Quitting Hormonal Birth Control
I got my period young, like many girls do these days. I was twelve years old and other than being pretty young, everything was pretty normal. Everything remained normal until the day I walked into the doctors office and they prescribed me the pill. I was thirteen. I did not go on the pill because I was having sex rather I went on the pill because my doctor told me it would help me regulate my periods and take away the discomfort of cramps. To be honest, I cannot remember if my periods were even irregular. I do remember having slight cramping during the start of my period, but trust me, nothing like I do now. My doctor was so quick and relaxed to give me - this virgin, juvenile 13 year old, the pill. I stayed on the pill for 10 years. I look back over the years between 13 and 23 and I wonder if things like my severe adult acne and dysmenorrhea were actually due to hormonal imbalances or the pill messing with my hormones. You see, I feel like I had ten years of my life robbed by what some would think a non-invasive thing like the pill. My opinion now, I believe hormonal birth control is extremely invasive, stripping girls of their innate responses to naturally release hormones and become synced with their bodies and the moon cycle.
When I started to become more aware of health and wellness in my twenties is when I decided I wanted to stop taking hormonal birth control. I stopped without the consent of my doctor when I was 23 years old. To my surprise, I got my period the first month after stopping the pill, many girls do not get their periods back for up to one year plus after they stop the pill! I believe the second we stop hormonal birth control is the second our bodies can go to war for us to heal. When given the chance, the body will heal itself, by ITSELF. So yay, I got my period, but - it was not regular. And after a few months, I realized the first day of my period was going to be a day where I miserably stayed home from work.
Now, 28 years old, I suffer from dysmenorrhea which is extreme cramping typically lasting for 6-12 hours at the beginning of your period. Do I think that hormonal birth control caused me to have this dysmenorrhea? Absolutely! If I was able to naturally experience my cycle for ten years before I experienced any symptoms out of the ordinary, I would have resolved them as they appeared. But instead, my symptoms were masked and buried in a hole for years. Many doctors will prescribe hormonal birth control to alleviate females of painful periods, irregular periods, PCOS, endometriosis, acne, the list goes on. Hormonal birth control increases things like estrogen and progesterone in the body and depending on the levels of hormones, some hormonal contraceptions are designed for females to only menstruate four times a year, or NEVER. In what world does that sounds normal to you? Have you ever thought a painful period was maybe your body trying to signal to you that something was not right? A hormonal imbalance due to diet and lifestyle choices perhaps?
Then I learned I was not alone. I stumbled across the movie The Business of Being Born directed by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein which then lead me to their next project, a documentary based off of Holly Grigg-Spall's book, Sweetening the Pill. I was enraged but also determined to spread the message about why hormonal birth control shouldn't be taken so lightly anymore!
So if I got off of hormonal birth control, how have I not gotten pregnant in the past five years? One word - FAM. FAM stands for Fertility Awareness Method and I swear by it. Everything you need to know is in the holy grail of fertility awareness called Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. The book teaches you how to use the Fertility Awareness Method to either become pregnant or avoid pregnancy by documenting variables like your BBT (basal body temperature), cervical fluid, and cervix position. What could be a better way of getting to know your body better than being able to predict exactly when you are ovulating and exactly when you will get your period? It is perfect because you learn when it is a bad time to be having sex (if you do not wish to get pregnant) and when it is a perfect time to have sex. I think condoms are uncomfortable, FAM has allowed my husband and I to know when protected sex (or other forms of pleasure) is necessary and when it is not.
Sounds like a lot of effort? Think again! My morning would look like this.. I woke up and immediately took my temperature and recorded it in an app on my phone called Kindara. When I noticed any discharge I also would record that on the app. Thats it. After a few months, I knew my body so well I no longer needed to take morning temperatures or track my cervical fluid. I solely use the Kindara app now to record when I get my period each month so I can 1. know when my next period is going to come and 2. keep track of my cycle lengths. You can even customize the data and check off buttons on days when you are say feeling moody, depressed, breast tenderness, a break out, etc. Once my husband and I decided we want to start trying to conceive, FAM and Kindara will be two valuable resources for us. I will begin tracking my morning temperatures and cervical fluid again as it is imperative for knowing when you are ovulating to become skilled in intercourse timing.
Kindara also manufactures a device called Wink. Wink is an oral fertility thermometer that syncs with your phone, and it is a first of its kind! It makes recording your temperature as easy as it can get since Wink records your temperature and the time you took your temperature all wirelessly to your phone. You can purchase your own Wink by clicking the image below.
In my opinion, I think hormonal birth control is prescribed way too loosely and robs women across the globe of their reproductive freedom. It still makes me mad to think about the fact that I cannot get those ten years back, but we cannot live in the past. My goal is to inspire others with my story so we start a domino effect of awareness towards alternative methods of birth control. Please share this with your daughters, sisters, friends, educators, health care professionals, etc.
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