*This blog post was originally created and posted in March 2020 on another blog of mine and later reposted in April of 2020 to Natural Cycles own blog and website. Click here to read.
*This is the updated version as of March 2021* (Updates can be found at the bottom of this post)
I was no different from many other teenage girls. By the age of 16, I began taking birth control only a few years after I got my period.
Today I’m 26 years old, so it’s been close to 10 years, almost an entire decade of my life, that I took the pill.
But today, almost 1 year after ditching the pill, I’m living a hormone-free life, have a deep understanding of my own body, I am STILL practising safe sex and am honestly happier than I’ve ever been!
As I remember, I quickly adjusted to the pill with not many problems.
I remember I was spot-bleeding maybe the first couple of weeks-months, but other than that, I was perfectly fine on the pill from the start.
I used the brand “Denise” for all those years, a 3rd generation pill, which is associated with a higher risk of side effects than some of the other generation birth control pills, but… there were “worse” brands out there than this one.
However, at that time. I was not thinking of the consequences it could have on my health and looking back, I genuinely wish that there had been other, safer, ways of managing your cycle and just overall health.
WHY I STOPPED TAKING HORMONAL BIRTH CONTROL PILLS
Let’s get the first question out of the way: No, I didn’t come off the pill, because I wanted to get pregnant.
It is still to this day the complete opposite reason for that. But my reasons for wanting to ditch the pill was purely health and ethical reasons.
As I went vegan three years ago, I continuously kept on taking the pills despite knowing they contained lactose in them and it wasn’t until 1,5 years ago, that my conscience started bugging me with this.
So that was a big reason why I wanted to quit. But, another huge reason for wanting to come off the pill was because of my health.
I experienced no bad “symptoms” as I recall, but oh boy.. looking back here almost one year after ditching the pill, I was wrong!
But before I explain further about this, I want to let you in on probably the biggest reason why it took me so long to come off the pill:
I can’t tell you how many times (even on the pill and taking it correctly every night) that those thoughts of becoming pregnant ran wild in my brain.
I was a mess when it came to this matter, as I absolutely under no circumstances wanted to get pregnant. Ever! And I was willing to do what it took to never be in a situation where this was reality.
So, if you’re anything like me with fear controlling this decision in your life, then I’m officially the proof that you (yes, you!) can drop the pill!
However, let’s first come back to side-effects. I was only 16 when I started taking birth control pills. I asked my mom if I could get these pills, and she agreed to it, and this became a part of my life ever since.
Ever since then, I’ve been through a lot of things in my life, which I to this day firmly believe could have been easier to deal with, if I had just been off the pills and been more “me”.
To quickly summarise: I’ve had anxiety since I was 16, OCD from when I was 21 years old and got depression by age 24 and unfortunately… I have also found myself in such deep holes, where I no longer saw the purpose of fighting another day.
However, some of these struggles I have thankfully overcome (also before ditching the pill) while others (like my anxiety) remains an on/off-topic in my life, that I’m still finding the root to overcome completely.
But to this day, I keep thinking to myself: Could I have avoided some of these mental health struggles if I had avoided these hormones as well?
The science behind all this has confirmed that there is a possible link between birth control use and some of these mental health matters.
Which is something that is still a subject to this day that’s not taken seriously enough in my opinion, with so many people out there putting these heartbreaking thoughts into action when it could perhaps have been avoided.
However, I’m in no way saying that these pills solely controlled my anxiety, OCD and darkest days in my life. I know it’s not, but maybe.. just maybe I could have avoided some experiences I’ve been through if I had been off the pills and been more “me”. I’ll never know for sure.
SO WHAT HAPPENED WHEN I STOPPED TAKING HORMONAL BIRTH CONTROL?
Early on? FEAR! But later on pure FREEDOM!
I remember so clearly the thoughts that ran through me, as I was exploring other options for birth control; complete panic, overthinking, worrying about so many things and just general fear of the unknown and what would happen.
I had read so many things from other women and their stories online about coming off the pill, that it’s no wonder that not many women out there are taking the steps towards this.
All those stories were about how their skin was a complete mess (acne outbreaks), irregular cycles and painful periods with some experiencing bleeding for four months in a row and many other issues.
But do you want to hear the secret to why this is all the stories you can read online when you search for information about ditching the pill?
It is because the internet is swimming in peoples problems.
The success stories are rarely shared, as there’s no need to share these stories if there’s not a problem you see.
People share their problems to get help, not so much to be at service of others despite them not having an issue, which makes total sense if you think about it. But do you get what I’m saying? And why you only would see absolute horror-stories off coming off the pills, rather than the thousands it worked out smoothly for?
However, I see a trend is on the rise with this “serving-others concept” and I love it! But that’s why there’s still so many scary-stories online and not success-stories. Simple as that.
But that’s why I’m here! To bring you a sunshine-story and hopefully fill some room on the internet with this amazing decision I took for myself.
But coming back to the point: I was scared, and I had searched the internet thin for answers.
I contacted so many people before I took the leap and ditched the pill (after reading how to come off them first safely, as there are helpful articles out there!) and I have experienced so many things throughout this 1st year of being pill-free, while some things are still surprising me today. So here’s what I experienced:
FEWER MOOD CHANGES
Hale-freaking-lujah! My mood quickly went to the skies as I ditched the pill.
However, it wasn’t from one day to the next.
The hormones need their time to leave your body, so it wasn’t before the first couple of months had passed, that I could see this change in myself and felt overall better and better about my decision.
I wasn’t any longer so moody as I could be at times, so that was a massive relief to me.
As I said, the first couple of months was a bit of a struggle due to the hormones leaving my body, which meant I sure as heck dealt with irregular periods for the first 3+ cycles (months), but after that my body started to find it’s the way and I learned so much about myself in that time.
It was mostly frustrating having to wait and see if I even had any regular periods. Still, honestly, it was just a matter of time.
Today I know my body so well, both in terms of when I’m ovulating and when my periods are due and basically what to expect when you’re expecting.. your period.
But if you ditch the pill, patience is the key, and your body will need time to adjust!
I never even knew this was a thing.
I knew cramps during your period was a thing, but suddenly I learned how you could also experience cramps whenever you are ovulating.
It might just be ovulation-cramps, but for some women, they are also experiencing something called “Mittelschmerz” (which is a German word that stands for “middle”) which occurs when you are releasing an egg, which affects maybe 20% of women.
I only experienced these ovulation pains (not Mittelschmerz) during the first three months, but I haven’t felt a thing since.
Still, luckily there are other ways to know when your body is communicating to you that ovulation is due, so don’t worry about that if you were hoping that it’d be that easy to spot. It’s still easy, but I prefer knowing when I’m ovulating without the cramps!
Which brings me on to this little gemstone!
Your body will most likely tell you that you are ovulating because you will, in general, feel more frisky! This makes total sense, as this would be the time to go ahead and try and make a baby, so by increasing your libido at this time a month, you’re thereby also increasing your chances of conceiving.
But for those who are not in for that yet, this would be the time to dive into other activities! Or protect yourselves in different ways, since this is the time you don’t want to take any chances (and five days before your ovulation day, but I’ll dive deeper into that later)
So I don’t know what to tell you guys. It is a blessing and frustration at once, but you’ll sure know when ovulation is happening!
Another new thing I learned for the very first time at age 26 (which is embarrassing in a way to admit, but true) is how you can track your ovulation by merely keeping an extra eye on your body fluids, aka your cervical mucus.
Sounds super sexy, I know. But none of less, this is another massive key factor on how your body is telling you when you are ovulating (and thereby when to abstain from sex, or not if you do want to conceive a child)
Basically, throughout your cycle, your vaginal discharge has a cycle on its own. Depending on when you are ovulating (which isn’t necessarily the 14th day of the month for all women)
But, looking into the cycle of your vaginal discharge, you will also see when your ovulation day is approaching exactly. It’ll most likely look something like this:
There is honestly no doubt in when you are ovulating, as your vaginal discharge close to ovulation will be so wet and slippery that it’s impossible to be wrong.
But remember, every woman is different, but this is a really good indicator on how to track your own discharge, but don’t just rely on this one aspect. There are many more things you can and should do if you’re serious about ditching the pill.
Getting fewer headaches wasn’t something I noticed right away.
I’d always been prone to headaches, but always blamed it on my ability not to drink enough water, which I’m sure had something to do with it!
But I did reach a point just months before I ditched the pill, where I had to seek chiropractic help to get my headaches sorted since they’d become so severe and impacted my life so profoundly that I could not function.
So I went there for about six weeks every week until the symptoms had disappeared.
However, it wasn’t long until they were back again, and I found myself in another few months of need from chiropractors to help me get my headaches sorted.
But, during the next time around, I had in the meantime dropped my pills just weeks before this occurred again. I went, got the help I needed and ever since then I’ve never felt the need to seek help for this again.
Admittedly, I can still get headaches. But not so severe as they were and not as often and I usually know the underlying cause of it (still working on that water intake, yes!)
But I am positive that going off the pills surely didn’t affect this aspect negatively.
I mean this in more than one aspect: I’ve never felt so clear-minded as I do today. First off, because I felt I had been living in a fog without knowing that I even could live so naturally and in tune with my body and it’s own magic.
But also, because so many of my mental health issues have eased up and I, in general, feel overall better in my body and my mind knowing how I no longer put hormones in me that disturbs my health.
It is truly freeing to live this way, and I wish I could explain how it feels, but.. the reality is that you have to discover this for yourself.
All I’m saying is: I feel so good, so safe, so clear in my thoughts and actions and that right there is worth it all.
Happiness didn’t come to me overnight and ditching the pill was not a quick fix to suddenly becoming happy either.
Happiness is something that naturally occurs when you are feeling fulfilled and content within yourself, your purpose and your values.
To me, happiness consists of very few things: Having something (you love) to do, having someone you love and something to hope for in the future.
All I know is how I’ve become more and more in tune with my values as I ditched the pill and my conscience was clear, but also how I’ve found my purpose in life and are now making an actual living by sharing and doing what I love, being kinder towards myself by doing what’s right for me, while at the same time have found someone special in my life who’s shown me (and vice versa) what true lasting love was supposed to feel like all along, despite being oceans apart (for now)
But that’s what I mean. I also have something to hope for which involves my future with him and how we’ll one day be able to ditch the long-distance relationship and create the life of our dreams, which has a LOT to do with who you choose to be with, as being on the pill can make you choose the wrong partner!
WHAT I USE AS NON-HORMONAL BIRTH CONTROL TODAY
As I previously mentioned, I searched the internet thin for other birth control options and what I came down to and had heard the most about was The Daisy Fertility Tracker.
A method where you can track your cycle, your temperature, when your periods is due, when you expect to ovulate, when it is safe to have sex (green days) and when it isn’t! (red days) – everything you need to know to know your body, your cycle, and when to take other methods in hand if you’re not looking to get pregnant.
It was expensive, but I thought it’d be worth it if you took into account how long it would last you and having your health in mind, there really couldn’t be a price tag on that.
So I bought the fertility tracker, ditched the pill and almost immediately began tracking my periods, not knowing what to expect.
I tracked my cycle this way for three months, but then one day the tracker became unreliable to me, which I will come back to.
However, I wasn’t prepared to just so quickly give up on it!
So instead of giving up on it, I decided to go ahead and try two different cycle trackers instead (at the same time, yes) so I went ahead and downloaded the Natural Cycles app, where they would send you an oral thermometer in the package.
TWO METHODS AT THE SAME TIME
So there I was… now testing two similar, yet, different methods to track my cycles.
It continued this way for a while, but one day the Daisy Fertility Tracker didn’t register the data in the app, which is pretty-freaking-important it does automatically, but anyhow, it crashed one day, the app wasn’t that user-friendly either I thought and I lost a bit of trust in it after that, so I gave up on it despite having paid a ton for it.
However, Natural Cycles has never acted out for the past nine months that I’ve been solely relying on that method.
The difference between these two and the good thing about the Natural Cycle tracker is that you can wake up, take your temperature and then go back to sleep knowing that you can later wake up and manually save the temperature into the app.
It is a bit more managing you have to do, but I honestly prefer relying on my own two fingers, than putting all my faith into technology, like it was with the Daisy tracker.
So! Natural Cycle is what I use today and have been using successfully and happily for the past nine cycles.
I’m sure you are sitting with a lot of questions by now and that there might also be some of you who thinks it is “risky” to rely on your birth control in this way. But honestly, I was thinking the same thing once.
The secret is that you have to get to know your body. It is telling you so many amazing things on it’s own that you wouldn’t believe it!
But also keep in mind, that the more consistent you are with taking your temperature every morning and are on the look-out for the discharge that changes during your cycle, it is so simple to do this!
HOW TO MAKE IT WORK
This form of tracking is also referred to as FAM – Fertility Awareness Method, which is the method of tracking when you are fertile and when you are not fertile in your cycle.. because yes.. you are not fertile every day of the month!
But I will also say this: I make sure to use ovulation tests each month to confirm when I am ovulating.
My Natural Cycles App always tells me when it’s time for an ovulation test, so it’s really easy to know and when it is therefore also time to abstain from sex (unless using other methods, such as condoms)
The only thing you really need to learn is to take your temperature every morning, look out for your cervical mucus, maybe check your cervical position as well and take ovulation tests that will predict the peak of your lutheinizing hormone that arises upon ovulation and indicates that ovulation can be expected within the next 24-48 hours.
It can seem a bit overwhelming in the beginning, I know! It was to me as well at first.
But as time went on, I learned so much about my body, my cycle and everything that today it is the most simple thing in the world.
But, also note that I, of course, relied on safer methods the first six months until I trusted my cycle and until my body had adjusted to the changes it was going through when ditching the pill.
But once your body has gotten rid of the hormones and you can see a pattern in your cycle while following the guidelines of the Natural Cycle Tracker, while perhaps staying extra-safe with testing when you’re ovulating, then I genuinely believe that anyone can do this.
To sum up this post, I’m going to direct you to Natural Cycle’s website right here to get all your questions answered if you are interested in this or look up the FAM method to learn more about your body and this method.
I know that I will never go back on the pill and that I am more than confident that I will not get pregnant either as I’m relying on so many sources, that all confirm to me each month that I know my body in and out. But if the day comes where I do want to become pregnant, I already know everything I need to know to make that happen also.
I hope this was helpful to you!
All love my,
MARCH 2021 UPDATE
I mentioned in the beginning of this post, that I would give a little update now that I am further in my journey of using natural and hormone-free birth control, so here we go!
Looking back and reading this, I am honestly surprised at how knowledgeable I was not even 1 year into this method. I’m saying this in the best possible way because even though I’ve learned a TON more since writing this post, I can without a doubt say, that I fully think this knowledge I shared is still to this day all I would say all over again to someone new in this situation.
Everything I wrote, is still true to this day, my opinions as well and it’s still the best advice I can give. I am now 2-years into this journey, and a lot has happened since – but only for the better. Some of the things I’ve learned are these:
YOUR CERVICAL MUCUS AND WATER INTAKE
So this is not funny, but a little bit still. Because if you remember me saying, that I was bad at drinking water, then this was my actual wakeup call to take it seriously.
I never knew how incredible IMPORTANT water is for your body when relying on this method. I had a few months where I didn’t produce much cervical mucus, and I couldn’t understand why, so it made it harder to actually track when I was ovulating as I couldn’t check for one of my usual signs of it.
I later learned, that if you don’t drink enough water, you’ll basically dry up (duh!) but that includes as well with how your cervical mucus is going to act. Which meant for me, there was barely anything to look out for.
Now, it didn’t make it impossible or anything to track my ovulation without it, my ovulation-tests still worked, my temperatures still showed what it needed, but it was a little unsettling not having this next sign of it confirm to me when I was “due”. So.. bottom line, drink water!
STRESS AND YOUR CYCLES
Since I was writing this, lot’s of changes have been happening in my life. Firstly, I am now a Health Coach, a Dream Coach and soon to also be a certified Neuro-linguistic Practitioner, Hypnotherapist, TIME Techniques and EFT practitioner as well as a life and success coach.
Ya’lls girl been busy!
But on top of that, I’ve always moved across the country to be united with my long-distance boyfriend and now find myself living in one of the best places on earth in South East England in the city of Brighton. All of this, obviously, has led to having experiences some stressful moments and it definitely showed up in my cycles as well.
Some of my cycles were later, some earlier, meaning I had both 25-35 cycle days, where I normally range between 28-31 days, so it’s not like a massive change, but enough for my cycles to adjusting themselves here and there.
But the important thing here: It never made me fear that I was pregnant (Well.. how could I when living 700 miles away from my boyfriend) but even if that wasn’t the case, I always knew where I was in my cycles and what was causing the delays or early periods.
I can’t really give just one advice on this (that would be too long of an already-long post) but just be aware of your stresses in your life and chunk out or delegate whatever is too much for you. I hired moving companies and honestly let it up to faith if I was meant to be in the UK at this time or not, and I truly believe the universe guided me and thought it was my time.
Believe it or not, the next lockdown happened literally 1 week after my arrival in the UK, so if that’s not destiny, I don’t know what is! I literally just made it thankfully.
HORMONE FREE BIRTH CONTROL AND PARTNER SUPPORT
So I think it’s worth mentioning if I had any concerns now that I would live with my boyfriend 24/7 and if that would make me question the method more, knowing that I for the most part, I was away from my love and being together was very scheduled in a long-distance relationship setting, so I really didn’t have “access” to testing this 100% with my partner involved.
I have gotten a lot of messages and even coached a lot of women on this form of birth control since I shared my experience and it’s been a real joy for me to work with these women. But, the one thing I’ve learned and that came up again and again with each client I had, was women’s worries of their partners not being supportive and doing this very crucial thing for their own health.
They still wanted to practice safe sex but was mostly afraid of their partner not being on board with their decision, while other women had their partners support, but didn’t feel their partner was so engaged in this new period of their life that meant so much to them.
If any of this resonates with you, then I have a few things to say and I believe you already know the answer.
If your partner is not willing to support you in doing what’s best for YOUR health, YOUR happiness and YOUR body, then you need to have a very honest conversation with yourself and your partner.
I can not emphatize enough how important it is that you are surrounded by support when going through this transition. I know there is a lot of worries you sit with, I know, because so did I.. but if you are with the right person for you, they will support what is neccesary for your health, wants and wishes.
No one says he/she/they/them has to put the thermometer in your mouth each morning, but having the support to know what YOU know deep inside is the best solution for you, shouldn’t stand in the way of a partner not being supportive.
The thing is, you will always know what is best for yourself. There is a reason why you are thinking about making this decision, are curious about it and probably have 100 tabs open on your computer reading and learning about it. It is because it is meant for you. If it wasn’t for you, you wouldn’t even think twice about it.
So go with your gut and your instinct and follow that voice. If anything, I will happily be there to support you in this journey and answer any questions you have about it. (you can find me on either of these two accounts on Instagram @destinationbabe or @kattija or write me an email at email@example.com
I hope you learned some more and that that woman you know you have inside of you, who’s feeling free in her own body and life, truly does exist within you.
All my love,
If I can do it, anyone can do it.