When I was 16 years old, I went to see my doctor about irregular periods. At the time I was experiencing 8-10 days of bleeding and clotting that caused such severe pain I almost passed out a few times. There were days I couldn’t go to school due to the amount of pain I was in. I had already been in to see my doctor multiple times about my many other health problems (later diagnosed as celiac disease). Within minutes, he suggested I go on the pill. At the time, I would have done anything he suggested if it would make the pain go away. If I had known what I know now, I would have pursued other options.
What is the birth control pill?
Most birth control pills are a combination of estrogen and progesterone meant to prevent ovulation. There are a variety of pills to choose from with different percentages of hormones, but most women are on a combination pill. In theory it makes sense because most of us aren’t ready to be pregnant at any given moment. It’s so simple to pop a pill every morning and not have to worry about pregnancy. When I was offered the pill it wasn’t for birth control, it was to help regulate my hormones. I wish now that I had asked him why my hormones were out of wack and what I could have tried before going on the pill.
Six years into the pill I started having health issues. Many of these health issues had probably been there earlier but I didn’t recognize them. My blood test came back and I had low Iron, low B12, and low Vitamin D. I gained about 5lbs a year putting me at 170lbs (roughly 26% BF, possibly higher) by the beginning of last year. This was despite training 6x a week for 60-90mins and eating what most would call a balanced diet. I had severe heart burn and digestive issues. My energy levels ran very low, and I slept every chance I got. I felt lethargic during workouts, especially those that were more cardio-based. I tried changing my diet, sleeping more, and adding in vitamins. These did make small differences but not as much as they should have. After talking to a few health professionals, I started researching the side effects of the pill and found thousands of women all over the world who had the same, or worse, side effects as me. I expected to find a few, but was shocked when I found a large number of women posting on forums who sounded just like me. I also read some research studies about the possible side effects, which aligned with what I was experiencing.
Choosing to go off the pill
I decided that as of October I would no longer take the pill. I was nervous. I had been on it eight years and knew that the side effects of withdrawing from it were as severe or worse as going on it. The first month off was a bit of a roller coaster, my emotions were all over the place. My first period did arrive on time but much heavier than usual. I noticed small improvements until about April, then it was like my health got fast tracked. My out-of-control food cravings disappeared, and only show up around my period. I started craving vegetables…weird. In May, my energy level sky rocketed and I began to lose weight without having to focus on it. I went gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, and yeast free for an entire month to help regulate my hormones and fight yeast. I believe this helped exponentially.
That brings us to today
Many of you have read my previous posts, so you know I’m feeling great! I have regained my health…better health than I have ever had. My digestion has improved, I sleep like a baby, and I am leaner than I have been since I was 20. My body is doing what it is supposed to. It is regulating my hormones without help from the pill. Now, before anyone connected with the pharmacy gets mad at me, listen up. The pill, like other medications, has it’s place. Sometimes, for health reasons, women need to prevent pregnancy, so the pill makes sense. There are a variety of reasons someone might need some hormonal help, but I don’t believe my issues were treated the way they should have been. Nutrition, exercise, and sleep can all be used to help regulate hormones. Assessing lifestyle factors can also give insight into why someone’s hormones may be out of wack. As always, I recommend you ask questions from as many professionals as possible. Continue to learn about the human body so that you have a basic understanding of how things work and can do what’s best for your health!
Eat Your Veggies!