There’s so much buzz around pregnancy prevention these days, and I’m certain it’s partially due to our current administration.
Regardless of what the media talks about, the choices we make as women for our own body is not something to be taken lightly.
The birth control methods we are able to choose from, hormonal or not, can change so many aspects of our bodies – things we might not even notice.
This is why it is so important to stay educated about birth control and family planning. Although the information I’m about to share with you is incredibly personal, I strongly believe it is necessary to talk about. Awareness is the first step of change.
My goal isn’t to change the birth control industry, but I do think that sharing my experience could help other women take the leap off of birth control if it’s something they are considering.
I read probably 15-20 blog posts myself from other women who decided to stop using birth control to know what to expect before I made my decision.
I really wanted to get off the pill, but I wanted to get insight as to how my periods and body might change.
Why I Stopped Taking The Pill
There are a few main reasons why I decided to get off the pill. First and foremost, I was diagnosed with depression about 6 months before I got off the pill.
My boyfriend and I think it had a lot to do with my job at the time, but since leaving that job, I have been feeling so much better.
It’s no secret that birth control is linked to depression – there is a lot of research proving it. That’s one of the main reasons why it’s more common for women to have depression than men.
In April 2016, I had my yearly pap smear. My results came back that I had a low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion. I know, what the hell does that mean?
Basically, I have HPV in a somewhat mild form. I was terrified when I got the call from the doctor. I have scoliosis, but besides that, I’ve never been diagnosed with any type of hidden ‘disease.’
HPV is the first stage of what leads to cervical cancer, so this news really freaked me out. At one point in my research, I found that taking the pill makes you 4 times more likely to develop cervical cancer. I think this is what put me over the edge to want to get off the pill.
What’s even worse about this is that I received all three Gardasil shots when I was a teenager. Gardasil is given to prevent HPV, so the fact I still got it drives me crazy.
Apparently, there are over 100 different types of HPV, and I guess Gardasil just prevents you from getting the worst kinds.
It is also common knowledge that the hormones in birth control can change many characteristics within your body such as acne, weight, cramps, and lighter or heavier periods.
I had also been on birth control since I was about 16 years old. I chose to start birth control because my periods were never regular. It really helped and I eventually got my period every 4 weeks on Wednesday.
It was great to be able to expect it and know if I’d get it while I was on vacation.
In my decision to go off of birth control, I wasn’t sure what would happen, but surprisingly enough, my periods have been regular the entire time since!
My Experience: Being Off The Pill
Now on to the effects I experienced after getting off of the pill.
I never took the monthly placebo pills, so technically I had already been off the pill for a week, but my body didn’t really know any better because it was used to having a week off in between week 3 and week 1 of the pack.
And for reference, I started my weeks on Monday. During week 1 I felt super normal for the first three days. On Thursday, my fourth day off the pill, I had upper abdominal cramps and a bad headache.
I was also very sad and emotional and broke out in a really abnormal spot on my face. That weekend I also experienced extra discharge, and it kind of looked like little white balls.
All of Week 2 I had sore nipples and felt super bloated. I meant to keep tracking how I felt every day, but I honestly felt so normal, I didn’t feel I had much to write down.
Everyone’s experience is different, but I was honestly expecting my experience to be much worse.
As far as my periods go, I have lower back pain that I didn’t have before, and terrible cramps for a day or two. When I was on birth control I never had cramps, so this has been an adjustment for me.
I feel like my flow has maybe been a little heavier as well, but nothing too noticeable (it’s not like I measured before and after!).
6 Months After Getting Off The Pill
It’s now been about 6 months since I got off the pill and I’m honestly feeling great!
It’s a great feeling to know I am hormone-free and it has given me the opportunity to learn so much about my body.
My partner and I aren’t at the stage in our lives where we are ready to have a baby, so as far as pregnancy prevention goes, let me share with you what we’re doing.
I do want to say that I have thought long and hard about getting the IUD. I have considered both hormonal and non-hormonal IUDs, however, I am honestly just too scared.
My partner is pro-IUD, but cmon, it’s not his body that has to endure 5 days or more of pain from the procedure! I have heard so many bad stories about IUDs – I just can’t bring myself to do it right now.
Anyways, I have mostly been tracking information about my mood, sex life, feelings, consumption, exercise, periods, and BBT (basal body temperature).
I use the app Glow to do this and it’s been super helpful in letting me know when I’m fertile, so basically, telling me when I can or can’t have sex.
My doctor actually told me that while the tracking I’m doing doesn’t hurt anything, you can pretty much count on being fertile between cycle days 8 and 18. The other days you’re more likely to be in the safe zone!
I do use a specific thermometer to take my BBT because it has to be an accurate reading with two digits after the decimal point. It’s only been 6 months, but so far I am still baby-free, so I must be doing something right!
No matter if you’re choosing to go on or off birth control, get the IUD, or start tracking BBT, I highly suggest talking to your partner before doing so.
I understand it is our final decision as a woman, but they need to be in the loop too.
When it comes to preventing pregnancy it takes two, not just you!