Since my post about alternatives to the contraceptive pill was so popular, I thought I would write a quick follow-up to tell you about my experience since that post. If you don't want to read about lady problems, I'll be back with a new foodie post in a few days.
Lowdown - there was no reason for me to stop taking the pill (I'm not trying for a baby and my doctor said it was fine to continue for another few years), but I wanted to see how my body felt hormone-free and I thought it might help with stress and anxiety.
How - I stopped taking my pill when I got to the end of the pack in November. The instructions said that you can stop taking it whenever you want - which would be useful if you suddenly realised you had a health risk and you needed to stop straight away - but it seems logical for your mind and your body to stop at the end of the pack so that your body has its withdrawal bleed (fake period) and then you start the next month afresh.
Pros - I thought I would feel different not taking it, and that I would miss the routine of that early morning pill, but it was surprising to me that I didn't even notice not taking it. When I was 16 and first went on the pill, it was because I had a short cycle of 21 days and unbearably painful, heavy periods that went on for 10 days, meaning I'd often only just have two weeks before my period would start again! I started using the Clue period tracker (in the photo above) to see how my periods have changed and I'm really pleased that although my cycle is still short at around 24 days, my periods are virtually painless, light and only run for about four days, as they did while I was on the pill.
Cons - there haven't been any major cons, but I did have a few side effects the first week after I stopped. I was so tired and had terrible, all-day headaches, which I attributed to my body expecting to get a rush of hormones. After a week, though, I felt like my normal self. It does turn out, however, that my anxiety was nothing to do with the pill and I am, in fact, just stressed and anxious, so I can stop blaming the pill for that one! I have noticed that I'm also more prone to a few spots before my period, which I've never had a problem with. Lastly, I hate not knowing when my period is coming. When I was on the pill, it came like clockwork on Tuesday morning of my pill-free week, but I'm hoping that as I continue to use the period tracker, I'll be able to work out when it's due. Along with that, it's a pain that I can't choose to skip a period if I happen to be on holiday. There were a few summers and Christmases that were definitely spoiled by insane cramps and heavy bleeding before, but since my periods are much lighter and pain-free now, I don't think it will be such a big deal.
I hope you don't mind my sharing all this information, but I thought it might be useful for anyone thinking about stopping the pill. I'm happy now in the knowledge that all the hormones in my body are mine, and that, for now, everything seems to be working just fine.