The Pill Almost Ruined My Marriage—Here's What I Wish More Women Knew About Hormonal Birth Control
Getting off of birth control is a decision many people make after getting married, usually with the hopes of starting a family. For me, though, it was necessary to save my marriage.
Since meeting my husband, I had tried three different types of oral contraceptives. Each one had side effects that put a tremendous strain on our relationship.The first pill made me bleed profusely every time we had sex. The second caused me to become jealous and paranoid. We argued loudly, intensely, emotionally, and often in public. My self-esteem was rock bottom, and I lashed out at any perceived offense. The third option was just the final shovel of dirt on my already well-buried libido.
The hormonal birth control pill had driven a wedge between us. I found it was hard to discern my true feelings from those driven by its impact. We were both exhausted by the cycle of melodrama, and I knew this relationship would end if things didn't change.
So, after six months of marriage, I decided to ditch the pills completely.
How getting off of birth control saved my marriage.
Here are the five ways I found that going off of hormonal birth control improved my own marriage.
I became more present and in control of my emotions.
The psychological side effects of the pill made me feel detached from my husband, and instead attached to my seemingly insurmountable problems. When I finally stopped taking my oral contraceptives, I was able to reconnect with my husband and the world around me. Everything seemed to look brighter, smell sweeter, and feel better.
It also freed me from obsessive negative thinking. Now when disagreements arise, they are quickly resolved. I feel a wider range of emotions and feel them more strongly, but those feelings once again include happiness, bliss, joy, and excitement.
Of the 30% of women who stop using birth control pills1, the most commonly cited reason is the side effects. Namely, a negative change in their mood2.
2. Choosing a new method strengthened our relationship.
When I realized the birth control pill was causing psychological and physical side effects, it was my husband who encouraged me to write about it. He didn’t expect me to keep taking the pills. He didn’t resent me for everything they’d put us through. And he was happy to use condoms until I figured out what came next.
Since weren’t ready for a baby, we had to find another birth control method. Talking through this decision together and taking a shared responsibility brought us closer.
I decided to learn fertility awareness and began tracking my fertility cycle using Daysy. The support my husband showed during this process made me understand how much he cared for my well-being.
3. I found creative fulfillment outside of my relationship.
As a writer, I found the birth control pill sapped my creativity. After I’d been on it for a few years, it became incredibly hard to think with any clarity, let alone transfer those thoughts to the blank page.
Once I was off the pill, I immediately began a daily blog, began writing articles for major publications, wrote a book proposal, published a book, and found inspiration for my documentary—all in the space of a few years.
A healthy relationship requires independent growth as much as paired progress, and this work gave me a passion, a place of fulfillment, and a vocation.
4. Body literacy gave us intimacy.
Instead of keeping the burden of pregnancy prevention solely on me, learning about fertility awareness allowed my husband and me to share the responsibility. This created a far more respectful and loving situation.
Knowing I'm only fertile for a relatively short time during my monthly cycle alleviated much of the fear and anxiety around sex, for both of us. No more unplanned pregnancy panics or concerns about condom mishaps.
My fertility device is like a helpful mediator in this journey. It’s no longer only on me to track and interpret my fertile signs, and it makes the conversation about where I am in my cycle simple and fun.
Plus, my fertile window is when I am most physically attracted to my husband and being aware of this has kept things fresh 10 years into our relationship.
5. I know I love my husband.
Research shows the birth control pill can affect who you are attracted to. It all comes down to the changes in the pheromones we give off when we're fertile and ovulating, and how these are altered by hormonal contraceptives.
Because of that, many people have suggested that women could find their partner less attractive when they stop taking the pill. In fact, doctors like Julie Holland, M.D., psychopharmacologist and author of Moody Bitches, recommends women come off the pill before making a long-term commitment to their partner to see if they still like them with the "pill goggles" off.
I’m glad to say coming off the pill didn’t end my relationship—it actually improved my marriage.
Holly Grigg-Spall is the author of "Sweetening the Pill: Or How We Got Hooked On Hormonal Birth Control." The book is the inspiration for a feature documentary currently in production, produced by Ricki Lake and directed by Abby Epstein.