This post is a long time coming. I’ve put off writing it as it’s a bit personal and I’m in no way an expert on the matter. Back in November I decided to quit taking my birth control pill. Not because I wanted to get pregnant, but because I felt hormonal birth control was giving me terrible side effects. It has now been over 6 months since I have taken any sort of hormonal birth control and I feel better than I have in years! I’m in no way saying hormonal birth control is wrong and that you should stop if it works for you, but rather wanted to share my experiences with it.
Starting Out on the Pill
I started taking the birth control pill when I was seventeen. I had what I thought was terrible acne and was desperate for a fix. The pill was helping my friends so I wanted to be on it too. The first few years I was on numerous pills, trying to find what worked for me. One pill made my period worse, another made me feel very depressed and moody. I eventually found one that seemed to work for me. My skin got a bit better, but I still had acne, a seven day period, and cramps every month.
Trying Out an IUD
While I never really had too many complaints while on the pill my nurse practitioner had convinced me an IUD would be a great birth control option when I was 25. I don’t have health insurance and my birth control pill was about $50 each month. When she offered me the IUD for free, I went along with it as a means to save money while still preventing unwanted pregnancy.
At first I thought the IUD was great! I didn’t have any of the spotting they said I might have and my period was normal. It was really freeing not having to take a pill everyday and nice not having to go to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. Within two months though I had gained a whopping 85 pounds and was experiencing terrible leg pain.
Having My IUD Removed
I never really gained weight on the pill. Maybe ten pounds, but it was very minimal and unnoticeable as I’m quite tall. But 85 pounds was noticeable and I was devastated. My eating habits never changed and I couldn’t figure out what happened. As for the leg pain; I would experience sharp cramp-like pains in my thighs at least once a day which would often cause me to groan out loud. I put up with it for another five months before ultimately making the decision to have it removed. Upon removal, I never experienced that leg pain ever again and immediately lost ten pounds.
My doctor had never heard of anyone else reporting leg pain, so I don’t think it’s a common symptom at all but I was relieved to be feeling better. I easily lost a little weight, but it’s been an uphill battle to lose the rest. I immediately went back on the pill after having it removed too.
Going Back on the Pill
My second round on the pill wasn’t as great as I remembered it being in my late teens/early twenties. It was during this time I realized I had an estrogen dominance. Since the IUD is progesterone only, I really noticed a difference in my mood, headaches, sleep quality, and digestion since going back on a combination pill. I talked to my nurse about switching to a progesterone only pill, but she told me my chance of getting pregnant would be very high and really didn’t want to put me on it.
I felt discouraged and like I was just destined to have digestion issues and insomnia. My mood was at an all time low and I was crying nearly every day over every little thing. I didn’t feel like myself in the slightest.
Going off the Pill
In November I decided to stop taking my pill for 3 months just to see if it made a difference. Within the first month and a half my skin actually got better, my insomnia went away, my moods were better and more stable, and my digestion issues had somewhat improved. I felt more like myself again, which is why I ultimately decided not to go back on it!
What I Use for Birth Control Now
Of course there are always other contraceptive methods that don’t involve hormones (condoms, etc.) but I wanted to briefly mention my Natural Cycles App and Thermometer which I have been using. You take your temperature first thing every morning and it can tell you when you fertile and not. I really like the app because I know what times of time month I’m at risk of pregnancy but I also know when to expect my period as the visual reminder is the one thing I miss about taking the pill. The app will also be helpful later in life when I do want to start a family.
What do you use for birth control?