For all my male readers (and male family members), today might be a post you’ll want to skip. I’ll be back to posting about food, recipes and fat talk on Monday! Now, that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s continue.
When I girl-talk with my married friends, one of the topics that gets brought up most often is birth control. Talk about a controversial topic! I think it ranks up there with the ‘mommy wars’ and breast feeding as topics that really get women going. And more often than not, I’ve found that a large majority of my friends have had a less than pleasant experience with the most common form of birth control, the pill.
Before Joe and I got married, I started taking the pill (B-Yaz to be exact) because, well, I wasn’t aware there was any other option. To be honest, I hated the idea of taking some form of medication every single day, let alone something that regulated my hormones artificially. My mom always had a bend toward things natural when possible. I can’t tell you the number of times I heard her say, “Listen to your body.” And although I took medicine and antibiotics when I was sick, I was unaccustomed to the concept of taking medicine on a daily basis.
But when push came to shove, the pill won out over my misgivings because of one simple fact: convenience.
I wouldn’t say that the year I was on birth control was terrible, but it certainly wasn’t without its fair share of unpleasant side effects. I did a lot of research online (reading articles, message boards about people’s personal experiences, talking with friends who were on the pill), and found that many of my symptoms were actually very common. When I first started taking birth control, my primary concern was gaining weight, since that was one of the few negatives I had heard others express about the pill. Perhaps I gained a pound or two, but I wouldn’t say it was noticeable, and most certainly not the base of my complaints. In all honesty, my greatest complaints with the pill were my decreased libido and general irritability about everything. I was snappy, more prone to being moody and down than usual, which is not like me at all. I talked with another good friend, who expressed many of the same feelings, and another who had moodiness that she said made her ‘crazy.’
About six months ago (a little over a year after starting the pill) I visited my doctor for my yearly exam and to discuss other options to replace my current from of birth control. Naively, I expected her to have a lot of other solutions that were just as easy and effective, but without the hormonal impact that came with taking the pill. The response I got was disheartening. She rattled off a bunch of other ‘options’ that didn’t really sound much better than my current course of action. Other brands of pills, rings, IUD’s (surgically implanting something gave me the creeps), which all seemed to have the same set of side effects and risks. Looking back, I guess I shouldn’t have been all that surprised. These devices are effective because they all regulate your hormones in very similar ways, some methods just require you to think about it a little less.
Initially after the appointment, I resigned myself to sticking with birth control and accepting that I would have to deal with the symptoms until we were ready to have kids. (Not anytime soon!) But something just didn’t sit right with me. My frustration with the situation only grew, and I found myself crying often about how I didn’t feel like myself. Knowing how frustrated I was, Joe said he was on-board for anything if it would make me feel better. Eventually, about four months ago, we decided to try condoms in place of the pill. Without going into detail, it ended up being the method that worked for us.
Now that I’m a handful of months out of using birth control, I can tell you that I most certainly feel better. I no longer have the full/bloated feeling that I came to associate with the pill, my mood is generally more stable and I am a lot less likely to be irritable, and my libido has increased. And in general, I feel much happier mentally knowing that I am not taking any medication to regulate my hormones.
Before I end this already incredibly long post, I have to add that this was a decision that was right for me based on my personal experiences and reactions to a drug and is most certainly not for everyone. I know a lot of people who have had no ill side effects from the pill, and others who take it to help with their PCOS or skin issues and are incredibly happy with it. However, I do wish someone had talked more openly with me about other options and the side effects that often go undiscussed, which is why I wanted to share my story.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject! Have you had an experience – good or bad – with the pill or other forms of bc?