Dear Doc…Or, a Birth Control Story

I was put on “the pill,” as they call it, in October of 2009.

Early one fall morning–the morning that my third attempt to earn my driver’s license was scheduled, in fact–a nasty, gut wrenching ovarian cyst erupted within me. Oh man, was it painful. I don’t think I’ve ever been in as much pain in my life. I remember writhing around on the couch, clutching the right side of my abdomen, wondering what the hell was wrong with me.

Well, needless to say, my license would end up taking one more month to obtain because that nasty, gut wrenching ovarian cyst, which I was worried might be appendicitis at the time, landed me in the Emergency Room.

Fast forward a week or two to my first ever trip to a gynecologist. A lady doctor. At 16, I felt so adult to be visiting such a doctor. At 16, I listened as my brand new gynecologist explained to me the benefits that birth control could have on my body–not just that it would help prevent further ovarian cysts erupting, but that it could help with acne, it would make my periods lighter, and of course, the obvious–it would keep me from pregnancy.

At 16, I was three years away from my first sexual experience and I sure as hell had no plans for sex in the immediate future…but lighter, regulated periods sure sounded nice and I couldn’t deny the fact that another ovarian cyst eruption was not at the top of my “to have happen again” list. So, I went and filled the prescription after my appointment and was off.

And so began the four and half years that I was on birth control.

I took my last pill in April of 2014…and I have never looked back.


I have never looked back, but, in two weeks, I do have my first doctor’s appointment in over a year with that very same doctor who explained to me the benefits of birth control almost six years ago.

And I know I’m going to have to explain myself.

Because I went off the pill on my own accord. I did not consult a doctor, as they advise you to do whenever you stop or start a medication. I just stopped refilling my prescription. In fact, I still have two unopened and very much forgotten containers of the pill in my bedroom (oh yeah, those still exist…)

This yearly check up of mine is coming late. I was due for one in March, but I had spring break plans and I wasn’t going to let any appointments get in the way of those. I know the first thing my doc is going to ask me about when he enters the examination room in a couple weeks is the birth control. It’s the first question he always asks me at every appointment: “so, are you still taking the pill?” This time, though, he’ll know I’m not…because my prescription is currently four months expired

And I’m ready for him to grill me as to why. Because boy is this M.D. ever passionate about the pill. He eagerly put me on the pill back in ’09 and with each passing yearly appointment, he always looked at me with a smile of satisfaction when I told him, yes, yes, I’m still taking one a day, everyday, around 6:00 p.m.

Well, doc, I have my reasons. I have plenty of them, chief among them that it’s my body and I don’t need nor want to take it. But since I know you’re gonna ask, here ya go…

— — — —

Dear Doc,

The pill. What is it about the pill. Something about it fills me with…a certain disdain. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s prescribed to young woman like candy…oh, you have acne? here, take this. Oh, you have mood swings…what about the pill? It’ll make your period lighter, too. and you know, if you ever decide to become sexually active, it’s just a good thing to have in your back pocket. Okay, perhaps I’m a little cynical about this subject. I’m not a doctor. I have a history and English degree under my belt…practically the farthest thing from being a medical doctor in existence. But something about the way the pill is handed out makes me feel so uncomfortable. It’s like the magic fix for every single issue a young woman could have. Sure, you may not be having sex now, but you probably will one day. Might as well start taking it now for reasons a, b, and c. And probably d. Most definitely d.

I don’t want to disregard the pill. It does work. I never had any major problems while I was on it. Some women’s hormones go crazy while on the pill, but mine never did. Having a lighter period was nice. I was at first thankful for it when I became sexually active, but that didn’t stop me from obsessing over becoming pregnant anyways (what if it’s defective for some reason??). A naturally anxious and totally not confident twenty year old–a.k.a. me two years ago–was not comforted by the pill at all. I called one of my best friends in tears one night absolutely convinced I was pregnant even though I was taking the pill religiously and never had sex without a condom. That’s a story for a different day, though.  

The truth of the matter is, something about the pill makes me anxious in itself. The thought of starting it again makes me cringe. Maybe it’s the routine of taking it every day. I don’t mind routine and actually really rely on it in daily life, but the routine of this pill sets me off majorly. The knowledge that this pill is changing the way my body works naturally–well, I don’t like that. Sure, a lighter period is nice, but that’s only because the pill is messing with the inner workings of my reproductive system. We humans are so quick to change the natural system of our bodies for our own convenience…call me unconventional, a hipster, what have you, but that just seems wrong to me, yo. 

And Doc, don’t even get me started on the hormones. I don’t want that extra estrogen in my body. As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I don’t care how minimal the risk factor for breast cancer is on the pill–there’s still a risk, and I don’t want to take that with the disease already in my family. I’m a vegetarian and I don’t even eat tofu anymore because of the estrogen in soy. Do you really think I’m going to take that risk with a medication that I would only be taking for convenience?

Oh yes, about that convenience. I haven’t been sexually active for almost two years. It’s about time if you ask me, but that’s besides the point. When I do choose to become sexually active again, condoms, dude. And perhaps I will look into a non-hormonal IUD. It’s not that I don’t take birth control seriously, because I do. The last thing I want in my life right now is a baby. But the truth of the matter is, the pill isn’t for me. I don’t even like the idea of it. 

Dearest Doc, you can be concerned and upset that I went off the pill without consulting you, but hey, it’s been over a year and I’m still here. You have no idea how liberating not being on the pill is for me. That, and I actually have a libido again (oh yeah, that’s another thing–my sex drive was zero on the pill, which seems utterly ridiculous and a bit ironic if you think about it). Quite frankly, I’m feeling better than ever. For many reasons, of course–I have a lot to feel pretty good about about in this life–but this personal choice to not take birth control pills is one more decision that makes me feel in control of my body and my overall self…and that’s something I highly value. 

The pill is perfect for some women, but it’s not something I’m interested in having in my life. 

I will never ever go on the pill again.

Thanks but no thanks. 

Now, can we move on to the next part of my appointment, please?

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20 Replies to “Dear Doc…Or, a Birth Control Story”

  1. Never say never! But you’re absolutely right. I have irregular periods and doctors have suggested I start taking the pill, but they never prescribe it so I don’t. I’ve survived. We don’t need to be taking pills that mess with the chemistry of our bodies. You said the pill lowered your libido, right? Like you said, ironic.

    Our ancestors managed without it and they did just fine. And cancer strikes anyone—pill or no pill. It makes no distinctions.

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    1. Haha, true. I wrote this with quite a lot of passion. Never is a long time, though. The fact of the matter is, yes, cancer can and does strike anyone, but studies have shown there is an increased risk of breast cancer while on the pill. It’s a pretty low percentage so perhaps my concern is unnecessary, but it’s just a comfort thing for me, especially since my mom is a breast cancer survivor.
      If the pill was something that I actually needed to take for a health issue, I’d reconsider but for now, I’m gonna stay off of it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My grandmother died of breast cancer. So there’s a risk I might get it, too. But I’m not concerned at the moment.

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      2. I’m not worried about getting it now, either, but if there’s anything I can do as a preventive measure now, I figure why not. Perhaps it won’t help in the long run, but again, it’s a comfort thing for me.

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  2. I actually went on the pill for my periods because I was oh so irregular. At times, for various reasons, I’ve been off of it and it has made me miserable when that time of the month rolls around. Therefore, I’m pretty thankful I have it. I do really hate going to the doctor though because they ask certain questions without a follow up question, so no matter what, your answer sounds bad. Like, “yeah I drink during the week but I exercise like crazy right now. I smoked Hookah 5 years ago, but I haven’t touched it since.”

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    1. Yeah, totally get the awkward questions. They happen regardless, I think. 🙂 I know the pill is really helpful for some women. It can be a lifesaver for some women and that’s awesome. I just personally don’t see the point of taking it when it isn’t necessary for me. But hey, every woman is different and what works for one certainly doesn’t work for another!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us and yipes that ovarian cysts sounds extremely painful!
    Very interesting letter to you Doc!
    A woman has a lot of choices to make in life regarding her body and whichever choice you choose, it is the best for yours:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh dear, it sure was!
      Yes, I’m glad I live in an age where I can make these choices for myself. Even fifty years ago, women were so much more constricted in the choices they could make about their bodies. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Some doctors really do over-prescribe the pill for every possible problem of a woman’s health, don’t they? Just keep telling yourself that it’s better than what they were over-prescribing for the same symptoms in the late 19th century: then they were prescribing the removal of ovaries and/or female circumcision. So it could be even worse than it is.

    But you’re right to want to avoid it. It’s definitely not for everyone. I was put on the pill briefly some years ago to regulate my period–I was having periods constantly (seriously, one day off, then right back on again, for about three months solid)–and it was horrible. My cramps were worse on the pill than they ever had been before, despite what legions of doctors had been telling me for years about how I should go on the pill to alleviate my cramps. I went off the pill without consulting any doctors, too, but no one ever got on my case about it. (Then again, I’m not very consistent about going back to see my gynecologist, so perhaps she just didn’t have time to get on my case about it.)

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    1. I really believe some of them do over-prescribe it…and my doctor is a male, so I’m just kind of like, “I know you have the expertise that I don’t have in this profession, but you’re also never going to take this pill in your life because you’re not a female.” It’s just not the same conversation that I’d be having with a female doctor.
      Oh absolutely, though, women in the 19th century had absolutely no choice over what the could or couldn’t do to their bodies and some of the procedures that were prescribed to them are horrifying. True that.

      I just hope that this conversation I have to have with my doctor is short and sweet. It’s my body and if I don’t want to take it, I shouldn’t have to!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dang, that pain you experienced six years ago sounds terrifying!

    I do believe, though, that society tends to overdiagnose people when it comes to medical issues, especially for women. I believe that pills are just a way of avoiding the real problems, like talking to the doctor about being sexually active or about depression. Sometimes, pills can even be harmful, especially if the dosage isn’t well-prescribed.

    Not sure if my comment made sense, but you can see that all of this talk about pills, whether birth control or not, is complicated. It just goes to show that society is overly medicalizing everything today.

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    1. Yeah, it sucked. If you can avoid an ovarian cyst eruption, I recommend it. 🙂

      I completely agree…ESPECIALLY women. I totally get exactly what you’re saying in this comment. I went to a doctor for anxiety a little over a year ago and they had prescribed me antidepressants within five minutes of being in my apppointment…and those antidepressants ended up making me severely depressed. I’ve found such better ways to deal with my anxiety through natural methods and I’m also not putting all those nasty chemicals in my body. I don’t think pills are evil, but we do rely on them way too much in our society when there are often times a lot of more effective ways to handle a medical issue…without all the nasty side effects, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post and it has elicited lot’s of comments! Yeah, I could write a whole post on my love/hate relationship with estrogen but I won’t. Good thing you stand your ground and say NO…thanks! When I was 14 I had not started menstruating, so they started me on the pill. Yay, I gained 30 pounds. Went off once I turned 18. Restarted again in my 30s…gained weight again. Hit menopause and went on HRT (basically estrogen in patch form with progesterone thrown in for fun). Gained weight but no more hot flashes. You do have to carefully wean off of estrogen, esp when you are older. A different doctor also told me to take statin drugs for high cholesterol. He** no! Do your own research, listen to your own body and ignore the doctors on some of this stuff. Most drug studies are done on men and they do not translate well to women’s bodies. Always get a second opinion.

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    1. Thank you so much Terri. So glad you enjoyed it and that you resonated with my frustration.
      Yes! You understand me! Too much estrogen ISN’T a good thing. As a breast cancer survivor, my mom avoids anything with excess estrogen in it (i.e. soy) as best as she can. I don’t want too much extra of it in my body either, knowing I’m at higher risk for breast cancer since my Mom had it.

      My gynecologist is a male and although I don’t disrespect the knowledge he has of his profession, there comes a point where I’m just like, “I don’t care that you’ve made studying women’s bodies your career…when it comes down to it, you’re still a man and there’s just some things you CAN’T understand about actually being a woman.”

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This post is REALLY interesting to me. I got on the pill after the first time I had sex (& because I had no idea what was going on during the whole thing I was terrified of getting pregnant and took Plan B TWICE which of course, you absolutely shouldn’t do, but again–terrified). I love being on it because I finally know when my period will come, and I was super irregular before. Now there’s no surprises. But I understand the idea of like, hey, don’t mess with my body, people survived before all these strange inventions and we’ll continue to without them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel ya, girl. I would have probably freaked out just the same if I hadn’t already been on the pill the first time I had sex. I don’t have any experience with Plan B, but that definitely sounds like a scary situation!

      I’m not interested in the pill anymore as a form of birth control, but I think it’s a great option to have. I, do, however, think doctors over-prescribe it to young girls and I wish more doctors would spend time discussing other forms of birth control with their patients. Perhaps other doctors do, but like I said in this post, I was put on birth control years before I became sexually active,as a safety against another cyst–and when I did become sexually active, my doctor never even opened up the topic of other types of birth control with me. It was like, “oh, you’re on the pill already, what the point?” I still think it’s useful for women to be aware of their options. The pill is a great option for some people, but for others–well, it’s just nice to have those options.

      The pill is useful, though. For the obvious–not getting pregnant. And there are tons of people who use it to regulate their periods and help with Endometriosis, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Love everything about this post and the letter to the doctor. I have to take birth control due to irregular periods, but I must admit that it is super hard to remember to take the pill around the same time every night. I’ve thought about going off of it, but I end up not having a period for months at a time and then that’s even more of a bitch to deal with.

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    1. I never had a problem with remembering to take it. That was always pretty easy unless I was traveling and there was time difference, etc. For me, it’s just a personal thing. I see no reason to take it, so I’m not.

      Liked by 1 person

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