About 11 years ago, when I was about 12 years old, I started taking the birth control pill. My doctor recommended it to me and my mom, while we were at her practice. She recommended it because I had quite severe acne and that made me very unhappy. After some years the acne went away but I stuck with the pill as a contraceptive. In December 2021, last year, I started doubting it. Was the pill still right for me? I decided to test it and quit taking it. Today I’ll tell you about my experiences with getting of the birth control pill.
I still remember that day, because my mom at first said she thought I was too young to go on birth control. But if I wanted it, I could do it. We had tried all sorts of things at that point. I went to a skin therapist every two weeks, had tried all sorts of creams, changed my diet a few times and I had tried antibiotics. So to hell, we tried the birth control pill, at age 12.
Looking back, I don’t remember whether it worked like I wanted. I think so. Slowly but gradually my acne got better. Looking back now, I think I also just got older and that helped too. Now that I’m vegan (I went vegan at age 18) I also think that a vegan diet could have helped me a lot back then. I did try some diets, cutting out chocolate, cutting out pork flesh, but never entirely plant-based. I’ll never know if that would have helped. Whether the pill worked or time did, I feel like getting on the pill was the right choice at that time.
For 12 years, I never thought about the pill twice. It worked great for me. I had no complaints about it, ever. When I started to learn more about intersectional feminism it did feel unfair, why is there no pill for the people with a penis? Why is it always up to the person with the womb to protect themselves? I feel like that should change. So now, when I buy the pill, I send a payment request to my partner. We both pay 50% of the money it takes for us to prevent a pregnancy. We both do not want a child right now, so we should both take responsibility. It’s about 12 euros per person each year, but still. Fun fact: I think contraceptive should always be free for everyone, but that’s something for another time.
11 years later
Anyway, I never thought about the pill and what it did to my body. It did what I wanted it to do: it made sure I did not get pregnant. But in 2020 and 2021 I kept hearing more stories from people around me who had problems with the hormones. I heard more and more positive experiences with getting off the birth control pill. Friends who got off the pill suddenly felt so much better. One friend of mine was even diagnosed with a minor depression, but when she quit she felt much better. And gosh, I heard so many of those stories. People feeling better on all fronts. Some lost the weight they wanted to lose, some got rid of their headaches, some did not feel depressed anymore. It made me think twice of the pill. Was I still doing the right thing?
Me and the pill
I did not have any of those complaints, but I did notice one thing about myself. My emotions are quite flat. Most of the time I feel flat. Very content, but flat. And so, I wondered whether that was due to the pill. I mean, someone who’s not on the pill feels different all the time, their mood follows their personal cycle. From the downs to the very highs. And with me it was always stable. I felt like that was due to the birth control pill, since I took the same hormones every day. I started reading books about the subject and I learned more about the pill too.
When someone’s on the birth control pill there are quite some side-effects. What exactly someone experiences differs per person. But due to all this information I started to get curious. I had been on the pill for about 11 years and so I wanted to know: was this the real me or would I feel very much different if I quit the pill? Consequently, I decided to quit taking the birth control pill. I would just see what would happen and I could always go back. So in December 2021, I stopped taking the birth control pill.
The first few months nothing really changed. My partner and I still did not want children, so we changed our birth control. We started using condoms and that was fine for both of us. I started a diary, to see how I felt over the months. As I said, at first I felt the same. But then I got my first period. That was heavy, because I was in quite a bit of pain (which I did not experience when I was taking the pill). I had those pains before I started taking the pill too, when I was about 11 years old, but I hoped it had changed. It didn’t and I woke up at 6 AM because the pain was getting so intense. I had to live on pain killers the first two days of my period. That was a bummer.
The pain sucked, but I was still waiting for my mood to change. I really hoped that I would all of a sudden feel less flat. I hoped that my mood would changed positively, that I would have many days of utter happiness. The opposite happened. I slowly started to feel more and more depressed. After about 6 months I woke up and I could barely get myself out of bed to start the day. I lost all my enthusiasm for life. One Saturday night I was at a party and I was looking at people having fun. I used to be like that too, but now all I wanted to do was sit on the toilet and cry.
I had promised myself to quit the birth control pill for a year. Most sources said that at that point you really know what you’ll fell like permanently. But after 6 months I decided it was time to get back on the pill because I wanted to feel like myself again. I used to wake up and be ready to tackle the day, I was content. And so that’s what I did, I started taking the pill again. I think it took about a month, but then I felt like myself again. My stable, happy, self.
I was so surprised about all this, because I really thought I would be better off without the pill. A lot of people are so positive about them getting off the birth control pill. I am not one of those people. I will keep using the birth control pill, because it does so much good for me. Getting off the birth control pill only brought me negative things. However, there was one small positive change: my headaches stopped.
I have had headaches for years now. A headache that feels tense, like a rubber band that is wrapped around my head really tight. All this time I thought that it was something else. I kept headache diaries, but it made no sense, the moments of headaches are very random. I now know that I get them from the birth control pill, because in the 6 months that I was off the pill, I did not have them anymore. And now they are back. But that’s okay, I can still function with them, or I take pain killers.
Even though this whole experience was quite negative for me, I am happy I did go through it. I now appreciate the pill much more, because I know what it does for me. The benefits are so much bigger than the downside (which is only the headaches). I now don’t have to doubt anymore or think: ‘what if’ when friends or relatives tell me their stories concerning getting off the birth control pill.
I am a bit worried about the future. People with a womb are recommend to quit the birth control pill at age 35 already, because the risks for some diseases then get bigger. If they don’t quit at that point, then people quit at age 50 or so, because the chance of a pregnancy is then very small and so there is no reason to continue taking the pill. I will have to see what happens when the doctor recommends me to stop. But we’ll see about that then.
For now, I am happy to be my flat, content self again.
These are my experiences with getting off the birth control pill. Do you have any experiences with getting of the birth control birth pill?