle with acne since I was about 12/13 years old and don’t we all want smooth skin? So that was my second reason
and the main reason I went for the Diane-35. I heard good things about it, in terms of skin clearing up. I think I took the Diane-35 for about 1-2 years, but my breasts were so sensitive and painful. It already started 1-2 weeks before I’d get my period and that wasn’t ideal. Also my skin didn’t clear up. It maybe got a little better, but I could hardly tell the difference. So I went to the doctors to discuss a different brand. I then swapped the Diane-35 for the Yasmin. The Yasmin is a lighter pill, but apparently would still be beneficial for my skin. After a few months my breast were less painful, but my skin still looked the same. I did feel better being on this pill though and so I sticked with it. For many years..
But then more and more articles popped up, saying how bad it is. Of course in the back of my head I knew this, but I also loved the pill as it gave me security and I liked the fact that I knew exactly what day my period would start and that I could control it in that way. But when I was 27 I stopped taking it. Which means that I took the pill for 10 years straight! That is fairly long and this, together with being curious of what would happen, is why I thought it was time to stop. I wasn’t in a relationship at that time and didn’t have any interest being in one any time soon, so perfect timing. Only you can’t plan love and half a year later I met a guy I really liked and I started thinking about taking it again. It actually was just in the end of all the worst side effect symptoms going away, but being in love and really seeing a future with this guy, I thought, I could just take it temporarily. I still had some pill strips left and so I started taking it again. This time I really had a proper love-hate relationship with the pill though. I loved the security, but every time I put it in my mouth I actually didn’t want to swallow it. It didn’t feel right to take hormones that will change something in my body. I like being healthy and living a healthy lifestyle. Taking the birth control pill felt like doing the opposite. It didn’t align with me at all. Also, the birth control pill isn’t vegan and that really bothered me too.
It was 7 months later when my mum send me some articles about how dangerous the birth control pill can be. My mum stopped taking them a few years ago as she had horrible migraines and it turned out it was because of the pill. I actually tried to avoid the articles she send me. I just wanted to be ignorant. Though, the articles my mum was talking about were about people dying from it. I know the people who died didn’t only die because of taking the pill, but it did play a big part in their death. This woke me up! Back to condoms it was, but I also started to do some research about natural birth control. About keeping track of what your body is telling you. This way you can find out on what days you’re fertile and on what days you’re not. I mostly learned this from the book: ‘Taking Charge of you Fertility’, written by Toni Weschler, MPH. I love this book, because even tough I knew quite a lot about my cycles, it really helped understanding my body even more. I recommend everyone with a cycle/period, to read it. Even if you’re not interested in birth control, it still teaches you a lot about how it all works. This book is not only for preventing pregnancy btw, it is also helpful for couples who are trying to get pregnant instead. A must read!
Researching natural birth control, obviously led me to the Lady Comp too. This little machine really intrigues me. In the book ‘Taking Charge of your Fertility’ you learn how to chart manually, but the Lady Comp does this for you, digitally. The only thing you need to do is put the thermometer in your mouth, every single morning at the same time. This Lady Comp does the rest and will tell you exactly what days you’re good to go and what days you need to use a condom. I would love to try this, because it seems like a great solution for everyone who does not want to put hormones in their bodies any longer. I never got really into charting my cycles properly, because unfortunately my relationship ended and not getting pregnant wasn’t a priority any more. This doesn’t mean I’m not interested anymore, because even not being intimate with somebody, I love the fact that you can learn about your cycles, learn why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling and how your body works. I think this is basic knowledge everyone should know about. They should definitely teach this at school.
STOPPING THE PILL
The last day I took the birth control pill was the 9th of July 2017. The day I decided I was not going to take them any longer, I was on my period (that started the 13th of July), so I simply didn’t start a new strip (but in case you want to stop, you can stop at any time you want). I knew from the last time that there will be side effects. I just hoped that they wouldn’t be as obvious this time. I only took them for about half a year this time. I decided to keep a little journal until I get my first pill-free period, so I can keep track of the side effects that I noticed in the first few weeks. I did this for myself, but I thought it might help you to get an idea of what can happen if you’d stop too. Just remember that everybody is different and that your body might react in a different way. Also, it will take about 1,5-2 years before all the hormones effecting you are no longer in your body.
Today I experienced some heatwaves. It happens in the days before and around my ovulation and I clearly remember this from the last time I stopped taking the pill. It used to be quite bad at times, even up to the point I felt dizzy.
I did not experience any side effects so far anymore. I did have some heatwaves, but as I’m in Mallorca this week and it’s 35 degrees every day, it’s trickier to notice. I will have my ovulation around now, so the next time I might experience something different, will probably be just before or whilst I’m on my period. I’m planning my detox now, because this will help to get rid of those nasty hormones in my body. I’m super excited for this.
In a few days or maybe the end of this week I will probably have my period. This is the first period after I stopped taking the pill. I can notice I’m near, because I was very tired yesterday and today (I always have this a few days before my period). I’m also getting lots of spots, more than I had being on the pill. When being on the pill, the week before my period my skin was actually always at its best. So this must be a reaction too. I’m confident that it will be better later on.
I still didn’t get my period, what is odd as I did experience the symptoms I normally have before my period starts. My body might just be a little confused. The last time I stopped I got my period on the exact day I’d normally get my period. This time it’s later and here are some possible reasons why: because around my ovulation I was traveling + I was more stressed because of ending my relationship and because it’s the first period without taking pills.
Today I’m super tired. I feel like staying in my bed and sleeping all day long. Also a few times I had some very painful stitches in my tummy. I have a lot of water retention, my ankles are swollen and my tummy feels tensed. A lot more than on my pill-periods. Hopefully this will all go as soon as my period is here.
Today, in the late evening, I got my first period. This means my first pill-free cycle was 36 days.
My period was quite normal the first few days. I did have a slight tummy ache on the first day, but I was almost happy to feel this. I know for some girls it can be hell, but it’s also natural. Today I can already notice it’s a little less, what is normal for my 3rd day. I can’t notice that my periods are heavier, but then this is only the first one.
So that was my first period. I didn’t want to keep a journal longer than that, because it would just be repeating myself. I can tell you that the heatwaves were a lot less around my second ovulation and gone by the 3rd. I remember from the fist time I stopped the pill that I had heatwaves really badly for a few months, in the first month I couldn’t even go to work one day. So that is interesting, because it looks like it’s a little easier this time, I can’t say for sure why that is. It could be that it’s because there are less hormones now, because I stopped before, but it could also be because my body knows what to do this time or maybe it’s the things I ate that had an effect too. I can’t tell, because I’m not a doctor. I’m just happy that it’s effecting me less this time.
The following months..
Something that did get worse, is my skin. I have more outbreaks and a lot of redness. I can now slowly start to see it’s getting a bit better again though. This is also because I’m trying new things, trying to make it better. I might do a separate article about skin if you like (let me know).
Fatigue & Cravings
When I was taking the pill I was always struggling with horrible fatigue for 1 day, exactly 2 days before my period (as this was mostly a Tuesday, I named it Tired-Tuesday). Even though it was awful, as I couldn’t put my foot in front of the other one and I just wanted to lay down all day long, it was such a good indicator. I still get tired, but it lasts 1-2 days now instead of just one day, with some ups and downs. I know I can manage it a little bit if I watch my food intake (more raw and lighter meals), but we all know that watching your food intake before and during your period is as hard as running a marathon on your hands! I can’t say my cravings are better or worse now. I think it’s quite the same still.
I never had really bad cramps before starting the pill, I basically didn’t have any during and now I that stopped taking the pil, I have a little bit of cramps only on the first day of my period. I never take any medicine, but I just take it easy that day and sometimes use a hot water bottle (this really helps). The funny thing is that I’m almost happy to feel it, because it means that my body is going back to its natural state again. I’m sure everyone with a period gets period cramps or at least knows how they feels. Some people have it really badly and it’s complete hell. Many doctors actually recommend the pill, because the pill can definitely make it better. But before you do this, please try different methods first though. I know it can get really bad in it can really effect your every day life, but cramps are natural. Try to make it better (don’t focus on it going away completely, because in many cases it won’t) with natural remedies, before you decide to take the pill.
This is really bothering me and being on the pill definitely made it worse. The week before my period my ankles were always more swollen (they’re always a little swollen since I started the pill) and my tummy always felt so tensed as well, that it was hurting and I was having trouble bending over. I can now see that my ankles are a little less swollen in general, but just before my period the water retention is actually worse than being on the pill. Luckily it goes away as soon as I’m on my period.
Being on the pill makes your cycles very precise. I loved this about the pill. Now my cycles are always a little different, but because I know my body a little better and I’m learning more every time, I can now recognise some symptoms and still kind of know when my period will come. It’s very normal to have longer and shorter cycles. The length of your cycle depends on when you ovulate. Your ovulation is a ‘funny thing’, because it will never be on the same day. It’s very sensitive. Whenever you’re stressed or when you’re traveling around the time you would normally ovulate, it will wait until you’re less stressed or when you finished traveling. So it can happen that your ovulation will be a whole week later. This means your cycle is longer, because the days between your ovulation and your period are alway the same. My cycles since I stopped taking the pill: 36 days, 28 days, 39 days (I was traveling before my ovulation), 36 days, 33 days, 36 days. As you can see my cycles are mostly over 30 days. This is totally normal. Many people think that they are overtime after 28 days, but everyone has a different cycle and it’s completely normal. Normal natural cycles can be up to 40 days.
I never ever want to go back taking the pill. In fact I’m so done with it, that I threw away the 4 strips that were left. I want to focus on new methods that are not harmful for your body, like the Lady Comp (there are many other brands as well). Putting hormones in your body isn’t something you should consider if you’re looking for a contraceptive.
Are you taking birth control pills? Or any other form of hormone contraceptive? What is your experience? Are you thinking about stopping too? Share your experience, so we can help each other and create awareness! You can do this by leaving a comment down below or via IG (@freedomevermore : tag me and I will tag your story). Thank you! X