13 May 2015

My experience with birth control pills

At first I want to make it clear that I am not a health care or medicine professional or anything! All the things said in this post are based on my own personal experiences, things I have read and things I remember being told by health care professionals. This post is just about my experiences, so some facts can be wrong and you should not take this as professional advice. Every human is different, so even if this is how it went with me, there is no saying how things work with others.

I just recently quit on taking birth control pills, which I ate for about a year. When I was considering on if I should start taking them, what side effects could I get and other things like that, I searched information and stories from internet. I obviously also saw a professional who prescribed the pills for me, but I also wanted to read actual experiences. I feel that you do not always get realistic answers from health care staff, who are being told what they are suppose to say. I wanted to read about real experiences that are not affected by medicine companies or such.

That is also why I wanted to write this post. Because I searched information from blogs and found some helpful posts, I feel need to share my experience too in case if it could help somebody else. But like I said, I am not a professional and even if in your country you do not need to see a doctor before getting the pills, I advice you to do so.

If you are not interested on this matter and do not want to read about medical stuff and such, stop reading here.

WHAT, WHEN, WHY?

I have in the past suffered from extremely painful menstruation pains (so freaking bad that I only could lay in bed crying and once I lost my consciousness). It was not every single time that I have huge pains, but usually there were lots of pains. Last autumn and this spring I had my high school finals and a year ago I started to worry: What if my periods come during the days of the finals? (My cycle is irregular, so I could not know.) If they were to be very painful, there would be no way for me to actually do the exams. I could not miss the finals, so I needed to find a solution, which ended up being the birth control pills.

I went to see a nurse (I think it was a nurse, but I am not sure) who could prescribe me the pills. I asked some questions that were on my mind and she explained very, VERY thoroughly everything (even if I said I knew these things and she also drew multiple detailed pictures of uterus and other organs...). She recommend me the pills and even though she seemed to know her stuff, I was also left with an impression that it was her job to sell me those pills... I still felt a bit uneasy about the pills, but after looking for experiences from the internet and being too worried about the finals+periods combination, I decided to start taking them.

I started taking birth control pills on 14.5.2014.



THE EXPERIENCE (SIDE EFFECTS AND SUCH)

A week after starting the pills I tweeted that "I've had constant: terrible headache, nausea, stomach aches, fatigue and huge craving for chocolate. Feels horrible." I could not even exaggerate how bad my headaches and nausea were then; They were absolutely horrendous, the headache especially. I am not sure if cravings are common symptoms, but I remember my craving for chocolate was unbelievable. All this of course affected my ability to study and to do basically anything.

The symptoms started very soon after the first pill. For the first weeks it was constant and absolutely horrible. Towards the end of the first set of pills (24 days), it started to happen so that the symptoms got a tiny bit better towards the end of the day (I took the pills around 9 PM), but after taking the next pill they worsened again. During the first "in between days", I felt a bit better and the idea of having to start the pills again felt so darn repulsive. But I hoped that since the side effects had started to show signs of getting better, they would eventually do so.

And luckily they did. The symptoms started to lessen to the point when I only got headaches just after taking the pill. I think at the end of the second set of pills, it was already that much better and eventually I stopped completely having the headaches after taking the pill. So even though the beginning side effects were absolutely horrendous, they stopped fairly soon. They would still put me off starting the pills again.

The most common side effect that I came across being said about birth control pills was that they cause mood swings and can even change woman's personality (One story that I particularly remember said that the woman had been eating the pills for years and when she stopped it was like she was a whole another person; She became a lot nicer and did not get angry all the time like she did before. Many others described that quitting the pills felt like a fog had been lifted off their brains). These worried me the most.

Well, did the pills change my personality or caused mood swings? I think that the answer is yes. I did not get angry or felt like my personality had changed much, but throughout the experience of taking the pills I felt very depressed and disinterested on everything. I did not notice it at first, but after sometime it became obvious: I did not care as much about my grades as I did before, I lost all my interest on things I had previously been so excited about, etc.. Although I did not notice it immediately, I later on realized that it had started when I started taking the pills, so for me it seems obvious that this was caused by the pills.

QUITTING THE PILLS

With the pills, I managed to do my finals without periods, so they served their purpose. After the last of the finals, I finished the set of pills I was taking and stopped there. I took the last pill on 29.3.2015, so a month and a half ago.

If I did read horror stories on starting the pills and being on them, I read as many about quitting them; How quitting messed up the hormones and cycles completely, massive gushes of blood, horrendous pains, etc... I got so scared that I almost felt like not quitting them at all. But I really did not want to keep on eating them, so I prepared myself for the worse.

To my surprise I have not suffered from any symptoms after quitting the pills. (Obviously now that I say it, I will start having major symptoms...) My first periods were like when on the pills obviously since I technically had not quit yet, but I was very nervous about the next ones. Well, they stopped yesterday and I had to say that they were one of the least painful ones I have ever had and possibly the shortest. I had some pains while on the pills too and I did not feel like these were any worse than those. I was very surprised that they lasted only three days, when usually they go on for at least five and I had read so many stories about how after the pills some people's periods lasted for weeks and were very heavy. Luckily that did not happen to me.

Of course since there has only been one proper menstruation (the first one after the pills was still part of the pill cycle), this could change and I could still get some symptoms. I am still trying to be hopeful, since usually people said that their symptoms started right after quitting or during the first periods. If I end up having symptoms after all, I will write a second part and link it to the end of this post.

THE CONCLUSION

Starting the pills was very horrendous for me and I felt like stopping them right away. Those side effects went away eventually, but the changes in my mood stayed (I am now feeling somewhat better in that matter, but not like myself yet). It was too much of a struggle for me to take the pills on time. I did take them almost regularly thanks to my phone's reminder, but it was just too much of a hassle! The quitting has been so far problem-free.

Would I start taking the pills again? No. I do not think I could bear the starting symptoms again and the effects on my mood were just too much. I must say that I hated the pills. They still served their purpose of changing my periods cycle, or in fact keeping them in a cycle at all. If I in the future need a birth control, I am not going for the pills and I am currently being highly put off from any other hormonal birth control. For painful periods I shall seek other solutions.

Would I recommend them? Well, that is up to everyone themselves, but I hated them. Like I said in the beginning, people will react the pills differently so they might be perfect for somebody else. For me nope.

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