Bye Bye Birth Control: why I quit birth control and how I am preparing

hormonal birth control hormone balance Oct 31, 2021

Let me start by saying that everyone is different and this is my own experience. I value the huge impact of this oral contraceptive that gave women a highly effective control over their fertility. I <3 reproductive freedom. I respect everyone’s freedom to choose when it comes to their body, and this information is not meant to replace guidance from your doctor.

I don’t even remember when I went on birth control. 

I don’t even remember what it was like having a real period. When doctors ask, “how was your cycle before going on birth control?”, I promptly respond with “No idea”. I didn’t even have a moment to think about my cycle, let alone experience it. 

I was put on hormonal birth control for one reason. To solve my acne worries. I honestly don’t think it did much - seeing as I struggled with problematic skin for years and years after that. 

After 10+ years on the pill, my decision to go off of hormonal birth control was inspired by my desire to truly understand my body in an unaltered state - without synthetic hormones pumped into my body, muddying everything up. There is a reason why people refer to the menstrual cycle as our fifth vital sign. It can be a great source of information - a sign of health or a sign of trouble. I could be experiencing problems related to my cycle and not even know it because I have been masking it all with hormonal birth control. 

I decided to map out my journey off of hormonal birth control as a useful resource for others looking to do the same or interested in getting more in touch with their body. While everyone’s body is different, there are some fundamental principles and tips that you can implement to harness the beauty that is your natural hormones.

So here’s how it went:

June/July: For a couple of months leading up to the final goodbye I have been preparing my body. Keeping my diet in tip-top shape: eating nutrient-dense foods, avoiding processed junk and sugar, only eating high-quality dairy, avoiding alcohol, giving my liver lots of love, and detoxing my body through exercise and sauna sessions.

Monday, August 30: I am at the beginning of the sugar week of my final pack of hormonal birth control. These past few months have been full of anxiety about mood swings, acne coming back with a vengeance, and hair loss (I know, worrying will only make it worse), but at this point, I am just excited for the journey. It’s like a fun, new challenge for me to take on. If/when any of those symptoms occur, I know that they are temporary and that I am armed with a wealth of knowledge and resources to address them.

Tuesday, August 31: Started my “period” today. My final birth control bleed. I learned way too recently that you are not actually having a menstrual cycle when you’re on the pill … which makes sense. I’ll file that under things that no one ever told me!!

Friday, September 3: The final day of my hormonal birth control bleed - ah the beauty of a 3.5-day, manageable period - you will be missed…

Sunday, September 12: One week of no pill. I haven’t thought about it much, just going about my normal life. I haven’t experienced many noticeable changes - maybe a bit more problematic skin in spots where hormonal acne typically shows up, like my chin and jawline. I also feel a bit leaner and lighter, so that’s fun!? I feel ready to take on the next few months, which I expect will come with more side effects.

Immediately upon ditching hormonal birth control I started using Natural Cycles - a non-hormonal birth control method where I record my basal body temperature (BBT - your temperature when you are fully at rest) each morning. BBT changes during the menstrual cycle and can be used to detect ovulation and identify your fertile window. You can use BBT to track your cycle without an app - but I personally will not be leaving my family planning up to my pen and paper calculations.

According to the app, I am on day 14 of my cycle, in the follicular phase, which begins on the first day of your period and ends when you ovulate. Using birth control pills for a long time can lengthen your follicular phase (keep reading to see just how damn long mine is). The app will use my individual baseline temperature for the first part of my cycle and spot the increase in my temperatures, indicating ovulation. 

As always, I am focusing on nourishing my body with nutrient-dense, whole foods, since I know that supporting my body with a nutrient-dense diet, will be extremely important for a smooth transition.

Sunday, September 19: One week later and feeling good! My skin actually feels nice and clear. Maybe I will be one of those people who magically doesn’t experience symptoms (a girl can dream!). I also recently completely overhauled my skincare routine for a non-toxic, natural regimen from Primally Pure. Reducing your toxic burden is a great way to improve hormone health, allowing your liver to more effectively expel hormones. On Saturday I felt a few physical symptoms similar to menstrual cramps - strange stomach ache and an aching back, but they were gone the next day. I am continuing to input my morning temps in the Natural Cycles app. Overall, no horror stories to share :) 

Sunday, October 10: So I haven't updated my report for a few weeks - partly because I forgot, mostly because there wasn't too much to update on. This is both a blessing and a curse since I haven't experienced horrible side effects but I also haven’t gotten back to a normal cycle. 

According to my trusty pal, Natural Cycles, I am now on day 41 of my cycle, still in the follicular phase waiting to confirm ovulation through a rise in my BBT. So… not ideal on that front. I haven't experienced many physical or mental side effects of removing the synthetic hormones from my body, besides a few instances of cramps and unsolicited tears. 

I am starting to think that I need to take a more aggressive approach to balance my hormones. So far, by eating a nutrient-dense diet low in refined sugars and keeping my toxin load down, I have felt pretty good. But I want to start regulating my cycle ASAP. So while I have already told you a few things that I have been doing, here are a few things I am actively NOT doing: 

  • Intermittent fasting: I am actively trying to eat sooner upon waking. While I still think that fasting can be beneficial, while my hormones are so out of whack, I want to support them as best as possible, especially in lowering cortisol. 

  • Hardcore exercise: I recently took a few weeks off of my 4-day/week gym routine, and I actually feel pretty good. Prioritizing rest and supporting my body has become the most important. Being active and moving my body every day is still key, but hardcore exercise could put extra and unneeded stress on my body.

Sunday, October 31: Day 62 of my cycle, and still no sign of ovulation or menstruation. The spookiest thing on this Halloween night is that I am wishing that my period would come faster - there’s a first for everything! Aside from a couple of meltdowns and a few skin flare-ups, I have no physical side effects.


Stay tuned for my next steps as I continue to regulate my hormones. I will dig into supplementation and other tools for recovering from Post Birth Control Syndrome. For these first two months, after over 10 years of hormonal birth control, I’ll give my body a solid A- for resilience.


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