GETTING OFF THE PILL & NATURAL BIRTH CONTROL
Two years ago I decided to quit the pill. Let me tell you, I was so scared. I thought I was instantly going to get pregnant by even just the thought of not being on hormonal birth control.
Two years later, I am doing just fine. Actually more than just fine; AMAZING!!
I never realized what kind of effect the contraceptive pill has on my body until I actually quit it
HERE ARE SOME OF THE BENEFITS:
Wayyy more energy
Feeling more alive and connected to myself. I don't know why but the pill made me feel very disconnected from this world. My emotions were (along with my hormones) flat-lined, constantly neutral, but not in a good way. I was always slightly depressed and in a bad mood. I had little to no compassion for others. However, I was already six months into my vegan lifestyle once I quit the pill, so that might have something to do with it as well.
Getting to know your body again. I use the fertility awareness method now, and I always know exactly what is going on in my body at what time of the month. I know when I am ovulating, when I am about to get my period and so on. This is not only great to know if you want to avoid getting pregnant, but it also helps you put your own day-to-day experience in perspective. For example I get super active and outgoing around ovulation. I feel like I could run a freaking marathon and still not be tired. Once my period starts however, I feel more mellow and lazy. All I want to do is snuggle up and watch my favorite tv-series. I also tend to be more introverted during that time. The thought of meeting new people and stepping out of my comfort zone does not sound attractive at all.
BUT, THERE ARE (INITIALLY) SOME SIDE EFFECTS:
Acne, ugh. Yep, getting off the pill, turned my body hormonally upside down. Let me paint the picture for you: for five years I had been taking the pill, which means that for five years my body got the same dose of estrogen and progesteron every single day (except for your break week, when you 'bleed'). The period you have while on the pill is not a real period. It's just blood loss, because there was no actual ovulation. So for five years I hadn't released any eggs (eekk). For five years, my body only had to minimally produce estrogen and progesteron by itself. I think it's pretty understandable that if you quit taking the pill from one day to the next, that your body kind of goes wacko. My weak link has always been my skin, so obviously the hormonal chaos showed itself in my skin first. Thank God, I came across DIM! It is a natural substance found in the brassica family of veggies (think: kale, broccoli, sprouts and so on), and helps with the metabolism of bad estrogen. This herbal supplement has helped me tremendously in regulating my cycle and healing my skin from acne.
No period for a while. You're probably thinking, err why is this a downside? Haha, I know, I know. I consider it a downside because broadly speaking a period is a sign of health. I didn't get a period for eleven months after I quit the pill. That is a long ass time! Depending on how long you've been on the pill and your body's own resilience, you'll bounce back quicker.
PMS. Oh man, I don't even know where to start on this one. I have never experienced so much pain in my freaking entire existence. I swear to God, it felt like I was giving birth. Fortunately, I have found a herbal remedy (which is a combination of evening primrose oil and vitamin E) that eases the pain, but for some cycles the pain is still unbearable and I have to reside to painkillers (eww). I do believe that this will sort itself out naturally over time. For the time being I just have to deal with it in the best way possible.
SO WHAT DO I USE NOW?
The fertility awareness method!!! If you want to know more about this method, definitely read Tony Weschler's book called: 'Taking charge of your fertility'.
It is basically a combination of the morning temperature + cervical fluid method. I could go into detail of how these methods work, but honestly no one explains it as well as Tony does. But here's the gist of it:
The temperature method relies on the fact that once you ovulate, your basal body temperature rises. This is caused by the hormone progesteron, which is released by the ovary after ovulation. It does take however 12 to 24 hours to detect the significant change in temperature. This means that on the morning that you measure an elevated temperature, you might have actually ovulated the day before. Once your cycle becomes regular, this method makes it so easy for you to figure out when your fertile phase is. During these days you either abstain from sex or use a condom. If your goal is to get pregnant, obviously this is the time that you go all out in the bedroom. ;)
The cervical fluid method relies on the changes in cervical fluid during your cycle. Once you start approaching ovulation, you'll start noticing that your cervical fluid also changes in texture. First it's more rubbery or gummy, then it turns into a lotion-consistency and a couple of days before ovulation it'll look and feel like egg-white. This type of cervical fluid means you are very fertile, and depending on your goal (baby or no baby) you have (protected) sex or you don't.
A combination of these two methods makes it easy to figure out when your fertile and when you're not. Obviously the methods are a bit more complicated than how I just explained it, so make sure to read the book thoroughly. Don't just rely on the brief summary I've given here. Please do your homework! ;)
To measure my basal body temperature, I use the Pearly Lady-comp. This is a nifty little device that measure your temperature very precisely and keeps track of your temperatures for up to three months. So if you've forgotten to chart your temperature for a couple of days, don't worry, the pearly saves your previous temperatures!