By: Tatyannah King
Flashback to 13-year-old me. My period lasted three weeks and I knew something was wrong, so I did what any teenager with limited sexual education would do: I googled my symptoms. After being overwhelmed by all the information I found, I finally told my parents and they immediately scheduled a doctor’s appointment for me to see what was going on. I didn’t have any underlying health conditions, but my period was irregular. That’s when my doctor suggested that I take the birth control pill for three months to regulate my menstrual cycle, so I did just that. I took my pills for three months and then stopped for a long time until eventually going back on the pill halfway through college before having sex for the first time. At that point, I never looked back. That is, until seven months ago — at which point, I realized I’d been on the pill consistently for seven years.
Symptoms of going of Birth Control
Despite having minimal symptoms and an overall decent experience when taking birth control pills, I couldn’t help but wonder what my life would be like if I wasn’t on the pill anymore. Besides, I had been on the pill for nearly a decade, so I hardly remember how my body functioned without the manmade estrogen and progestin added to it consistently. I wanted to see what it was like for my menstrual cycle to take its natural course again. I wanted to see if anything — from my period symptoms to my mood — was… well, different.
Little did I know that deleting the daily “Take birth control!” alarm from my iPhone would make such an impact on my entire life, starting with the first notable change: my libido.
Sex Drive on "The Pill"
Within a month of getting off the pill, my sex drive skyrocketed. Granted, when I was on the pill, my sex drive was average. Not low enough to get any complaints from former lovers about a lack of sex, but not high enough that I felt like it was a distraction. Now, if I could describe my libido on a scale of 1-10 (1 being a sex-repulsed nun to 10 being like a cat in heat), I’d say it’s currently an 8. Perhaps my sex drive will start to level out at some point the longer I’m off birth control, but those first few months without being on it made me feel like a werewolf that needed to be chained to a tree before attacking my prey aka my boyfriend at the time. Before, I was okay with not having sex once a day, as long as we were doing it often. After getting off the pill, all my ex had to do was look at me and I was ready to pounce.
At this point, you’re probably wondering how the sex was. And to my surprise, changes happened with that too. Since getting off birth control, my orgasms have felt stronger, partially because my body has become more responsive and sensitive to touch from what I’ve noticed. I’ve had more “mind-blowing” orgasms than the typical feeling I got when climaxing (which I’m certainly not complaining about either way, but the difference in sensation has been noted).
Pregnancy Stress and Going Off Birth Control
That being said, not having the security of birth control's safety net weighed on me heavily considering that the no condom plus no birth control combination of sex equals a high chance of getting pregnant. So, as you can imagine, condoms are now more critical for me than they’ve ever been. However, regardless of how safe I am, there’s still this internal panic leading up to the first day of my period. If there’s one thing I miss about being on birth control, it’s the fact that I wasn’t nearly as paranoid about potentially missing a period.
Speaking of periods, those have changed a little bit since I’ve been off birth control. My periods used to be super light and lasted as little as 3 days when I was taking the pill. Now the average length of my period is 4-6 days and they’re slightly heavier in flow. Though I’m not exactly thrilled about that, I do appreciate that my body seems to give me more legitimate signals that my period is about to start. Now I know that my period is about to arrive within 24 hours when my breasts feel heavier, I suddenly find a pimple or two on my face, and I have a crampy feeling in my pelvis. During my birth control taking years, my body didn’t necessarily give me those physiological signals that indicated my period was going to be here. It always just happened at a random time within the week I took my placebo pills.
Though my PMSing is more evident now, my general mood throughout the rest of the month has been better recently. I didn’t notice how much my mental health had been impacted while on the pill until I finally got off it. Now I legitimately feel happy a lot of the time, and when my mood does hit a low point, it’s still easier to regulate, as opposed to the constant mood swings I had previously.
Part of the reason why my mood has been better is because of the confidence boost I’ve gotten since going off of birth control. I've always been a relatively confident person, but now I feel more powerful than Thanos when he collected the infinity stones, especially when I’m ovulating. It’s not surprising that I feel this way given that research suggests women are perceived as more attractive when ovulating. So, it makes sense that I’ve been feelin’ myself now that I'm actually ovulating again.
And speaking of attraction, the most recent change I’ve noticed is that my attraction preferences have gone back to what they were pre-birth control. Pre-birth control, I was mostly interested in stereotypically masculine guys, with abs, a muscular body, and ample facial and body hair. The longer I was on birth control, the less importance I placed on traditionally masculine facial and bodily features and the personality to match. Now, I can’t say that’s still the case.
Going Off Birth Control is Personal One
Overall, the decision to be on birth control is a personal one. Everyone has their reasons for preferring one contraceptive method over the other, and that’s okay. I’m not saying that I believe birth control is bad now and I’m not necessarily saying that my current decision to stop taking the pill means that I won’t ever go back on the pill. However, it’s been empowering for me to become so in touch with my body by letting it 'do its thing' naturally again and I encourage others to explore their options as well!
Taking care of our Bodies When things change…
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Tatyannah King is an international speaker and writer covering anything related to sex, dating, and relationships. She is also a sex educator for the Center for Positive Sexuality, speaking on panels about sex-positivity, kink/BDSM, and sexual diversity. Tatyannah is currently a graduate student at Widener University studying Human Sexuality and Social Work. As a soon-to-be clinical sex therapist, her passion is to help both singles and couples throughout the world navigate issues surrounding sexual dysfunction. Her insight as a sex and relationship expert has been featured in various print and digital publications like Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Buzzfeed, VICE, HuffPost, and more!