Yep, you read that right. We are going to get real about periods, birth control and women’s health today, specifically mine. Sorry not sorry if you can’t handle this subject.
A year ago, I stopped taking my birth control pills after…drum roll please…almost 13 years. I started taking birth control because, as a young athlete, I had two periods a month and that was not going to work for me. I later utilized it for actual birth control, but never stopped enjoying the effects it had on my period. My cycles were short, consistent and relatively painless. I would have light cramps and a light flow and every other month I felt exceptionally emotional.
I decided to stop taking the pill because, to be honest, I felt like I had been on it too long and I wanted to see if my mental health would improve if I stopped taking the pill. As you may already know, I am on anxiety and depression medication, which I talked more about here. My therapist had suggested that getting off of the pill may have some effects, either negative or positive, on my anxiety. We could only figure that out by trying. Awhile later, I took the plunge.
Maybe it was being in quarantine. Maybe it was because my friends were getting off of the pill. Maybe it was because I was thinking about how I may have long term effects from being on the pill so long. Who knows, but I stopped taking my birth control pills at the beginning of a medication cycle, not because I was ready to get pregnant, but because I wanted to see how it would affect my body. With some research, I was confident that I did not need to wean myself off of the pill, but that my period would probably be affected for the next several cycles.
Here’s why I want to talk about this subject:
- Periods are one of those things that so many people experience, but we are all ashamed to talk about. F$#k that. Being open about these subjects can help others feel less ashamed of something that is 100% natural and encourage future generations to not continue this trend of shame. Passing on less grief to future generations is always a plus in my book. Go to therapy, kids.
- I want to share my story with birth control pills so that maybe someone out there sees this and feels less alone or even motivated to look into their own birth control methods. I was lucky enough to have friends and family who talked to me about this subject and made me feel validated. I want to be that source for you all.
- I never see folks talking about what it was like for them when they stopped taking the pill. They will say, “my period was messed up for awhile.” I wanted to know the details, so I am giving you that information.
Disclaimer: I am quite obviously not a doctor. Consult a trusted physician with any and all of your questions and do your own research. There is so much information out there about this subject, so use your critical thinking skills. Always use some type of birth control if you are sexually active to prevent pregnancy and STDs.
This process worked for me, but it may not work for you. Periods are vastly different for everyone and I am in no way saying that you should get off of birth control. I am simply sharing what I did and how getting off of the birth control pill affected me.
I stopped taking my birth control pill in early July 2020 and here is a timeline of what happened in the last year. I didn’t have a go-to OBGYN at the time, so I was flying off the seat of my pants and taking every period as it came.
Late July 2020: I got my period and was thankful that I had gotten supplies. (My favorite supplies are linked at the end of this post.) My period was ~easy~. I was shook because I had minimal symptoms and a light flow. I had my fingers crossed that this was a sign of things to come.
August 2020: Boy was I wrong about my new light period lifestyle. The little girl in me thought I was dying and the teenager in me freaked out about the acne that arrived a decade late. I would go on to realize that the pill was making it so I had no acne through my teenage years.
Septemeber 2020: My period was the same as the month before and I went through sheets and underwear like it was my job.
October 2020: Aunt Flo came early and was awful. Gee, thanks. I thought I was getting closer to the end of the madness.
November 2020: My period seemed to be leveling out. My flow was heavier and I had new symptoms, but I felt like I could handle it.
December 2020: Up until this point, I had no changes in my anxiety and depression. I would get a little bit more emotional than usual in the week before my period, but nothing radical. This month, I didn’t have a period, so I was panicking. This month, I took my very first pregnancy test. It was negative, but figuring out how to pee on a stick was not easy. I’m really glad that I didn’t experience that as a teenager because I would have been traumatized. Needless to say, I started 2021 in a panic.
January 2021: Mid-month, I got my period. Better late than never, I suppose.
(Pictured below is a typical “I started my period today” haul featuring pads in varying lengths, ice cream and coffee.)
February 2021: I got an appointment with a new gynocologist and she gave me options if I wanted to get back on to birth control. It was a stong “no” for me because I just gone through hell to get that shit out of my system. I wasn’t turning back now. She was nice though and didn’t pressure me into getting an IUD like my last doctor did.
February 2021 to present (July 2021): My period is worse than it was when I was on the pill, but it is consistent and that I can deal with. My physical symptoms are worse, but my mental health has stayed the same, thankfully. The hardest thing to get used to is the resurrgence of facial acne. I feel for all of my friends and family who have and continue to struggle with acne.
This post is simply about visibility and community. Folks that are uneducated and unaware of the intricacies of women’s health are more likely to not do what is best and healthiest for their bodies. Knowledge is power, baby. And so is community. There is nothing to be ashamed of.
I’m happy to expand on any of the points that I have made or further this discussion with y’all.
My Favorite Period Products:
*I’m still experimenting with period underwear and will do a full post on some winners and losers when I am ready, but I would love your recommendations for any and all period products.
L. Pads (available online and at Target, CVS, Wal-Mart)
L. Foam Wash (available online and at Target)