Friday, September 5, 2014

Look Who's Talking...about birth control

I recently made a pretty big decision in my life.

After 16 years, I've decided to get off birth control.

Now, before anyone gets any wise ideas... I am not trying to have a baby, not yet anyway. 

Since the age of 14 I've been on some form of hormone-altering birth control. My mom put my on at a young age to help with my "acne". I did have problem skin, but something tells me that after raising 5 children before me, my mother was more inclined to make sure I was properly protected for whenever it was I became sexually active and just masked it with the clear skin bit. Although, my family is pretty vain and it did clear up my skin so, I may never know the true reasoning behind my mother's choices. Regardless, I have spent the last 16 years letting something other than my own body impact my hormones and body chemistry.

I never put much thought into it really, it was just a simple "I don't want to get pregnant, so I'll stay on birth control" thought.  Even when I would switch different kinds/brands and when I experienced significant side effects, I rarely ever thought about how it was really impacting my body (and my mind!).

One birth control pill I was on gave me such severe mood swings I actually had to tell the guy I was dating at the time that he was not allowed to call me for a week because I was so frightened of my own lashing out and anger right before starting my period (and the previous months were a good indication of what I was apparently capable of). That should have been HUGE red flag (some pun intended there) that something wasn't right about what I was doing.

Even when I was on another form that caused me to gain 33lb, it didn't seem to sink in that the answer may not be "switch to a different kind". That was my reaction each time. "Well, this kind doesn't seem to work well with me, so lets try a different one". Being in a scientific field, I guess I felt the need to examine and test multiple solutions? Or maybe there was something else fueling my decisions?

My best friend for years has preached about the implications of being on a hormonal birth control and has encouraged me to stop taking it. I never gave her words too much thought because I just assumed it was working "well enough" for me.

It was only in the last year or so that I started  to acknowledge what was happening to my body, gave her words some weight and really start to analyze the cost/benefits of my choice. I researched different methods and had multiple discussions with my boyfriend (now fiance), my best friend, and other women friends. I spent almost a year weighing the possibility of getting off of hormonal birth control, what it would mean for me, my body, and my relationship.

I initially felt guilty for "making" my fiance switch to another form, such as condoms. Then I started to really think about why that guilt should rest only on me? Either I feed hormones into my body, make my partner unhappy, or get pregnant? How is that a fair burden for a woman to carry?
I think this guilt is why it took me a year to make the decision to get off of birth control. 

Ultimately, I had to make the decision that was right for me, and although my fiance is part of this relationship,I had to realize that he does not dictate decisions about my body, I do and he was supportive of my decision.

It's too soon to tell how my decision will change my mind and body. I need to give it time to balance itself and get back on track. It was frightening to go through the grueling process of making this kind of a decision, but I feel empowered and if that is the only change I really notice, I think that is alright with me.

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