Coming off the contraceptive pill was something I was considering for a very long time. It took me exactly a year to decide it wasn’t for me. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great contraceptive method for me and it worked. In 4 years I didn’t get pregnant once, so it did its job right? And I enjoyed the comfort of knowing I didn’t have to worry about my periods coming out of nowhere. But I got to the point where I didn’t know what my body was like anymore. And, believe it or not, I was first diagnosed with clinical depression less than a year into taking the pill. It could have been a coincidence, but I had to quit interfering with my body to find out. Now, 4 months after taking my last pill, I can definitely see some differences.
I’m really enjoying learning about my body post-contraception. I feel truly in tune with how it works now that I’m not stopping the natural processes that should be happening with an artificial dose of hormones every day. Before coming off the pill, I read and listened to all the stories about what could happen without that little sugar-coated pill and it terrified me. I mean it. I had nightmares about waking up with my face red and covered with acne, two holes instead of my boobs and 20lbs heavier than an elephant. It was freaking me out a bit. However, I have been suffering from anxiety for a long time and the contraceptive pill seemed to make my mood that little bit worse. So I took the plunge and decided that feeling a bit happier is worth more than worrying about my looks.
Before coming on the pill, I was told that there would be a lot less pain and blood involved when I start my periods. And sure, it may work for some, but it’s definitely not a rule. If anything, the pill did make me bleed a little less, but the pain for the first 2 days of my period became horrible. And it felt a lot different when compared to my previous natural menstruation. I would struggle to get out of bed and function like a normal human being for the first 48h. If it wasn’t for Ibuprofen, I would probably be bedridden every month. Changing the pill didn’t help either. Now, that I don’t influence my hormones, the pain is barely even there. I still get headaches on the first day of my period, but there is barely any cramping going on. And guess what? I’m not bleeding an awful much either.
The best part of it all was that in 4 months I only had 3 periods. Which, as I was told, is absolutely fine. After controlling my own hormones for years, it can take a while for my body to get used to working on its own. My first period came after 40 days and the second one after 34 days, so I can see I’m slowly getting in a rhythm (hopefully). I’m not complaining though, it’s a lot more comfortable than bleeding every 21 days on the pill!
The worst part of coming off the pill was… my PMS. On the pill, I didn’t experience anything of it at all. Now, I turn into an emotional wreck about a week before my period starts. I feel like a teenager again and I snap at everything. I’m old enough now to know how to control it (sort of), so I no longer behave like a ratty emotional monster, but it can still take a toll on me. Some days more than others. And then my period comes and I’m like ‘oh, that explains a lot’. It was a bit of a shock to the system, but at the same time, it means that my body is working in the way its supposed to, producing certain hormones at the right time. Even if it involves bawling my eyes out whilst watching Paw Patrol.
My periods were never a regular occurrence in my life before the pill, so I don’t actually expect them to magically form a pattern to stick to. I really liked the comfort of knowing when I could expect the bleeding to start, but the truth is that after 3 months I have learned a little bit about my body. I can tell when my period is about to hit simply by tuning in and recognising what’s happening inside me. With a little help from trusty period tracker apps on my phone, but that’s what technology is for right? However, it did take me a while to learn and I did ruin a few of my knickers, hence why I’m putting it in this section. The only safe time to wear expensive underwear nowadays is to wear it right after my period finishes *sigh*
From the ‘ugly’ perspective (or let’s say “less pretty”, shall we?) – my body changes according to the menstrual cycle. My boobs didn’t disappear, my weight is still around the same number and the spots on my face appear when hormones strike. I definitely do notice that my body changes and I try very hard to listen. I don’t suffer from acne anywhere on my body and have never done so in my life before (I consider myself very lucky), however since throwing out my hormone ‘routine’ I can definitely see more and more spots appearing on my face. Especially about a week or so before my period. And a week after my period is finished. It did scare me a little bit at first, but if I’m consistent with my skincare routine, it’s definitely manageable. No pimples the size of another head growing on my chin yet. Pray for me.
Finally, let’s talk about the obvious reason for my contraception – sex. Choosing to come off the pill, means from now on I’ll have to invest in condoms, which I was a bit apprehensive about. Relying on the pill meant I had to put the trust in myself to take it. Relying on the condom means I will have to put my trust in my partner and hope he knows what he’s doing with it. So far so good and the anxiety about something going wrong is slowly drifting away. It doesn’t mean that I’m not prepared should anything go tits up, but I’m at the point in my relationship where we’re kind of comfortable if a little baby decided to make itself at home in my uterus. And, oh how nice is it to not have to run to the toilet after having sex with toilet paper between your legs, because that sperm comes out of you quicker than it comes out of most guys. Yes, I did use to keep a roll of toilet paper to hand. And I was mortified every time it wasn’t there to be found.
The thing with contraception is that not every method will work for everyone. The pill worked for me in the fact that I didn’t have crazy side effects and I didn’t get pregnant, but I do believe it had an impact on my mental well-being. However, I have not come off the pill unprepared. I have discussed this with my partner multiple times and agreed that condoms will be the way we’ll move forward. Unless you’re actively trying to get pregnant or don’t mind if you end up knocked up, then any method of contraception is good as long as it works for you. Also, keep in mind that only condoms will prevent you from getting STI and STD, so I suggest to keep a handy amount in your bedside cabinet if you don’t have a partner who’s been tested.
And now, over 1000 words later (hope you’re still with me), I can finally finish my contraceptive method story. I hope it makes your decision about coming off or on the pill a little bit easier. It did take me a long time to finally bite the bullet, but what made me feel more comfortable with my decision was seeing how many people started doing it as well. Let me know in the comments if you’re considering ditching your current contraceptive for something that might work better for you!
Until next time xx