Why I Stopped Taking Birth Control
When I started college, the only birth control option I was aware of was condoms. Though I used them with my then-boyfriend dutifully, I was constantly wracked with anxiety and concerned that whatever worst-case scenario could happen, would happen. Somehow, I would end up pregnant.
This fear caused me to call my mother in my first semester of college, 3,000 miles from home, and ask her if I should get on the birth control pill. At the time, I still wasn’t aware of the many options us women have to protect ourselves. From what I could tell, the pill was the most common method so I assumed it was the safest. Shortly thereafter, my seven-year journey on the birth control pill began. The pill was a great option for me because I am very diligent by nature. I rarely forgot to take it when my daily alarm rang. And if I did, I would immediately take one upon remembering — while also being extra careful given my slip up. I never had any pregnancy scares and my anxiety surrounding a possible unwanted pregnancy mostly washed away. Knowing I was taking this measure to protect myself, daily, made me feel much more comfortable with sex and it ultimately led to greater trust and intimacy with my partners.
By the time I was a senior in college, I was no longer getting my period. Granted, dealing with cramps and changing tampons frequently isn’t exactly fun but I was deeply disturbed that my body was no longer going through this natural routine. This is when my relationship with the pill started to suffer. I went to my school’s health services office to figure out what was going on, and the nurse told me that this was normal. (It is, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t freak you out!) Sometimes, when our bodies become too accustomed to the exact hormone breakdown contained in a particular pill, they no longer generate a period. Technically, that doesn’t mean anything is wrong with your body, but it certainly is something to take inventory of. I chose to switch to another pill so I could have the peace of mind created by seeing my period every month again. But then other symptoms started popping up…not all at once, but gradually. I was only able to really recognize them in retrospect. I can’t completely blame these symptoms on this new pill because I was a very stressed senior in college trying to graduate. I lost at least 10 pounds in about six months (rare for my body, as I’ve hovered around the same weight pretty much since I was a teenager) and became noticeably more depressed. So…I went back to my old pill and my mood improved.
Over the next few years, my body (and mind) felt generally fine and as I educated myself more and more I started to become disillusioned with relying on the pill. I tried my best to be “natural” in other aspects of my life, so the thought of putting artificial hormones into my body became a tougher pill to swallow–no pun intended. When I suffered another symptom of the pill (a minor ovarian cyst) and was yet again convinced it was “no big deal” (it can be), I decided I’d had enough. I finally stopped taking the pill–after seven years!–and honestly, haven’t looked back since. Sure, tracking my ovulation cycle in an app (also known as the “rhythm method”) and using condoms is slightly more tedious, but it’s a small price to pay for how stable my body and mind feel. I think the pill is a fantastic option to use while you’re still figuring out your body, your sex life, and your preferred contraception method…but once you feel mature enough to explore your own style of protection, you’ll be glad you’re in control of regulating your body. However, it’s still important to practice safe sex habits by getting tested for STIs and HIV regularly in your relationship, no matter how faithful you and your partner are.