Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Price of Going Off of Birth Control

Migraines, mood swings, and exhaustion, oh my! 

As I previously suspected, it's possible that I'm experiencing yet another rejection of birth control.  It's at least another avenue my new doctor and I are exploring.  

For the previous 4 years, I've taken estrogen-based pills.  Long story short, I ended up PMS-ing constantly, getting panic attacks, and having high blood pressure.  I then switched to a progestin-based brand (synthetic) within the last year.  The general crazyiness subsided, so I didn't consider that other symptoms were still present.

I recently looked up the side effects of my brand and was shocked: out of the 30 known side effects, I have 12 of them.  Everything from weight gain and fatigue to trouble sleeping, bladder infections, and acne.  It may be coincidental, it may only be part of my problems, but it's clear to me that birth control is some factor in my health.

Which is why, after deliberation with Mike and my doctor, I have elected to go off of them.

To be honest, I've never been real comfortable with birth control pills.  I'm all for birth control as a method - I'm simply concerned about the chemistry.  One of my favorite words is "organic," but artificial hormone maniuplation is the furthest thing from that.   

And boy, has chemistry been on my mind lately.  Everyone knows what can happen when you go on birth control, but no one says much about going off of it.

Taking hormones out of your system will cause confusion in your body.  While it only takes a matter of days to actually dump the birth control, it can take weeks or months for your pitutary gland to regulate itself.

Every woman reacts differently, but I can tell you these last two weeks have been rather tough for me.  Bouts of exhaustion, unexpected migraines, crying spells, increased muscle pain, and general crankiness have peppered my days.

I admit, I was taken off guard.  No one warned me about this.  I've not had any girlfiends to consult with on this matter and the doctor only mentioned the possibility of weight fluctuation.

Despite these symtoms, I have seen a small measure of improvement.  My bladder almost instantaneously felt better - I don't feel like I'm constantly fighting off a UTI.  And despite some mood swings, I feel more balanced.  I don't know if that's a chemical reaction or just the mental relief of not having to take the pills anymore, but it is comforting nonetheless.

Lest you jump to any conclusions, no, Mike and I have not changed our stance about having children.  With him gone for part of next year and leaving in a matter of months, this is a perfect chance to rid my body of these chemicals and see if it improves my health.  Only time will tell!

Have you ever experienced a negative reaction to a medication?    


  1. Oh goodness, yes!!! My first two birth control pills did not agree with me. High blood pressure, migraines, and anxiety/depression plagued me for about 4 years until I switched to my current pill. The pill I'm on now I've been taking for about 3 1/2 years and so far we are still getting along fine (fingers crossed). I totally relate to what you are going through. Hang in there and let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

  2. Wow! Glad what you're on now is agreeing with you. It's crazy how differently these hormones affect us. Apart from you, I'm the only other one of my girlfriends who's experienced difficulties. My doctor says it's more common than people know - some women simply can't handle BC pills.

    Ah, the complications of modern living. I wouldn't swap it for a flock of children though ;)

  3. I have had several issues with various b/c pills. Ortho Tri was what I was taking (along with once weekly sex and a spermicide jell) when we got pregnant with #1. I was on a progesterone only pill when I became pregnant with #2, which was an ectopic pregnancy and (obviously) didn't stick.
    Round and round with several other brands the WORST being Yaz which entirely ANNIHILATED my sex drive. Most of the time b/c pills make me not want sex but once things get going it's alright. When on the Yaz though, even kissing felt slimy and gross. We'll just say that didn't last long.

    We're going w/o right now. Probably not the greatest idea since we've already got 3 kiddos and don't really want more, but since I've gotten pregnant while ON the pill exactly as often as I have when NOT on the pill my faith in the stuff is pretty much non-existent.

  4. @ Emma, thanks for sharing! Despite the surprises, you have a beautiful family nonetheless. I know of another gal who got pregnant while on birth control, with a condom, AND with one functioning ovary. That's nuts!

  5. I'm glad your body is getting it's natural groove back :)

    Having been on at least 14 different medications at one time or another (usually only 6-8 together) over the past 12 years, I can attest that chemical/hormonal withdrawal is never pretty. It does suck that no one talks about it :-/