My Journey with Birth Control
And why I decided to stop.
I remember when I first started taking birth control at the age of 15 in 2009. I was *low-key* pumped because while part of the reason I was taking it was for acne, I also had a serious boyfriend at the time and you know...
Fast forward to 2020 and I was still taking my daily pill every single day until I started seeing my holistic nutritionist, Ashley, who began explaining how birth control can affect one's body over a certain period of time. I'll admit, by that point I had already started thinking about whether it was necessary to continue taking BC (birth control) since I wasn't dating. Plus, when you start getting into your mid-late 20's lots of us women naturally start thinking about having children...which can then translate into our brains thinking..."wait, can my body even produce a child!?".
When Ashley started bringing up the facts on BC I realized that it was a sign that this was the right time and opportunity to try weaning myself off. The main reason was because I didn't know what my body was like off of birth control anymore. How does my body feel off of the drug? Would I even get a regular period after stopping? Would I become irritable? Would my periods be horrible? Would I lose/gain weight? Would my acne come back? The list of thoughts went on. But I purely wanted to get off because my body was screaming for a change and I was excited to embark on this new self-journey along with changing my eating habits.
Since the start of my birth-control-free-life last year, I started realizing how much I didn't know about birth control. How much I wasn't taught by my gynecologist, primary care physician, or health teachers in middle school and high school. I honestly, wasn't even taught the specifics by the women in my life...but that may have been because they were never taught the science and facts behind the pill either! And I'm not just talking about the basics here, I'm talking about the science behind what BC does. So as this past year has gone on it's made me more and more intrigued to learn the details, and I want to share some with you because if I didn't know there is a high chance that you may not know either.
So how does birth control stop ovulation exactly? To put it simply:
"To stop you from ovulating, hormonal birth control delivers a large enough dose of hormones that stops your brain from signaling to your ovaries to mature an egg & release it." - Dr. Jolene Brighten
Basically, your birth control and brain are always in communication with one another. I genuinely didn't know this throughout my 11 years on the pill.
Is anyone else thinking, "Man, I really wish my doctors or health teachers taught me this stuff when I all of this was new to me"? Yeah...SAME.
Another really large thing that I've learned is how often girls and women are put on birth control to help "fix" other things that they have going on. For example: Heavy/painful periods, mood swings, or acne like myself.
"It suppresses your body's innate ability to produce hormones which MAY provide you with temporary relief, meanwhile...You are creating further dysfunction because you aren’t actually addressing the underlying issue!" - Ashley McNally, NPT, RWP
Doctors are so quick to put people on the pill! What really needs to happen is for women to work with a professional to figure out the source of why they may be struggling with certain symptoms and how they can be helped in a more natural, holistic way. Because after being on this pill for years (or decades), how much harm are we truly doing to our bodies? And why would I want to do that? When I was 15 and having a rough time with my skin, I tried every skin product under the sun to treat it, but when my doctor mentioned birth control I was quick to say yes because I'd heard it work for other people's acne and again, I was ready to take my young love relationship to the next level....cringe, but yes.
Here are some birth control side effects that I wish I knew a long time ago (click below):
Here's the thing. I am most definitely NOT against birth control. I believe it is absolutely necessary during certain seasons of your life. I do not regret starting it at 15 years old because here I was practicing safe sex and taking care of that area of my womanhood. Do I wish I got off of it 5 years ago? Yes. Do I also think that if I had been off of birth control for the last 5 years it would have made me respect and appreciate my body a little bit more? Yes, yes, and yes (but that's a story for another time). I'm very sure I will be on some method of birth control during another time in my life, but for right now I am very happy to be clear of it.
Truth be told, I feel the best I have ever felt before. I've been lucky in the fact that my period came back straight away within the first month of being off of BC. It was pretty much right on schedule which I was shocked by. My periods have been more intense for the first two days, but only last for about 4 days at most...which is a huge cut back considering my period when on the pill lasted for a full week. I definitely experience more cramping and tiredness during my time of the month these days, and this is the aspect that I was most nervous about. However, I have been able to figure out ways to make my body comfortable during these times and I've never felt so in tune with myself. I feel all of the feels...and while sometimes I dislike that, it's actually quite eye opening. I've learned so much about my body as a woman this year between intuitively eating and getting off of birth control. I am so grateful for this incredibly strong body that I have.
"Ovulation IS the star of the show and is absolutely NECESSARY for hormonal balance." - Ashley McNally
So if you are dabbling with the idea of getting off of BC, I highly encourage you to explore it. Talk with professionals and find incredible experts like Ashley and Jolene on Instagram who do so much to educate women on their bodies; have discussions! And even if you do continue your journey with BC, of course that's okay! But it is still incredibly important to have the knowledge of what is going into your body each day. Educate yourself, sis! Either way, do whatever feels right for you and your body. But still, always stay protected. ;)