Real Talk: Why I Stopped Taking Birth Control (and What Happened)
As a woman who has experienced heavy, painful periods for over eight years, the pill seemed like the miracle solution. Unfortunately, for me, the optimism did not last and I stopped taking birth control soon after.
Before going on the pill, I was hesitant as I’d heard the cons can far outweigh the benefits, but eventually I decided that it was worth trying. My periods can be intolerable.
At first I was excited because it felt like I was finally taking control of my body. I felt empowered. The nurse told me the pill would help to make my periods lighter and less painful each month, so naturally, I couldn’t wait. My excitement was short-lived.
Within a couple of days, I was already experiencing awful side effects. Even though the nurse had prepared me for some of these and provided a leaflet full of advice, I wasn’t prepared for just how bad it would be. The bloating, cramping, loss of appetite, and extreme fatigue lasted for over 3 months.
After waiting (unsuccessfully) for these feelings to subside, I decided to go see my doctor to discuss switching pills – I’d heard that could help. I was switched to a Progestin-only pill that would supposedly have less side effects as it contains fewer hormones. Although I didn’t like the idea of stopping my periods, which this new pill could cause, I decided to give it a try. Things got worse.
Along with the same symptoms from the first pill, I wanted to cry for no reason. At this point, my hormones must have been extremely unbalanced. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I went back to the doctors three weeks later who sent me for a blood test just to check that I was phsycially okay. Luckily, the panel came back normal. It seemed the only thing that could be causing my extreme upset was the pill.
So I stopped taking birth control. While the pill did help make my periods lighter and less painful, as I’d hoped, it simply wasn’t worth it. Personally, I’d rather suffer for a few days a month than feel awful every single day.
It’s been two months since I stopped taking the pill and the good news is that I’m gradually starting to feel better. The bad news is that I still don’t feel like myself.
I recently found out that I have low stomach acid as well as a bacterial overgrowth which may have been caused by birth control. I’ve been taking a daily probiotic for nearly a month now, which has helped with most of the bloating and stomach pains, but it may take a few more weeks before I feel like how I used to. My periods have returned to their previous state: they are heavy and painful and that’s been hard to deal with. Unfortunately, it’s something that I’ll have to deal with.
While it can and does work wonders for many people, I personally regret taking birth control. I thought the pill would improve my life, but instead it has only made things worse. I might go back to the doctors and look into other options that do not include synthetic hormones, but for now I’m just waiting for my body to heal.
To me, the most frustrating part of this experience is how little I was advised by my medical team. I felt unheard and was constantly told that the side effects I was experiencing were “normal” when they felt anything but. I was suffering and I felt like my suffering was not being taken seriously.
The best advice I can give is to listen to your body. If something feels wrong, speak up. And make sure you find the right people to talk to.