Dear Diary: Life After The Contraceptive Pill

P5111333 (1)

That thing is happening where I’ve started this post about six times and keep deleting it. So maybe this time will be the right time, the time I don’t frown at my screen and look away in sheer horror at my own unimaginative writing skills.

Hashtag pray for Hannah.

This post was requested a little while ago and it’s been sat just twiddling its thumbs in my bullet journal like um, hun, you gonna write me up or nah?

And well, here we are. The thing is, I like – scrap that, bloody LOVE – writing personal posts. The type that help me untangle a big knot of emotions in my soul, the type that could help someone else, but when they involve details that are personal to someone else as well as me, well I feel a bit icky. Like, how much do I share?

Because if you’re talking about contraception, well, there’s always gonna be someone else involved. Unless you’re awkwardly just blowing up blueberry condoms into balloons on your own in your room. I salute you if you are.

So Chris, if you are reading this, maybe go and get yourself a glass of whiskey. And then maybe another one.

Soz.

I wrote something about my personal contraceptive choices back in 2015 (over here) but I’ll give you a brief lowdown on my history and bring you up to speed in case you cba to click onto another post.

I’ve tried three different contraceptive pills in the decade (WHAT THE SWEET FLIPPIN HECK?) I’ve been sexually active. One made me cry every at least twice a day, another made me do one poo a week and the other, well the other one was actually A-OK.

But, nearly two years ago, around the time I was coming off my anti-depressants, I decided that I just, well, wanted to be free of taking medication every single darn day.

The idea of adding unnecessary things into my body stopped sitting so well with me and we made the decision to use condoms instead.

You start with good intentions. You use the condoms. You don’t mind the price or the stopping to get one out of a drawer, but eventually over time, you stop being so careful. And I know I am playing with danger.

Now, first thing I gotta add in here is that I am 26. Twenty six and two thirds if you’re being specific. And I am financially stable. And I’m in a healthy relationship that’s nearing its three years mark. And I live in a nice, spacious home with my boo and my cats and it’s been this way sine August 2014. Oh and we’ve both been checked for STIs.

If I were to fall pregnant, it would be OK.

I mean, we’re certainly not planning it, but it would be OK. We could handle it.

And I would certainly never recommend the withdrawal method or unprotected sex to anyone – especially if you weren’t in the right life situation – but, I have to be honest and say that if you make the joint decision to come off the pill, or any other type of contraception, and agree to use condoms, the chances are that over time you will slip up and become less careful. That is the reality of it.

And I know some people are going to be like YOU CAN’T SAY THAT ON THE INTERNET, but we need to make this an open discussion. A real discussion. And be honest about how we’re using contraception.

So what is life without the pill like?

Well, when I came off it I didn’t lose weight or gain weight, my boobs didn’t reduce into two saggy little tea bags and my periods didn’t throw a bitch fit and start cascading down my legs.

Things kind of, well, stayed the same.

My mood has been much better, but because so much changed at the same time – my job, my home environment, my relationship (which went from semi-long distance to HI, WE LIVE TOGETHER overnight), and the area I lived in – I can’t really link that back to the pill.

My periods are crazy regular. Although now I have to rely on an app to track them rather than my pill packet. Hurrah for using up more iPhone memory space.

Although there was that one year where I had a freakish 40 day cycle which is *why* I was like OMG IS THIS POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME?! (It was and then it wasn’t – thanks for the false diagnose, GP).

And in all honesty, I’ve never looked back.

There have been awkward moments in front of medical staff where they’ve asked about contraception and I’ve got flustered and freaked THE EFF OUT and I’ve been subjected to intense questioning.

I have been one wrong answer away from having leaflets about all my contraceptive options shoved into my lap.

I’m not really sure what I’m hoping will come from this post – I guess I just wanted to give an honest view of how I’ve found life after the pill.

Since speaking to a lot of friends (over wine and carbs, because duh), I realised that the majority of them were desperate to come off the pill because HAVE I REALLY BEEN TAKING THIS FOR 10 YEARS ALREADY? but freaking out at the options available to them.

Twenty six is a weird old age for contraception. Everything, aside from condoms and the pill, feels so final.

Everything lasts a good few years and you need to physically decide to get them removedΒ  – which, at a time when your body’s squealing at you to re-produce (pipe down ovaries, your time is not now), feels so conflicting.

Does that make sense or am I digging myself some weird hole?

It’s like you want something that won’t freak you out about breast cancer or blood clots or all the other things that are loosely related to the pill, but without the NO BABIES FOR YOU ANYTIME SOON LOL LOL LOL of things like the coil and the implant and the injection.

Anyway, I’m rambling and starting to feel awkward and hi, I’ve basically just told you about my sex life. And I’m aware that I have some much younger readers so please, please find don’t have sex before you’re ready and speak to your GP to make sure you’re as protected against both pregnancy and STIs as you can possibly be.

The NHS goes into more details about the different contraceptive methods here.

I’d love to hear your stories – about what’s worked for you and what hasn’t and where your head’s at with the whole thing. I feel like it’s something we don’t shout about enough outside our closest friendship groups.

Update: I’ve JUST read this and it’s amazing and says everything I want to say but better. Kinda. It’s from Nev Shulman’s (of Catfsh fame) pregnant girlfriend Laura and is amaze.

 

 

  • The Nuva Ring is something that dr’s rarely prescribe here but everyone in the US (who have to pay for it) uses it and it’s so much better than any other option! Just FYI! Also I think this post is great and important, and I’m glad you posted it

  • Ree

    Hi Hannah! Loved this post, so honest. I’m only 20 and I’ve made the decision to come off the pill because similar to you I was on anti-depressants, the pill and other meds so I got to a point where I was like I don’t want to put ANYTHING in my body anymore… It’s scary because well as you said, condom slip ups can most definitely happen. I’m no where near as settled in life as you are, I’m a student but I’m happy the way I am (even though I worry about pregnant a lot more lol) Sorry to ramble but I feel like Its a great topic! xxx

  • G

    I AM SO HAPPY YOU HAVE VOCALISED THIS. Well you wrote it but you know what I mean. We have this convo in my office every week.

    I was on the pill 14-21 ( microgynon , cerazette & yasmin), had one pregnancy scare- well actually pregnancy yes despite being on the pill ( and had to have a very early stage abortion as it was at the end of first year not a good time and I’d actually just split up with that boyfriend *nightmare πŸ™ *

    I came off it for about a year and was very very careful with condoms but recently getting back into a new good relationship we wanted to stop using them and I went back on to Lucette – the cheap version of Yazmin which I wasn’t actually looking forward to after reading the reviews but actually I have got on really well with it – well my boobs have gone up about two sizes and I get a bit teary around my period still ( I did when I wasn’t on it too so nothing changed) but it did reduce my period pains.

    It’s so difficult to trust what you read online about pills as people seem to only write about negative experiences rather than the positive :/

    G

  • Katie

    Something women should be sharing more, their real experiences. I would recommend an IUS like the mirena. Lowest tiny level of hormone, progesterone only and acting locally so no systemic side effects. 2/3 of women get no periods after four months and others get lighter. So if no period freaks you out not for you but I love it. I went to a large sexual health centre as they are super experienced and it’s only a bit painful for a few seconds. And you can get it removed in minutes whenever you like and your fertility returns within 2days (as with all progesterone only). You don’t have to take a pill every day. I love it for me, it doesn’t interfer with my life in fact it makes it easier with no period and fertility returns basically right away. Ultimately I think women should just do whatever they like. And if getting pregnant isn’t a huge issue then I guess condoms are fine but only 98% effective and that’s if used “perfectly” like no oils or lipsticks etc which means in reality they are safe 90% of the time

    • Yes to the Mirena! Totally agree, I love it! πŸ™‚ xx

  • I’m 32 and have been using condoms for the last 3 years with my boyfriend and VERY rarely do we ‘slip up’. At the end of the day, if you’re both open to the possibilities of getting pregnant then that’s fair enough but if one of you isn’t, there can’t be any slipping up! I talk about this so much on my blog and only yesterday upset someone in my family big time because I made the mistake of saying women do NOT fall pregnant by accident. Well, rarely yeah. But most women fall pregnant because they want to have a baby! There’s no excuse for accidental pregnancies these days. Anyway, I’m off topic! LOL.
    Good blog by the way! xx

    • G

      Excuse me? No excuse for accidental pregnancies? Not sure if you have seen the stats around this. I fell pregnant whilst on the pill as did my friends sister….g

  • Yes Hannah! Well done for saying these things that others don’t dare discuss. Yes it’s a hard topic but the key thing is to talk about it, and to share info. Oh and of course recognising that what works for one woman isn’t right for another, and what works right now might not have been right for the you of 5 years ago/may not be right for the you in five years’ time. So basically, well done for bringing it up and being honest, and readers please please take this post in the spirit in which it was intended, ie a personal reflection and NOT a message for everyone to just quit the pill and have unprotected sex with strangers. Xx

    • I feel like contraception is such a dirty secret but we should all be open to help understand we’re not alone in our choices or thoughts. I have no idea how I’ll feel in five years, but we’ve got to keep talking about it! x

      • Simone

        That is really “funny”. I live in Denmark and I know what all me friends – including not particulary close ones – use. It is something er talk freely about.

        I use an IUD with hormones og anyone is interested.

  • Jo

    Oh wow I needed to read this post so badly. Because I’ve just made the decision to get my coil removed and I have no idea what to do next.

    I’m 28 and I’ve had this new IUD, jaydess, for about 15 months now. My relationship situation is similar to yours, but I just don’t know if I can handle the IUD anymore…it’s made my periods way lighter but also way longer, like 2 – 3 weeks πŸ™Š And I had a scare with breast cysts too. I *think* I wanna try living without fake hormones running around my body for a bit but yep there are so few decent options! Everything feels either massively inconvenient or too much risk. It’s like we get to choose between the least crap options…

    • I totally know what you mean – the most efficient types are the ones with the hormones and the trips to the GP. I wouldn’t go back to the pill EVER. I like things the way they are xx

      • Jo

        That’s so good to hear, I’m feeling so much more confident about going hormone free after your wonderful post! It is so tricky as there’s so little good balanced info out there. I love being female but it’s annoying how science still hasn’t figured this one out properly eh? It’s so good you’ve found a solution that works for you xx

  • Great post!

    I have been on the depo shot for a few years now and love it. Although it comes with a lot of criticism because of the bone density loss it can cause. I take extra calcium and exercise 4 times a week to make sure my bones are as healthy as I can make them.
    It is great because I only get it done every 3 months and the hormone suits me but I hate going to get a prescription at the Drs because they always try to push something else on me, even though this works for me. In Canada they don’t have the arm implant (same hormone as injection but without bone density issues) so I feel limited. I was suggested to get the IUD but I struggle with paps so getting a rod or coil inserted into my vajay is not going to happen. Also been suggested the pill but the whole thing about blood clots scares me as I sometimes get high blood pressure…and the thought of taking something every day around the same time…well I will probably become lazy. I like the injection because I can ‘forget’ about it for 12 weeks and it’s fairly full-proof. I came off it for a few months last year and we decided to use condoms but I think I was allergic to either them or the lube on them as they made me feel like there was a fire going on down below as soon as they touched me so I went back onto the injection.

    Sorry this is such a ramble but I can relate to how you feel about the pill and not wanting something that’ll freak you out/mess with your body and there isn’t many options!

  • Poppy

    I’ve been on the depot injection for a bout 5 years now and it’s a strange one, not having a period is lovely but people also think it’s wrong or whatever.
    But I’m getting to that point where you start to worry about fertility ect and it does give you concerns.
    Completely agree with this post, it’s so easy to slack when you’re in a long term relationship.
    but eugh girl problems.

    • I have heard about people not getting periods for ages after coming off depo. I came off it last year for a few months to take a break as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to use. I got my period a few weeks after I came off it and it was regular, and I had been on depo for about 4 years. I think maybe I was lucky. If we were at the point of wanting kids I would be so happy to come off!

  • I think this is refreshingly honest & so important! It’s something we don’t like to admit, but let’s face it we all can be a bit careless with condoms. I’m 21 and I have the implant because I am so forgetful that if I went on the pill I’d just get pregnant! But I think after my remaining 2 years of it are up I’ll have it taken out & get my whole fertility cycle back into motion. Ideally I’d like to be in your sort of situation where the prospect of having a baby is not completely out of the question, but I don’t have to be actively trying for one.

    Great post as always, love that you do these sort of more “taboo” topics that let us have a nice big discussion in the comments!

  • Amber

    I’ve been loving reading your blog for a couple of years now and never commented until today but just wanted to let you know how much I needed to read this!!! I’m 25 like you and had 3 different pills too, stopped one cos of migraines and another cos of constant bleeding but I’ve had enough of the effect on my mood with any of them, it’s so good to not have to take medication every single day. I’m in a stable long term relationship too but my job (as a Postgrad Researcher) would suffer so much if I became pregnant, there definitely aren’t enough contraception options that are reliable don’t rely on massive amounts of hormones.

  • I can really recommend the implant. This is coming from someone with huge fears around skin being cut or otherwise sliced or pierced (I don’t even have any piercings) so you can take it as a HUGE endorsement, if I’ve been willing to sit through the procedure twice now. They numb your arm so you can’t even feel it; I just look away and insist the person talks to me as they do it. As for side effects, I used to have horrendously heavy periods off it (eight/nine day periods were normal, argh) but since being on the implant (3.5 years now) I haven’t had a single one. I’ve also had sex pretty consistently during that time and not had a single pregnancy scare (obviously missing a period isn’t the only sign). My moods are stable, as the hormone release is steady, and I don’t have PMS (maybe one day where I feel a bit blergh) or gain any weight at any time of the month.

    It’s not for everyone, and I know one person who had really bad side effects from it, but honestly it’s worth a go. You can get it taken out any time and it’s a five minute procedure done by a nurse at your local GP surgery. And yeah, it feels weird at first but you get used to it quickly – I forgot it was there after about a month, and now I just check it every so often to check it hasn’t moved position etc. – but I’ve also had very physical jobs during that time and it’s never moved one iota.

    So, worth considering. Yes, it’s hormones, but I would choose this any day over dicing with the withdrawal method (I fear the pre-cum would screw me over). Especially as I’m nowhere near as in a stable position as you are, e.g. housing/financially.

  • Em

    Great post! You have both been checked for STIs and are in a position where you are A-OK with the possibility of a pregnancy (whether that’s socially/economically reasoned). As it goes, I’m not in a steady relationship, nor in any way ready for a whiff of a pregnancy possibility, BUT if I were, then hell yes I would be in the same position. Love these personal posts and, frankly, any blog honesty about the “icky” life things. You go girl!

  • Sophie

    I had the implant, ended up in hospital having so many scans done due to my doctor ‘forgetting’ to mention a side effect is kidney infections and near constant UTIs. How I found your blog btw / cystitis tips saved me many nights in 3am baths! πŸ’πŸΌ got that taken out and went on the pill, under the impression that I would then be able to control my period around my wedding. Cue my first planned dress shopping trip a week after my period…..and she’d appeared again! Back on the implant now, touch wood haven’t had any cystitis attacks yet, but things will probably change after the wedding πŸ™‚

  • Karen

    I don’t have anything important or enlightening to say but I lol’d so hard at “one poo a week”.

    Apparently I’m 23 going on 5.

    X

  • Oh my god I was dreading reading this mainly because I get pill fear on a bloody regular basis and I know I should probably come off but I just can’t bear to think about spots (I know I know what a shallow self important twat I am) but I did it before for 6 months and my face literally battled me day in day out and I’m not sure I can do it again… HELP.
    Sophie xxx
    http://Www.fashionnomads.com

    • Just thought I would share that I had awful skin issues when I came off
      Microgynon. My advice would be to go to your doctor in advance of coming off the pill and share your concerns. That way you will know what your options are medication-wise (if needed) for your skin once you have stopped taking the pill, if it’s necessary. Xx

    • The risks associated with the pill are not as dire as the doctor/leaflet has to make out to you. The very slightly increased risk of breast cancer is actually outweighed by the reduced risk of ovarian cancer, which is a lot more difficult to treat. On top of this the risk of deep vein thrombosis is counteracted by them checking your blood pressure every 3-6 months, so as long as you’re doing that you don’t need to worry!

      I think we’re made to be afraid of the pill, but it’s actually worse for your body to keep chopping and changing your contraception and will make it harder to get back to a normal cycle if and when you do decide you want to get pregnant.

      It’s your choice what you want to use, don’t let the scare mongers make your decision for you!

      I hope this was vaguely helpful, I have an MSc in reproductive biology so in theory I should know what I’m talking about by now πŸ™‚

      • As you have an MSc, could I ask you a question? I came off the pill in October after 14 years (Microgynon, Danette and Yasmin), had a breakthrough bleed but then nothing since. My GP says it could take 12 months for my periods to reappear but that seems like a LONG time to me; does it seem ‘normal’ to you?

      • I wouldn’t claim to be an expert but I would say you shouldn’t be too concerned, sometimes it just takes longer to get back to normal. It can depend on things like your age and wouldn’t necessarily mean you aren’t ovulating so I would still be careful.

        I would say if you were still worried after 6 months to go back as they can do tests to make sure all your hormone levels are normal πŸ™‚ but I don’t think you should be panicking! I hope that helps πŸ™‚

      • Thank you , Louise. I’ll give it until 9 or 10 months and go back to see if they’ll do any tests πŸ™‚

  • Great Post! I’m on Yasmin pill at the minute which is perfect for me, however whenever I go to the doctors they try and put me on something else, I’ve tried others but this is lovely. I’d love to not be on the pill, but I don’t like any of the other options, and I don’t want to use condoms.

    http://thebravestindividual.blogspot.co.uk

    • Two things about Yasmin (which I
      Am also on!): 1. I have heard it is more expensive than other options so GPs are discouraged from prescribing it.
      Not sure if that’s true or not! 2. I think they are increasingly wary of the blood clot/stroke side effects risk. When I went for a pill check recently they went through stroke symptoms with me and blood clot ones too and double checked my family history again. Intense!
      But good on you for standing strong and sticking with what works for you! Xx

      • When I was on Yasmin, there was a big scare about blood clots, so I did some research and discovered that actually your chances of developing a blood clot when taking Yasmin are still lower than during pregnancy; just FYI.

  • Stacey

    So glad you decided to share this post! I came off the pill (microgynon) back in November, I’d been on it for 5 years and just wanted to give my body a break from all the synthetic hormones. Since then I’vehowever I’ve only had 2 periods, getting all the symptoms, but nada is coming out. My nurse suggested going back on the pill to sort them and I’ve now taken what feels like 577245 pregnancy tests and had a smear (soz for the over share). Long story short, my body hasn’t quite got to grips with remembering what its supposed to do once a month but I’m glad I’m off the pill, even if the price of condoms hikes up my shopping bill!

  • Kerry

    Yaaaaasss! Contraception and sex should be spoken about more and I love that you are starting that again. I started taking microgynon when I was 16 and it was fine but I was forgetful so I went on the implant and it was the worst year and a half of my life EVER. I had no libido, depression and pretty much constant periods. I’m on rigevidon now which is like a cheaper microgynon and I think it’s fine but I do occassionally worry that it’s doing things to my body that I’m not aware of. I get more emotional around my periods now and my boobs feel quite sore a lot but it’s generally fine. I would like to come off it at some point but I’m scared about alternatives especially as I had such a bad experience with the implant and the injection is the same hormones :/

  • B

    I’ve been on the pill for 3 years, had to try 3 before I found one that didn’t a) make me constantly be on a period and b) didn’t make me completely psycho bitch πŸ˜„. I would LOVE to come off the pill so that I didn’t have to worry about infertility, cancer etc. and whilst in a long term stable relationship emotionally and financially I just couldn’t because of my career. Sad isn’t it – we have so little options.

  • Amara

    This is the strangest thing.. I was having this exact conversation with some friends earlier. I’m 24 and feel like I need to come off the pill soon because 10 years taking meds every day seems a bit.. Scary!
    Thanks for talking about the reality of it AND that my periods may not have a break down!!

  • Amy

    I’m really glad you went for it and decided to post this Hannah – I don’t think it seems irresponsible to younger readers – in fact when I was young I’d much rather have read something honest like this than the doctor’s leaflet! I’m at a funny stage where I really really want to come off the pill but I’ve been on it so long that I’m worried what will happen to my body when I come off it so it’s good to know you didn’t experience anything bad! I think I might wait another 6 months – a year though because I’m not ready for an accidental baby haha
    Amy xx
    Call Me Amy

  • Personally I think if you don’t notice any dramatic changes from the pill, you shouldn’t worry about extra hormones in your body. The first pill I went on messed with me but then I went on another up until recently and that was fine, and with a reminder app it’s hard to forget. But I have lupus so I’m on 8/9 tablets a day for that, so my attitude towards medication daily is fairly liberal :p I used to hate taking paracetamol for a headache, preferring natural remedies but I think for serious things like not getting pregnant Mother Nature needs a hand πŸ˜‰

    My lupus diagnosis is why I had to come off the pill, for risk of thrombosis, so now I have to explore my options after being with one for 3 years I was perfectly comfortable with 😩

    Personally I wouldn’t do pull out method, because you can get pregnant from pre cum, and it’s important to remember what seems okay, even exciting in theory, will be very different in reality. If you’ve discussed it with a partner that’s brill, but I honestly think hormonal contraception isn’t as scary as they make out. They have to list all possible side effects, even the ones with really small statistics. But at the end of the day it’s what you and your partner are comfortable with, and it’s most important to do what’s best for you, not what your friends do. Because we’re all different!

    And finally (lol speech), I think a comfortable discussion with a patient and knowledgable doctor works wonders. They know the details, and know what they’re on about. You’re completely right we should be comfortable talking about contraception with friends, Internet, everywhere. We should also be comfortable talking to the people who give us the contraception!

  • Em

    This is such an important topic, and these posts are one of the reasons I love your blog so much! I’m 23 and have tried 3 different pills over the last few years. Not only did I have the usual side effects (constant periods, migraines, mood swings) my sex drive hit such a low it started to really negatively affect how I felt in my relationship… being on the pill was absolutely counterproductive. Since coming off it and going back to condoms my sex life has improved considerably, but I wish there were other options! After my experiences with contraception and those of friends, I’m really wary of pumping my body with more hormones.

  • Ami

    Love this Hannah. I’ve had the implant for 5 years after coming off the pill. It has it’s pros and cons but suits me better than the pill. The last pill I was on turned me into a psycho when I was hormonal!

  • Amy

    I’m so glad you posted this.

    I was on cerozette for 8 months and it was the hardest experience of my life. I withdrew into a shell. I felt so completely apathetic about everything around me. I would cry constantly yet even feeling sad seemed an effort in itself. Before that I was on microgynon and felt okay but prone to mood swings. I thought cerozette may stop that. I was wrong. I felt so completely depressed- for the first time in my life- I didn’t understand what/ how I was feeling but now I look back and realise how dangerously close to the edge I was. It went on for so long before I realised my pill was causing it. I went off it and within a week I felt like me again. I remember sitting on a train enjoying the sun on my face through a window and realising I was starting to feel again, that I was present in the world.

    I’m in a secure loving relationship (which I spent 4 of my 8 depressed months trying to finish, which I find terrifying now). We are not at all in the position to have children but I cannot be on that pill. I’m going to try going back on microgynon but I would urge anyone on the pill who feels unhappy or not themselves to try taking some time off.

    Yes, be responsible- but primarily that means prioritising your own sanity and wellbeing.

    Thank you so much Hannah for your bravery in writing this post, and for starting an important conversation.

  • I think you’re so right, we really don’t shout about this enough. I got the Mirena coil in May 2013, after never trying out any other contraceptive other than condoms. Quite frankly, I was bored of buying them, in a stable relationship and wanted to know my options. Which, FYI, are significantly more limited as I can’t have anything with oestrogen in as I’m at a high risk of developing breast cancer. I used to have awful periods, cripplingly painful, so the idea of making them better was great, I had just (stupidly) read loads online about how agonising the coil was and how only women whod had babies could have it fitted. So wrong, in fact, quite the opposite. Yes, it hurt a,bit having it fitted, but nothing like the boiling rod of iron internet ladies had helpfully suggested, not even close. It was uncomfortable but so bareable, I found it more weird having a stranger fiddling in my fanny. Sorry, too much information! Wow this is a long comment! Since getting the coil, I couldn’t recommend it enough! You don’t have to think about it for 5 years, it’s only a TINY localised amount of progesterone, so the least amount of hormones going around your body, my periods are lighter and regular and it doesn’t make me cripple over in agony so much or turn me into a psycho bitch each month. It may not work for everyone, but it definitely has for me! Alice xxxx

    http://www.woodenwindowsills.co.uk

  • I totes felt the same as you at the end of last year when I came off the pill! I am 25 and engaged to my partner and though we don’t own a home at the moment, we could deal with it if I got pregnant. Though I totes don’t want a baby at the moment! I agree that all the other methods seem very permanent, and what if I want kids in a couple of years and it takes my body another year to readjust coming off contraception? So confusing but I feel like the method you are using works the same for me at the moment. It definitely seems the most natural.

  • I was originally on Microgynon then swapped to Cerazette to try to lessen migraines, which worked – I went from getting two migraines a week (so basically constantly having a migraine!) to maybe four a year. Plus it had the surprise bonus of almost completely stopping my periods, one every six months or so. I then went on to Cerelle when that appeared on the market as a Cerazette knock-off, but last year I started getting a lot of migraines again and so my doctor recommended I try coming off altogether, so have been using condoms since then.

    Age 21-22 (on Microgynon after a year off it) was without doubt the worst year of my life, but then as you say it’s so hard to tell whether that was down to the pill or other factors. It was by far my most intensive year at uni, plus I went from long-distance (different countries) to living with my (now ex-)boyfriend which did not work out for us, but with hindsight considering that I basically had a migraine every day to some extent, it’s no wonder I was a mess! Since I’ve been off the hormones (age 28) I’ve felt so much more stable and rational, but again that’s probably mostly down to the fact that I’m working from home and rarely have to deal with anyone except my boyfriend and cat, who are both pretty pleasant πŸ™‚ I occasionally get a bit snappy but it’s always because my period’s on the way, and it’s quite nice to be aware that’s the cause rather than wondering why I’m being a bitch and trying to analyse whether it’s mystery hormones or if I’m actually bottling up some stress or worry without acknowledging it to myself.

    As for slip ups, I had some when I was younger but haven’t had one for years, personally I think it’s just a case of getting into a routine. I kept my pills on my bedside table and made sure to take it before bed (and when I was a student with irregular bedtimes I kept them in my bag and set an alarm on my phone for a certain time I knew I was likely to be able to take it, e.g. lunch time). And now we just don’t have sex without condoms, end of story. It may not be the sexiest thing in the world but 100% more sexy in my book than working out what to do with an accidental pregnancy!

  • My story is short and sweet really – I was on Microgynon for a year and hated every minute of it, found out I had PCOS and decided the last thing I needed was fake hormones rushing around my body and have only used condoms ever since. Being told I may have problems having children of my own has made me a bit more ‘loose’ with it, probably not a great thing! Great post Hannah!

  • ABSOLUTELY THE BEST POST EVER. I recently decided to come off the pill because it was just one more thing I was putting into my body. I was thinking of posting about it at some point and I really like the feel of this post – it’s so open, chatty and honest and it genuinely has made me feel so much more comfortable about discussing this sort of thing online, kudos!

    Vickie | dearvictoria.co.uk

  • Tracey

    Thanks Hannah! I’m really glad to see this topic brought out for discussion.

    I think it’s easy to become complacent with contraception as well. It’s always good to be reminded that there are options out there and as we go through life and things change, we should be reassessing our contraception choices to make sure it’s still what’s best for us.

    Also, I think Chris is more likely super proud of you, not cringing at you! πŸ™‚

    Xx

  • Really brilliant post Hannah, I have friends who used the pill for different reasons – one who wishes she’d never took it because it’s messed her hormones and mood up so much, and the other had to take it because her periods were so painful she was sick every month for days. I’ve always thought about it for my acne and general cba to have periods, but since having breakouts and other things with my body I’ve tried not to put chemicals or medication in my system, so when it comes to a relationship *cries over single life, but yeah single ladies woooo!* I’ll probably skip the pill and stick to condoms.

    Lauren x
    Britton Loves | Lifestyle Beauty Wellbeing

  • Sammy

    Ahh it’s like you took the words right out of my mouth!! I have been on about 4 different contraceptive pills and none felt right. All caused a mighty year long battle with thrush 😫 And just before Christmas I got to the point where I didn’t know if what I was feeling was really me or if it was “the pill”. I was hating my boyfriend (6years and going strong!) and every little thing was sending me off the wall crazy snappy.

    Came off it, and almost instantly I was oh my god so happy! So so SO in love with the boy and just so happy, at peace and content with life.

    If you have doubts. Come off it. If you don’t like being off the pill/using condoms then go back on the pill! Easy.

    Similar to you though Hannah – 24 and definitely some times playing with fire with the whole *wait gotta get to the drawer*. But what happens happens. Never ever would I go on the pill again!

  • I’ve wrote about my experience of coming off the pill on my blog. Unfortunately, I WAS diagnosed with PCOS. It’s now under better management with the help of my herbalist and I have much shorter, regular cycles and the acne that was plaguing me is just a breakout once a month.

    If you get to know your cycle and you’re having regular periods, it should be fairly easy for you to recognise your fertile window and abstain during that time – or use the condoms πŸ˜‰ The fact is there is a small window where pregnancy is possible each month. We avoided pregnancy for a long time by using this method. I’m married and turn 27 in August and now we are actively trying to conceive – apparently it is NOT that easy to become pregnant…. I spent the last 10 years avoiding it and now I’m like, “Hello? Anybody in there?” Bodies are complex things indeed. Anyway, that’s my two cents. I enjoyed your post!

    – Katie | ColdGirlFever.com

  • G

    Thanks for writing this Hannah, I couldn’t agree more. This really spoke to me and my situation too. I had been on the pill since I was 15, I’ve taken a few breaks but at the now age of 28 (married and financially stable) decided to stop taking it. I feel so much better for it and there is a real confidence to getting to know your own cycle.

    I know a lot of people who think condoms aren’t really for the long term relationship crowd but I have to disagree and say that it has definitely been the best plan for us!

    Thanks for sharing xx

  • Me

    I started taking the combined pill when I was 14 yo to help regulate my awful periods, not because I was having sex. I took pretty much the same one until about 3 years ago when my lovely nurse realised the link between my constant headaches and the pill and switched me over to the mini pill. I took that for a couple of years but I always felt a bit down in the dumps so after about 2 years I stopped taking it. I’ve been married 4 years and we decided it wouldn’t be awful if I did fall pregnant so now I’m pill free πŸ™‚ But we still use condoms. My periods are quite regular, I also use an app to track them, and they’re nowhere near as brutal as they were when I was 14 so that’s a bonus

  • LAURA

    Hey Hannah, I completely get the feelings behind this post! It’s such a dilemma that always seems to pop up in my head every few months and gets me googling about different contraceptive options, only to decide that none of them sound that appealing. I was on rigevidon for only about 4 months but stopped because it was making me so depressed. Reading these comments and your article, I now feel like compared to everyone else I just haven’t tried enough variations of the pill, but I am really opposed to the idea of putting hormones in my body. The only good thing about it was how easy it was to stop if I wanted.
    For now I’m trying to stick to the condom route, although like you said, slip-ups happen. I’m going to start charting my ovulation using the Ovuview app and by taking my temperature and all that stuff, just so I can see if I can make any discoveries about when I’m less fertile so I can know when it’s a bit safer to try withdrawal.
    I think your position is a good one, and I’m not in it myself just yet, but I would still feel a bit low-key anxious all the time not knowing if I was pregnant or not!

    • You need to be super careful with using temperate and those things to monitor your cycle.

      Your temperature can fluctuate regardless of your cycle and is really not reliable, and you can get pregnant ANY time in your cycle regardless of when you ovulated, those sperm are wily bastards!

      If you don’t want to use the pill condoms really are the only way to be safe, I hope this is helpful!

    • Simone

      Try an IUD without hormones.

  • Grace

    I think it’s brilliant to promote more openness on this topic! I started the pill when I was 21 and the first one I was prescribed left me so emotional I’d break down over spiders… I was then prescribed Yasmin which I found much better – everything worked like clockwork and, for someone who suffered very irregular periods due to my weight as a teenager, it was a nice change. I decided to come off my pill in March as my husband and I would like to try for a baby (not actively timing peak ovulation but also not trying to avoid it!) but it worries me how long my body is going to take to return to its normal rhythm. I haven’t had a period yet since taking my last pill and, while it panics me, I know that every person’s body is different and it may take me a few months to find my natural cycle again. I did get a lot of migraines while on Yasmin and this has lessened quite a lot since I’ve stopped taking it (though the spots have returned!) I feel like 8 years was long enough to be on the pill, especially considering some of the reported side effects of Yasmin (strokes, blood clots, etc)

  • You go Hannah! I think it’s so important to talk about these things so we can help each out with it. I have a masters in reproductive biology so I like to think I’m pretty clued up on contraception but I still hate discussing it with the doctor, I find them so unhelpful!

    I think at the end of the day you have to do what’s right for you; there’s nothing wrong with taking the pill and there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to, we shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for our choices.

  • Alannah

    This post was amazing! You are so right in that women should talk more about their contraception aids, and this post has allowed a load of comments which are so useful. Having been on my pill for 10 years (10…I can’t even believe that!) I feel that I want to stop, but I am just not in the situation where I feel confident enough to. This post and the comments have given me food for thought about other options, but also made me feel that hey, its okay that I’m 27 and still have no desire for a child. Thank you for you honesty and openness, it really helps us all!!

  • Wow, how refreshing to read something as honest as this! Loved it. There is so much stigma around talking about things like this, so well done to you for putting it ‘out there’. I’m on the Microgynom pill where you take the pill for 3 weeks then have a week break and this is where you have your bleed (period). I use to have trouble with my periods – sometimes they’d be normal, sometimes they wouldn’t appear at all (and I wasn’t pregnant!) so decided that this was the best pill for me.

    Great blog πŸ™‚

    Melissa x

  • DP

    I have been on the pill for a while and I have considered LARC but the unpredictable spotting freaks me out! Can’t be having random bleeds, who is okay with that? Then there is the progesterone issues, i have hair issues and this can exacerbate it. Basically it came down to no i don’t want babies in the next 3 years (i’m 28) but i can’t deal with the i could bleed now or not btu there is no way to know which way it is going to go.

    The Pill for me is nice and predictable and you can plan things easily so for me, it works.

    I am fine on it – no idea if they make me moody or its just me and i am normally moody every so often? (sorry husband) or if it makes me gain weight or its b/c i stopped going to the gym.. :/

    but all in all i’m okay with it and have been on it for a a few years. i don’t hear many people saying that, that they are okay on the pill. always the “i’ve been on it for years i need to come off so my body can be natural!” if i’m on my break then condoms 100% no matter what, never slipped up – i have too much need to not get pregnant, maybe that is the difference with compliance?

  • Oh my god thank you so much for this. I’m young and I’ve just finally gone on the pill (I’m 19), and already I just don’t like what it does to me. There haven’t been any big changes per-say, but things are just different, you know? Anyways I’m not going to stop because I am a) under 20, b) not in a relationship and c) no babies, but it’s just nice to hear that I’m not the only one in this boat.

    Julia

    ExploresMore.com

    • J

      Speak to your doctor! There are so many different types of contraceptive pill out there – ‘The Pill’ is not a one size fits all kind of medication. Being on the pill does not mean having to live with mad hormone changes and unhappiness. It might take some time but speak to your doctor to find a type of pill that works for you

  • Simone

    I have a IUD with hormones. It is the best ever. I don’t have to remember to take a pill and there are much less hormone than in the pill because it is – ehm – closer to there they need to go.
    In most women a sideeffect is thar you don’t get you’r period. Something that resent research shows it perfectly healthy.

  • Abi

    LOVE. THIS. POST.
    I decided last year to come off the pill also, my boyfriend and I have been together for 4 years so it wasn’t a sensitive subject πŸ™ŒπŸ» Thank god. I just wanted my body to be clean, well free from medication sort of clean (All the dominosπŸ•) We decided that as it was my body it was my choice, the withdrawal method definitely isn’t easy and have in the past as you said slipped up. I’m 23 in 30 days and am in no way thinking about having a baby, I’d rather have shoes and wine to be honest. But if it happened it would be OK. Thank you Hannah Gale for making it 100% ok to talk about this stuff. You goddess youπŸ’πŸΌπŸ’πŸΌπŸ’πŸΌ

  • Lucy

    Hannah first of all you are wonderful and your posts always make my day during a sneaky browse at work. I’m SO glad you brought this up, as you’re completely right – contraception isn’t spoken about enough, and you only have to mention sex to a GP and they’re pushing the pill into your hands and sending you out the door.

    That’s exactly what happened to me from ages 20-24, which I spent going on and off various pills, each one making me a little bit more emotionally unstable and depressed than the last. Worst of all, it triggered female pattern hair loss – meaning i’ve lost almost half of my hair in a 4 year period. It’s been gradual, and you probably wouldn’t know it to look at me – but it’s far and away one of the most devastating things to have happened to me, and it’s basically incurable.

    no doctor ever mentioned hair loss – or the fact that periods on the pill aren’t actually periods AT ALL,. To have a period you have to ovulate (as women are biologically programmed to do) which the pill completely inhibits. so when people wax lyrical about their lighter periods I just want to shake them – what they’re experiencing is a completely fake bleed created in a lab!

    Anyway, rant over! Nearly 6 months off the pill and i’m happier than ever, spots, cramps and all – I only wish I had realised sooner.

  • This was so incredibly interesting to read, thank you for opening up about this Hannah. Obviously in high school you’re taught be on the pill and use a condom and actually just never have sex and thats about it. I’ve been on the same type and brand of pill since I was about 17 I think and recently I started having my own doubts about taking the same medication for such a long time. I spoke with a GP who, although lovely, couldn’t really recommend anything else that suited me as I have to have regular MRIs (no implantly thing) and need something compatible with a blood condition. As someone who shakes if you rattle her (so much meds for so many conditions!) sometimes you just want to chuck them all down the loo and just let your body be. This was really interesting and honest, and quite frankly I didn’t know there were people out there who followed this kind of method in mid twenties. Thanks for being so open, I probably cant do much about my situation but i hope it helps it opens people eyes to the way you can approach birth control differently whilst in a loving safe relationship.

  • I literally think daily about how much I want to come off the pill and why have I been subjecting my body to this crap for 9 years! BUT I know for a fact that I am NOT responsible enough to not get preggers lol I’d be knocked up in about 5 mins! x

  • Beccy

    I’m literally in the same situation you mention above and I too came off the pill (although only in the past 3 months). I swear to god my mood and general outlook on life has changed. I feel much happier and don’t think I could go back on the pill now. It’s so strange to me to think that for the past decade I could have been a slightly different person.

    Anyway, thank you for this post. It’s wonderful and you’re completely right in that not enough people talk about it.

    • This. I was on a few different hormone contraceptives for years and years and could not believe how much better I felt just a few weeks after switching off. No more nausea, insane mood swings, crying over Hallmark commercials. I was a totally different person and decided I would never, ever go back to the pill again. It was like a fog had lifted.

      Interestingly enough, it may only be a couple of years before GUYS will be able to get a new method of super effective contraception. Heavens open and we all rejoice!
      http://www.sciencealert.com/reversible-male-birth-control-just-passed-another-trial-and-could-be-on-sale-within-2-years

  • Geraldine

    Hi Hannah,I’ve had the exact same experience. I’m 24 and was on the pill when I was younger but eventually decided I didn’t like the idea of all those extra hormones and side effects,so my boyfriend and I decided to use condoms. Which then became the pull out method with me also keeping track of my ovulation.

    I will say we did get more careless as time went on and we had a few close calls but overall,nothing happened for over two years…and I am now sat at home with my beautiful 3 week old baby boy! But like you I am in a stable relationship and we have been together 6 years so we knew the risks.

    I’d only just had my baby when the hospital started asking me what contraception I was planning to use from now onwards because apparently you become super fertile after birth and a lot of people get pregnant after the first 3 weeks! I’m waiting til after the 6 week mark before we begin things again and we decided we’ll use condoms…for real this time!! I love my son but I’m so not ready for another baby yet! Xxx

  • Hollie

    Really good post!

    I came off the pill in my 2nd year at uni because i didnt like what it was doing to be after 5 years. I wasnt particularly with anyone so thought why not?

    2 years later i went to speam to the doctor about contraception, explained how i didnt want to go back on the pill because how long it seemed to take my periods to regulate after. The doctor agreed with me and said that they dont put all 16 year-olds straight on the pill and it really isnt wise to be on it so long. So i opted for the implant and now 6 yrs down the line its due to come out. Excited for the next stage now though!!

  • J

    I feel very fortunate. I have been on one form of contraceptive pill for years now with absolutely NO complications or issues – in fact, I don’t get periods with this pill which is a bonus in my eyes! But one of my closest friends came on the same pill and it messed her around horrifically, crazy hormone changes, depression.. Another of my friends has been through six different pills in four years. It can be hard to find what works for you! But when you do find it, it’s fantastic.

    It seems difficult to speak about contraception with clarity. At times I read your post and felt like it was beginning to veer down a path that could worry and scare others unnecessarily. So much of what I read about other’s experiences with contraceptive pills is tinged with negativity, but having bad experiences does not mean contraceptive pills are bad. I get worried by other people’s (sometimes overdramatic) fears of cancer and blood clots, though I know I am doing what is best for me right now.

    And I’m doing what will be best for my eventual family. I am in my mid-20s, in a committed relationship, with reasonable financial stability but I know I am not in a position to be a mother right now. I look forward to the day when I discuss coming off the pill with my partner, but for now we are both happy and fortunately healthy with our choice. I don’t want others in the same sorts of positions to start to worry that they too should come off because others are doing it and writing about how good it feels. If you are happy with your contraceptive choices and they are not damaging your health, continue doing what’s best for you.

  • ari

    I like that you are super honest about personal stuff πŸ™‚
    Personally I have tried the pill then the ring (not the one that you put on your fingers…), then like you decided I had enough of chemicals and stopped.
    It’s true what you say, after some time you just start skipping using the condom….
    I am currently using this natural contraceptive method called Pearly, it’s a small tool which measures every morning the basal temperature and according to some algorithms predicts if you are fertile (red days) or not (green days). It has worked so far (I am in a stable relationship of course, otherwise I would be using condoms too).
    I think it is important to be self-conscious and choose what we think is best for us.
    It is evident that you are a responsible person and every choice has been deeply evaluated πŸ™‚ go with it

  • Louise

    Hi Hannah, I have been wanting to get in contact for a while now since reading your ‘Life After The Contraceptive Pill’ blog. I’m 28 years old and have had a really trying month primarily down to the use of the combined contraceptive pill. Yep you guessed it I am one of those very rare cases where after ten years of using the pill, a blood clot formed behind my right eye and suddenly without any warning I lost my sight one evening. I am an active, healthy woman who has run multiple marathons, loves any water based sports and enjoys a balance diet (and an imbalanced diet too of course!). I was always so sure of my method of contraception , I mean ten years and no hiccups until now. Apparently I have experienced a Central Retinal Vein Occlusion, so basically the big old important vein in the centre of my eye haemorrhaged. I still have blurry sight now in my right eye over a month after this happened. The cause was the combined contraceptive pill and excessive exercise – who knew? I mean I’ve always been so conscious of looking after my body and now I’m completely stuck on what to do contraception wise. I stopped the combined pill and have been taking the mini pill but I must admit my confidence has been well and truly knocked – I am in the early stages of a relationship so im still being double cautious and now want as much info on the options as possible so thank you for your post. I totally agree that we need to speak out more about contraception, it is handed out so freely and sometimes without thorough health checks – let’s spread the word and hopefully my case will continue to be a minority. Love love love Louise


Recent Videos

Follow Me