Monday, February 27, 2006

Jagged Little Pill

I'm 30 years old and I've been on the birth control pill for 12 years. That's right, 12 years, you can do the math and I can shock you further by revealing that I was sexually active for a "significant amount" of time before I ever went on the pill.

In fact, I only went on the pill because terrible cramps were getting the better of me and my doctor convinced me that this magical little pill would save me. She was right. The pill did stop my cramps. I can barely remember what it feels like to have have cramps so bad that you vomit.

I was a responsible teenager with a long-term, steady boyfriend who I really cared a lot about and I would probably have opted for birth control pills much earlier had I not been concerned about more than just pregnancy. My parents always drilled in the message that while it wouldn't be great to get knocked up, at least a pregancy wouldn't kill me and there were options. But there were things out there that might actually kill me, and BC pills wouldn't protect me from those.

My parents. So wise.

Anyway, when I finally made the decision to go on the pill, I was convinced that it was the best thing EVER. Sure, I gained 10 lbs. I like to think that I still have those residual lbs kicking around on my ass and thighs and that they will just melt right off as soon as I stop taking the dope. Truth of the matter is, those 10 lbs are probably stored safely on my boobs, and it's the girls that will suffer from lack of hormone control.

Well, gang. We're about to find out. Saturday night I took my last BC pill. At least for a while.

Now, before ya'll start squeeling and sending me baby booties in the mail, please note that I am not trying to get pregnant. I'll say it again in all caps for added effect:


Rather, I have been experiencing some not-so-pleasant side-effects from what I believe (and my doctor concurs) is very probably due to the pill. Some of the side effects that I'm experiencing include:

-Excessive bloating and discomfort after eating and particularly during PMS
-Skin discolourations on my face
-Skin irritations on my elbows
-Bad hair days
-Fatigue, like, all the time. ALL THE TIME.
-Severe bitchiness and lack of emotional control.

Okay fine. That last one? That's just me. But who knows? Maybe it's BECOME me after pumping my poor body full of chemicals for the last 12 years? Maybe I'm a stoic, super-nice Saint lady after all? Not bloody likely, but whatever.

My doctor told me that one option is to change pills (I've been on the same one for 12 years and it's always been a great fit for me, these side-effects are all very recent. Except the bad hair days. Those have been around for some time now) but I personally feel like it's time to give my body a break. I want to see if I can go clean. I'm sure it will be a good thing for my body and it might even be a good thing for my mind.

I've been reading some research about withdrawal from the pill and how difficult some people find it. The side effects sound very similar to many of the negative side effects that many people experience when they first go ON the pill. It's all very confusing but apparently I can expect:

-loss of appetite
-bad hair days
-incessant hunger
-no periods for several months (yoohoo!)
-extremely heavy periods that last for months (hmph)

You get my drift. Who knows what to expect? NOBODY, that's who! And you know why? Because although they are freely handing out birth control pills to women and GIRLS there is frighteningly little research done on actual physical side effects of both taking and stopping this medication.

I know it's cliche, but do you think that men would EVER intentionally take a pill every day for 12 years, knowing that it might cause some of these kinds of side-effects? Don't say steroids, I know you're going to say steroids and those don't count because they are ILLEGAL and those men are complete IDIOTS whose muscles have eaten their brains.

My point? Ah, yes. I'm apologizing in advance to anyone who may inadvertently suffer because of my decision to stop taking the pill. I don't expect that my withdrawal will be too horrible, since I never had very severe side-effects while on it. But if you're talking to me and I suddenly burst into uncontrollable sobbing, now you'll know why.

Condoms, eh? It's been a while.


scarbie doll said...

Yo. I've been off the pill for like, 3 years now. And while it sucks for my sex life (no more spontaneous quickies and, oh yeah, I got pregnant!) I feel way better. My hormones are not as crazy as they were when I was a teen and I have levelled off. The cramps are there, but not as brutal as I recall. And I'm actually helping the environment.

Yes, we take the estrogen and we piss it into the toilet. We always forget that. And the poor little fishies are changing sex midstream! (totally true fact)

You'll be just fine. You'll just need more chocolate.

Beaches said...

Thanks Scarb. That settles it then. I'm doing for the fish.

Love you!

(Love chocolate.)

TransientTales said...

Ok, first of all, you have always been a cryer, so that isn't gonna be the change we're all looking for...I'm thinking it's gonna be the girls! But look at it this way, you can take up running. And THEN take Scarbie's advice and stuff yer face with Chockies.

PS Are you REALLY going to use the domer method? What about an IUD? Sponge? Spermicide? Rhythm Nation method? heh...

Love you - even if you do go temporarily insane.


sugar mama said...

Hey, so I also checked out of the estrogen camp 3 months ago, after 14 years. Not ready for babies yet, but I wanted to wash that BCP outta my system long before we start a family and I was totally fed up with major mood swings.

So far so good. I feel way more even-keeled, even during pms, no more headaches/migraines for 4-5 days around my period, cramps are actually better, and the best part is that I noticed an increase in sex drive almost immediately. The only sucky parts are finding other BC methods, and my skin, as you may have noticed, has been freaking out old school puberty-style lately. That had BETTER pass soon.

So you'll probably be fine too. We can compare notes, and I'm always up for chocolate. Tonight I came home and ate 2 cupcakes.

hip_ragdoll said...

Your body will be so happy with you too -- and so much has changed, with your hormones, with your life, with your cycles, that those brutal barfing periods are probably a thing of the past anyway (at least that's what I keep telling myself).

And yay fishes!

From one girl whose life seems completely and utterly defined by medication to another, not taking that pill every day will be a revelation. Sigh.

Beaches said...

Baa - we'll definitely compare notes.

I'm hoping for the sex-drive side-effect to happen, would be nice to have something fun come out of all this! I know that Scarbie had the same experience when she went off... course she did end up pregnant...

As for the skin issue, FOR SURE I'm going to break out something awful. Remember when we thought that zits would go away after puberty? What a cruel joke that they are still lurking on into our 30s? Not fair.