Let’s Talk Periods – The Sometimes Awful Reality Of The Pill..

period meme the pill

Contraception, of any form, has always been a pretty murky subject – rarely spoken about in depth, with the side effects often ignored and people being left in total darkness as to what is and should be ‘normal’. The conversation surrounding popular contraceptive methods, and most often, the pill, has been growing recently, as more and more choose to lead an artificial-hormone-free lifestyle. Having been on multiple pills from the relatively young age of thirteen, I wanted to shed some light on why I’m not the biggest fan, but why a hormone-free life just isn’t my cup of tea in all honesty.. 

Nearly eight years I’ve been on the pill, eight years of popping a tiny tablet almost every single morning. I first began the combined pill because we were heading away on holiday for two weeks and I didn’t want the burden of a period while I was trying to enjoy myself, y’anno, no one wants to be worrying about bleeding while in a foreign country if you have a choice, especially during forty degree heat. Instead of coming off when we got back, I just, carried on taking it. And logistically, it made life a lot easier – I wasn’t as spotty, my periods were lighter, shorter and less painful, and more excitedly, I had no sudden surprises because I knew almost exactly when I was going to bleed. I was a changed woman, completely obsessed. 

 A couple of years down the line, I started getting headaches. And these headaches got progressively worse to the point that during my period, I would be bed bound, not because of the bleeding but because it would hurt to move too far, lifting my head would make me feel sick and even opening my eyes would be painful. This happened month, after month, after month until eventually, I was missing a couple days of school every cycle without fail. I headed back to the doctors, who switched me onto the mini pill, which is progestogen-only, deciding that oestrogen was the cause of all my pain. One of the biggest differences between the combined pill and the mini pill is that you take the mini pill every day without a break and every pill contains the same level of hormone, meaning that you basically never bleed, something every gal has dreamed of..And that’s where I am currently. I originally started on a brand called Cerazette, and I now take Cerelle – although the two are, as far as I’m aware, identical. I like the pill because it’s easy, there’s no mess or fuss, and if I didn’t want to take it anymore, I simply have to stop taking my tablet. I’ve had one lengthy break in the past few years, after first beginning to suffer with anxiety, to see if the pill made a huge difference to my mental health and while there was a small improvement, the fear of falling pregnant was just as anxiety-inducing so I continued to take the pill. I haven’t had a full period in what feels like forever, although I do find that I sometimes still get the side effects for a few days each month – a headachey, moody, hungry, crampy mess – which are all typical of a period, just without the blood.

Would I have suffered from the mental health issues that I have if I had never used the pill? Would my weight have fluctuated as much as it has over the years? Would I still be the same as I am today, or would I be a different person had I have never started the pill when I was thirteen?  

The reality, and the reason why the subject has come up more and more recently, is that many of us went on the pill at a young age and don’t know who we are without the artificial hormones that we’ve pumped ourselves full of for countless years – and that’s pretty scary. What if, in years to come, there are studies that prove a correlation between the pill and mental health issues? What if we’ve all been living a much more difficult life than was actually necessary? And why was a male contraceptive jab study terminated early because the side effects of mood swings and emotional disorder, common side effects of women’s contraceptives, were deemed to outweigh the benefits? 

I recently saw a tweet about the importance of recognising ‘birth control depression’ and how at times, this particular girl’s thoughts were so awful that she contemplated suicide because she felt so low. And while that may be at one end of the spectrum, I’m confident that most people that take the pill or use some form of hormonal contraceptive will be able to relate to the extent of the mood swings that they can sometimes bring – and the fact that we choose to do this to ourselves because there are no alternatives that don’t have the same or similar side effects, is awful. It’s 2018. 

As much as the thought of continuing to pump myself full of artificial hormones scares me, the alternatives are just as, if not more, scary. The coil has always been the first alternative offered by doctors, who seem to want me to just ‘hop up on the bed and they’ll pop on in here and now’ but that scares the heebie-jeebies out of me after all the horror stories I’ve heard. The injection, as an alternative to the pill, terrifies me in that, once it’s inside you, you can’t get it out. Condoms are unreliable, and often need to be used alongside another form of birth control. The implant – which would probably be the best alternative for me but still contains artificial hormones – makes me feel a little queazy, even at the thought. And I really don’t want to run the risk of having a baby, at least, not any time in the near future anyway..I mean, what’s a gal to do? Contraception in any form seems to suck, and we’re all trying to make the best of a bad situation to be honest. I don’t really like the pill, other than the fact it’s easy to use and easy to get rid off from my body if I want, but I hate the alternatives more and I feel like I need something. While the idea of an artificial-hormone-free life is great and one that I wish I could pursue as so many people have recently, it’s a stress that I don’t need or want at the moment. 

Have you ever taken the pill? What are your experiences with contraceptives?
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