Do you have the guts to suddenly stop taking your birth control? That’s the question that I am faced with.
Here’s some backstory: I was originally prescribed birth control pills, Ortho Tri Cyclen to be exact, by my dermatologist. The hope was that it would help get my hormones under control and put an end to hormonal breakouts. Before I had a chance to start my first pack, I found out I was pregnant. About 1 year later, after having my daughter and stopping breastfeeding, I was finally able to begin taking the birth control.
In case you’re wondering, I really like taking Ortho Tri Cyclen. It makes my cycles regular, I have practically NO cramps, and my skin has cleared up (mostly). I’ve also noticed an improvement in my PMS, AKA crying for a day or two for no reason. I have to emphasize how much of a relief it has been taking the Ortho.
Fast forward one year later. I’m still taking the pill and have been very happy with it. The breakouts I was having before taking birth control were so stressful, so it’s a tremendous weight off my shoulders to have it mostly under control.
There are times when I worry about what would happen if I were to stop taking the pill for whatever reason. But it hadn’t occurred to me that it may be medically necessary for me to stop.
This August I switched to a new doctor-a young guy who is very matter-of-fact, but friendly. One afternoon I was in to see him, and it came up in our conversation that I occasionally get migraines with auras. He was concerned, as my estrogen birth control pills combined with aura migraines pose a big risk of stroke…yikes.
Of course this had my attention, but these days it seems like everything comes with possible risks. I listened to what he had to say, and nodded along when he told me I should stop as soon as possible. I told him I would make an appointment with the Women’s Health department and talk to someone there.
So I did just that, and the nurse practitioner laid out a list of possible alternatives, which included different types of pills that would pose no risk, unlike the estrogen ones, a shot, Nuvaring, Mirena, and a couple other names I don’t remember. Needless to say, not taking birth control at all was not one of the options she listed.
Coincidentally I had been thinking the past couple months that I might want to stop birth control. Why, you ask, since I was so happy with it? Because it only covers up the problem. It doesn’t get to the root of it, it only tricks my hormones. I thought that there must be a natural way to go about it.
In today’s society, it seems like it’s unheard of for a young woman not to be on some sort of birth control. So when I told the nurse that I was thinking about stopping birth control completely, she kinda paused, as if waiting for me to explain what I was going to do instead. She listened to what I had so say, and leveled with me. “OK”, she said. “Well, yes, the estrogen pills can increase the risk of stroke, but so can pregnancy.”
After the appointment, I thanked her for her time, and told her I would go home and give it some thought.
The thing that kept running my mind was the fear of starting all over again with a new birth control, and the fear of it undoing all the progress I had made with my skin and PMS.
Yesterday afternoon I saw my doctor again. It was a follow up appointment about something else, but while I was there I asked him if he would mind renewing my birth control prescription. The last we had spoken on the subject, we agreed that I’d talk about it further with someone in the women’s health department, which I had.
He seemed surprised when I asked him to renew the prescription. I was honest with him, and said that after talking with women’s health, I decided to continue with the Ortho Tri Cyclen for the time being. That was when he told me he didn’t feel comfortable writing the prescription. He said that the nurse practitioner from W’s H could write it, but he would not.
This came as a bit of a surprise to me, but I see his point. So now, I’m left with a big decision. Do I purge my body of all the synthetic hormones and get back to basics, or do I choose a new poison, one that may very well wreak havoc on my body’s systems that I have finally fine-tuned?
This weekend I have a lot of thinking to do.