I've been on hormonal birth control all my adult life and decided to stop taking it last year. No, I'm not trying to get pregnant. But, after much consideration and research, I decided the best way to help me understand my body was to ditch the Depo.
Don't get me wrong. Birth control served its purpose all these years (thank you, sweet baby, Jesus,) and not having a period was a pretty sweet side-effect. So, why did I decide to give it up? Here are 3 reasons I quit hormonal birth control and what I've learned since.
3 Reasons I Quit Hormonal Birth Control
Hormonal birth control doesn't fix underlying problems. It only masks symptoms.
The menstrual cycle is our body's way of communicating, and I don't want to ignore my body anymore.
Changes in hormone levels affect ADHD symptoms.
Teenage me would disagree, but it turns out my period doesn't arrive every month to torment me. I had no idea, but menstruation is more than a monthly inconvenience; it's a vital way our bodies communicate. Our menstrual cycles provide insights into our reproductive health, hormonal balance, and overall well-being.
Period symptoms like cramps, acne, heavy flow, headaches, and other symptoms are a signal from our bodies to make an adjustment. Hormonal birth control is often prescribed to cure PMS symptoms, but it doesn't fix the underlying imbalance. It only masks the symptoms.
Ignoring My Body
I've spent so much of my life pushing my feelings away and ignoring my body's signals that it didn't occur to me that my period could be my body's way of trying to tell me anything. Plus, we've all been socialized to hate our periods and never discuss it in polite company, so it's no surprise how little I knew.
But this stage of my life has been centered on growth and learning more about myself. So understanding what "normal" looked like without the influence of artificial hormones seemed like a natural step in the evolution of my education.
ADHD and My Period
For most of my life, I didn't even know I had ADHD, let alone how much it's affected by my hormones. When estrogen levels are high during ovulation, my ADHD symptoms usually lessen. However, when progesterone is elevated during PMS week, my brain doesn't want to do brain things. My executive function tanks.
It turns out the synthetic hormones in birth control kept me in near-permanent PMS executive dysfunction. My body wasn't cycling through the process as it should, and I was missing my follicular phase's productivity and social benefits.
Reconnecting With My Body
Quitting hormonal birth control has allowed me to reconnect with my body and its rhythm. I've started paying closer attention to my body's signals, like changes in mood, energy levels, and physical sensations. This awareness has helped me better understand my patterns and needs.
In the past year, I've learned when I feel most motivated and social during the month. I've also learned to notice when I need more rest and downtime. I'm far from perfect, but now I try to listen to my body and give myself grace. To help me track changes in my cycle, I use an app, making the process much easier.
Of course, going off birth control isn't without its challenges. The cramps nearly knocked me out of my seat the first time I ovulated. It felt like the egg was fired out of my ovary by a cannon. Luckily that only happened a few times, gradually decreasing in intensity until it was nonexistent.
And, of course, I had to find other means of contraception and decide what period products to use. That was a nightmare, let me tell you. But I'm embracing this opportunity to cultivate a deeper connection with my body and truly listen to its needs.
Should You Quit Birth Control?
I respect everyone's right to decide for themselves. What works for one person may not work for another, and there are various valid reasons why people choose to use birth control. My decision to quit hormonal birth control isn't a judgment on anyone else's choices; it's simply what's best for me.
Please remember that my story is just that: my story. Each person's experience with birth control is unique. It's essential to have open conversations with healthcare professionals, gynecologists, or other trusted sources to make informed decisions about your reproductive health.
Until Next Time
My decision to stop taking hormonal birth control is one of many that allowed me to prioritize understanding my brain and body. This journey of autonomy and acceptance has been quite the ride, but I'm grateful for it and would do it again in a heartbeat.
I'll keep sharing as I continue my journey, so subscribe for updates if this post resonates with you. I encourage you to embrace your journey of self-discovery and explore what works best for you.