Is it feasible for a young, active woman in 2020 to not be on any kind of physical contraception? Or is it reckless and naive? For years I believed the latter. But more recently, and after reading several “coming off” stories written by likeminded women, my thoughts and feelings towards the subject have been broadened somewhat.
It’s been just over 5 weeks since I came off the contraceptive pill. And I’m so excited because this is something that I’ve wanted to do for yearsss. But I never thought I’d be in a position where the time was right for me to give it a whirl.
A little bit of background – over the last 10 years, I’ve tried replacing the pill with two alternative forms of contraception – as I’ve wanted to explore less invasive and less hormone-altering options for years now. These were the implant (in which I bled every day for a couple of months post-insertion whilst feeling really weak / weird on it, and so I had it removed). And the copper coil (which was SO horrifically painful that I couldn’t sit down properly for nearly two weeks after having it put in. And the blood-loss I experienced in the short time I had it was more than all of my periods put together – soz if that’s TMI). So I guess you could say that out of all of these unnatural and barbaric forms of contraception that I’ve put my body through, the pill has been the most “realistic” and “sustainable” for me personally..
My reasons for being apprehensive and nervous about potentially coming off the pill for good are fairly obvious – I’m not ready for mini me’s yet (sorry Mum I know you’re getting impatient). I also know from friends and loved ones experiences that terminating an unexpected or accidental pregnancy can be really emotionally damaging, especially as a young woman. And is a situation to be avoided at all costs. But don’t get me wrong.. I’ve genuinely never been more excited about anything than I have about having my own babies one day. Not that I need to explain myself or justify whether I want children or not.. But just so I don’t come across as some sort of child nazi.
So why would I want to come off the pill?
Firstly, for 10 years I’ve been reluctantly popping my three-weekly pack of pills, with my once a month faux-period and my embarrassing disregard for the endless list of adverse side effects. SOME of these include; increased blood pressure, increased risk of serious health conditions such as blood clotting, breast cancer and more, nausea, sore boobs, headaches & migraines, weight gain, mood swings, irregular periods, decreased libido, intermenstrual spotting etc. The advantages include; doesn’t interrupt sex, may help with acne and menstruation pain.
Secondly, as an adult woman, I was hit with the realisation that from the age of 16 (when I first went on the pill), I’ve never allowed my body to just do its thang. Which scared me into thinking that I don’t reallyyy know my body at all? Aside from the super light and slightly irregular periods I get every month, I have no real concept of what a fully natural period / cycle feels like. And so like any other Type A person, I identified this as a new goal. I want to learn about my body and educate myself on my own body’s natural patterns and habits. And so far, I genuinely feel more sexy and more womanly by just not being on it – whether that’s psychological or not I don’t know. But I’m here for it.
Thirdly, I’ve been doing some research (shock). And it’s so encouraging to see how our generations attitudes towards sex and contraception are shifting to a place of open discussion. I found countless posts and articles written by women who no longer want to be on the pill – for similar reasons to myself, and who have explored more natural ways of regaining control. One of the more popular options that thousands of women are exploring are the cycle-tracking and birth control apps such as Flo and Natural Cycles for example – which sound quite unrealistic at first, but they’ve undergone a lottt of screening and seem to be working for the many. This method of ‘periodic abstinence’ actually dates wayyy back to ancient times, and is one of the oldest prevention methods used. Fertility awareness-based methods involve finding the fertility window and abstaining from sex when there’s risk. Apparently.. us women are only fertile for around 6 days of our cycle (the ovulation day and the 5 days prior). This fertile period is indicated by a spike in body temp, an increase in hormones, along with changes to “cervical mucus” (nice). So charting these gives a very good indication of where women are in their chart. So cool!
Todays technology also means there are apps which use basal body temperature data, paired with algorithm, in order to learn the pattern of a womans unique cycle. And, is able to predict and find ovulation. These types of apps give green days for when you’re “not fertile”, and red days for when there is a risk of getting preggers. If the algorithm is ever in doubt, it gives you a red day to ensure maximum certainty. They also give you a daily fertility status so you’re in no doubt about where you are in your cycle and if there’s any risk for that particular day. But whether this approach to staying baby-proof is effective enough for it be a long-term solution is something which would require an extensive amount of reading and researching into.. but I do love the idea. The only downside being that they’re expensive apps and may ocasionally prevent spontaneous sex. But then again, that is why foreplay was invented.
So in an effort to renew a sense of understanding for my body, I’m definitely going to try and explore more organic contraceptive options and see how I get on. It just seems like such an impossible and risky task for someone who loves sex but hates condoms. Ugh. But we shall see. I just don’t want to have to resort back to the pill. Especially since the first couple of weeks post-pill were quite gruelling. I was all ready and waiting for my feeling of LIBERATION and WOMANHOOD. Which I did get to some degree.. But then the headaches started and man were they rough. I still get them from time to time now but they’re not as painful or concentrated.
I’m staying very optimistic though as we’re still in the early days, and I’m definitely enjoying my body in its new, au naturel state. I’m also confident that I’m going to see a lot more positive changes as time goes on. I will keep anyone who’s interested in ditching the pill updated with where I end up in terms of contraception. Likewise, if anyone has any recommendations they think I might like to explore, please holla!