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TEAM ZOELLA JUNE 9, 2021

We Spoke to 5 People About Coming Off the Pill

Whether you’re trying to conceive or curious to reconnect with your natural cycle again to find out what you’re like without synthetic hormones, keep reading to see what to expect when you come off the pill.

Many people start taking birth control in their teens and continue consistently without a break for a decade or more, but what happens to your body when you stop taking it, particularly after a long stretch of time?

When it comes to quitting birth control, there is a barrage of information available out there detailing the bad and the ugly, from break outs to severe mood swings, tender breasts and irregular or non-existent menstrual cycles. Despite the slew of possible side effects, many people transition off the pill without any problem whatsoever. Everyone’s body is different and there are certainly just as many positive experiences as there are challenging ones.

If you’re thinking about giving birth control the boot but you’re not sure what living pill-free life will be like, these personal and varied experiences will help you make the decision that’s right for you, your mind and your body.

Whether you’re trying to conceive or curious to reconnect with your natural cycle again to find out what you’re like without synthetic hormones, keep reading to see what to expect when you come off the pill.

Darcey

How long had you previously been on the pill?

So I started my period fairly late at the age of 15, just before I turned 16 and was put on the pill pretty quickly due to having heavy periods. I stayed on the pill from the age of 16 to 21, so around 5-6 years.

What was your experience of being on the pill?

I loved being on the pill when I first started it, I think mainly because for some weird reason it was considered cool to be on it at my school? I think it made us feel like an adult being on a form of contraception and having control over our periods. I was started on the bog-standard ‘Microgynon’ but ended up stopping this due to headaches.

It was only when I reached 21 and started exploring my anxiety more in depth did I see the link between my anxiety and the contraceptive pill.Darcey

I think I have been on around 4 different pills in those 5-6 years, I can’t even remember the name of them all. I never remember having any side effects when I first started the pill (apart from the headaches), however as I grew older I started to see a real distinct link between the contraceptive pill and my anxiety. At the age of 16 I had a really bad period of anxiety, so bad I couldn’t go to college without bursting into tears for the majority of my second term in first year. It was only when I reached 21 and started exploring my anxiety more in depth did I see the link between my anxiety and the contraceptive pill.

Did you feel that there was enough education and awareness to help you make an informed decision about your use of contraception and the potential side effects?

Absolutely not, not a single doctor sat down with me and explained any side effects or how it could effect my mental health. Looking back now I’m quite shocked the doctor put me on the pill in the first place. I had maybe had a max of 4 natural periods before complaining about the heaviness of them to a doctor to be whacked on the pill. They were super heavy, but I feel my body didn’t even have the time to regulate itself. I wasn’t sexually active either at that time, so they just put me on the pill in order to stop the heavy periods. But I was 16 and naive to the idea, if a doctor tells you to do something at that age, you’ll do it. I wish someone had maybe taken the time to explain different forms of contraception at least to me, or told me to wait a few months before making any decisions.

What made you decide you wanted to stop taking the pill?

I felt really out of tune with my own body and like I was just pumping it with synthetic hormones without knowing exactly what they were disrupting.Darcey

I decided to stop taking the pill due to anxiety-like previously mentioned. I felt like I had discovered a real link between the pill and my anxiety, and so I went to a doctor before stopping to ask the safest way to do this and to discuss if there was any link. This doctor agreed with me that they think the contraceptive pill could have been the trigger or at least made my anxiety worse those last 5-6 years. I also decided to stop taking the pill because I wasn’t sexually active at that moment in time, I also had never properly experienced a natural cycle for me. I felt really out of tune with my own body and like I was just pumping it with synthetic hormones without knowing exactly what they were disrupting.

Were you nervous about ditching the pill at all? If so, what was your biggest reservation?

I wasn’t nervous at all actually, maybe naively like when I started the pill. I just thought I’d stop the pill and a month later I’d get my period and my body would be back to it’s pre-pill state. Boy I was wrong! I also think only being on it for 5-6 years made me think it wouldn’t be so bad coming off of it, as I know some people spend like 10-15 years on it before stopping.

What mental and physical side effects, if any, did you experience when you stopped taking it?

When I first came off of it I felt fine for the first couple of weeks. However then I started to get extremely achy and tender boobs, I was exhausted for weeks too like my body was really struggling to adjust to making hormones again. I also had the worst night-sweats for weeks, like I was pre-menopausal, apparently this happens when you have a sudden drop in estrogen in the body.

Apparently, post-pill acne is very common, it has only just started to calm down for me now.Darcey

I also had pretty bad mood swings for a while, I felt quite out of control of my own body, but after a couple of months it did completely settle. My worst side effect was probably acne. Although I don’t think acne in any way shape or form is bad, we all get spots and who bloody cares really, I had always had very clear skin so too suddenly be dealing with acne did knock my confidence for a while. Apparently, post-pill acne is very common, it has only just started to calm down for me now, I only really get pimples now when I am due on. But it has caused a bit of scarring and pigmentation to my face, which is totally fine but still something that took me some time to get my head around.

Did your menstrual cycle return straight away or did it take a bit of time to settle?

Mine did return straight away, however it wasn’t my ‘normal cycle’, if I’m honest I don’t think it settled until recently, after being off the pill for a year and a half. My first period pre-pill was really light and they stayed that way for quite a few months. It was only after about 6 months did they become increasingly heavier and that I noticed more signs of PMS etc. Although they have been very consistent, cycle length being 28-30 days and period length 4-5 days throughout.

Do you feel more in tune with your body now you’re off the pill?

Absolutely, I can recognise PMS and symptoms of ovulation. Although I can’t say this is all down to me, I use the Flo app which has really helped me discover a lot about my period and how it affects me monthly. My anxiety has really quite improved, I also have been working on it too so I can’t say fundamentally it has been the only factor to improved mental health, but my mind feels clearer. I also don’t have raging mood swings anymore, I realised the pill made me super paranoid about social situations etc. My paranoia completely disappeared once stopping the pill, it’s quite scary to think this small little pill can affect someone so much!

Knowing my body is doing what it’s meant to be doing I find quite comforting.Darcey

Coming off of the pill made me realise that I can feel when I’m ovulating which I found fascinating! I don’t get cramps while on my period, but every month when I’m ovulating I get a very minor pain in my abdomen which lasts a few hours then disappears. I also enjoy having my monthly period too, not so much when the actual period comes around ha! But knowing my body is doing what it’s meant to be doing I find quite comforting, it is amazing what the body can do!

Did you learn anything new about your cycle, your moods, body fluids (sexy, we know) or anything else that could have been masked by the pill?

Yes I have learnt so much! Using the Flo app like I said previously has really helped me learn about my cycle etc. Ovulating is the top one and being able to feel when this process has begun, also learning that our discharge changes when we ovulate, who would have known! I also now know a week before my period I am extremely irritated… basically anything and everything annoys me, but I have found CBD oil to help with this funk I’m in and calm me a bit.

I also get terrible tension headaches before and after my period, but not during. Cravings too, my body needs so much food when it’s menstruating, so I give it what it needs (usually chocolate)! I’m exhausted too for the first two days of my period, it does take it out of me but not to the point where I can’t get on with daily tasks. But all of these things were masked by the pill, but I am happy now that I know how my cycle effects me mentally and psychically and can prepare myself for it.

What’s been the best thing about coming off the pill?

Mental clarity for sure and feeling way more in-tune with my own body. It feels really good to know so much about my own cycle now and to be able to see all the ways it affects me monthly.

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of turning their backs on this method of birth control?

I think speaking with your GP first is important and just letting them know you are wanting to stop. Also to just be openminded and see how you feel after a good few months of being off the pill, you might find you dislike not being on any form of contraception and so you can then look at other forms like IUD’s etc. Also prepare yourself for side effects, especially ones like tender breasts and acne which I have seen from my own research are pretty common. But also don’t let the side effects put you off as they are for the most part short lived and manageable from my own experience!

Have you found another form of birth control that works for you at all?

I actually haven’t attempted going on any other form of birth control since stopping the pill! Due to the pandemic, I haven’t been sexually active so haven’t seen any point of seeking out any forms of contraception. I know for a fact I will never be taking any form of contraception that has synthetic hormones again though.

If I decided I didn’t want to go on any form of contraception, any future sexual partners should absolutely respect that decision and wear a condom.Darcey

The two forms which I have been looking into to potentially start this year are natural cycles where you take your temperature every morning and it basically tells you how fertile you are, or to have the copper IUD fitted (although this does scare me a bit!). But also very much in the mind that if I decided I didn’t want to go on any form of contraception, any future sexual partners should absolutely respect that decision and wear a condom. It’s not all up to women or any person with a womb to take contraception that messes with their body just so someone doesn’t have to wrap up, it’s 2021, we are over that!

One thing you should prepare for when coming off the pill…

To be honest prepare yourself for some unpleasant side effects, but also prepare yourself for actually a pretty life-changing experience too! I feel so much better after stopping hormonal birth control, I read so many horror stories before coming off the pill but I think if I had read more positive ones I would have been more comforted by this while experiencing the ups and downs of coming off the pill.

Lareese

How long had you previously been on the pill?

I was on the pill consistently from the age of 15 with no break at all. I initially went on it to help regulate my periods and never came off it. Next thing I knew, I’d be taking it for nearly 15 years!

What was your experience of being on the pill?

I was on the oldest (and cheapest) pill ‘Microgynon’. It’s like the textbook pill they put you on if you have no major health concerns or history of blood clots in your family. I know a lot of people that didn’t get on with it at all, but I never had an issue with it. Aside from a few migraines here and there which I put down to period symptoms because I always had them just before I was due on. I first went on the pill during my teenage years but I don’t remember having any real side effects aside from slight weight gain.

Did you feel that there was enough education and awareness to help you make an informed decision about your use of contraception and the potential side effects?

I don’t recall ever having an in-depth conversation about the long-term health effects of taking the pill with my GP. When you’re on the pill, you have a yearly review to check your blood pressure, weight etc (always horrifying having to be weighed) and I remember posing a question about being on it for so long without a break and concerns around fertility but this was always met with, ‘you should be fine’. Should never fills you with confidence, does it?!

I do think at the age of 15, I wasn’t really fully aware of what I was putting into my body.Lareese

Despite going to the GP with my mum, I do think at the age of 15, I wasn’t really fully aware of what I was putting into my body and the potential side effects, so looking back, I can’t say it was a fully informed choice. There is a huge disparity in sex education full stop when it comes to female pleasure and birth control is no different. It’s seen as just another thing we have to do, alas going on it at 15 was a non-event. Everyone was doing it. I’m not anti-pill by any means, it did the job and it worked for me for a long time however, I do think more can be done to ensure young girls are armed with all the knowledge before they start taking it, instead of half the story.

What made you decide you wanted to stop taking the pill?

I think talking about birth control and periods has been normalised so much more now than when I first went on contraception and that had a huge influence on my decision to ditch the pill. I just thought, hang on, I’m popping this thing mindlessly every day, shoving my body full of synthetic hormones and I don’t feel like I’m connected to my body at all. I couldn’t remember what my natural period was like or how I felt throughout my cycle so for me, it was a conscious decision to reconnect with my body. The pill was very convenient, my period was like clockwork and it became all too easy to rely on it but I finally came off in January 2020 and I haven’t looked back. It was the best decision.

Were you nervous about ditching the pill at all? If so, what was your biggest reservation?

Having been on the pill for such a long period of time, I was quite nervous about coming off it and what side effects I would experience. I fully prepared myself to have a terrible time. I was concerned my period would pretty much ghost me for a year or that my skin would just reject pill-free living or something but actually, it was nothing like the horror stories you go searching for on Google. I was pleasantly surprised.

What mental and physical side effects, if any, did you experience when you stopped taking it?

I was really fortunate actually, apart from having achy tender boobs for about two weeks I didn’t have any issues at all.

Did your menstrual cycle return straight away or did it take a bit of time to settle?

I think I may be a bit of an anomaly but mine came straight back the first month and they have been regular (and slightly lighter & shorter) ever since.

Do you feel more in tune with your body now you’re off the pill?

I have loved learning to get to know my natural cycle; there’s a real power in listening to your body and reading the signs.Lareese

YES. Hell Yes. Coming off the pill has not only given me mental clarity, it’s also allowed me to connect with the inner workings of my body, not just when I bleed but throughout my entire cycle. I’m way more in tune with my body now, I can even tell when I’m ovulating because I can feel a popping sensation and a very light cramping in my lower abdomen. It’s crazy how much the pill kind of deprives you of that intuition. I have loved learning to get to know my natural cycle; there’s a real power in listening to your body and reading the signs.

Did you learn anything new about your cycle, your moods, body fluids (sexy, we know) or anything else that could have been masked by the pill?

As mentioned above, knowing when I’m ovulating was pretty mind blowing because you don’t ovulate on the pill so it was wild that I could physically sense the changes around two weeks into my cycle. I also tend to get a nice bit of period bloat a good 5-6 days before I come on which never happened before, so I’d say I’m just generally more mindful of what my body is doing all through my cycle really and how that affects my mood, productivity levels and my capacity to be sociable. I don’t think I realised quite how much our cycle affects every aspect of our physical and mental health before. It’s like the master key to everything.

What’s been the best thing about coming off the pill?

I no longer get those dreaded period migraines each monthLareese

For me, it was understanding my body better. I knew nothing about my cycle before because I didn’t have to. I didn’t need to listen to my body because I knew within a few days of gobbling up another shiny green packet, I could expect my period to arrive (always a Friday) and that was that. I didn’t give it a second thought. Now I use cycle tracking and try to note down how I’m feeling each day so I can make sense of my hormones. I don’t know if it’s linked necessarily, but I no longer get those dreaded period migraines each month, either.

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of turning their backs on this method of birth control?

Have an open mind. Just go with the f-l-o-w and if it’s not for you, you can look at other options that do work for you. Everybody is different and what was a horrendous experience for one person, may not be the case for you. Choice is a wonderful thing and I think whatever you choose to do with your body, own it and find power in that. It’s good to be aware of the side effects and to be extra kind to yourself during the first few months of coming off it but you don’t necessarily have to prepare yourself for the worst either.

Have you found another form of birth control that works for you at all?

I’m done with the mentality that assumes the women have got it covered. Time for them to do their bit I say.Lareese

Since I came off the pill to rediscover my natural cycle, I haven’t even thought about going back on any form of birth control, yet. It’s just condoms all the way for now bebe. The very least my LT boyfriend can do after I’ve pumped my body full of hormones for years is wrap up, ya know? I’m done with the mentality that assumes the women have got it covered. Time for them to do their bit I say.

One thing you should prepare for when coming off the pill…

A positive experience! They do happen – the internet just doesn’t always shout about them.

Louise

How long had you previously been on the pill?

 I was on the pill for just shy of a year, but most certainly a year too long. 

What was your experience of being on the pill?

In one word: horrific. It made me feel so low all of the time and extremely hormonal. I felt like a whole different person the whole time I was on it, it was absolute hell. 

Did you feel that there was enough education and awareness to help you make an informed decision about your use of contraception and the potential side effects?

(TW- suicide) Not at all! I knew there were side effects of course, but no one told me the full extent of it. I knew it could make you hormonal, the weight changes, the messing up your periods or whatever, but no one told me that it could make you suicidal. I remember in GCSE biology we had to learn about different forms of contraception, but even then, it was from a scientific point of view.

I spent so long thinking I had literally gone completely crazy.Louise

I spent so long thinking I had literally gone completely crazy, all because of this tiny pill I had to take once a day. I wish someone had explained to me that what I was feeling wasn’t me being ‘crazy,’ I wasn’t losing my mind, I was simply being medicated…

What made you decide you wanted to stop taking the pill?

I needed my life back. At the time, I was year 12 in college. I was supposed to be having some of the best time of my life, but my mental health was at an all time low because of the pill. My attendance was at 43%, I had no work completed, I was struggling to even get out of bed in the morning. Everything was such a struggle and I lost who I was because of it. I feel like that is a time I will never, ever get back, all because of a medication that no one really educated me about. 

Were you nervous about ditching the pill at all? If so, what was your biggest reservation?

I couldn’t really afford to buy latex-free condoms regularly.Louise

I was in a relationship at the time, and I really didn’t want to get pregnant. Being allergic to latex, condoms are harder to buy & more expensive for me, while the pill was free. I couldn’t really afford to buy latex-free condoms regularly, and my ex sure as hell was not helping. I was absolutely terrified of the chance of getting pregnant, but the pros of coming off the pill dramatically outweighed the cons. 

What mental and physical side effects, if any, did you experience when you stopped taking it?

Honestly, everything improved. I felt like for the first time in a very long time, I was me again. I am still absolutely terrified almost 2 years on of going on any form of hormonal contraception ever again, but I know that I will have to as I’m not planning on having children for a very long time. My energy was back, my happiness was back, my life was back. It was honestly amazing. 

Did your menstrual cycle return straight away or did it take a bit of time to settle?

I’ve always been quite irregular, but with a mix of coming off of the pill & a whole lot of stress, I would go months without a period, then get it. It’s certainly settling itself down now, despite the fact I’ve had my period for almost 10 years now. The pill most certainly put a speed bump in the road but it’s finally settling. 

Do you feel more in tune with your body now you’re off the pill?

I look at photos where I had lost so much weight from always being so depressed and anxiousLouise

Yes yes yes! I don’t recognise the girl I was before. I look at photos where I had lost so much weight from always being so depressed and anxious; not leaving my bed unless I had to be sick (from the anxiety). I had lost the sparkle behind my eyes and all of the things I had loved before I no longer cared about one bit. I didn’t realise how damaging it was to me & my life until I came off of it and finally felt like a human again. 

Did you learn anything new about your cycle, your moods, body fluids (sexy, we know) or anything else that could have been masked by the pill?

I am not as sad as I thought I was. I suffered from medication-induced psychosis for the majority of the time I was on the pill, where I would hear voices & see things out of the corner of my eye. The room would spin and wiggle around- it was genuinely such a terrifying experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. No one deserves to feel like that. I also struggled quite a lot with my sex drive due to the pill and found it really put a dampener on it. It’s quite hard to feel sexual when you feel so so sad. 

What’s been the best thing about coming off the pill?

Everything was so dark for so long & I’m so grateful that it’s getting lighter again now.Louise

Getting my life back! I’m now about to finish college, my attendance is almost 100% (excluding the time I skipped a class to go get boba- sorry!) and I have an amazing group of friends who make me feel loved and appreciated and grateful to be alive. Everything was so dark for so long & I’m so grateful that it’s getting lighter again now. 

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of turning their backs on this method of birth control?

 If it works for you, stick with it! I have a few friends who are on the same pill as I was and have absolutely no issues whatsoever. If you’re constantly feeling down and depressed while on it, it could be a good idea to speak with your GP about alternative methods of contraception. Don’t force yourself to be on a medication that isn’t for you, and remember everyone’s bodies are so different. 

Have you found another form of birth control that works for you at all?

I mean, due to the pandemic, abstinence has worked quite well, sadly! However, I just stick to condoms now. They might be more expensive and a bit annoying really, but it’s a lot better than being depressed and/or pregnant! 

One thing you should prepare for when coming off the pill…

Getting your life back, for the better. Get ready to feel grateful for every day, for the sunrise and for dusk, for birds chirping and for the starts. Get ready to fall back in love with living again! 

April

How long had you previously been on the pill?

7 years- I started the pill when I was 14 and stopped when I was 21

What was your experience of being on the pill?

My experience of being on the pill was actually really positive, I went on it to help control my acne and to make my periods more regular and lighter as that was something that caused me a lot of anxiety at school. I liked that I had control over my body and that I could even just take it back to back and have no periods at all!

Did you feel that there was enough education and awareness to help you make an informed decision about your use of contraception and the potential side effects?

As I got older I started to get more interested in contraception and did a lot of my own research.April

I went on the pill quite young and I don’t think I was fully aware at the time of all the potential side effects, as I got older I started to get more interested in contraception and did a lot of my own research. I don’t think I would have changed my mind then knowing what I know now, the benefits of the pill strongly outweighed the negative aspects of periods that I was experiencing. I think it was the advice coming off the pill that could have been more beneficial to me.

What made you decide you wanted to stop taking the pill?

It was a decision I was forced to make rather than one I wanted to make. I was diagnosed with Narcolepsy and Cataplexy and started on a medication which interacted with the hormones in the contraceptive pill- and most other forms of hormonal birth control.

I was having thoughts at the time about starting on a different and more reliable form of contraception as I had entered a relationship and was actually starting to use the pill for contraception rather than just control of periods and acne. If I forgot to take the pill on time it would have much bigger consequences than forgetting to do so previously.
I had a copper coil fitted to replace the pill.

Were you nervous about ditching the pill at all? If so, what was your biggest reservation?

I was nervous about it, I had taken it for 7 years and didn’t know the me post-puberty off of the pill. I have a history of anxiety and did have some concerns about how the change in hormones would affect this. For me the pill actually helped my anxiety, rather than cause it as it does for many people so it was hard to know how coming off it may affect me.

The coil was pretty much the only one that appealed to me but I had major anxiety about the fitting and dreaded it for weeks.April

I also didn’t know what my periods were like, I had gone on the pill after 2-3 cycles, I didn’t know what my cycle length would be or how heavy they would be now that I was older. I was also nervous about what other method of contraception I could use- the coil was pretty much the only one that appealed to me but I had major anxiety about the fitting and dreaded it for weeks.

What mental and physical side-effects, if any, did you experience when you stopped taking it?

My mental health definitely got worse in the few months after stopping, I had CBT which helped me to manage my anxiety and thankfully this has now completely improved. Physically though I had a lot of different side effects some of which continue to cause issues, the main issues being pelvic pain (similar to cramps but usually located on just one side) and very long periods (at one point my cycle was 100 days long!). I went to my doctor after a couple of long cycles but was dismissed by them and told this was normal. I was actually made to feel really anxious by my doctor who blamed my issues on my history of anxiety. I felt like a time-waster.

I moved flat and changed doctors surgery and after a couple of months with the issues persisting I decided to go to my new doctors. I ended up being referred to gynaecology and endocrinology for investigations into PCOS and Endometriosis. I finally felt listened to and that it wasn’t my anxiety causing me to overthink, there was actually an issue.

Did your menstrual cycle return straight away or did it take a bit of time to settle?

My cycle was all over the place, starting back pretty normal at 30 days but each cycle got longer and longer – ending up at 100 days! This was as a result of low levels of oestrogen and not normal as my first GP has assured me.

Do you feel more in tune with your body now you’re off the pill?

I do, I now have the hormonal IUD to control the pain I was getting which is suspected endometriosis. But the hormonal IUD keeps hormones local to the womb. This means I still have all the other signs of the menstrual cycle- PMS is real!

Did you learn anything new about your cycle, your moods, body fluids (sexy, we know) or anything else that could have been masked by the pill?

Mood definitely, PMS has become a lot more obvious- there are times of the month where I am a lot more on edge and have a much shorter patience than I usually would. This has been quite hard to get under control and not let affect me, my emotions are much more of a rollercoaster than they used to be when I was on the pill.

What’s been the best thing about coming off the pill?

I actually really miss the pill, if it didn’t affect my medication I would be back on it tomorrow! Moving on to the IUD has been really great though and I couldn’t recommend it to people enough. I am very forgetful so I do think the pill for contraception was a bit of a risky game for me, thankfully I don’t need to think about my IUD for another 4 and a half years which is great!

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of turning their backs on this method of birth control?

I would definitely say to be aware of the issues you could get as a result of coming off the pill, do ask your doctor if you have any concerns and if you don’t think something is right speak to a doctor.

It’s just about finding what works best for you and what is going to suit your lifestyle and requirements.April

If you are thinking of switching to a different form of birth control make sure you look at all the options available to you and speak to a doctor if you have any concerns. Unfortunately, all contraception has pros and cons, none of them are perfect, it’s just about finding what works best for you and what is going to suit your lifestyle and requirements.

Have you found another form of birth control that works for you at all?

Yes, I was on the Copper Coil and then switched to the Hormonal IUD. I love the Coil/IUD, ok the fitting of it isn’t great I am not going to lie- it was the weirdest pain I have ever felt- but once it’s in you don’t need to think about it, you can just get on with your life.

One thing you should prepare for when coming off the pill…

To listen to your body, you will probably notice some change (hopefully not as dramatic as mine) so just listen to your body and look out for changes to your mental and physical health. If you need support reach out for it!

Bethany

How long had you previously been on the pill?

I had been on the pill for 6 years and had 0 side effects or complications. I came off the pill in 2018, due to no longer being sexually active. However, in November 2020 I went back on the pill.

What was your experience of being on the pill?

The first time I was on the pill I had 0 side effects or complications! It was great and did the job! However, the 2nd experience was awful. I gained weight, became moody and was on my period for 2 months (with about a day in between). I contacted my GP and they reassured me that this was normal and it would take a while for my periods to become regular whilst being on the pill.

Did you feel that there was enough education and awareness to help you make an informed decision about your use of contraception and the potential side effects?

I don’t feel like that there was enough awareness to help me make an informed decision. Back when I was 16, I chose to go on the pill because that was the most common form of contraception that I had heard about. I was made aware of the potential side effects, just not to the degree that I had them! I think I would use another form of contraception going forward.

What made you decide you wanted to stop taking the pill?

I decided to stop taking the pill because of the side effects. I wanted my periods to go back to normal and I wanted to give my poor body a break! Before taking the pill, my periods were regular.

Were you nervous about ditching the pill at all? If so, what was your biggest reservation?

I wasn’t nervous about ditching the pill as I now use other forms of contraception when having sex. However, I am looking into other forms such as the implant.

What mental and physical side-effects, if any, did you experience when you stopped taking it?

When I came off the pill, I became slightly anxious about my periods being irregular and I gained weight.

Did your menstrual cycle return straight away or did it take a bit of time to settle?

After about 3 weeks of stopping the pill, my menstrual cycle returned to normal.

Do you feel more in tune with your body now you’re off the pill?

I feel much better now I’m off the pill and my body is thanking me! I like that my periods are regular again and I know when it’s coming!

Did you learn anything new about your cycle, your moods, body fluids (sexy, we know) or anything else that could have been masked by the pill?

I think I learnt that my mood is awful just before my period (not great for the people around me!) and I have a small amount of discharge. Other than that, nothing really!

What’s been the best thing about coming off the pill?

The best thing about coming off the pill is that I am in control more of my body! My periods are now regular and I feel much much happier. The side effects were really getting me down and I was so anxious.

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of turning their backs on this method of birth control?

My biggest piece of advice would be to research all methods of contraception. Not everyone reacts the same. My friends are on the pill and they are okay! My body didn’t react well to the pill and that’s also okay! Also, speak to your GP for reassurance – they’re amazing and will help you out all the way!

One thing you should prepare for when coming off the pill…

When coming off the pill, prepare for your body to take time to get back to normal. Your periods won’t go back to normal straight away and it may take time!

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Liza

I came off the pill after taking it for about 10 years. Prior to that, I had been trying to loose weigh with diet/exercise with almost no results; My weight wouldn’t budge. After stopping the pill I lost almost 20lbs in about 5 weeks- it all dropped at once. Additionally, I had horrible changes to my vision, my eyes were so dry I couldn’t wear my contacts, I couldn’t go outside or near a window without sunglasses on, and my eyes always felt like an eyelash was stuck in them. My doctor attributed these changes to the sudden dramatic shift… Read more »

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