The contraceptive pill, in it’s many forms, is probably one of the most widely used forms of contraception out there. Yet it is something that for the majority of my life at least, has been a bit of a taboo subject. The pill is rarely spoken about openly and honestly, with doctors skirting around side effects and seeming more interested in getting you to take a little pill than actually considering your well-being.
The conversation surrounding popular contraceptive methods, and most often, the pill, has been growing recently, with more and more women and girls opening up about their struggles and side effects. Having worked my way through my fair share of contraceptive pills over the last 8 years, I wanted to share with you all my honest verdict on the pill in the hope that it somewhat educates and enlightens others as to what an “easy-fix” can turn out like.
I first went on the pill aged around 16. I was in a steady relationship at the time and the topic of having sex had come up, and I wanted to be sensible about it. I was also really struggling with my periods at the time and had been advised by a doctor previously that going on the pill could help lighten my periods and make them more regular and manageable.
The first pill I went on was Microgynon. In the UK, this is typically the first pill that most girls will go on. To begin with, I had little to no issues on this pill. I didn’t notice any changes in my mood or my skin, my weight remained normal and my periods were still heavy, but regular. For about a year, Microgynon worked well for me, but then I started getting headaches. Having read that this was a warning sign whilst on the pill, I went back to the doctors and they took me off Microgynon immediately. Little did I know that this would be the start of a long and uphill battle.
After coming off Microgynon, I have been on around 7 different types or brands of contraceptive pill with different combinations of hormones. Off the top of my head, I remember being on Cilest – which was absolutely awful and I bled constantly and was in a lot of pain – for about 4 or 5 months. I have also been on Levorg but I don’t remember too much about that one. Ceresette was by far the worst I have taken. It made me incredibly down and depressed, paranoid, anxious, I stopped wanting to eat and I was still bleeding through.
The most recent pill I have been on was Noriday, otherwise known as Norestiterone. This is called a mini-pill, meaning I would take a pill every day without a break and my periods (theoretically) would be left to their natural cycle. When I first started taking Noriday, I couldn’t believe the change in my mood. It felt like a weight was being lifted off my shoulders. I felt calmer, less anxious, my sex drive improved and I really thought I was onto a winner as I didn’t have a period for around 6 months. However, this was all too good to be true as once again, I started bleeding non-stop.
After 8 years on a variety of pills with no real improvement, I decided to get the Minera coil, which I will talk about more in a later post. But it got me thinking, would I have suffered from the mental health issues that I have if I had never used the pill? Would my weight have fluctuated as much as it has over the years, resulting in unhealthy eating habits and behaviours? Would I still be the same as I am today, or would I be a different person had I have never started the pill when I was 16?
The reality, and the reason why the subject has come up more and more recently, is that many of us went on the pill at a young age and struggle to determine who we are without the artificial hormones that we’ve pumped ourselves full of for countless years – and that’s pretty scary. What if, in years to come, there are concrete studies that prove a correlation between the pill and mental health issues? People are slowly waking up to the realisation that actually the pill can do a lot more harm than good for a lot of young women. What if we’ve all been living a much more difficult life than was actually necessary? And why was a male contraceptive jab study terminated early because the side effects of mood swings and emotional disorder (extremely common side effects of female contraceptives) were deemed to outweigh the benefits?
I’m aware that my experience has probably given me a negative bias towards the contraceptive pill, so I’m eager to hear any positive stories in the comments. Have you experienced similar issues with the pill?