general flailing; all caps usage

This cycle marks the first time in over six years that I am not taking oral birth control.

This is not in preparation for babies, although that deadline does appear to be approaching rather rapidly. No, this is simply a case of I totally screwed up and didn’t take responsibility to find a new doctor in time to get a new prescription. So. Here we go. I’m going pill-free before I meant to do so. Surprise!

Going off of OBC is incredibly easy — one day you swallow a pill, and the next you don’t. But I’m taking it incredibly seriously. You might even say that I’m terrified. I just feel so… so… naked. My uterus feels naked. Vulnerable. As if the pill was an impenetrable fortress; my invisible high-tech force field, and now all I’m left to defend myself with is a flimsy piece of saran wrap.

Oh, sorry. I got distracted for a minute thinking about everyone who is reeling and clicking away in horror. I mean, look around this page. This right here, this is everything that’s wrong with the internet; people just blathering on about the personal details of their lives and their goddamn bodily functions. WHO WANTS TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR REPRODUCTIVE CYCLE, LADY.

Well, I’m guessing you don’t. And I’m sorry, you guys. In my defense, I was raised by two uncouth people who just go around the house farting at will and then making fun of each other for it. I know, I know, we all need more privacy and decency and respect and all that. But it’s just that… well, I have to blog about what’s on my mind. AND MY UTERUS. IS ON MY MIND.

[I can’t mention anything being “on my mind” without immediately riffing on Dre and Snoop’s “Gin and Juice;” THANKS AGAIN FOR YOUR VITAL ROLE IN THE 1990s AS RAP VIDEO DELIVERY SYSTEM, MTV!]

I just ended the last three paragraphs with statements in uppercase. I suppose I know what my writing crutch is now.


I am scared. Scaaaaaaaared to go off oral birth control. I know so many people who insist that going off of OBC was the best thing that’s ever happened to them. I trust these people, I really do. It’s just that still have so many fears, all of them completely irrational. Most are based on the concept of reconnecting with my body. A lot of women have reported that they feel so much more “in touch” with their bodies since they’ve gone pill-free.

Dude, I know this goes against common sense and personal responsibility, but I don’t want to be in touch with my body.When my body calls long distance, I refuse to accept the charges. I mark all email from my body as spam. I blocked my body when it sent a friend request on Facebook. Rude, I know. But I’m not really in the mood to listen to any more of its sass.

Look, my lady parts have been a cruel nuisance ever since I had my first period at the tender age of ELEVEN (thanks, rBGH!). I knew enough to know what it was but I was still naive enough to feel unsure, and I really needed someone to tell me it going to be okay and I hadn’t actually done anything wrong, so finally on the third day I haltingly confessed what was happening to my mother and she basically shrugged and handed me a few bucks and told me to walk to the grocery store and buy myself some pads, and so I walked my 11-year-old self to the store and proceeded to stare in terror at a neverending wall of feminine hygiene products until I settled on the stiff ultra-long super-absorbent kind and I carried those suckers to the front of the store and paid the male cashier as my cheeks burned red with embarrassment, and even though that was TWENTY YEARS AGO I still haven’t quite gotten over that, THANKS MOM.

I was fairly happy in my bubble of disconnectedness, but this turn of events is forcing me to face the fact that my “monthly troubles” are going to come back with vengeance anew. I’m so nervous about this, in fact, that I’m consequently preparing myself for the following worst-case scenarios:

  • I will pack on a bunch of weight. Yes, I know, people have said that they lost weight when they went off the pill. I don’t want to be let down, so I am steeling myself to gain at least a stone. Maybe three.
  • My acne will worsen to the point where I will frequently be mistaken for a giant slice of pizza. I will have to be home by 10:00 every night lest glassy-eyed drunken college boys start gnawing on me.
  • I will vacillate wildly between ferocious wolverine, snarling and snapping over the fact that SOMEONE forgot to WATER THE PLANTS; and whimpering puppy, weeping and bleating because the POOR PLANTS are all DROOPY NOW and that’s so SAD WHYYYYY (hiccup).
  • My hair will fall out until all I’m left with is a few morose Charlie Brown-like strands. I know, they say you can lose your hair when you’re on the pill, too. So what they mean is either way, I’m completely screwed.
  • Having been broken out of the stultifying box of regularity, my cycle will choose to express its personality via jazz hands and surprise ninja attacks. Will this “month” be 24 days long, or 32? Will I break out in triple pepperoni pizzaface on the day I stand up in my friend’s wedding? WHO KNOWS! The endless options are dizzying!
  • “Aunt Flo” will cease to be a demur trickle and become a raging torrent.

So far, all that’s happened is a series of headaches. Seriously. Five straight days of them. I was also feeling highly irritable, but that might have been from the HEAD HURTYNESS. Awesome. I’m on pins and needles to see what happens next! Maybe I’ll sprout two heads and quit my day job to join the circus!


35 Responses to “general flailing; all caps usage”

  1. I’m on month two of no Pill. What I am about to write won’t make you feel any better, but at least we can commiserate. ‘Aunt Flo’ became a raging torrent and I almost fainted twice, my skin (which I only just got control over in my thirties) started sprouting random mountain ranges and my boobs have gained an entire cup size in the space of a month (painful and annoying as now I have to purchase new bras, a horrific experience at the best of times).

    However, when we run away to the circus together (for which I have outstanding contacts) I believe all these characteristics could be turned into a hilarious clown gag or, at the very least, a passable sideshow attraction.

  2. I hear ya. I had the contraceptive implant for three years, then when it was time to replace it I decided to “give my body a break”, after over a decade on hormonal contraception and three years without any periods at all. HA. My body rewarded me for “giving it a break” with the worst (okay, only) cramps I have ever had since I was 15. Fun.

    But actually, other than that, it’s been pretty much fine. Apart from the regression to high-school levels of pregnancy paranoia. “Am I late? I don’t know! When was the last one? I can’t remember! Do people keep notes or something? Argh, the pain! I think I’m dying! Oh no, wait. Cramps. Argh.” Clearly it takes a while to get used to the whole having periods thing again.

    And that is more information than you probably wanted to know.

  3. I was always scared shitless of the pill. The longest I was ever on it was for a year, but I have had two long term partners (including my current one) confirm that I am way less crazy when I’m not on the pill, WAY. They actually got a haunted look in their eye when they talked about it.

    All the other stuff – acne stopped when I stopped washing my face and started applying olive oil instead of using chemical moisturizers – weight- I’m large either way- pregnancy – condoms work, withdrawal method does not work. check out fam: (though it does require you to get VERY in touch with your body) blood – yeah there is deffinitly more, but you get used to it. Oh yes, and I strongly suspect that your hair will stay the same.

    • p.s. I read your about section about spelling and grammer. I can’t spell correctly to save my life, but I think that you should still like me just for fun.

      • I will always like you regardless of spelling/grammar, Lauren. Also, I am off of chemical cleansers/moisturizers — not as basic as olive oil, but close. My face has still been touch and go, though. We’re definitely going the condom route, and I am going to gather my strength some more before I click on that link regarding the body in-touchyness.

        I just almost published that comment as “…before I lick on that link.” WHO’S THE SPELLING WIZARD NOW, LAUREN.

  4. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I went from majorly depressive and weepy and mood swing-y to rather normal (depending on your definition of the word) when I went off OBC. And while I occasionally worry that condoms are just less dependable than the pill, we’re still quite baby-less thank God. My face has always had a bit of a temper, so that’s fun. And really, I feel like I can ignore my body more now, since I don’t have to worry about what kind of OBC works for me (none of them).

    And speaking to Lauren’s point – all of my (guy and girl) friends knew when I went off BC. They agreed that I was just a nicer and happier person all-around. There were haunted looks in my circumstances as well…

    • I had the same experience. Everything got better for me, mood-wise. I didn’t gain or lose weight, my acne has always been bad (pill never helped). And my cycle is shorter and lighter (I’m sure you guys were dying to know that). I don’t feel hugely “in touch” with my body, but I do appreciate knowing this is ME, without any hormonal tweaking.

    • I actually don’t think you’re in the minority; I’ve heard from many ladies for whom the pill totally effed up their moods. I actually had that happen early on during this last span of time I was on the pill (I was on it during college, then took a year or two break before starting again in 2005). I was majorly weepy and depressed until I ended up on a different type of pill. Once I found one that sort of worked things stayed fairly level until the end.

      Anyway, I’m heartened to hear the positive reactions to going off OBC. My fingers are crossed…

  5. Popping in from no-commenting vacation to say good luck! You’ve read about my experiences going off BC – overall things are much better than when I was on it. Also, I realize I haven’t given a hair loss update lately – it has seemed to level back out. Or else I’ve gotten used to it. Either way, sending good ladyparts voodoo your way.

  6. I am on month 2 of no OBC! the first month was kind of awesome because I just never got my period (not sure exactly but I think the stress of a colonoscopy (I overshare on my blog too) skeered my ovaries into hiding last month).. I’m in the process of switching to FAM, linked above by Lauren, and I’d recommend it except for your aversion to being in touch with your body – definitely a requirement of this system! so far, the cramps are much worse and Flo is a bit more of a bully in general, but overall I think I’m better off (no skin problems yet but we shall see). good luck!

    • The first time I went off OBC I didn’t get my period for 18 months. Eek? Also, FAM only works if you have a reliable cycle – I don’t, so it will never work 100% for me. And I’m skeered of babies, so whatever we do needs to work 100%.

  7. The best thing about not being on the pill was that my body no longer befuddled by hormones into thinking it was pregnant.

  8. I have no advice for going off the pill but sending you hugs and some soothing tea. You are probably reading this and thinking, mother effer, this woman just suggested tea for my lady problems. Is she an idiot? And well, when it comes to easing the monthly wrath, I am. The only thing I know to help them is oral contraception. headdesk

  9. I’ve never been on birth control (hell, it’s been years since I’ve even used contraception) BUT the one time I did try the pill I spent 3 days on the floor of my bathroom sobbing over the fact that I would have to put on socks at some point. So being OFF of it has to be a good thing, right?

  10. i went off the pill when i got married. changes on my part:
    skin’s gotten way better (and i started it for acne treatment!)
    way less anxious.
    gained 10 pounds, but it also doesn’t help that i’ve since then became a professional cook.

    it just differs from people to people, so no use worrying! 🙂

  11. I’ve been on OBC since I was 12 years old, so the thought of going off of it (in addition to reading about your fears and the stories of these ladies commenting here) FREAKS ME OUT.

    I get that it’s a hormonal trick I’m playing on my body with pills, but I’ve been doing that trick for 13 years now. (shudder) I don’t even KNOW what my period is like without it, except for my very first period which was crazy heavy and lasted so long they put me on the pill in 7th grade.

  12. I tried going on the pill once before my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer back when I was in undergrad (you know, DECADES ago). I had three weeks of bleeding and one week off for three months. It was less a contraceptive method than a sex deterrent.

    The part that makes me kinda sorta wish I was on the pill now is that I hear it helps control adult acne, which is the bane of my post-35-years-old existence.

    As for the hormones and such, it’s not so bad for me. We have one argument in which I cry for a few minutes one day each month. The next morning, my period starts, and I have to say I’m sorry. And that’s pretty much the extent of it.

  13. Count me in as another person who feels happier/less moody in general since being off birth control. My skin has also cleared up (but I switched to clarisonic/oil method around the same time so it could be that).

    • Ooh, this makes me happy and intrigued. I just got the Clarisonic for my birthday a couple months ago, and I feel like it’s helped a bit. But I haven’t found a 100% foolproof face maintenance system since going off of Proactiv a year ago. I am on this 100% organic system made from flowers and oil and sugar and honey and the tears of the baby Jesus, and while it is wonderful I still kind of have… acne… on my face. Sad kazoo.

  14. Birth control made me grow a mustache and change my name to Hans. Just kidding. But really.

  15. Fucking birth control.

    Are you thinking about getting something else? I have nothing but the highest praise for my Mirena IUD it seriously changed my life. No kidding.

    • One of my friends uses an IUD and she sings its praises. (I of course was conceived while my mother was on an IUD, a fact she used to terrorize me when I went off to college. But that was thirty-some years ago and they’ve improved a ton.)

      • I have nothing but the highest praise. Honestly. They RULE.

        I wouldn’t get one if I was thinking of having kids any time soon but seriously – good shit. Get one.

  16. I’m on my second month of being off birth control and I honestly haven’t noticed much of a difference — if anything, it’s better. I started it in fall of 2006 (the first kind I tried made me CRAZY but I pretty quickly found a kind that didn’t make me feel out-of-control hormonal), so I was on it for a solid 5 years. I got horrible headaches throughout every period, recently started to worry re: what I heard about BC affecting sex drive, and have lately been looking for ways to save money, so this was a logical thing to cut. (Not trying to make babies in the immediate future, for the record.)

    While I still get a headache (once, a couple days before my period, rather than for the whole duration), my period is lighter and shorter (though I’m still figuring out, like, when the next one will start)… so, ok! Much better. I’ll take it. I haven’t noticed any other changes — weight, skin and mood patterns are about the same as they have been. I haven’t had any baby-paranoia yet, but I’m sure that will come the longer I’m not using it…

    Not to be a scaremonger, but I feel inclined to share given the topic: One of my sister’s friends from high school — 33 years old — just had a stroke, and she was on Yaz at the time. (Her recovery is going well, but she still can’t really communicate through speech and has limited motion on one side.) That brand has been in the news recently over recommendations that it have stronger warning labels about the risk of blood clots. I often think of those “10 in 10,000” (aka 1/1000) stats as sort of abstract things, but knowing the 1 out of the thousand definitely puts it in perspective. So… don’t take Yaz! Ok. End PSA.

    • My friend in grad school had a stroke that the doctors blamed on BC, and I’m fairly sure it was Yaz, too. Scary stuff (though she made a complete recovery).

    • Again, I am so happy to hear positive reviews about going off (really really really hoping it stays lighter and shorter!). But! About Yaz… my friend — who I believe was 33 at the time as well — had a pulmonary embolism that was attributed to Yaz. She fully recovered and just had a baby, but it was scary and she was at-risk for the whole pregnancy — not to mention she has to wear a medical bracelet for the rest of her life. Yaz is some scary ish, man.


    I haven’t taken it since I was 16. I have this completely irrational fear about infertility – women in my family have had up to five miscarriages each while they were trying and I’m a little bit terrified (while simultaneously NEVER wanting a baby). What side effects do you get on it? Am I weird to not want to take it? Talk to me, Dr. Lyn!

    • Oh my dear Lizzie, the side effects are so different depending on the person and the particular hormone! I’m no doctor, but I’ve tried enough variations over the years to know that some just don’t agree with me. When I started again in 2005 after a break, I went back to a generic version of an Ortho Tri-Cyclen type of pill and I proceeded to spend the following week crying uncontrollably. I took myself off of it and went back to the doctor, and I tried a version with lower dose of estrogen. Long story short, it was trial and error, really. You have to pay attention and push your case when needed. I had pharmacists tell me that a generic version of something I tried was exactly the same as the main brand, but it made me feel different. That was a time when I ended up having to switch again, because it just wasn’t working out for me.

      All of that is to say, side effects vary by person. You can’t really tell what you’re going to end up with until you try. Over the last few years I’d found and stuck with something that worked for me, and I didn’t notice any particular side effects whatsoever. I would get mild breakouts just before my period, but that’s to be expected. My periods were very light on birth control — so light that I just used pantyliners. I would get very mild cramps and a backache on the day I started, but nothing after that. I didn’t notice any weight gain or loss. I didn’t notice any extreme mood swings. I felt like my hair was falling out, but then again my hair is very fine and I don’t have much of it and I basically feel like it’s ALWAYS falling out. So.

      I’m sorry to hear about the history of infertility in your family — that’s incredibly scary. My parents were unable to have any more children after having me at age 20, so I always wonder if I’ll have similar problems, too.

      You’re not weird to not want to take it. I think you should go with your gut and heart. Birth control can sometimes help if you have awful problems with heavy or prolonged periods or acne, but if you feel fine the way you are now there’s no special reason to start.

  18. I’m doing the barrier method bit.

    It’s kind of exhausting. Panic. Not knowing when it will appear. I actually bought a tracker app and my body has shocked me by being fairly regular.

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