Birth Control is Not Always Your Friend

When my gynecologist told me that I would have to be put on birth control for who-knows-how-long in order to treat a hormone imbalance, I saw no issue with it. I had entertained the idea before, as I had always had irregular periods and acne, and I knew the pill was one solution to those problems. Turns out that, for me, hormonal birth control wasn’t just one solution—it was the only solution. I started on one type of pill, then switched to another once the side effects of the first type became far too intense to handle. And, while I’ve had greater success with this new pill, there’s a voice in the back of my head that always likes to remind me that things could take a turn for the worse at any moment, at any slight change.


I had heard birth control horror stories before, of course. Friends who had stopped after merely two weeks because the flood of hormones had created an entirely new person out of them, women who had exhausted nearly every single option on the market and yet still couldn’t seem to find a type which agreed with their body, people who had bled for months on end, and so on and so forth. While I assumed that the transition would be a bit tough, my mom warned me that she had never been able to withstand the pill herself, and I would have to be careful. Within two weeks, I realized just why those with bad past experiences with birth control have such a deep and outspoken hatred of it.​

I was under the assumption that the crying spells, the headaches, the weird vision changes, the complete inability to focus, the mood changes, etc. would all go away with time. While they did get less intense over the three months I was on Pill A, it’s possible that I just got so used to living my life dealing with the side effects that they appeared to have settled. Once I switched to Pill B, I realized just how much I had not been myself. And when I started paying more attention to women’s stories about birth control, I could draw from my own experience just how terrible they must have felt.


While I welcome my success with this new birth control, I urge women considering taking birth control to explore all of their options—IUDs, the shot, the patch, hormonal and non-hormonal variations, and more—and to listen to their bodies when they feel like something is wrong. Find out what works best for you. Tell your doctor if you want to make a change, even when you think you can just “deal” with whatever you’re on—the slightest change in the makeup of a pill can affect a woman’s experiences with it, for better or for worse. What works for many may not work for you, and vice versa. Though it appears to be, birth control is most certainly not always your friend.

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