I was on birth control for nine years. My dermatologist originally prescribed it as a way to heal my cystic acne (which it didn’t). I would later learn that coconut oil was the answer to all of my skin issues, but nonetheless, I continued taking the pill as I entered adulthood without considering the repercussions of these synthetic hormones.
Fast-forward to a few months ago: I met with my functional medicine doctor for my chronic gut issues. She concluded that birth control was most likely affecting me more than I realized, and I should stop it immediately. I tend to get frequent headaches that last days at a time, I often feel cloudy, and I guess a part of me wondered if the pill was holding me back from living my best life.
Deciding to get off of the pill was an easy decision to make and one that my boyfriend of almost four years supported. I had considered quitting for months, but my excuse was always that I didn’t have time for hormonal acne or crazy mood swings. There will never be a "good" time to have your body freak out on you, but the longer you wait, the harder it will be. So it just took my doctor ordering it for me to finally take it seriously.
Here’s what actually happened:
My appetite dramatically increased (but only temporarily).
The first few weeks of being off of the pill, I was extremely hungry. I quite literally felt like I was eating for two humans. Since I read that this was very common for people coming off of the pill, I was prepared. I just made sure to continue eating clean and healthy foods, so I wasn’t filling my body with junk foods. Luckily, my hunger levels balanced out quickly, and it wasn’t an issue.
I got some new pimples.
It took about a month for my tiny forehead pimples to appear. While I don’t love having a bumpy forehead, it’s not as bad as I expected. Everyone will have a different experience, but I’m relieved I’m not dealing with too bad of a situation. I personally think eliminating high-inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, and sugar is what has helped my skin. More on this down below.
I felt like a veil had been lifted.
It’s so strange, but I felt lighter and happier just a month after stopping the pill. My relationship with my boyfriend felt even more loving, patient, and kind. I already considered myself a generally happy person while on the pill, but I feel more clear now than ever before. I have this new surge of energy and motivation, and it’s really exciting.
My periods are shorter.
I must have been blessed by the menstrual gods, because somehow my periods have been right on schedule, and they last five days instead of seven. I hope it stays that way!
My PMS is slightly more intense.
I’ve never really dealt with severe cramps, but now, I’d say it does feel more intense. It’s not bad enough that I’m canceling plans and lying in bed with a heating pad, but it’s definitely not masked by the pill anymore. Also while I did mention I feel happier without the pilI, I do feel way more emotional a day or two before my period. Example: It was so cold in NYC the other day that I actually began audibly sobbing while walking home from dinner. My boyfriend just kept repeating, "We live across the street! We’re almost there!"
The transition: rebalancing hormones, decreasing inflammation, and learning about my body…
Here’s what I’ve personally been doing to combat this transition from the pill:
- Continuing the elimination of foods that inflame my gut (gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, and refined sugar).
- Reading Woman Code + using the MyFLO app to track my cycle and eat foods that support my flow.
- Listening to podcasts like Fertility Friday and reading anything I can about balancing hormones, estrogen levels, and the intake of adaptogens.
- Consistently taking my favorite "Yeast Is a Beast" Probiotic from Lovebug, and also taking magnesium and zinc supplements, since hormonal birth control is known to deplete these micronutrients.
- Continuing my natural skin care routine with daily topical use of coconut oil and tea tree oil.
- Being kind to myself and working on acceptance for whatever challenges may arise during this transition.
Everybody is unique and will react differently. Don’t let random articles on the internet deter you from quitting the pill. It’s a big decision to make, but it was the smartest decision I made for my long-term health. I feel more in tune with my body, and I am finally feeling relief from my gut issues. If you’re looking for nonhormonal birth control alternatives, here are two I’ve been recommended: a copper IUD such as Paragard, and nontoxic natural condoms like L. Condoms. Do your research and decide what is best for you! No matter how it all goes down, just remember why you wanted to stop the pill in the first place. Let that guide you through the transition.
Considering an IUD? Here's what medical experts have to say about IUDs, including pros, cons, and how they compare to the pill.