Ten years ago, I started taking a daily hormone that would prevent me from getting pregnant.
I took it daily, faithfully, for 10 whole years. First it was one for a long time. Then it made me nuts. So then it was another, which gave me breakthrough bleeding. Then another, then finally another.
Four kinds of birth control pills in 10 years with possible effects like weight gain, spotting, mood swings, potential blood clotting…and jeesh, wasn’t THAT fun. Ever notice how women tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to reproductive organs and the means to not get pregnant? Just saying.
Tuesday, I took my very last pill. No more hormones.
Now before you start jumping around crying “baby!”, don’t, because no pill doesn’t necessarily mean baby, nor does it necessarily mean no baby, it just means that for the first time in 10 years I am not personally preventing a pregnancy by taking a hormone that prevents me from ovulating. (And if you start crying “baby”, I’ll be all “Baby? Where? I want to see it! Can I hold it? Please?!””)
It was a decision I came to on my own, discussed with my husband, and went forward with. Because after 10 years — I wanted to give my body a break. I wanted to see what my cycle looks like without the pill and get my body to an artificial hormone-free place.
I’m a little nervous to see how it’s going to work out, because for 10 years I could track my period to almost the hour and knew exactly when I would be weepy, when I would want to eat my weight in chocolate, and when I could kiss it goodbye for another month.
Now, I have no idea.
Will my cycle be 28 days? Will it be 35? Will I gain weight? Lose it? Break out? Have hyena-style mood swings that have my husband hiding behind the couch? (He’s pretty tall. I think I’d find him. He cannot hide.)
To help me understand what it will be like, I recently read the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility. The book focuses mostly on natural birth control and pregnancy achievement, but was such an eye-opener to what really goes on during your cycle, that I’d recommend it to any woman as a reference. Parts of it are a little hippy-dippy, but the main message is very informative.
One thing the book teaches is to accurartely chart your cycle, and explains the myth that many women do not have the 28-day cycle that many of us think we have. If you are in fact trying to get pregnant, it’s key to know how long your cycle is so you don’t miss your ovulation.
The cycle charting is a little overwhelming at first, but once I read through it a few times it made a lot of sense. Yesterday I began charting to see how my first month pill-free will be. This should also help prevent a white pants, didn’t know I was getting my period, situation that I haven’t had since summer camp, age 14. And they were shorts, not pants. Still…ugh.
Sunday will come and go without the start of a new pack. I’m excited, I’m nervous…and I’m really hoping I don’t eat my weight in chocolate.
** Edited to add: Going off the pill does not exactly mean we’re trying to get pregnant yet. I mean, it’s not off the table, but there is such a thing as birth control for men, you know! Also, my use of the book is to track my cycle only, which involves taking my basal body temperature each morning. The book teaches how you could use it as a natural birth control, but I personally think that’s a bit too risky.
Also, if we do decide to jump on the baby train soon, I’m not planning on using cycle tracking, at least not at first, to get pregnant immediately. I’d like to keep some romance in there and not be dependant on my body temperature and cervical fluid, oh baby, baby.