Hormonal contraception: a controversial topic, I know. But given my strong opinion on it, the endless conversations and discussions I’ve had with several people – it’s time to speak up about it. Time to start talking openly about an issue, every single one of us has to deal with but somehow tend to whisper about.
I started taking the pill when I was 16, I remember briefly questioning it, but at the time everyone was taking it – popping it like candy.
You have a boyfriend? You’re 16? You better take the pill. Full stop.
Honestly, I didn’t even come to question it for quite a while, because the effects weren’t apparent to me at first. I didn’t think I had any other choice or options and the decision to come off a medication I had been on for years was insanely hard. Your somehow made believe that once you stop taking that magic pill, you will instantly become pregnant. But a point came when I knew, I had to stop. I just didn’t feel like myself anymore. Turns out, I wasn’t.
This is what happened once I stopped pumping my body full of hormones:
1. I lost 10 kg
For a long time I didn’t think I would ever say (or type) these words… but, I finally feel good in my own skin again. Growing up, I was always the small skinny girl, but I struggled with my weight in the past few years – yo-yo-ing up and down the scales. To other people maybe not apparent, but I was always overly conscious, if not obsessive – even going to extremes of not eating and working out everyday of the week (sometimes even twice a day) after a difficult break-up having knocked my confidence way way back. The weight gain and struggle throughout the years and the exchange semester peak left my self body image with literal disgust towards myself. Soon after came my turning point, I knew something had to change. The kilos dropped quite naturally – I haven’t been on a diet, I exercise just as frequently as I used to, but my appetite and cravings have shrank significantly.
2. My IBS Symptoms have gone from severe to minimal
About two years ago I started having severe stomach problems that caused IBS Symptoms – cramping, bloating and sickness. Sleepness nights, doctor calls – especially stressful situations like study week killed me. My step mother (doctor) encouraged me to come off the pill – ‘that might be the root cause of your stomach problems you know’. But it off for a long time – ‘It’s probably just a food intolerance’ I kept telling myself – I even followed a gluten and lactose free diet for a while, what an utter waste of time and money. I still struggle with IBS symptoms now, and want to blame the pill – I’ve read many articles that it affects your stomach.
3. My sports performance has improved significantly
Not only do I feel better having lost weight, I actually feel like I can see improvement in my performance for once. For years I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere although I was exercising regularly but now I’m getting stronger, leaner, maybe a little meaner 😛
4. I eat 3 meals a day instead of 6
There were times, where if I happened to skip a snack – I would literally get so moody I could’ve ripped someones head off. Having my dinner an hour later is fine by me now, ok I might get a little cranky, but I’ll get over it. A year ago, that was unthinkable. I no longer have to eat every 2 hours, and I no longer rip people’s heads off.
5. No more binge eating
Might seem dramatic, but I literally had occasions where I had no control over what I ate – continuing to stuff my face until I physically felt sick. That was usually followed by a sleepless night of guilt tripping, and an upset stomach.
6. I learnt a lot about my body
Did you know that women can only conceive on 2 days of the month? Whereas a man is fertile every single day. I didn’t even know that, turns out there’s a heck of a lot I didn’t know about. My guess is most women don’t. Or that you can track those days through basal temperature and cervical fluid analysis? Maybe that the pill can have a significant impact on your gut bacteria? Or the fact that hormones have impact on your personality or what partners you attract? The list goes on.
7. The pill has long term effects
Got the stretch marks to prove it. Along with the psychological imbalance throughout the years.
8. People judge you…
Saying no to the pill is seen as unusual and irresponsible, a judgment I can live with. I’m a responsible adult who can make her own decisions, this one has turned out to be one of the best I’ve ever made. Believe it or not – there ARE other options out there, every contraceptive has it’s gains and draw backs, I just wish we were at least fully informed when we visit the Gyno and not shut up with a prescription for another pill to ‘try’ out.
9. ..but they’re dying to get off it too
all of you ladies reading this article have probably pondered on the same question or decision and you are the very ones I’m speaking up for. Because feeling uncomfortable in your own skin is NOT ok. Popping pills and not giving it a second thought is also not ok. Nor is being told by your Gynecologist, parents, friends and boyfriends that there are no other options. It’s your body, so you choose. And if you are considering going hormone free your best options are the copper spiral, chain, condoms or natural contraception. Be sure to read up on all of them for efficacy and side effects.
Coming off the pill has literally been a life changer for me. Unfortunately, it took me 6 years, and the side effects were really only apparent in the aftermath.
But not everything is rosy, suddenly you’re faced with the difficult decision of what contraceptive to use next, the lack of understanding from men and the fear of becoming pregnant.
A lot of ladies have gotten in touch with me about giving up the pill – ‘should I do it and what alternatives do I have?’ It’s a difficult question to answer, my advice is to take all of the options into consideration and question the side effects. If you are happy on the pill – great. But it’s not the solution for everybody because everyone is different, and deciding what to choose is such a personal thing. I, for instance, think that measuring my temperature every morning is the least thing I could do, if that means that I don’t have to take hormones.
If you want to hear more about what it’s like to use natural contraception – listen to my podcast episode; Yes, I use natural contraception. No, I’m not pregnant yet.
I also recommend checking out these
Books about coming off the pill and natural contraception;
All of you ladies suffering from similar symptoms, who have gone through a similar experience or want to know more – drop me a comment below or message me and let’s talk.