Why I Quit Hormonal Birth Control and You May Want to Too.
Have you ever thought about what birth control really does to your body?
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I'm pretty much an open book but for some reason I feel nervous writing this post. Perhaps I'm afraid of judgement or being too vulnerable, but the more I learn about birth control the more I feel compelled to share.
I'll preface this by saying I 100% support a woman's right to her own body! Go ahead and do what works best for you, especially when it comes to this topic. My hope for sharing my personal experience and information is to inspire people to ask more questions about their birth control.
When I was 22 I got on birth control for the first time simply because I wanted to heal my acne. I knew nothing about hormone birth control except that my friends told me it helped with their acne, and of course it can prevent babies. I didn't ask any questions past that point, I just told my doctor I wanted it, was given a prescription and went on my way.
It wasn't until I was 23 that I started feeling "off". My acne never went away (in fact it got worse), my PMS symptoms were wild and my mental health was horrible! When I started researching, I realized this could be connected to my birth control! In a study by JAMA Psychiatry, they tracked "one million women over thirteen years and found that girls and women who use hormonal birth control are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with depression."
I decided to talk to my boyfriend (now husband) about getting off my birth control and was nervous how he would respond. Thankfully he was super understanding and saw how I was already impacted and didn't want it to get worse.
Personally, getting off the pill was the best decision. My emotions were better under control, my mental health improved, and I began to understand the phases of the menstrual cycle. I found myself empowered more than ever to understand how my body worked.
What I Switched To
I understand why many women choose to be on the pill or IUDs. For me, I learned that there are alternatives and chose to start tracking my body on a period app called Flo, and just abstain from sex around the ovulation week. Another option of a non-hormonal birth control is Natural Cycles. All you have to do is consistently track your basil body temp with a thermometer every morning & again avoid having sex during the ovulation week. It's 93% effective.
When I was looking up other birth control options I also learned about the copper IUD which is non-hormonal and is placed in the uterus. This can work because sperm doesn't like copper (just be aware of possible copper toxicity). The benefit of non-hormonal birth controls such as Natural Cycles and the Copper IUD is the ability to let your body function how it's supposed to. We want our periods because it is our body's monthly report card. Having a regular period (every 28-34ish days) is a good sign that things are operating as they should.
If you have an irregular period, no period, no symptoms of ovulation, or experience a lot of PMS these are signs that something may be wrong. However, you won't know this information if you are on hormonal birth control. I've been off birth control for 3 years and and now know whats normal for my body. Because of this, I was able to know when to go to the doctor to get checked because I had sharper cramps and extreme PMS symptoms --turned out I had a large ovarian cyst and a hormone imbalance.
Hormonal Birth Control
Again, my point is not to demonize hormonal birth control but to just bring awareness to ask more questions about it.
Hormonal birth control essentially shuts down your body's process of making hormones and forces it to rely on fake hormones. For many women, they started the pill as a teenager during the time their bodies were just starting to make natural hormones. This can result in a variety of negative effects because our bodies need those hormones. I was only on birth control for a year and experienced the impact.
The natural hormone, estradiol, is your happy hormone because it stimulates your mood and libido by boosting serotonin and dopamine. Progesterone is the hormone your body creates after your period (and if you're on hormone birth control, you can't make it). This hormone calms your nervous system, prevents breast cancer, reduces inflammation, builds strong bones, and promotes sleep. It is also essential for when you do want to get pregnant.
If you are deciding to get on birth control or curious about the one you're currently on, do some research and look at the warning labels. Overall, hormonal birth control can slightly increase your risk of breast cancer, blood clots, depression, loss of libido, hair loss, weight gain, nutrient deficiency, and acne.
Talk to a Doctor
If you are considering getting off birth control or just want to know more about the one you are on, talk to your doctor (in addition to your own research). Hopefully you have a patient and understanding one who supports you in your decisions but be prepared for potential push back.
I've had mixed experiences depending on the medical professional I spoke to. I once had a nurse get frustrated when I told her I was not interested in birth control anymore. She questioned my decision and believed it was the only way (also this was Texas which is more traditional). From what I've heard from other women, this is common. Some doctors & nurses are taught birth control can be the solutions to your problem and some of them even have a deal with the brand they're prescribing.
I will counter this by saying, my new OBGYN is very supportive of period apps and when I have questions about my body and how things work, she's always happy to explain. Just find yourself a rock star doctor :)
You do you boo!
At the end of the day, you have to do what's best for your body and your life plans. You have my support and if you have any questions about my personal journey message me on Instagram @brittbehealthy or email me at email@example.com
"Period Repair Manual: Natural Treatment For Better Hormones And Better Periods" by Lara Biden ND