Going Off Birth Control - For (Pretty Much) the First Time Ever
I am on a roll with writing about sensitive subjects!
Birth control is another huge and important topic that's rarely talked about and I've decided that needs to change.
After doing my own research on all sorts of birth control and side effects I found that there wasn't a lot of information about the mental and physiological differences of being ON or OFF hormonal birth control, so I've committed to share my experience.
I've been on hormonal birth control since I was barely sixteen years old. The first prescription I had was for a low-dose pill. It did the trick, but it also made my already disabling migraines even worse. I told my doctor and he suggested that I switch to a progesterone-only birth control and I chose to try the Depo-Provera shot. The shot gets administered every 12 weeks, which was way more doable for my busy volleyball-filled schedule at the time. I continued to use the Depo-Provera shot for the next five years and I didn't experience any ill side-effects. I didn't gain any weight and I didn't experience increased acne outside of a regular one-zit-wonder every other month or so. I didn't have any periods except for some spotting I can remember on a couple occasions during super stressful times. I felt like I was steady-Eddie in terms of my daily attitude and mental health and rarely experienced any other PMS-related symptoms.
I decided to put a pause on birth control after I broke up with my college boyfriend and felt the need to flush out the chemicals I had injected to my body for the last several years. Depo-Provera contains about five times the amount of other low-dose forms of birth control. I don't know for certain if it was from withdrawal, but for the next month or so I felt like my head was in a fog. After then I had one period in about two months that came with a little cramping and lasted maybe 4-5 days.
About three months later I unexpectedly met my current boyfriend and wanted my periods and cramping to just go the hell away again. I decided to try the Mirena IUD because it was long-lasting, had a very low-dose of hormones, and was recommended by my doctor as a way to manage periods. I scheduled the appointment to have it inserted and experienced a lot of initial pain. So much pain I actually fainted (so embarrassing!). The next day I felt a lot better and I felt pretty much the same as how I felt on the Demo-Provera shot for the next couple years. It wasn't until a few months ago that I started experiencing painful cramping and occasional spotting again. I've now had a mini-period each month for the last 5-6 months or so. I've also been experiencing crazy amounts of acne around my jaw line, neck and above my eyebrows, which has never been a problem in the past. After doing some research, it looks like acne could be an unwanted side effect from the Mirena IUD and I just thought, well what’s the dang point then?
I decided to make an appointment to have the IUD removed. Unfortunately, it's not working like I had hoped it would, but it presents a great opportunity get to know my body a whole lot more. I honestly don't know much about my normal reproductive functions. Before starting birth control at sixteen, my periods were extremely irregular and I had only had a handful, most likely because I was an athlete training almost every day. I'm excited to experience the my body the way it was made by nature, but I also don't plan on doing it alone...
I talked to a colleague of mine - Lauren Chambers, nutrition and hormone health coach. You may also know her on Instagram as @sofreshnsogreeeeen. She's agreed to help me with this whole process and get back to a normal and healthy functioning system. If you want to learn more about what she does you can check out her site here: http://sofreshnsogreen.com. I plan on sharing my experiences during this process and shedding more light on what it's like to be ON vs OFF hormonal birth control. Here it goes!
Pssssst! If you have any questions or comments on anything you've read on this post, let me know! You can shoot me a note here or send me a DM on Instagram @well.with.mac or on Facebook.