December 31, 2014

What Really Happens When You Stop Taking Birth Control

I'm going to preface this by saying that this is going to be an account that some dudes who are not close with their girlfriends or wives or sisters or lady friends may be a little shocked by. This isn't just TMI… this is all the information. But I encourage you to read on anyway, so you can be the dude that gets it. Lady readers, hope this educates you!

Shitty Birth Control Options

I've been on and off birth control for a decade. I started the pill when I was 19 and just started having sex after 6 years of very regular periods that were about as pleasant as they come. PMS wasn't an issue, I barely had cramping, and other than the learning curve that comes with trying to figure out this whole period thing and how to manage it, I didn't really run into many problems. In those ten years, I tried the patch, at least half a dozen different pills (both the ones like Ortho Tri-Cyclen, and those like Desogen), and the ring. There were a handful of instances that I took a break from hormones, usually when I was not having regular sex. But I always went back, because condoms just kind of suck.

I also want to say that it completely sucks that men have exactly two options: condoms and vasectomy. This total lack of options for half the population means that women are forced to be the ones to take care of the family planning, and even our options are limited: hormones, barriers (do women still use those?), and surgery.

Shitty Birth Control Effects

You already know the pill, or any hormonal birth control, can affect things like acne, weight, mood, flow, and sex drive. Likewise, this all changes again when you stop taking birth control. Do a Google search for "what happens when you stop taking birth control" (Google auto suggest will pre-populate the search for you). That's right, it's highly likely that as soon as you go off the hormones you'll be far more interested in sex, and it will feel better thanks to your body's natural lubrication that gets suppressed on the pill. It's the worst irony. Unless you're trying to get pregnant, in which case it's probably awesome.

I, however, am not trying to get pregnant. The Boyfriend and I are actively looking into some more permanent methods because I just don't like pills anymore. I'm not happy. In fact, I feel unhappy more than I should, and I can't help but think the pills have a lot to do with it. My boobs are almost out-of-control huge and losing weight (not that I've tried even a little bit this year) is near impossible. A lot of the time I'm completely uninterested sex, which pains me almost as much as it pains The Boyfriend, and it's even gotten to the point where penetration hurts. It's so much fun, guys, really. I like being able to plan when I'm getting my period but that's a very small price to pay.

Shitty Everything

I wanted off the hormones, but also wanted to not get pregnant. Right now it's a three-way tie between a tubal, a vasectomy, or an IUD. (Take a look here in the next couple of months for the winner.)

With less than two weeks to go in 2014, I stopped taking my pills. I couldn't stand the thought of starting another year on them. Hormones leave the body within a few days, and there have already been some changes. Some subtle, like how I just feel better. But some not so subtle, and that, my friends, is what this is all about.

I'm talking about the mucus. The pill works in part because it thickens the cervical mucus so much that sperm have a really difficult time getting to that egg. Now that we're not all hopped up on the hormones anymore that mucus doesn't have a purpose. So out it goes. And oh boy, is that noticeable. Not only can you feel it coming out, but it's super thick to the point where now I know how good the pill is at preventing pregnancy. If I didn't already know this was a normal and healthy part of going au natural again, I'd be worried. So just be more prepared with a change of undies, but it's not so sticky like normal discharge that a little wipe won't clear it away. Honestly it's the weirdest thing… biology is crazy.

I'm hoping the abundance of mucus will stop after this first cycle, but so far it's not the worst thing in the world. You can find plenty of information elsewhere about having to deal with acne and weight issues and flow and all those other things everyone talks about when you stop your birth control, but this is one of those things most women – for whatever reason – don't talk about.

Image: Flickr