The pill has been both my savior and the bane of my existence.
I have extreme PMS symptoms that interfere with my life. When PMS hits I fill every stereotype in existence: I whine about cramps, cry about everything and basically hide in a blanket burrito until it’s over.
After my sophomore year of college I couldn’t take it anymore and went on hormonal birth control. After my first two cycles of being on the pill, I experienced more stability and relief. However, that was the beginning of a journey with increasing levels of hormones in the pill, switching to a patch method and then switching back. This went on for two years. I then, after a summer filled with anxiety and intense mood swings, decided to come off birth control and try more natural methods of controlling PMS.
It was terrible at first, but eventually my general anxiety subsided and I was back to square one. I still had ridiculous PMS, but I wasn’t in a paralyzing state of worry 93 percent of each day.
However, there were some aspects to coming off the pill that required a little adjustment. If you’re considering quitting hormonal birth control, here are some steps you should take to anticipate the changes.
Get a new BFF
Namely, your doctor or OB/GYN. Going off the pill may seem as simple as just ceasing to take your daily pill, but your hormones control a lot of how you feel and how your body runs. Consult with a medical professional about how to do this safely and whether it’s the right choice for you.
Pay a lot of attention to your body throughout the process of getting off birth control. Tracking your period is a great way to shift to a less regular cycle or to collect information to give to your doctor. My favorite is Clue, an iPhone app that allows you to enter your cycle, when you experience symptoms such as cramps or stress, vaginal discharge (kind of grody, but actually pretty informational) and many more. It then predicts your next cycles and learns more about you as you use it. Entering information makes you more conscious about what you’re feeling, which will help in making future decisions about your reproductive health.
If you’re anything like me, your first period is going to SUCK. Be sure to take appropriate medicine, take time out to de-stress and listen to your body. Make sure you keep an eye on what you’re eating and avoid salty or fatty foods. Your appetite may disappear altogether—keep a food log to make sure you get the right foods in your system. Although the whole process of figuring out birth control isn’t fun, it helps you to get to know yourself.
Be aware of changes
Before I went on the pill, I had a problem with breakouts on my back. Whatever I did wasn’t working, but then as soon as I starting taking birth control it completely disappeared. When I came off the pill, it almost immediately came back. Be aware that when you come off birth control, any health problems you were having that were reduced by the birth control could come back. I countered this by now only using natural body washes—take precautions beforehand to avoid any surprises.
Explore your options
Needless to say, staying off any form of birth control might not be the best idea for you. As soon as you stop a current form of birth control and understand the results, begin discussing the best next step for you in the process. Maybe you need an IUD, maybe you want to go the injection route, or maybe you want to go back on the pill.
You’re not alone!
One of the most comforting things that I realized throughout this process is that I wasn’t the only person to ever experience the birth control struggle. Finding the right form of birth control is completely individualized, but discussing troubles with other women may help you find solutions. In fact, it was after reading a piece about going off the pill on Literally, Darling that I thought it might be right for me. There are plenty of forums to do this, both online and face-to-face. You just have to join the discussion.
Want to chat about the struggle? Tweet us @litdarling.
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