I began taking birth control when I was 16 due to my irregular and heavy periods (menorrhagia). At times, I had my period for more than 3 weeks and was becoming anemic in the process so my doctor suggested I start birth control without looking at the root causes or offering alternatives. For years, I took birth control without thinking twice. Looking back, I laugh at the irony that I would place importance on eating organic, whole foods and 'healthy living' meanwhile pumping artificial hormones in my body daily.
Six months ago, while studying for an entrance exam, I had a severe anxiety attack. I did not know it was anxiety at the time, all I felt was chest pain, shortness of breath and pain in my arms. I went to a walk-in clinic, where they measured my heart rate at a 120. Healthy heart rate for someone my age should be in the 70's. After examining me, the doctor instructed that I go to the Emergency Room to check for a blood clot in my lungs, which can be fatal. He said due to the fact I am on birth control, I have a small chance of developing such clots. Thankfully, after hours of tests, the doctors found nothing and concluded it must have been anxiety, which at times can feel just as painful as a heart attack. The experience scared me to say the least, and I began to research the effects birth control could have on my body. I found that the risks outnumbered the benefits. I was worried other barrier methods would be a pain and restrict my sexual activity with my boyfriend, but my fear of blood clotting and cardiovascular disease, which is the number one killer of women, trumped my desire for convenience. So three months ago, I finally decided to stop taking my birth control after 7 years.
The first two months I experienced very irregular periods, but that is normal due to the hormones in your body trying to naturally regulate themselves. Looking back, I have noticed that I feel much more emotionally stable than when I was on the pill. It's not to say my mood swings went from A to Z while on the pill, but I feel that I am much more control of my emotions and I am able to decide what I place my focus on much better than I ever have.
Sexually, I have never had better. I had never experienced sexual intercourse without being on the pill. I immediately noticed that my libido skyrocketed and was now parallel if not more than my boyfriend's. The past few months, I have been able to become wet and reach orgasm more than I ever have before. I no longer have to feel guilty that "I'm not in the mood" or worry that my boyfriend might think I am not aroused because I am dry.
Perhaps a 'disadvantage' I am experiencing is weight gain. However, most women experience weight loss when getting off the pill. I have spoken with my doctor, and it may be due to a thyroid issue which I am now being tested for. So in a way, I am glad about this 'disadvantage' because if it turns out I do have a thyroid issue, I would likely have not known staying on the pill.
There are times when I wonder if I should try the pill again for convenience or weight maintenance but when I think of my experience in the hospital and how great my relationship has been since getting OFF the pill, I am pretty happy with my choice.