Getting to know a pill-free-me

I’m not going to put a warning on this blog because the effects of hormone-based contraception is something we should all be more aware of. But, if contraception and menstrual cycles aren’t relevant/comfortable to you, please feel free to stop reading now.

I’ve been on varying types of hormonal contraception for varying reasons since I was fourteen years old. In that time, I’ve taken roughly 4500 contraceptive pills. I’ll be forever grateful for getting to this age without facing an unplanned pregnancy, but I’m about to turn 26 and want to get to know my adult body and brain without the influence of a synthetic hormone messing with the dials.

I’ve toyed with coming off contraception for a while, but have been warded off by horror stories of accidental pregnancies and adult acne. Plus, it’s always been simpler to just stay on the pill: it’s easy to remember, it prevents pregnancy, and I don’t experience any major problems from taking it (well, not that I’m aware of, anyway). So why change that?

We’re all familiar with the A3 booklet that arrives with our pill packet, detailing the potential side effects which include weight change/acne/loss of libido/depression. We just learn to live with these, because they’re better than an unplanned pregnancy. We learn to internalise these side effects to believe they are simply a part of ‘who we are’… to the point where you could go to the doctor about these side effects and I bet they’ll suggest a different cause before they suggest it’s down to your contraception.

In brief, the mini-pill (which I take every day without a break) stops the normal hormonal cycle. By adapting the natural flow of hormones in the body, the reproductive cycle doesn’t act in the way it should do. This means that I don’t ovulate and it’s very challenging for me to conceive whilst taking the pill. So taking the pill = no pregnancy. Great!

But, what I’ve learned about lately are all the other ways the pill could be altering our behaviour. Womb-owners might find that when on the pill, they are less creative, less interested in hobbies that used to excite them, less interested in sex, less interested in music, less interested in their appearance. One woman described coming off the pill as ‘stepping out of a book and into the real world’.

Before now, I’d been pretty happy to stay on the pill until I was ready to have a child. But, I realise how important it is to experience adult life without the possibility of the contraceptive pill influencing how I live it. Most doctors will tell you there isn’t enough research to guarantee these claims. But, there’s certainly enough early research to suggest we should be educated on the influence the pill might be having.

I’ve made the decision that at this point in my life, the risk of a pregnancy doesn’t outweigh the potential changes my pill might be making to my brain. My partner and I have discussed this and both agree we want to get to know the pill-free version of me! Let’s hope we both like her 😀

If you’d like to find out more, here are some links to books/websites that helped me, but please consult your doctor before making any changes.

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