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April 1, 2015

What You May Not Know About Coming Off The Pill

A few weeks after our wedding, I had a bit of a health scare. I won't go into too much detail but after talking with my doctor and doing some research, I decided to stop taking hormonal birth control.


Before I did, I picked up the book "Taking Charge of Your Fertility," a bible of sorts for those looking for more natural methods of birth control and pregnancy achievement. The author is an MPH and the book is exceptionally well researched and a best seller on Amazon.


While the book taught me a lot about how birth control works (while you're on as well as when you get off the pill), there were a few things I've experienced that I wasn't expecting. We always hear about the side effects of medication, but rarely do we consider the side effects of stopping medication.

Since coming off the pill, I've experienced a number of side effects...most of which I wasn't fully prepared for. Upon endlessly googling, I've learned that all of these things are normal, however I've decided to share my own experiences so that anyone out there looking to make a similar lifestyle change can be aware of what the side effects might be.

Before I go into detail, I need to start with the disclaimer that I am not a doctor, medical professional or healthcare practitioner of any kind. What I'm writing about is based on my own experiences. The recommendations provided are simply recommendations based on what has worked for me. Please consult your doctor before taking any of the following recommendations into consideration.
Breakouts
I've always had very clear skin. Sure, I get the occasional pimple now and then but breakouts had never been a problem for me...until now. Within weeks of stopping HBC, I started breaking out like a 12 year-old boy. My forehead is the worst. It was so bad at first, I thought I was having an allergic reaction to the wax at my eye brow place but when it kept happening again and again, I realized that it was a side effect of stopping the pill.  
Recommendation: I read that vitamins help with a lot of the side effects I'm referencing here, so I stocked up on a regular multivitamin, some fish oil and zinc. Within a week of this vitamin regimen, my face started to clear up. The breakouts have since returned, but I blame that on me skipping a few days of the vitamins around my period, when the breakouts are the worst.  
Heavy Periods
When I first stopped taking the pill, I didn't get my period again for 35 days. When I finally did get it, I sat at my desk in tears because my cramps were so bad. It had been two hours and nothing was helping. One of my coworkers suggested I go home and I wouldn't because the thought of getting up and taking the Metro or a cab just seemed like too much effort. I've never had cramps like this. They come in waves, like what I imagine contractions would be like, and literally take my breath away. Working out? Not an option. All I can really do is hole up and wait for the day to be over. 
Recommendation: Heating pads, Pamprin and Lemon Ginger tea. This combination is the only thing that seems to mitigate the symptoms, but honestly? I just have to wait it out. I'm hoping that in time, as my cycle regulates, things will get easier.  
Horrible PMS 
PMS starts 4-5 days before my period with me gaining an extra 5 lbs from bloating and being horribly irritable. I've found myself picking fights with The Pilot, getting angry at nothing and wanting to cry about everything. This past weekend, all I wanted was to have a good cry. I tried to watch "Les Mis" but our DVD player is broken and I was so angry that I couldn't watch it and have myself that cry that I started to cry. Totally rational, right? 
Recommendation: The same list as above...again, they mitigate the symptoms, but don't really do much to alleviate them. 
Anovulatory Cycles
I knew this one before hand. The pill stops you from ovulating and it can take months or even years to start ovulating again. While I'm not currently trying to get pregnant, every month that I chart my cycles and see that I haven't ovulated, I get really frustrated that my body isn't doing what it's supposed to. 
Recommendation: I don't really have one for this. I'm taking multivitamins, eating healthy and exercising regularly. I know that it can take awhile so I'm just waiting. I recently bought a supplement called Vitex but haven't started taking it yet. I'm due for my annual in June so I'll talk to my doctor than if my cycles haven't regulated themselves and I'm still anovulatory. 
This isn't the kind of topic that I normally talk about on my blog, but I wanted to share this because I think it might be helpful to other women. I will say that there is one positive side effect and that's knowing my body better. I can't really explain it but I just feel better being off the pill. I'm using the Fertility Awareness Method and taking my temperature every morning and charting my cycles has definitely made me understand my cycle a little bit better.

As I'm working to adopt a more natural lifestyle (eliminating processed foods, using all natural cleaners, etc.) this shift couldn't have come at a better time and I'm really glad that I'm giving my body time to work everything out before we decide that we're ready to start a family.

If you're looking to make a similar change, I highly recommend reading "Taking Charge of Your Fertility," it's an unbelievable resource and I find myself referencing it frequently. If you have any questions, I'm happy to answer them to the best of my ability. Just remember, I'm not a doctor!

Thanks for reading!

8 comments:

  1. What a great and informative post, lady! I appreciate you being honest with us even if it isn't the normal blog topic. Natural Family Planning and none pill BC is definitely something I'm looking into for our family. The convenience of the pill is great, but who knows what else we are doing to our bodies and hormones. I need to check out that book :)!

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  2. I'm glad you did talk about it! I'm probably going to stop taking the pill when I get married in September -- not going for a baby, just don't really like having to take the pill, so we'll use other means. Anyway. I haven't even THOUGHT about the side effects of stopping. Probably something I should look into!

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  3. Very informative! I had a ton of side effects from the pill and eventually moved towards an IUD. It's still hormone based, but it's a much lower dose. I applaud you for going to a completely natural system, but I'm not ready for a system that has a higher failure rate. Thanks again for all the info!

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    1. Actually, FAM is very effective. It just requires a lot of time to understand properly. I had my doubts about it before really doing the research, but now, I fully support it!

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  4. First of all, I hope you are doing well and your health scare is under control. A very interesting post! I used the pill for 10 years and then switch to the Nuvaring. After a few years it got too expensive (insurance barely covered it) and I didn't feel well either, my boyfriend at the time and I decided to use condoms and I can not tell you how much better I felt!

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  5. I think it's wonderful that you posted about this on the blog. There are positives and negatives to everything and I think it's important to know the potential negatives. You opened my eyes to a lot of stuff when we talked so when I saw this post on your insta I knew I had to comment. So proud of you for putting this out there!

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  6. I'm so glad you decided to write about this topic! I went off the pill last May after a lot of thought and research. And while things aren't perfect and I'm actively doing things every day to positively affect my fertility, I'm so glad I made the decision I did. I highly recommend the book "Sexy by Nature" by Stefani Ruper. It has become my bible for everything women's health related from a natural + holistic + food first perspective.

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  7. I love that you talked about this! I think we should be more open about birth control and our health; especially with other women! I am so sorry about your health scare, and am glad you are finding things that work better for you!

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