I was 14 when I first got on the pill. I had gone into the doctor, complaining of acne, and I walked out with a prescription for birth control. This was the norm (and probably still is today). If only I could go back in time and have 24-year-old me swat that prescription out of 14-year-old me’s hand. By the time I was 23, I had tried almost every type of birth control. I had been through countless pills, the ring, and the Implanon. I had not one, but two IUDs. Some worked for a short period of time, some showed their side effects a year in.
Fast forward to March of 2018. My husband and I were at the airport, waiting for our flight to Germany for spring break. I always forget something when I travel, and this time, I realized it was my pill pack. *Cue the panic attack* If I went home to get it, I would miss my flight. If I left, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get a pack in Germany.
I decided to not miss my flight, and we made it to Germany. During that flight, we discussed my options. Was this a sign that I should once and for all get off of birth control? I had been getting more granola that year. I had traded in (most) diet Cokes for kombucha. I religiously checked the Wellness Mama website. I ate grain free granola. I had also read about the potential harmful side effects of the Pill – and not just bloating and weight gain. That year, I had read the Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden. She discussed how periods while on the pill weren’t actual periods, but rather chemical periods. Could it be possible that it had been nearly a decade since I allowed myself to have a real period? Could my use of hormones have contributed to my loss of an ovary? These questions haunted me.
During that flight, I decided I was done with hormonal birth control. I had read about other methods, and when we landed, I looked into them. The one that seemed most reliable and simple was an app, called Natural Cycles. Basically, all you had to do was take your temperature every morning, at the same time. You plugged that into the app, and based on that, it would tell you if you were fertile or not, thus acting as birth control, without the gross chemicals.
It took a while to get used to this method. I had to remember, first thing in the morning, to take my temp. I had to set alarms for weekend mornings, to ensure that my temperature was taken within the two hour window for consistency. The mild inconvenience was worth it though. My body felt better than ever. My cycles, for the first time, were consistent. I had more energy and less head fog. I came to the realization that flushing hormones through my body had been doing more harm than good.
I am not saying that hormonal birth control is the devil. It has contributed to society in many ways. It’s allowed women to take control of their fertility and their body. It has been a God send to women who struggle with painful periods. However, it is not for everyone, and the research is showing that. Women who try to conceive immediately after getting off the pill often have a difficult time. Some studies say that it has increased chances of PCOS. For me, it just made me feel… bad.
As I get off my soap box, I guess I should get at my point. My point is that we, as women, should take ownership over what goes into our bodies. Doctors prescribe hormonal birth control so frequently, and very rarely will discuss harmful side effects. That’s not their fault – that’s what they’re taught. Look into things. Don’t just trust the man in the white coat sitting across the table from you. Listen to your body. If you feel like sh*t, do something about it! No one knows you like you do. To this day, I am grateful AF that I forgot the pill pack that snowy day in March. Who knows how much longer I would have stayed on if that hadn’t happened?