Coming off the contraceptive pill (Take 2!)
I have been on the contraceptive pill for as long as I can remember. Actually, I can't remember if I was 15 or 16 when I started taking it, as my memory is sort of hazy, but I think I was 16. Me and my then boyfriend had been having sex for a few months and, after hearing a lot about it from my girlfriends at school, I decided I didn't want to use condoms anymore. I wanted to be on the pill instead. No money spent on condoms? Control over my periods? What wasn't to like?!
Oh, naive little me.
Fast forward seven years later and there I am, hooked on this tiny little pill that I pop on the regular, despite the fact that it makes me feel like utter shite, all in a bid to make my life 'easier' by not needing to use condoms. Wow.
Okay, okay - it's not true I was entirely hooked, because I had previously taken a break. Back in 2016, fresh out of a relationship and not at all interested in having sex with anyone ever again, I had no need for the pill. Add to that that I was seeing more and more bloggers, like Tara Costello, write about the dangers of the pill. Tara provided me with more information about contraception and the havoc it can wreak on your body and just how awful it is for your mental health, than any doctor had ever given me. It was game over for me. I wanted out.
I couldn't believe I hadn't been educated on anything to do with the pill by my doctors, or even teachers during sex ed. Especially on just how damaging it is to your mental health. Here I was, 21 years old, having been on the pill for five straight years and utterly clueless as to what I was actually putting in my body and how it was actually affecting me. That's mad, right? I couldn't believe it.
So I stopped taking it. Just like that, I decided that I no longer wanted to put this hormonal monster inside of me all for the sake of easier sex. And guess what? I felt great. I lost weight, my mood swings lessened drastically, my boobs didn't shrink like I'd been told and my sex drive was also not affected. Obviously the first question every one asked me was "Oh my god but what about sex? You'll have to use a condom!!"
Cleverly observed. It's good to see you took your sex ed classes, kids.
Truthfully, I only had sex a handful of times whilst off the pill, some with condoms and some without (where a morning after pill was purchased immediately afterwards. Thankfully I am a) a lot more responsible now and b) both baby and STI free). The condoms didn't bother me, and neither did the lack of control over my periods, because finally my body was my own again and I was in control of it. No one else, just me.
However, when I found myself back in a relationship in 2018, after an almost two year break from the pill, I found myself leaning back towards the idea of it. Yes okay, my moods would be atrocious, I'd gain weight and I'd be pumping myself full of hormones I didn't need - but it was worth it for sex without a condom, right?
God, I just want to kick myself. What's with all the stigma surrounding condoms anyway? They're not that bad! Society has made us think they're awkward, uncomfortable and that they ruin sex - when in actual fact, they help to prevent you from getting pregnant and protect you from getting any sexually transmitted diseases! You can even get super thin 'invisible' ones now that you can barely feel at all. But instead, it's apparently more desirable - and socially acceptable - for a woman to go through minor surgery to get an implant or the coil put in place, or to pump herself full of hormones by taking the pill, just so a boy can experience slightly more pleasure without a condom? Wow.
After being on the pill again for over a year, I decided in 2019 I wanted to come off the pill, maybe using something like the patch (which a friend told me about and I had never heard of previously!) or maybe just using condoms. As always, Jonny was 100000% supportive and understanding and wanted me to do what was best for me, for my mental health and physical health. I had planned to give it some thought, but on New Years Eve (perfect timing hey?) doctors made the decision for me and said I was no longer able to take the pill I'd taken for most of my adult life due to health reasons. I was crushed, so upset and totally stressed about what I'd do now.
But really, it was a blessing in disguise. I'd said I wanted to come off the pill in 2019, and here I was, literally about the enter the new year without the pill. Really, I was happy.
It's only been two weeks without the pill now but already I feel better. Yes, my period was marginally longer and slightly more cramp-y than if I'd been on the pill, but other than that, everything has just been better without it. I've been feeling happier and having less mood swings, I feel generally lighter and happier within myself - and out of nowhere, my sex drive has been through the roof. Jonny can barely keep up. I can barely keep up with myself! It's crazy.
The weirdest part is that when you're on the pill, you don't feel like anything is wrong. I don't feel like my mood swings are abnormal, like my weight gain is excessive, like my sex drive is dulled down. You just think that's just how you are, until you come off the pill - and then your eyes are opened and you realise that actually, your quality of life was supposed to be better than this.
I never want to go back on the pill again - and I'd never, ever recommend it to anyone either. I know there are some benefits for people with certain conditions and illnesses, but if you're taking it simply because "you don't want to use a condom", I would seriously urge you to think again. Both times I've come off the pill I've felt one million times better than I ever did on the pill! They're not healthy, they're not good for you in the long term and they seriously just ruin your hormonal balance and, more importantly, your mental health. Depression is a severe side effect of the pill that needs to be talked about more - and do you really want to suffer from depression just to have easier sex? Don't be daft.
I wish younger me had had more advice. I wish younger me had had more guidance. But you live and you learn, hey? I've lived and definitely learned - and now I want you all to learn, too. The pill is bad news and if you don't have to take it, I really wouldn't recommend it.
Have you been on the pill before? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments below!