Why I Stopped Birth Control {but am still on the fence about having kids}

 In fitness, lifestyle
birth control

I recently made a big decision: after almost 15 years, (8 years with IUDs), I stopped all birth control.

Some of you may remember me posting a few months ago about being terrified to have kids. No, I haven’t decided yet whether or not “Mom” is a title I want for myself… but, I could no longer ignore the nagging voice in my head saying, you really should take this thing out… this isn’t natural. 

I think the older I get, the more I’m turning crunchy granola. lol. But really: I feel like it’s my responsibility to take ridiculously good care of the body I have been given. I’m blessed to be healthy & to have a very capable body. &, the list of things I want to see & do in my lifetime is really freaking long… so I need to take care of myself, in order to complete that (always growing) bucket list!

 

I’ve always been fairly health conscious, while also living life… I eat clean, for the most part; I keep my alcohol consumption in check (& recognize when it’s time to take a break… ahem, Dry January!); I work out 5-6 times a week; I buy fresh & organic everything, when I can; I’m always reading up on new, natural ways to achieve optimal health; I’m in the process of eliminating chemicals & toxins from our home & daily routines.

 

So this decision about stopping birth control seems like it falls in line with the other life choices I’ve been making. Except, it wasn’t a decision I took lightly. I had so many questions!

 

*This is where I’d like to remind you: I am not a doctor… I have a degree in business, not medicine, so in this post I am not offering you medical advice. I am simply sharing here, as I often do, my thoughts around topics that make me go “hmm…” I urge you to please do your own research & consult with real professionals, when determining whether or not birth control is for you! & also, full disclosure, I freaking loved being on Mirena. Other than the extreme discomfort of placing & removing, (listen ladies, I’m not gonna sugar coat it. My uterus got pissed.) it was a freaking dream. No period. No cramps. No bloating. F-ing awesome. But, everything has a flip side… 

birth control

What are the long term effects of being on birth control for, literally, decades?

&, do they even know? 

 

The nerdy girl in me went to town, researching like a girl boss & reading everything I could get my hands on, when it came to what this little magical period-disappearing device was doing to me long-term. The Supreme Court (in Baird v. Eisenstadt) legalized birth control for all citizens of this country, irrespective of marital status, in 1972… but realistically, it was us 80’s babies that became the first generation to take birth control mainstream. The signs of hormonal imbalance are often dismissed by doctors as a problem too complex to rectify… with birth control being used to control irregular periods & horrible cramps, in addition to protect against pregnancy, it was (& is!) “normal” to be on birth control by the age of 15 & to continue until married & ready for kids.

 

So, I guess what I’m getting from this is… I’m a guinea pig?! I mean, they don’t know what 20 years of birth control does to woman’s body… because, it’s changed so much over the last few decades & we’re just now getting to be of the age to (sorta) find out.

 

Infertility is a growing issue for many females… affecting 6.1 million American females (approximately 10% of American females of childbearing age). We all have friends & loved ones struggling to get pregnant, & it’s just not fair. Is this linked to the fact that we’ve been pumping our bodies with a steady stream of hormones for years on end? I don’t know… I’m not a doctor, but think about this: it’s not natural. 

 

& what about that scary “c-word?” Cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, the hormones in birth control, including progesterone & estrogen, may stimulate the growth of some types of cancer cells & reduce the risk of others developing. So… I mean… what do you do with that knowledge?

Is my birth control part of the reason I’m on depression & anxiety meds?

Mental health, in my opinion, is something that is not openly discussed enough. I’ve shared before about how I manage my anxiety, & I’m not the least bit embarrassed to say that my Lexapro quite literally gives me life!

 

When I started asking questions & doing a little research, it was a common theme to see under the list of adverse reaction to birth control “mental depression.” Being that I first started exploring depression & anxiety medications around the exact same time I started on birth control, I couldn’t help but wonder… so, that nerdy little M. dug in deeper.

 

“In an observational study of over 1 million women in Denmark, researchers compared women who chose to take the pill with those who didn’t. They found that the women who took the pill with both estrogen & progesterone were about 20% more likely to end up on an anti-depressant, & teenagers were 80% more likely.

birth control
birth control

Is this what’s behind my recent weight gain?

Y’all, I get it: things change after 30. Fine. Whatever. But I refuse to accept that this “change” is damn near 20 pounds, when you workout like I do & live a pretty dang healthy life. You already know, I’ve tried eliminating gluten, dairy, eggs, mammals, sugar, alcohol… I’ve done the intermittent fasting (& actually loved it)… & I get that I am in no way “overweight.” But, WHY is this happening?

 

So I looked long & hard for research backing the notion that my Mirena could be the one to blame. I came up empty handed, I’ll admit… but, I found an endless number of posts by women in forums who swear that Mirena was the culprit for them.

 

The verdict is still out for me on this. I don’t know: I was a Mirena lover for 8 years, so I was on my 2nd one… Yes, over the course of 8 years I can most definitely say that there was a 30 pound weight gain. I cannot say that it was *all* due to Mirena. Age happened. Life happened. But… I removed my Mirena 2 weeks ago, & I’ve dropped 8 pounds, so… #shrug

I’ve made it official. I am no longer on birth control of any kind… & I still have no idea if I want kids. & honestly, I feel pretty dang OK about it. I mean, I’m 33. I feel like we still have 4-5 years to figure out what’s best for us. (& yes, I have heard of geriatric pregnancies!)

 

But, regardless of the YES or NO vote, I know that pumping my body with a steady stream of hormones was no longer worth it to me. I’ve reached a place in my life where I am in a solid, safe & loving relationship… & if God decides we should become parents together, before we make this determination on our out… well, so be it. We’ll be the best damn parents we can possibly be. Otherwise, we’ll keep talking & praying over kids or no kids, & biological or adoption.

 

& I’ll sleep a little easier at night, knowing I did what was right for me & my health.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Kristina
    Reply

    You should look into the app called “Flo”. It helps track ovulation and such. I am 30 and have been off birth control for 8 years. I find this app very in depth and very helpful and pretty accurate for the most part. I should also state I have no kids. I got off birth control for healthier lifestyle reasons and the related link to infertility I’ve heard about. Periods suck but it’s better than whatever birth control is doing to our bodies, as I right. But seriously if you aren’t using an ovulation tracking device, I would highly suggest Flo.

  • Jennie Morton
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing! I identify with the medical concerns, especially the lack of research to show the long-term effects. I went off birth control in the late 2000s because my body was literally rejecting it. But I had no idea at the time what was wrong! It was the only medication I was taking and yet not a single doctor thought to have me to look at the side effects list – I had 16 out 20! So now I tell any woman who is experiencing mood swings, unexplained weight gain, unusual anxiety, or just that vague sense that “I don’t feel right” to at least start by looking at the side effects of her birth control brand.

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