Let me start off by saying that I am not a doctor, this is just my personal story of why I stopped taking birth control and my decision for wanting to stop in the first place. Just because I stopped for certain reasons doesn’t mean that you should or that it’s the right decision for you. Always do what’s best for you and your health. Read this article as it is, an opinion piece.
Like most women living in a western country, I have been on birth control for years. It started when I was in college, which for many, is actually late to start birth control, at the age of 19.
I didn’t go on it because I was sexually active, instead, it was recommended to me by a doctor at my college campus because my period wasn’t perfectly consistent. Meaning, I still got my period with cramps and all the other fun side effects but not every 28 days on the mark.
I said yes, knowing I was one of few women who wasn’t on birth control.
I was put on one brand of pill right away, for three months. I was told that I needed to be on the drug for three months in order to let my body adjust and to see if it was working. I agreed to take this drug, having no idea what was really in it or why I was being prescribed one specific brand without question. I trusted that the doctor knew what was best for me.
Within two weeks I began experiencing crazy mood swings that I never had before. I have always been an emotional person but it was not normal for me to get depressed at 7PM every night on the dot. I took my pill at the same time every morning and it seemed that at 7PM was when the drug had a shift in my body and I felt the effects most strongly.
After three months I went back to the doctor and explained the nightly depression. She agreed that that wasn’t ideal and then switched me to another brand of pill. Only then did she pull out a clipboard and hand it to me with a pen, asking me to describe my emotions, my period and the effects I felt.
Why wasn’t I asked this in the beginning, before being put on one pill that every woman at my campus was put on to start? Did I really have to go through three months of side effects just because the campus had a deal with one birth control brand?
It seemed that was the case, but I trusted the doctor again when I switched to a new brand. And then again to another brand. After about a year I thought I found the right pill that worked for me so I continued taking it for a few more years, never questioning what I was putting into my body.
I thought it was normal because everyone else was on birth control. Not just as birth control but as a way to regulate periods, to stop acne, to ease cramps and more.
Not once did I question whether or not birth control was the right choice for me.
After a couple of years I went off of birth control. I wasn’t sexually active and I didn’t see why I needed it. Coming off of the pill sent my body into confusion with my periods coming on whenever they felt like it, my cramps were back worse than they had been ever and I didn’t want to deal with it.
I went back on birth control after my doctor suggested a new kind of birth control a few months later that I hadn’t heard of before. It was the Nuva Ring and it didn’t require me to take a pill every day where my body would experience a spike in hormones.
Instead, I inserted the ring into my vagina once, left it for three weeks and took it out for a week to have my period before inserting a new ring the next month.
It was easy, simple and had less hormones. I stayed on it for 7 years.
The only bad thing about it was that boys would be confused when they felt it with their fingers and would often take it out, like I was hiding something up there just for fun!
It wasn’t until I started working with a life coach did I ever even think about going off birth control. She suggested it but told me that it was obviously my choice. I thought about it and spoke to my doctor who asked “why would you go off of it?” like it was some insane idea.
I listened to my doctor as he is a trained medical professional and knows more about drugs than I do.
Fast forward six months and I was working with a new life coach who has a background in health, fitness and nutrition. She had me fill out a health questionnaire and on it I ticked yes in that box that asked if I was on birth control and wrote down any symptoms I feel on a regular basis.
I claimed that I often had brain fog, got extremely tired before my period and was quite moody.
On our first call she asked if I ever considered getting off birth control. She told me about her experience getting off of it and how she believed my brain fog could be linked to my Nuva Ring.
I did my own research online, mostly looking at Dr. Jolene Brighten, a doctor who’s book Beyond the Pill is dedicated to helping women balance their hormones without birth control, to find out what I could on my own.
I started questioning whether women really needed birth control as much as we’re told we do and how healthy it was to always have a drug in my body. Furthermore, I questioned how normal it was for me to literally always have something in my vagina, whether it was a Nuva Ring or a Diva Cup while I was on my period. It didn’t seem normal to me anymore.
This time I didn’t even bother asking my doctor, I already knew what his opinion was and I felt like I needed to experiment with myself and see. The next day I took out my Nuva Ring and never went back to birth control.
When I decided to stop taking birth control I my period five days later, even though I just had it the week before and I was mildly depressed for the first two days. It was rough but was told it was normal. My body was adjusting to not having a drug in its system.
What surprised me the most was not mood swings or anything that I expected, but a deep sense of connection with my body. Suddenly I could actually feel my ovaries. I could tell when I was going to get my period, I could feel my body more and understand it better.
Other side effects of stopping birth control included my sex drive coming back and my vibrator becoming my best friend again. But the cramps also came back, stronger than ever. And so did acne all along my jaw, which is something I had never had before.
My weight stayed the same but my boobs went up a cup size, despite what most information says, that most women’s chest actually gets smaller.
My period wasn’t regular for a few months but now, 6 months later, it’s normal and I track it using the Flo app, along with symptoms I feel throughout the month in order to better understand my body and my cycle.
As much as I dislike the cramps and acne, I would never go back on birth control after feeling so connected to my body again.
Birth control, though it wasn’t forced on me, I willingly accepted as a standard practice that is healthy for my body without ever being told what side effects there could be. I was only told how it would help, even though I didn’t necessarily need it and that there are other forms of birth control that don’t involve a drug continuously being put into my body.
I believe that birth control, for many women, suppresses our natural sexual urges, disconnects us from our bodies, our feelings and moods and dulls life.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want to live a dull life with my emotions suppressed. I’m here on earth to truly live my life to its fullest in my human form.
If you’re thinking about going off of birth control, from my personal experience I recommend it. Nothing can replace that deep connection with your body, which quite honestly has only helped my mood, overall happiness and mental health in ways that you just can’t measure.
I think it’s still wildly important that women, all women, are given the option to take birth control if they want to or need to.
But I also think it’s equally important that women are educated on the long term effects birth control can have. Unfortunately, there is little research done on this, which is a complete shame because millions of women are putting this drug into their body daily. We should be more aware of what it’s doing.
Birth control is an option, but it’s not a necessity.
I encourage you to question what you put into your body, whether a doctor says it’s okay or not, because at the end of the day it’s your body.
I chose to follow my gut and I got rewarded with an intense and deep connection with my body that is difficult to put into words but has done wonders for me.
To me, the most important connection you can have is to yourself, your mind, body and soul and if putting a drug in my body dulls that connection, it’s going to be a no from me.
I’m tired of being told what to do with my body just because I’m a woman. I was tired of feeling brain fog. I was curious about how I could feel without a drug. My curiosity lead me to a great discovery for myself and maybe it can lead you to one too.
If you’re interested in coming off of birth control, know that you can’t learn how to stop taking birth control pills safely. You just stop, which is what I did. But there will be side effects of stopping the pill after prolonged use, it’s just your body getting back into its natural rhythm and it’s normal to take months or longer.
My first period after stopping birth control was a little heavier and I had cramps more so than I usually did. But that was just me, it can differ for you.
I recommend reading more on Dr. Jolene Brighten’s site if you’re interested in learning more from a professional.
If this article does anything for you, I hope it encourages you to question what’s right for you. Because in reality you’re the only one who knows and you’re the only one who’s truly looking out for you.
Do what’s best for you, stopping birth control should not be taken lightly (just like going on it shouldn’t be), and read this as it is, an opinion piece, and question everything that goes into your body, it’s the only one you’ve got.
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