Updated: Jan 30
I started taking the contraceptive pill when I was 15 years old and it wasn't until I was 27 that I intuitively no longer resonated with the idea of pumping synthetic hormones into my body. When the thought penetrated my mind, I began doing my research and I was actually rather sad that I had blocked my body from experiencing it's natural cycle for all of 12 years.
And so I made the decision to stop, thinking it would be as simple as stopping and everything being beautiful and pain free but to my surprise it took a whole year for my hormones to rebalance and my body to detox from all of that junk.
Two years later, I'm here to share my story and the stories of other blood love babes who have chosen to put themselves and their manstrual wellbeing first in the hope that these accounts inspire you to make the change to go au naturel as well as support you through your journey to being synthetic hormone free and feeling more authentically YOU than ever before.
'Liberated, in tune and flowing harmoniously'
It's been 2 years since I came off of the combined pill. If I'm honest, when I was on it I didn't feel any adverse affects but now looking back I realise that I was a lot less in tune with my body and it's processes.
I went on at the age of 15 because I was in my first serious relationship and I felt it was the most grown up thing to do at that stage; having gone through sex education and being taught to believe that having a sexual relationship without contraception was a massive no, no.
At 27 I decided to stop because I was well into my healing journey, had learnt a lot about the human body and it no longer felt loving for me to be messing up my hormones with a drug that made my body think it was pregnant, was damaging my gut and increasing inflammation (to name but a few).
I had previosuly stopped a couple of years earlier but only lasted a couple of months because my period pains were so exruciating that they left me in tears.
This time though, I had done a bit of research, had a much healthier diet and knew that having done a few detoxes that the journey would be a little easier because I was consciously assisting my body in healing itself.
The journey was still not easy though; I would still have cramps and lower back pain pre-menstruation, my skin became so bad that it knocked my self-esteem, I would get so cranky and low just before my period and hate life and my breasts would get so sore and tender around ovulation that just walking around made them hurt.
I hated it and I would curse it because it just brought me grief and discomfort; but I knew that it would get better and I kept reminding myself that all of these symptoms were due to me being on the pill for such a long time and not because I had come off.
Having done more research and speaking to a friend, I began taking a supplement called DIM (diindolylmethane) to support my estrogen balance and I found it helped a little with my skin and moods however I found I just had to let my body do it's thing naturally whilst eating healthily, exercising, sleeping well and supporting it through the detoxifcation process.
1 year later my skin began to improve, my hair was healthier and the discomfort and pain pre-menstruation started to disperse but I was still feeling very low and teary prior to coming on which I struggled with... until, I did even more research around the natural menstrual cycle including reading the book 'Wild Power' which literally turned my life around.
All of my life I would curse my cycle and hear other girls moan about theirs; not ever wanting to come on because it was a 'pain in the backside.' But to my suprise, it was the resistance and unawareness of my body's natural cycle that was causing the discomfort, not my actual cycle itself; which just wanted to support me through being a woman.
Knowing now that our cycles are here to assist us in each distinctive phase of being a woman, I have gone from hating it to loving it and nurturing it the way it needs in order for it to support me in the best way.
And so I'm here to share a little of what I've learnt in the hope that you too can support your own cycle and body the way it deserves.
Within the natural cycle of a woman there are two distinct phases:
Via Positiva - the time to say ‘yes’ - bringing focus, creativity, moving forward and doing. Via Negativa - the time to say ‘no’ - bringing rest, going inwards, vulnerability and being.
Within these phases are 4 seasons:
Via Positiva - Expansion:
Inner Spring - pre-ovulation - brining a little vulnerability, playfulness, increased energy after your bleed.
Inner Summer - ovulation - bringing more love, pleasure, expression, energy and joy.
Via Negativa - Contraction:
Inner Autumn - pre menstruation - bringing more intuitiveness, truth speaking and taking less crap. This is also when the inner critic tends to come out to play.
Inner Winter - Menstruation - bringing inner wisdom, slowing down, rest and surrender.
When you allow your cycle to flow naturally through these phases, you become more in tune with yourself, your thoughts, your ebs and flows and any emotions that arise with the knowing that each phase is vital for your wellbeing and therefore allowing yourself to really nurture your body throughout each phase.
I.e. when you feel like you have no energy just before your period, rather than going out and forcing your body through a workout, you listen and you rest (this is what self-love really is).
Being unaware of this means that you can’t nurture your body the way it needs which then causes more resistance in your life because you’re constantly going against what your body is eagerly calling for; and when you think of all of the hundreds of processes that your body undertakes in order to keep you alive and functioning, you come to the realisation that the very least you can do is listen and support it through this loving journey.
My advice for coming off of contraception, based on my own experience, is to of course do your research but primarily to love and support your body through the rebalancing process by:
- feeding it with whole nutritious foods (consider doing a gut and liver detox because these will assist your body in detoxifying)
- drinking sufficient water to assist in removing toxins
- removing or at least considering reducing your caffeine intake as it alters estrogen levels in women (quitting my daily coffee alone completely removed my breast soreness around ovulation and reduced aggyness and discomfort before menstruation)
- getting more good quality sleep
- moving in a way that allows your body to function at it's best (doing heavier weights and/or high intensity training in the Spring/Summer phases and lighter bodyweight workouts, yoga or walking during the Autumn/Winter phases)
- getting outside in sunlight and spending time in nature
- investing in a menstrual cycle tracking app so that you can easily track your cycle and determine when you're ovulating, coming on, fertile or infertile - meaning that you can go condom free on infertile days if you're not looking at having kids anytime soon (I use Natural Cycles - a great app that allows you to enter your temperature every morning by using a thermometre which they send to you once you sign up)
- tuning in, listening and really feeling into what your body truly needs at every given phase
It's not just my skin that has improved since going contraception free; my sex drive is way higher, my creativity is more expansive, my exercise routine is more in tune with what feels right for my body, prior to my period rather than being in pain and resenting every moment, I always feel peaceful and like I'm in total surrender of what is and I'm more content and present.
I feel in tune, liberated and more authentically me than ever before and I can feel every phase so harmoniously and effortlessly flowing through me; going natural is truly magical!
- VALERIA SILVA -
I was on the pill for 5 years before I had reached my breaking point. Like many women, I struggled with awful symptoms whilst using the pill, many that were considered ‘normal’ by my GP.
Prescribed at the age of 15 to treat heavy periods and just because it was the done thing, I began my hellish journey with the contraceptive pill! None of the 4 or 5 pills that I tried, lessened my bleeding but actually made it worse, I worried myself sick every month about coming on and how I would cope at school. A normal period for me back then consisted of wearing heavy flow tampons with a pad and needing to change every 2 hours. I also had to carry spares and a change of underwear, everywhere that I went. Alongside this heavy bleeding, I battled with excruciating uterine pain and mood swings.
After many trips to my GP and even A&E, I was sent for scans which lead to a pre diagnosis of PCOS but because I wasn’t actively trying for a baby, no further tests were carried out and I was advised to try another pill. I remember leaving the practice feeling drained and teary, slumping myself back into the car and staring at this box of tablets with tears stinging my eyes. I didn’t want to go through another hormonal change. I didn’t want to try another pill! I didn’t take that new pill and I gathered what tablets I had at home and stuffed them into a bag, to return to the chemist. I had made the decision to stop putting myself through this horrendous cycle of upset and pain.
April 2012 was the first cycle without hormones and the transition was awful! Over the next 4 years, the pain I experienced was even more excruciating than my period pain had ever been, I was passing enormous clots and felt close to passing out due to the pain I was in and probably due to the blood loss too! I had been taking iron supplements but probably should have increased my dose during periods but I had also gone drug free in this time and so I wouldn’t use paracetamol or ibuprofen, unless I felt I really I couldn’t cope with the pain. I solely relied on my hot water bottle and CBD oil.
My ovaries felt like they were burning and being squeezed, I kept experiencing popping sensations all throughout my cycle and they were so painful that they took my breath away and I was prescribed strong pain killers, which of course, I didn’t take due to being free of all chemicals! I also suffered with such intense lower back pain, it was deep and it would travel down into my bum and thighs. I felt like I couldn’t sit down and often spent time curled up hugging my knees, just rocking gently and trying to get through the pain. My mood was low and I was so snappy, I didn’t feel like a very nice person.
I was then diagnosed with Graves disease, Hyperthyroidism and being the hormone centre of your body, it of course caused heavy, painful periods. A 2 year battle with that and being forced to take medication, I’m finally in remission and have never been happier with my health. My periods are regular, they’re not as heavy as they used to be and I rarely have to use a hot water bottle for the pain. I know that I’ll never be the girl who has a light period which lasts 3 days but I’m content knowing that my periods are now regular and considered normal and that I’m hormone free, finally!
December 2019, I had another scan and I’m really happy to say that my ovaries are now clear and fully functioning. My new and incredible GP believes that the popping sensation and intense pain that I have experienced, were the cysts on my ovaries bursting and clearing. We won’t ever know what caused them but I believe that I’d still have them if I was still pumping my body with hormones that it didn’t need.
If you’re thinking about ditching the pill, trust your gut and do a lot of research. I didn’t use anything to detoxify my body when I went through my transition period but that was nearly 8 years ago and nobody in my circle seemed to be having these discussions back then and I wasn’t on social media either! So utilise the information out there and don’t be afraid to reach out to other women and healthcare professionals. Stick at it, it will be worth it!
- NIX DEE -
'Power of the Pussy'
At the age of 16, I was given the pill as a preventative measure for my typical teenage troubles of spotty skin.
I continued to take the pill for the next 7 years, and even stopped having the suggested weekly break. This prevented any form of bleeding, after a few traumatic period experiences left me believing that periods were bad and I no longer wished to have them.
When obtaining another prescription of my pill whilst abroad I wrongly informed them of the dose, meaning I was taking more than I usually would.
This is something I did not realise would make a difference, I had never truly learnt or been educated about this little pill I took each day, often forgetting to take it and taking double doses anyway.
Not long after, I began feeling uncontrollably snappy and irritable, my hunger was heightened and my skin was unusually bad.
I began to notice these changes and tried to consider what could be causing them. When I finally made the connection with the pill, it also occurred to me that I had not truly experienced any of my natural cycles as a woman and wondered how the slighly lower dose had been affecting me all this time, unknowingly. I stopped taking the pill there and then.
This was over a year ago and my cycle has finally returned to normal. In addition, my sex drive has increased and I feel more in control and capable of sensing the changes my body is going through.
I can be certain in saying that I will not be putting hormonal contraceptives into my body again. I now fully embrace the changes that my period brings and feel empowered and connected to the womanly power of menstruation.
- EDEN STAPLES -
'This is just the beginning'
I’ve been on the pill for about 5 years and for the past 2 years I had been noticing I didn’t feel the same; I was constantly depressed, not happy, aggy, emotional and I thought it was just me. But then I started listening to podcasts and read a book called “How the pill changes everything” and I honestly didn’t realise how much information I absorbed in such a short amount of time. The doctors never told me any of the side effects; not one doctor told me have you tried coming off the pill to see how your body reacts to being off fake hormones!
I will be happy to explain a follow up on how I’m feeling after being off of it for a longer period of time; I'm excited to see how and when I notice the difference to how it makes me feel being completely natural.
- CHLOE ROBERT -
I came off the contraceptive pill in March 2019 so that I could give myself a break before trying to get pregnant. In the past I have had some hormone problems & been on patches as well as the pill, different pills etc so even whilst I was on the pill it wasn’t an easy journey. I decided to speak to a GP before coming off & I was warned that my hormones could go a bit “hay-wire" due to the hormone issues in the past & it could be a bit rocky. I am so glad I had this pre warning so I was prepared!
It took 6 weeks to have my first period, which isn’t too bad but it was a bit of a shock to the system! Period pain was back, PMS was really bad & I just generally felt awful. It didn’t take me too long to get back into a regular cycle & that part was the easy part!
The hard part was the hormones & what came with that. My emotions were all over the place & I was so angry a lot of the time. I would lose my temper over the smallest things & it then made me so emotional because I had got so angry. I found it really difficult & struggled sometimes with all of this, but what I did find that helped was having cacao smoothies, doing a cacao ceremony (which I cried the ENTIRE way through) & I eventually ended up taking a supplement of evening primrose oil to help take the edge off.
I guess the reason I have decided to share the above is so that people know it’s okay to not have an easy journey coming off contraception. A lot of people are okay & don’t even notice & it’s actually being on contraception which is the hard part, but it doesn’t always work that way – sometimes it’s the coming off which is the problem. I sometimes felt quite alone as I felt it was silly of me to feel this way, but please know you are not alone if you struggle with this too! I am so glad Val has started this & got the topic of conversation open so us women can help each other out.
Being pregnant, my biggest worry isn’t actually the labour part it’s the hormones after & worrying that I’ll have the same struggle, maybe worse, but I feel much better knowing that the help is there with what Val is doing & I’ll definitely be hitting her up if I need her ;)
- JODIE MERCIER -
If you would like to share your experience of going contraception free in order to inspire and support other women, please send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org