Going Off of Birth Control – The Upside and Downside

As a teenager, when I became sexually active taking the pill seemed like the best option for avoiding pregnancy. No one questioned me in this decision; no one offered any alternatives (although I’m sure my parents would have preferred abstinence). My doctor just wrote the prescription and off I went – it was even covered under insurance which meant it was basically free…

In my mid-twenties I started to feel apprehensive about taking the pill every day. I had never had any of the side effects like some of my friends; I stuck with tricyclen all the way through. But as I became more health conscious it didn’t feel right letting a pill define what is supposed to be my natural monthly cycle.

For years I continued to slough this nagging off. Pretty much everyone I knew was on the pill,  or had been, and each year when I went in for a physical and discussed my concerns with my doctor we would come to the same conclusion: the pill was the best option.

Finally, I took a bit of control and switched to a Jaydess IUD which is still hormonal intervention but allegedly much less so than the pill. That felt better. It felt like I was taking a step in the right direction although I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied until I was completely free.

And now I am. I had the IUD removed a few months ago and it truly does feel freeing.

The upside of being free from any birth control

…is getting to know my body like never before. Maybe it’s because we are trying to get pregnant and I’m ultra sensitive to the goings on within me but I really feel connected to mySelf, my feminine, my divinity.

I am getting to know my natural cycle and it’s such a gift. Never before have I realized the way my appetite ebbs and flows throughout the month. My energy levels and amount of sleep also fluctuate. I used to think that the breast tenderness I got (because I didn’t associate it with menstruation until recently) was a sign I had breast cancer.

And the very best is that I’m not crazy! For years when I was on the pill I was afraid to go off because I thought my emotions would go out of control and I would be harder the handle than I already was. Well! The best news is that without any hormone intervention I’m a much more balanced person…. just ask my husband.

I’m not crazy
My boobs are normal
Some days I’m ravenously hungry
Other days I eat like a bird
Every day I’m getting to know mySelf better
I am so so grateful

Now the downside

is this guilt that I feel for putting my body through all of that crap for so many years. 18 to 30. 12 years. Never again.

I hate that I spent so many years telling my body not to conceive. At the time it felt right, I had stuff I wanted to do, adventures I needed to take…. I don’t regret a single thing. But I’m still mad. I’m mad that felt like the only option. I’m mad I’ve been sending my body mixed signals for so long. I’m mad that I didn’t know any better. I’m mad at the system for encouraging all of us to mask/cover up/hide from/fear our natural rhythm. It’s complete bullshit.

Admittedly I was too drunk and promiscuous to trust myself to make the right decisions and taking the pill was a way for me to not be responsible for my body. Part of me is so ashamed of that truth. And the other part of me is pretty darn grateful for everything that girl taught me.

There is a better way.

I know it.

Let’s encourage our girls to know their bodies, embrace their cycles, their flows, their individuality… Let’s encourage our boys to understand how a woman’s body works so they don’t have to fear it or be grossed out by it. When it comes to our bodies and our lives we have – and deserve – the choice.

Let’s make sure we are all really well informed before we make decisions that could change the rest of our lives. Let’s not look at 14 year old’s as horny and irresponsible. I mean, some of them are, but if we treat them and raise them as young adults with a real responsibility, and make that a societal norm, it won’t seem so daunting.

It’s natural. It’s real. It’s healthy. It takes a village.

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