I only realised recently that it’s been pretty much spot on a year since I stopped taking my contraceptive pill, something I shared on the blog in this post here.
I made the decision to come off the pill because I wanted to get back in touch with my body and its natural cycle, and to see whether it would potentially impact my mental health positively – as I wasn’t sure if taking it was affecting me mentally in the first place.
More and more people I know are looking for alternatives to hormonal contraception. When I shared the blog post, I even got a Facebook message from an old school friend saying how it had worked wonders after a few months in helping her overcome anxiety and start feeling like herself again.
I had high hopes. Too high, I think – deep down, I think I was expecting to turn into some sort of earth warrior who could literally feel my uterus shedding its lining, and for the fog that so often clouds my mind to part, sunshine and rainbows taking its place.
That isn’t quite what’s happened.
Instead, I firmly believe that the hormones I’d been swallowing each morning for almost 4 years still haven’t left my system yet. Before I started taking the pill, my periods used to be pretty much like clockwork, the same rough dates each month, and the pain was never too bad.
Unfortunately, my cycle is nowhere near back to where (I think) it should be. It took me 2 months to have some semblance of a period, though it was only a couple of days, and ever since I’ve gone up to 4 months with nothing, and then bled for maybe 3 days. This has definitely been worrying and lead to a couple of times anxiously weeing on a stick and thanking a god I don’t believe in when the test comes out negative – because I don’t seem to have a real cycle yet, it’s so hard to know whether I’m late or the period just hasn’t come yet. Of course I’m practising safe sex and using condoms, but you just never know!
Now, it looks like I have an approximate 2 month cycle, but it’s really hard to tell. I never thought I’d see the day where I’d be grateful for that specific kind of awful stomach cramps that PMS brings, and accidentally bleeding onto my knickers, but it is almost a relief these days to see my body getting back to what it should be doing.
I’m definitely keeping an eye on things and will be going to see my GP if I feel like things really aren’t right. At my smear test, I asked the nurse about how long the pill can take to get out of your system (and have also done much googling, for my sins), and she said it can wildly vary, but it’s possible it can take a year or more, and that I should see a doctor if it takes too long to come back.
And my mental health? Well, as expected, this one’s a little harder to measure.
A positive is that I definitely don’t feel worse than I did 12 months ago, that’s for sure. There hasn’t been the sense of a weight lifting from my shoulders that I’d hoped for, but I’ve noticed that I certainly have more good days than bad ones, which never used to be the case, and that the real bad days are much fewer and far between than they were.
Coming off the pill might be partially responsible for this, but it’s impossible to know. I’ve done a lot of work on myself beside that since then – work on accepting myself, my body, trying to heal my relationship with food – and it’s likely that it’s a combination of these things that are helping me feel a little more peaceful, though I’ve still a long way to go with that yet.
So, overall, things are looking good. I’m confident that my cycle is moving back to normal and I’m feeling better mentally than I have in a long while.
What I know for sure is that I’m happy to carry on this journey, and that I won’t be going back to the pill any time soon.
Have you had any experience in coming off the pill? Did you feel better or worse for it? Let me know in the comments!
All my best,