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…
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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?