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    Five Months Ago, I Stopped Taking Birth Control After 7 Years Of Being On It — This Was My Experience

    I wanted to see (among other things) if my mood would be affected.

    Hi! I'm Fabiana, a 27-year-old woman who is trying to figure out what's best for my health. Speaking of health, let's talk birth control.

    The author smiling
    Fabiana Buontempo

    Unlike a lot of my other friends, I didn't start taking birth control until I was in my early 20s. Although I was in a relationship, the main reason I went on the pill was to regulate my cycle. Throughout my adolescent years, my period was always all over the place. Sometimes I went months without getting it, and other times I heavily bled for over a week. I had countless tests done, including blood work and ultrasounds, and my OB-GYN was never able to come up with an answer for my irregular flow. 

    Finally, I decided to go on birth control, and after a little trial and error to figure out which pill was right for my body, I finally was able to get my cycle back on track. 

    I never gave my pill much thought when I was younger. Fast-forward to now: I'm a single woman in my late 20s who is questioning everything I put in my body. (I had a lot of time on my hands during the pandemic, obviously.)

    But first, let me back up. In early 2020, I found myself moodier than ever.

    Then when quarantine happened, I had more time to realize just how often my mood changes throughout the day, something I used to ignore and push under the rug. My emotions were all over. I could cry at the drop of a dime, and I snapped at anyone and everything. Don't get me wrong — I'm a Scorpio who can be moody — but I'd also felt things were personally off for me for awhile.

    One of my friends told me that she stopped taking birth control because she was experiencing the same feelings, and it never dawned on me that it could be that tiny pill that I put into my body every day contributing to making me feel this way.

    A pack of birth control
    Mindful Media / Getty Images

    To get more context around this, I asked Staci Tanouye, MD and OB-GYN, to weigh in.

    I was low-key nervous to stop the pill. Since I've been taking birth control for about seven years (which I know isn't necessarily that long compared to others), I was nervous about what my body would do once I stopped it cold turkey.

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    The first thing I did was make an appointment with my OB-GYN to pick her brain about potential side effects from going off it. She told me I could stop the pill whenever I wanted but advised to do so at the end of a pack. And Dr. Tanouye agreed with this. 

    “You can stop or resume birth control whenever you are comfortable. Your periods may be irregular when you stop birth control for a short period of time, but a period calculator can help you track and eventually figure out your cycle," she told BuzzFeed.

    My doctor did tell me that since I was irregular before the pill, if I stop taking it and my periods go back to being irregular, I might have to stay on the pill along with getting tests done to find out why my cycle is so all over the place. As Dr. Tanouye advised, my doctor also told me to monitor my period symptoms and keep track of it in a calendar. 

    After giving it a lot of thought, I decided to go off the pill at the end of one of my packs and see what happens. It's now been five months since I've stopped taking it, and I couldn't be happier with my decision. Here is what I've experienced so far:

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    This is based solely on my experience, as everyone's body, needs, and choices are different. Still, I hope that sharing my experience will be helpful to some.

    1. Admittedly, my PMS symptoms are more painful now.

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    While on the pill, I did experience light cramping about a week before I got my period. As predicted, once I was off the pill, about two weeks before my period I experienced terribly painful cramps and lower back pain. 

    Something that also surprised me was a sharp pain in my lower stomach. It was a pain I'd never experienced before — but Dr. Tanouye said this pain can be normal. “Birth control pills usually suppress ovulation, so pain mid-cycle may be due to ovulation starting again," she said.

    2. My periods are also heavier. 😩

    Thankfully, I've been getting my period at the same time of the month that I would normally get it while on the pill. However, my flow is the heaviest I've ever had it, which I was kind of expecting and as experts predict, since birth control generally makes periods lighter. 

    I haven't experienced spotting like some people do when they go off the pill — but I do have to change my tampons or pads way more often than I did before when I'm on my period. Dr. Tanouye confirmed that when stopping the pill, “Some will stop seeing some beneficial side effects such as decreased acne, lighter periods, or less menstrual cramping." 

    So yes, I knew this was coming. Still, it didn't make it much easier.

    3. My flow is now more consistent from month to month.

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    While I was on the pill, some cycles were just brown spotting, while other times it was a heavy flow. I never knew what type of period I was going to get each month, but now my flow is consistently the same each month, and I'm fine with it. I clearly like to know what I'm working with each month. 😬

    4. I seem to be way less moody.

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    Thankfully I experience less mood swings since stopping birth control — something I was hoping would happen. After a few months of being off the pill, I noticed I'm not as irritable or cranky, like I was prior. I even felt like I had less brain fog and was able to think more clearly. Mental health is always a work in progress, but I feel like this was a step in the right direction with changing my overall mood. 

    5. My skin around that time of the month was a bit different.

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    People start using birth control for different reasons — and one of the reasons might be to clear up skin. Since I luckily never severely suffered from acne, I wasn't too concerned about my skin changing once I stopped taking the pill. However, while on the pill when it was my time of the month, I would get one or two large pimples on my chin, something that surprisingly didn't happen once I was off the pill. 

    6. My appetite decreased, though I'm not sure I can attribute that to the pill.

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    I'm someone who has a great appetite. (And I attribute that to my Italian genetics, not to birth control.) I'm a healthy eater, but I still enjoy grazing throughout the day, even when I'm not on my period. Much to my surprise though, I weirdly had less of an appetite since stopping the pill. Now it seems that I have less of an urge to mindlessly eat, and I'm more aware of what I put into my body. This all could be coincidental, so I'll continue to monitor this change. 

    Overall, I'm happy with my decision to get off the pill.

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    Will I ever reconsider birth control in the future? Maybe! Who knows? But for now, I think it was a positive decision for myself, and I'm happy with how my body has been reacting to being off it. 

    Just to iterate though, everyone is different — so it's important to listen to your body, do your research, consult professionals, and fully understand your options when it comes to your body and what you put in it.

    Do you have an experience to share around getting on or off birth control? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

    A pack of birth control
    Isabel Pavia / Getty Images