Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Is Coming Off the Pill a Growing Trend?

January 11th, 2012 by Laura Wershler

The Internet abounds with articles, posts and forum discussions about coming off the birth control pill. Women are looking for information and advice. Many are trying to get pregnant, others are just done with hormonal contraception.

It’s a topic that interests many of us connected to the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research (SMCR) because of

Created at an a menstrual arts and crafts event, Andrea, 25, said this piece depicts the multiple emotions she feels around menstruation. Photo by Laura Wershler

how the pill and other forms of hormonal contraception impact the menstrual cycles of the women who take these medications. Some of us are experts in menstrual cycle function and dysfunction, most are advocates for healthy, positive menstrual cycle experiences from menarche to menopause.

A recent blog post at nomoredirtylooks.com on the topic of quitting the pill caught our members’ attention.  Re: Cycling blogger Elizabeth Kissling included the post in Weekend Links on November 19.

A young woman in Paris was looking for advice and comments from other blog readers about how to manage the effects of coming off the pill. Siobhan O’Connor, the blog co-editor, shared Paris girl’s story with a graceful, inclusive invitation to readers:

There’s no judgment—implicit or explicit—on anyone who is on or has been on birth control pills. Some people love them, some people have to take them for medical reasons, some people abhor them. Here, we want to talk candidly about what happens when you go off them. Because, whoa. That can be hectic.

The post drew over 80 comments, with a few coming from SMCR members. What struck me was how many women:

1)  had already ditched the pill or were planning to
2) expressed a desire for the return of regular, normal menstrual cycles
3)  were concerned about their skin (it often breaks out after quitting the pill).

SMCR member, endocrinologist and guest blogger Dr. Jerilynn Prior answered the concerns about acne and bad cramps in a comment posted on November 22, and included a link to Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research website where readers can find information about all things related to menstrual cycle health.

Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner Geraldine Matus, another member, commented on November 26 that it was concerns and experiences like those expressed by posters that prompted her and colleague Megan Lalonde to write the guide: Coming Off the Pill, the Patch, the Shot and Other Hormonal Contraception.

I invited No More Dirty Looks readers to visit this blog to learn more about the menstrual cycle and the issues raised by their online discussion.

Regular visitors to re: Cycling know that we cover a broad range of topics, but bloggers frequently address hormonal contraception as it relates to women’s health issues.

Check out this sampling from the re: cycling archive:

Several of the women who responded to the Paris girl post at nomoredirtylooks.com expressed eagerness to reclaim healthy, ovulatory menstruation and a willingness to learn how to  manage their fertility without the aid of hormonal contraception.

Over the next few months, I intend to explore many aspects of the coming-off-the-pill experience through personal stories, media analysis and interviews with SMCR members with expertise in this area. I’ll include opinion pieces based on my 25 years experience as a pro-choice sexual and reproductive health advocate.

If coming off the pill is a growing trend, then may it be accompanied by a renaissance in women’s understanding of their menstrual cycles.

 

 

 

 

  

6 Responses to “Is Coming Off the Pill a Growing Trend?”

  1. Geraldine says:

    Thanks Laura for the blog — I think it is a growing trend for women to want to come off the pill, and they need to know where they can find alternative forms of birth control and also ways to become body literate.

  2. Alison Sanchez says:

    I went off the pill a year or two after I went on because it gave me high blood pressure at 21.

  3. Lana says:

    Laura’s mention of the word renaissance is so poignant. Thank you and I am so looking forward to future articles.

  4. I went off the pill 3 years ago as I became a doula and started questioning artificial hormones disrupting our natural processes, in birth and in menstruation, and while I didn’t sense any side effects while on the pill during those 4 years (maybe I did gain some weight over time but didn’t notice it – but after some months being off the pill I would realize that my cycle and emotions/creativity had been flat, I was like a machine operating in life, without my female cyclicity – in all aspects: physical, emotional, mental..I only later “remembered” how I was before the pill), when I stopped taking it, all this strong side effects burst: it was over 6 months of drastic emotional imbalances, rage, jealousy, insecurity, crying just for any reason, I started fights with my partner then almost every day.. and thanks to my mentor, a few friends that had these same effects (only when they went off the pill) and some blogs I found on the internet, confirmed me that I wasn’t going crazy but that it was my body cleansing itself out of this hormone-addiction.. after many years being on hormones, my body was like ‘where are my hormones?!!’ and thus adjusting in these ways.. but now, looking back, this tough process was totally worth it.. as I now have my cycle and my feminine menstrual wisdom and Medicine back! encouraging all women who are deciding to go off the pill, to have courage and do it!

    • Laura Wershler says:

      Cynthia, I have heard so many women speak about their coming off the pill experience as you have. I remember a drama teacher who said to me that she didn’t experience any specific side effects while on the Pill but that being on it made her feel like the “mute” button had been pressed on her life.

      Another woman who had come off Depo Provera, encouraged by her doctor because of significant bone density loss, told me that after coming off the drug she realized she had been living “beneath the surface” of her life. It was an epiphany for her.

      This seems to be a common experience for many women, and one we should explore and talk about more.

  5. Laura Wershler says:

    Thanks to everyone for their comments. Your support for this topic is encouraging.

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Readers should note that statements published in re: Cycling are those of individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Society as a whole.