Back in April, I made the decision to come off the pill after six years of taking it. As outlined in my earlier blog post – Why I Decided to Come Off the Pill – I wanted to see what my body was like without artificial hormones being pumped around it. Over four months on now, I thought it was time for a little update and review of pill-free life. As we all know, the internet can be a place full of fake news and female horror stories, so I want to be plain when I say that this is my personal experience and should therefore not be taken as absolute truth for everybody. Spoiler: there have been no major developments, my boobs haven’t disappeared, and I haven’t gained a load of weight.
In this post, I’m going to touch on a little bit of everything, but mainly skin, periods, my mood and general mental health, as these were my main motivations for coming off the pill.
If you read my first blog post, you’ll know that rubbish skin was a big fear of mine, as unfortunately for me, how I look on the outside can deeply affect how I feel on the inside. To give some context, my skin journey has been pretty up and down, although it has massively improved since my high school days. I went on the pill at aged 16 and did see an improvement in my skin from then on. Saying that, this could also have been down to the simple fact that I was growing up and becoming an adult. Whilst I was on the pill, I found that my skin only really flared up during exam season and around the time I was due on. So, despite my fears, I thought I would be fairly safe from the dreaded spots I had during puberty. Four months down the line however and my skin would beg to differ. Don’t get me wrong, my face isn’t suddenly covered in boils, but it is definitely suffering from angry, inflamed spots, which largely dominate the sides of my chin and jawline. As this area is linked to hormonal acne, it makes sense that going off the pill would have an effect. Saying that, I can’t say with utmost certainty whether this is 100% the reason for my skin flare-up. Job hunting during one of the worst unemployment periods in a decade has also caused me a lot of stress and anxiety, which I’m sure has had its own effect too. So please take my breakout experience with a pinch of salt, as it may or may not be linked to the pill.
I was fully expecting not to get a period for a few months after coming off the pill, as I’d been told that can happen and is completely normal. Mother Nature persevered for me though, and I only missed one month of the red wave. I actually found this quite reassuring AND surprisingly I found that my periods were actually lighter than when I was on the pill (result). The only complaint I have is that my periods were slightly less predictable without the pill. They still lasted around a week, but they seemed to appear either slightly earlier or later than my usual 28 days I had gotten used to on the pill.
Mood swings & Mental Health:
I have definitely noticed a difference in my mood swings; being that they don’t swing as much anymore. It’s more like a smooth transition from one mood to another, rather than a high-speed rollercoaster with unexpected drops, twists and turns. Whilst on the pill I found that my mood could drop dramatically, I could get angry and emotional over the smallest things or for no apparent reason at all. Being cooped up with my family in lockdown, it therefore came as quite a relief to be free of this hormone-induced alter-ego. On another note, however, I found that my mental health took quite a hit. Whilst it felt like I could keep my surface emotions in better check, I did find myself feeling an underlying sense of stress and anxiety. This I do put down to circumstance rather than coming off the pill. The pandemic is ongoing and so are our fears for the future – when will it end? When can we go back to our normal lives? The uncertainty that follows us from day-to-day has massively impacted my mental health, as I’m sure it has many others.
I couldn’t finish this blog post without touching on the main reason for the pill’s invention. With a success rate of over 99%, being on the pill does give you peace of mind when it comes to contraception. As soon as I came off it, I felt a bit lost in this area. Whilst there are so many options out there, including the implant and the coil, these both felt too invasive for me, especially when I wanted to see how my body would cope solely on its own. And whilst I wanted to take the au naturale route when it came to myself and my body, I definitely wasn’t taking the risk of the old pulling-out method when it came to sex. It was therefore time to return to the dreaded condoms. Let’s be honest, no one likes them, but they are the safest option when it comes to not getting preggo and protecting yourself against STIs. And on the upside, using a condom means no mad dash to the bathroom to clean yourself up! That alone is enough to sell me on them.
So, to summarise, my mood swings and PMS massively improved and my periods were lighter. But, my skin reacted badly and I found my cycle was less predictable. As could have been predicted, being on or off the pill has its advantages and disadvantages, and every woman’s experience will be different. Since the four-month mark, however, I have since decided to go back on the pill. For me, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, and I just found my body seemed happier and more regulated when I was on it. I did consult my GP however, before deciding to go back on the pill, and explained my side effects and what I wanted to avoid going forward. From this consultation, she advised me to try a different pill which I’m a couple of weeks into taking now, so I’ll let you know how it goes.
And there you have it! An honest review of my experience going off the pill for anyone who may be thinking of doing the same. There’s no way of telling what might work for you before you try it, but at least by trying, we can find out what works best for us and our bodies.