I Stopped Taking Hormonal Birth Control & Here's What Changed
Last October, I stopped taking hormonal birth control. I had just moved to New York City, and since I was no longer in the long-term relationship that had been my original reason for going on the pill in the first place, I figured it was as a good a time as any to see if going off the pill would help me to stop feeling anxious all the time. I'd suspected for some time that taking hormonal birth control was contributing to my anxiety, and I wanted to see if going off my birth control pills would help me decrease my propensity to panic when I was stressed out.
I also hoped that going off the pill would alleviate my need for lube during sex, and I was a little bit nervous about the fact that going off the pill would mean relying solely on condoms to prevent pregnancy. But I was willing to try anything that might help with my excessive anxiousness. So when October's Dialpak ran out, I didn't bother starting a new one. Almost three months later, I feel like going off birth control pills is one of the best things I've ever done for my mental health.
If you're considering going off hormonal birth control pills, you should talk to your doctor about it first. That said, if you think going off hormonal birth control will benefit your emotional and mental health at all, I highly recommend considering it. (At least on a trial basis.) Obviously, your experience may not be the same as mine, but personally, I feel much healthier, both physically and mentally, since I stopped taking birth control. Here are five things that have happened since I stopped taking hormonal birth control.
1. My Anxiety Has Decreased Considerably
To be fair, I've struggled with anxiety since I was a kid. However, I now can say for sure that the pill was making my anxiety way worse. The longer I was on the pill, the more my anxiety grew, and the worse I got at managing it. Of course, the four years I was on birth control probably would've been stressful no matter what. I started taking the pill in my senior year of college, and for most of time I was on the pill I was in a relationship that frequently stressed me out. On top of that, during my last few months of taking the pill, I went through a breakup, quit my day job to start writing full time, and moved from small town Missouri to Brooklyn.
I still have stressors in my life, but I have a lot less panic. I still feel anxious at times, but I also feel way more capable of dealing with my considerably decreased anxiety. I couldn't be more grateful that doing something as simple as going off my birth control pills has so greatly benefited me mentally and emotionally. Estrogen is known to contribute to anxiety, so it makes sense that by cutting down on the amount of it in my body, I'd notice a difference.
2. ...But My PMS-Related Sadness Has Gotten Worse
OK, so going off my birth control pills has made my PMS-related sadness noticeably worse. When I have PMS, I feel way more homesick than normal, I know that listening to Adele is completely out of the question, and my already-sensitive personality goes into hyper-drive. It honestly doesn't bother me that much, though. Because, for me personally, feeling blue for a few days out of the month is highly preferable to feeling super anxious every day.
3. It's Easier For Me To Get Wet
I never had any trouble with vaginal dryness before going on the pill, but the entire time I was on the pill, I had to use lube every time I had sex. Admittedly, this was partly due to a consistent lack of foreplay, combined with the fact that my ex was well-endowed. Even when I was adequately warmed up before sex, though, I still needed lube to be comfortable.
Since going off the pill, I've noticed that I get wetter than I did when I was on the pill, and I get wet faster, too. I still need lube to be comfortable most of the time, but I think that's because I use condoms now, and with my ex I didn't have to.
4. It's Harder For Me To Keep Up With My Menstrual Cycle
My menstrual cycle has always been super regular, and it still is. However, when I was on the pill, I always knew when I was going to start my period based on what section of my Dialpak I was taking. I still have a general idea of when I'm supposed to get my period, but my birth control pills allowed me to determine, pretty much down to the day, when my period would come. Fortunately, there are plenty of apps out there that can help me keep track of my cycle, so all I need to do is use them consistently to fix this problem.
5. My Sex Drive Has Become More Manageable
OK, so my sex drive is still pretty dang high. But when I was on birth control, it was ridiculous. Unless I was just exhausted from a heavy work week, I'd try to get my ex to have sex with me every single day. I know that most women actually report a decrease in sex drive on the pill, but that just wasn't how my body reacted to the hormones.
Don't get me wrong, I still love having frequent sex; but I don't feel like having sex every single day anymore, and I find that highly preferable to being horny all the friggin' time.
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