This post talks about my period and my sex life.  Therefore, if these issues make you squeamish or you’re my Dad, you’ve been forewarned.


If you’re new to the series or need a refresher:


  • Part I (February) – I began to have concerns that I’ve been on the Pill for “too long” and feared I won’t get my period if I go off of it after hearing horror stories from my girlfriends and other bloggers.
  • Part II (July) – I begin to educate myself about the Fertility Awareness Method and went off the Pill.
  • Part III (September) -  I used several different techniques to follow FAM and talked about BC withdrawal.


(The comments on all of the above posts are really, really interesting so I suggest you check them out if you want to learn more!)


So – I thought I owed you all an update on the Big Birth Control Question because a lot has changed since September!  You might be surprised that…


I decided to go back on the Pill.


It was not an easy decision, and it was – of course – a personal choice between the Husband and I.  But I want to share my thoughts and experiences with you all because I know that other women struggle with issues relating to artificial hormones and their periods. 


My reasons for going back on the Pill included:


  • Due to marathon training, my periods never evened out to a point that I felt comfortable using the FAM method all month long. 
  • My skin was going haywire.
  • Due to not being able to use FAM, we were using condoms, which personally did not work for us as a couple at all.  (Obviously, we are in a monogamous relationship so we don’t need to worry about STD protection.)


Let’s start at the beginning…


My issues with FAM began in September and October, when my marathon training peaked.  My natural cycles, which had ranged from 28 – 30 days, suddenly stretched to 45 – 62 days.  Obviously, I freaked out and thought I was pregnant.  Three pregnancy tests later (I had to be sure!), I decided that I wasn’t pregnant and the culprit was, in fact, training for the marathon.


The Husband (a Doctor of Oriental Medicine) and I did a ton of research, including consulting my gynecologist, and the verdict was that running long distances can disrupt your period, even if you are eating enough calories.  One very common cause of losing your periods is exercising intensely and/or not eating enough calories.  Some women can run 100 miles a week and still get their period; others lose it more quickly.  Eating enough was NOT part of my problem; it was just the distance.  In fact, I gained 5 pounds in an attempt to get my period to settle down/natural result of marathon training (I’m 5 ft 3 and 125 pounds; since I know people will ask), but there was no immediate impact on my period.  In fact, the next cycle, when I was running 35 – 40 miles a week, my period took 62 days to come back. 


Not getting my period regularly was highly concerning to me, and I wanted it back IMMEDIATELY.  I tried out natural methods (acupuncture, herbs), but the seed was already planted in my brain to go back on BC.


Compounding my marathon-induced spazzy periods was the fact that my body was not adjusting to being off birth control.  Just as I went through withdrawal from going off BC, my body suddenly seemed to freak out now that I was having to naturally regulate my own hormones.  My skin exploded.  I had pimples like I hadn’t had since I was a teenager.  This might seem like a really vain reason to go back on the Pill (and I’ll admit it’s TOTALLY sticking a band aid over a health problem), but it really got me thinking about going back on the Pill.


And last, but not least, my irregular period meant I couldn’t really rely on the FAM method (which involves tracking basal body temperature).  My stats would indicate that I was ovulating, but I wasn’t.  My stats would indicate that I was going to get my period that day, but I wouldn’t.  Since we REALLY do not want to get pregnant now, that only left a week or so each month we felt comfortable using FAM.  The rest of the time, we had to rely on condoms, which neither of us liked at all.  I’m also allergic to latex so this was a big headache (non-latex condoms are really expensive).  Not being able to use FAM and relying on condoms was seriously crushing our sex life.


So, I looked at all of my opinions and decided it was best to go back on BC for the next 10 months or so (and then, hopefully, we’ll start trying for a baby).


I went back to my gyno and explained all my concerns, and I have to say that I was BLOWN AWAY by his attitude about birth control.  He wasn’t the slightest bit concerned that my natural hormones seemed so out of wack (as indicated by skin issues).  He did a blood test but everything came back within ‘normal ranges,’ so my symptoms were moot.  When he wrote the script for my BC, I asked when I should start the pack, and he said when I got my period.  I replied that last cycle, it took 62 days to get my period, and he replied that if I didn’t get it after the 30-day mark, I could come in and get a script for a huge dose of hormones to jump-start my period (!!!).  I stared at him like he was nuts and told him I’d rather just wait until I naturally got my period.  


I continue to have a lot of qualms about birth control and artificial hormones, but sometimes, the less desirable option is actually the best one at that moment.  I wish there was a clear and obvious solution to our birth control woes because, as women, this issue is so important to us and vital to our independence.  But there is no best solution.  Each one has drawbacks to me.


Hopefully, we’ll be able to use the FAM method in 10 months to help us achieve pregnancy!  I’m glad I educated myself about the method and explored my options.  This issue is one that I’m sure I’ll have to revisit many times over the next… um… 20 years.  So I’ll be sure to update you on what happens!


What have your experiences been with the Pill and other methods of contraception?  What issues and benefits does your chosen method have?



  • Jessica December 29, 2010, 11:49 am

    As someone with endometriosis who is also training for races, my cycle as well as symptomology is all over the board. I’ve never wanted to be on the pill (infertility is already a possibility with endo alone)but the symptoms have been so terrible I’ve resorted to going back on as well. Good to hear you found something that works, even if it’s not optimal!

  • Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine December 29, 2010, 11:50 am

    This has been such an interesting series of posts!! I’m not at a point in my life where I can rely on the FAM method, but I’ve always found it to be really fascinating stuff and something I definitely want to try once I’m married and unplanned pregnancy wouldn’t be a huge deal. I’ve been on the pill for a few years now, and what really freaked me out was switching from the namebrand to generic version…I had HORRIBLE side effects on the generic, when I’d had absolutely zero on the name brand. It really got me thinking about the effects of these chemicals on my body, and while I’m going to stay on the Pill for the time being, it’s not something I want to keep up with forever. Thank you for sharing your experience!!!

    • elaine! December 29, 2010, 9:25 pm

      I almost went to generic because I had to change health insurance, and the new plan didn’t cover prescription… my doctor insisted on name brand and actually gave me a coupon card to even out the price difference a little. She said she used to be in cardiology and the QC on non-name brand drugs can be dangerous.

  • steff (steffsays) December 29, 2010, 11:51 am

    following this experiment of yours has been really fascinating for me. i have been on hormonal BC for about 7 years and am looking forward to the day when i feel ready to kick it to the curb. but i realize now that going au natural might not be as wonderful as i imagine it to be!

  • kristin December 29, 2010, 11:51 am

    I’ve been off BC for a little over a year, I think, and I’m pondering going back on it since I’ve also had a few breakouts that have been very annoying. Plus, ever since ending the BC my periods have been crazy- they last one, maybe two days, and at the most three. I’ve never experienced that in my life and I don’t know if I should be concerned. My bf and I use condoms, of course, since we’re in no way ready for babies. He wishes we didn’t have to, but unfortunately for him it’s the non-hormonal method I feel most comfortable with. I don’t like the thought of artificial hormones, but when you don’t want kids yet…

  • Jamie @ A Healthy J.D. December 29, 2010, 11:52 am

    We used FAM to try to conceive and it worked the first month. For three months we just winged it and nothing happened, then I started charting my temp and other things and we were pregnant. My sister just found out she is pregnant after one month of trying the FAM way as well. I think it will work for you when the time comes 🙂

  • Stacy @ Every Little Thing December 29, 2010, 11:52 am

    I have been on the pill for ten years at this point. I have always had a fairly “easy-going” body and have adjusted to hormones smoothly. My period was always regular, before and after the pill, but the pill reduced my cramps a TON.

    I hate taking anything unnatural but it’s the best option I have at the moment I guess. I have been told by my doctor that it’s a myth that being on birth control for a very long time decreases the likelihood of getting pregnant when I actually want to, but it’s still a concern.

  • Jackie @ Baking Charms December 29, 2010, 11:53 am

    Trial and error – you have to do what’s best for you!

    I went off the pill during the summer (my boyfriend and I are long distance) because it made me feel like a crazy person and was not helping my PMS in the least. Like you said, my skin has not been as clear, BUT my excessive bloating disappeared and I feel less hormonal.

    IUDs and NuvaRing offer much lower doses, so if I ever decide to go that route again those may end up being a better fit for me.

    • Astrid December 30, 2010, 4:02 am


      I have been using an IUD (Mirena) for over 5 years now (just had my first one replaced) and I love it! I do not get any periods anymore, there are no artificial hormones running through my body, I do not need to remember to take the pill and if like me you don’t ever want children, and the doc thinks you are too young for sterilization, I think an IUD is perfect!

  • Lauren @ Clean Eats in the Dirty South December 29, 2010, 11:55 am

    i did a lot of back and forth between the Pill and natural birth control methods, but i always went back to the pill – i need it mainly for period control. it’s incredibly horrifying to think that with some birth control (think depo provera!), you lose your period entirely.
    as someone who went through amenorrhea due to anorexia, i don’t want to lose my period ever again…it’s so worrying to wonder if they might not come back!!

  • Maura December 29, 2010, 11:55 am

    Thanks for this post Caitlin! I recently went through the same struggle. I stopped taking The Pill for a few months but ultimately, I decided to go back on it. My skin went haywire, my hormones were way out of wack, and I was having lots of mood swings. I decided while I don’t want to be on the pill forever right now it’s just my best option.

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday December 29, 2010, 11:58 am

    I went off the pill recently and it took me forever to get my period back. IT’s still not back to normal.
    I rely on condoms as birth control but I don’t think it’s as bad as you two seemed to find it.

    Also my skin looked like shit after I stopped taking birth control and I learned that I get a reaction in the hormones from dairy products so I have to avoid dairy to keep my skin clear.

  • Julie December 29, 2010, 11:58 am

    I came off BC almost a year ago and honestly, my skin has never looked better. Maybe it was the pill I was on, but it made me break out like a motherfkr. I have been getting my period rather regularly, after not getting it for 2 months at first; that is until now. I’m fairly over due (I’ve gone 49 days now, but who’s counting…) and a little tiny bit worried. I don’t know why though…I’m not pregnant, not trying to get pregnant, and have no real reason why I should freak out because I don’t have a period, yet here I sit wondering where the hell it is. And now my mind is wandering to scary places…but it’s very likely due to my change in exercise routine and nothing else…I hope.

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg December 29, 2010, 11:59 am

    My periods have always been irregular, so for about eight years, I was on BC. But something about all of those hormones just didn’t sit right with me– I was getting more and more concerned, so finally I went off the pill, and now my husband and I just use condoms. We’re lucky because we’re in a position of not “trying” to have kids, but also not being 100% concerned with birth control every time…I know that sounds strange, but that’s where we’re at!

  • Julie @ Peanut Butter Fingers December 29, 2010, 12:02 pm

    i am SO interested in the FAM method. i am fortunate in that i get my period regularly and i just don’t like taking BC pills all the time b/c of the hormones. it just doesn’t sit well with me. i think once my husband and i get to the point where having a baby would be “okay” with us, we’ll switch to the FAM method. i still need to order that book you talked about!

  • Anon December 29, 2010, 12:03 pm

    I wish I could bring you to this FAM class I have to attend soon (requirement for the church I am getting married in . . .)

    I know there will be some value in the class, BUT continuously claiming it works and is almost 100% effective, even for people with irregular cycles (something they have told me in the past) frustrates me to no end!! As a fellow runner I don’t think I will be able to rely on FAM alone either….. I think its great for some people, but everyone’s body is different.

    I appreciate you sharing your perspective. I may bring up the impact of running in my class…although based on my prior experience I’m expecting them to tell me it doesn’t matter. Love when “experts” with no medical training tell me things that contradict my doctor).

    • linds December 29, 2010, 12:48 pm

      Curious, are you Catholic?

      • anon December 29, 2010, 12:59 pm


        • S December 29, 2010, 1:51 pm

          If you’re TTA (trying to avoid) it is really hard to do when you have irregular cycles. I am shocked they would tell you that. If you have predictable cycles, however, it is a piece of cake.

        • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday December 29, 2010, 3:26 pm

          It’s not so shocking that the mandated marriage prep classes of the Catholic Church grossly over-estimate the effectiveness of FAM.
          Unnerving? Yes. Shocking? No.

          I had to do my best to keep my mouth shut in that part of the course.

    • Marissa C December 29, 2010, 11:51 pm

      The statistics are not grossly overestimated, but they are based on perfect use. Just like the pill’s statistics are based on perfect use. Unfortunately, many users are not perfect. I’m curious as to what method you are using? CCL’s Sympto-Thermal method works very well with irregular cycles, though I could see Caitlin’s situation being extra hard. The Creighton Method might work better in that case.

      FWIW, I know more “Oops” babies conceived on the pill than NFP.

  • Cindy December 29, 2010, 12:04 pm

    When I was 18 and got pregnant/miscarried, my mom dragged me to the doctor and had me put on b.c, which was the smart decision at that point in my life. I was on them through my mid twenties, and by that time I was single and not sexually active so I went off them, since there was no need and I could save my $15 copay for something else.

    I had no issues for about 6 months and then my periods stopped coming. I went to the doctor after a few months and they diagnosed me w/ PCOS and put me on some super hormone to induce my period (yeah that was not fun, I do not recommend it). They put me on metformin for the PCOS and told me that it would also regulate my periods and hormones. It made me sick as a dog. I was sick to my stomach constantly for weeks until my body regulated to it. Then I missed a month b/c I couldn’t get a refill and refused to go back on it (I was teaching at the time; hard to teach and be in the bathroom at the same time.)

    I went back on b.c for a little bit but my body freaked out and I gained 15 lbs in a little over a month, so I talked with my doctor and she said since I had been fine on no meds (other than ones for my headaches) I should be fine off the b.c, which I have been.

    What they don’t tell you is how much these meds wreak havoc with your body in awful ways. You are very lucky to have a husband with medical and eastern medical knowledge to help you out. I hope it all goes well and being back on the pill helps calm your body down!

  • Maura December 29, 2010, 12:04 pm

    Thank you for opening up and sharing such personal information with your readers in order to educate them, or find women who can identify with you. I think it’s brave and commendable!

  • grocery goddess jen December 29, 2010, 12:05 pm

    I have been on BC (many types, but for the last 6 or 7 years ortho tri cylclen lo) for 12 and a half years. Holy Moley. I am 31 now and would really like to go off it – but we’re just ready for kids. I have considered going off it to see what my body does, and this post honestly makes me think twice about it! It’s a little freaky that I’ve been on the pill since I was 18 and have no clue what my cycle is like without it, but so far the pill has been the best option for me. Thank you for writing about this, Caitlin!

    • grocery goddess jen December 29, 2010, 12:05 pm

      just NOT ready for kids!

      • Stephanie December 29, 2010, 1:20 pm

        This, so much. Your 2 comments sum up my thoughts entirely. 10+ years on BC, no regular periods before and not sure what my body would do without it, and so NOT ready for kids! **Other than as an aunt =)

        • liane December 29, 2010, 3:52 pm

          I had the worst periods and totally irregular periods, so I went on bc and stayed on for over 10 years. Last year I came off (I’m 30), and my period is now every 29 days like clock work, no cramps, nothing. And it’s been this way since the first month I came off bc a year ago. I’m SHOCKED.

          So, you never know!

  • Shauna December 29, 2010, 12:06 pm

    Hey Caitlan,

    I went off the PILL 2 1/2 years ago and my skin did break out. After a while, maybe 6 months to 1 year, my skin adjusted and I also found that the cleaner I kept my diet, the better my skin looked. A low fat whole foods plant based diet really helped. The worse I ate, the worst my skin looked. Great motivator!! I will never ever go on hormones again just for many reasons but hearing what your doctor said is a big motivator, doctors don’t really care–they are just pill pushers. My husband and I have no plans to be pregnant and for the last 2 1/2 years we have been using lambskin condoms. Yes, they are expensive but totally worth it and probably come out to cost just as much as birth control for us, honestly. I hope that you find what your looking for–most importantly good health 🙂

  • Anna @ History Running Girl December 29, 2010, 12:06 pm

    I went off the pill because of how it made me feel. However, last month I had cramps so badly they woke me up in the middle of the night. I was doubled over in pain. I can’t take that every month!! I can’t take one sick day off because of my period. Looks like I might be back on the pill.

    I’m also allergic to latex! It sucks.

    I’m curious (although this is unrelated to the post), do the vibrams you got for Christmas bother your feet? It says on the website not to get them if you are allergic to latex because they contain latex. I want some, but that scared me. (I’m also pretty sensitive to latex).

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 12:07 pm

      I saw that, too. I am only a little allergic to latex so I don’t anticipate it to be a problem for me, but I did buy socks to put something between my feet and the shoes.

      Maybe you can borrow someone else’s and try them for a day or so?

      • Anna @ History Running Girl December 29, 2010, 12:10 pm

        Thanks for replying so quickly! I should just try them at the running store. I usually react pretty quickly, so it should be enough time!

    • gabriella @ embracement December 29, 2010, 12:29 pm

      I went off the pill two months ago after not having my period for 7 years. The first month off the pill I had the most horrible back pain, fever, and cramps. I was convinced I had a kidney infection. The next month I had the same pain but to a lesser extent and I got my period. Now I think that pain was my body finally getting a period on it’s own but it was HORRIBLE.

    • kristin December 29, 2010, 12:40 pm

      I just went off BC a few months ago to “see what my body would do” and now am blessed with irregular periods and MONSTER cramps…makes me remember why I went on BC 8 years ago! haha

  • Lindsay December 29, 2010, 12:06 pm

    i’m in the same spot as you. i have been off birth control for almost a year, mainly because i just don’t think it is really good for you. but, we do not want babies any time soon and condoms just plain suck! so, i recently went back on bc. i feel your pain! 🙂 maybe they can invent a good bc for men and then us ladies won’t have to worry about it!

    • Natalie December 29, 2010, 9:32 pm

      man birth control? now there’s an idea!

  • kelly December 29, 2010, 12:07 pm

    I’ve been off of Birth Control for almost a month and feel great (although at first it was horrible.. head aches, nausea, terrible cramps, etc.). My body has seemed to figure itself out…now I am just waiting to see if my period will come on time. We are wanting to start trying to conceive in a Feburary, but did have unprotected sex this month.. so I am kind of paranoid right now! lol

    I really had no problems while on the pill (ortho tricylcen lo) and will gladly go back on it when the time comes that we don’t want any more kids 🙂

  • Lauren_85 December 29, 2010, 12:07 pm

    Thank you for being so honest an open with your situation, Caitlin. I don’t normally comment on your blog, but I wanted to express my appreciation.

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 12:08 pm

      Thanks Lauren! I appreciate that.

  • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin December 29, 2010, 12:07 pm

    Thank you so much for being so open about this issue, Caitlin. I think it can be a hard thing to tell the world about and I want you to know I appreciate it!

    I’ve struggled with being on the pill because I actually went on it when I was 13. Not because I was sexually active, but because I had ridiculous periods that were lasting for 30 days straight (!!!!). Imagine that. Anyways, I’ve been on it ever since and worry that I’m doing damage to my body and my fertility. I too hate condoms, and am in a steady relationship and have been for a few years, so I’m sort of at a point where I don’t really know what to do. Funny enough, I JUST went off birth control last week and am testing the waters hormone free. We’ll see how it goes!

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 12:09 pm

      30 day long periods sounds like a NIGHTMARE.

      • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin December 29, 2010, 12:10 pm

        It was! Especially as a scared 13 year old getting my period for the first time.

        • Jane December 30, 2010, 8:21 am

          I had that at 13 too! But my doctor said it was normal. My new doctors now gave me a weird look when I relayed that info when it happened again (but for 60 days!) over the summer.

  • Sarah @ The Strength of Faith December 29, 2010, 12:08 pm

    Hormones are so bizarre! When I was on the pill, I felt like I was going crazy – literally crazy. I couldn’t function on a normal level (my grades were horrendous that semester), I was nauseous all the time and was having massive panic attacks. I feel so much more human when I am not on it and the inconvenience of alternative forms of BC beats out the inconvenience me feeling (and acting) crazy.

  • Michelle December 29, 2010, 12:08 pm

    I really enjoyed your posts about birth control and the Pill, Caitlin. I have been on the Pill for about four years now and I don’t really feel one way or another about it, which probably means I haven’t suffered too many side effects from it. I had pretty significant acne in my teen years, and saw a dermatologist regularly, but not much worked. Come to think of it, my skin actually really did clear up nicely, so I’m thinking it must be due to the Pill. It’s also stayed pretty clear for these four years, and for that I’m really grateful. It also greatly helped reduce cramps.

    The more I consider it, I too don’t want to be on the Pill forever. I’ve never really thought about the effects of going OFF the Pill, I’ve just always focused on anything that could happen from going ON it. I’m not at a place in life (although I wish I was!) that I really can go off it, as babies aren’t in the plan right now. I really liked reading all your posts and hope that someday sooner rather than later I can reference them when deciding to go off the Pill myself.

  • Sarah for Real December 29, 2010, 12:08 pm

    Great post! You are so right that every option has its drawbacks.

    I was on BC for 10 years and now my body hates me. I had major headache problems so I switched to an IUD (and no, I haven’t had children yet). The IUD helps with the bad migraines but not the little daily headaches, so now I’m seeing a naturopathic physician and taking some bioidentical progesterone to try and balance my levels naturally. It’s taking time but other than my face breaking out like mad, my head feels better.

    I still haven’t had a period in almost a year, which is very common with an IUD, though I can’t say I feel great about it.

    I think my body just wants to make babies. Babies babies babies. And it’s in mutiny because I’m not letting it do its thang.

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 12:10 pm

      I want to make babies babies babies too!

      • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey December 29, 2010, 6:42 pm

        me too (maybe not quite yet though) so that is why I OBSESS about not getting it… which might be adding to the cause.

  • gabriella @ embracement December 29, 2010, 12:09 pm

    I’ve loved reading these posts. I have suffered from amenorrhea since I was 15 years old. I got my period for a couple of years regularly and then it disappeared and never came back. I have been on the pill since I was 16 and I am now 21. Before I went on it, both my nurse practitioner and OB tested my hormones and worked together to find the pill that was right for me. My FSH and LH levels were no where near normal for my age. My weight was never an issue. The pill worked great for 4 years and then I stopped getting a period even when on the pill. Although this is common for a lot of people, it really concerned me when I wasn’t getting my period at all again. I went off the pill in October because the only way to get an accurate read on my hormones is to be 3-month BC free. Last month I got my period for the first time in 7 years naturally. I was absolutely THRILLED. But, still, I want to start the pill again. My skin, like yours, is out of control. Also, with a cycle that is so irregular (and not being a fan of condoms), I really want the added protection. Since I have no intentions of having a baby any time soon (and am beginning half marathon training which I know will probably throw my hormones for a loop once again), I just really like the convenience of knowing when I’m going to get my period rather than being completely caught off guard. Of course this is going to be a conversation I have with my OB when I get my hormones checked again.

    In terms of jump starting your period, this is something I’ve always had to do. I went off the pill twice (once when I was in Italy and couldn’t renew my prescription and now), and it is impossible for me to track when I should start it again because of the FSH and LH levels in my body. So I just start it on a Sunday and it takes about a cycle or two for my body to adjust. But that’s just my personal, long-winded experience!

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 12:18 pm

      You should like a perfect candidate to try Oriental Medicine, honestly. You should look into it!

  • Ella December 29, 2010, 12:09 pm

    I’m sorry this has been such a struggle for you!
    This has been something I’ve been wondering about recently too..Feb. is the 3 year mark for me for being on BC and I know I don’t want kids for at least five more years (I’ll be 21 in a month). I’m worried that I will have been on the pill for too long at that point, but at the same time I’m a junior in college theres no way I can handle a baby right now..Its difficult.

  • Carolyn @ Lovin' Losing December 29, 2010, 12:10 pm

    I had been considering going off HBC (Nuvaring) due to family history of cancer, but I wasn’t confident in my ability to do charting. Then I read your post about the LadyComp. I ended up finding a pre-owned (but not used) one on Amazon for only $200. I waited until my prescription ran out to start using it. I’ve now been off HBC for a month. My period came right on time and I thought I would break out and have a horrible period, but it wasn’t bad at all. Here’s hoping it stays that way.

  • Ilana December 29, 2010, 12:10 pm

    Your doc had no reason to be worried about your “out of whack” hormones, especially based on the conditions you already stated in this post. Regulated hormones are an ideal situation, but irregularity in hormonal cycles is completely natural and normal.
    I went off the pill for about six months because I was going CRAZY – like totally psychotic – and decided to eliminate what I could. It did help, but the pregnancy fears and not knowing when my period would come stressed me out so much that I went back to my gyno and discussed it and went on a different pill. I’m just at the end of 3 months of trial and I think I’m going to continue….uh no babies for me yet thanks.

    • Lisa December 29, 2010, 3:14 pm

      I had a similar experience. The emotional hell I experienced was AWFUL!

  • Taysa December 29, 2010, 12:12 pm

    I really appreciate this series of posts and your honesty with them. I’ve been on birth control since I was 14 due to having ovarian cysts. I was given one of the best OB/GYN doctors in the country back then due to my young age. She put me on birth control to “calm down my system.” I only went off once, for awhile when I didn’t have insurance, but then was able to go back on after visiting Planned Parenthood. I have never experienced the crazy reactions that some people talk about, but I’ve also asked my doctor to keep me on the lowest dosage possible. I realize there is a lot we don’t know about the long term effects, but it’s been 12 years and I’m still cyst (and baby) free, so for now I’m a fan.

  • Lacey @ Lake Life December 29, 2010, 12:12 pm

    I’ve been on the pill since I was 12 or 13 (for acne at that time). The only time I had trouble was when I was switched from name-brand to generic which caused stomach issues and mood swings. Now I’m back on my regular old Ortho-TriCyclen and haven’t had any issues.

  • Alyssa December 29, 2010, 12:13 pm

    I just find it odd that so many women are on birth control for so long, have no idea what their natural cycles are like, and like you, have bad side effects when NOT on it. It seems that half the country uses hormones to control their cycles– what did we do pre-BC? I was on BC for just a few months several years ago but b/c of side effects (blood pressure) my doctor advised me to stop. My boyfriend and I use condoms, but aren’t particularly fond of them. I’m scheduled to get an IUD next month. For long term birth control without the higher levels of hormones, it seems to be the best option. Any other’s have experience with Mirena?

    • Lacey @ Lake Life December 29, 2010, 12:17 pm

      I’ve had issues with high blood pressure as a long-time doctor didn’t even put 2 and 2 together. I guess that just proves how important reading the fine print is!

      One of my best friend’s had an IUD for a couple years but it made her lose her period so she would stress out and end up taking a pregnancy test every month. She recently had it removed and went on the pill.

      Good luck!

      • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 12:19 pm

        If you search the previous Big Birth Control comments for Mirena, I know some other people have discussed it before.

      • Lacey @ Lake Life December 29, 2010, 12:19 pm

        That’s supposed to say “long-time OCP user and my” doctor didn’t even put 2 and 2 together.

    • Ilana December 29, 2010, 12:29 pm

      I don’t think they’re really “bad” side effects- it can often take more than six months for your body to learn how to regulate itself after being artificially regulated for so long. Breaking out and irregular periods suck but it’s not like they’re the end of the world, although so many women are used to the birth control regulating everything that a body’s natural response might be alarming, especially for someone used to having clear skin and knowing exactly what day of the month they’re due to begin menstruation.

      • Alyssa December 29, 2010, 12:33 pm

        Oh, I TOTALLY agree. I think some women who become accustomed to being on it end up having a harder time with their “natural” cycle. I made this comment slightly tongue-in-cheek– I don’t think that the majority of women using hormones simply for regulation is a great thing. For horrible periods/cramps/etc, it certainly makes sense, and from a birth control standpoint, it’s a great option. But simply for regulation… I’m not so sure (no offense, just my opinion!)

    • Angela December 29, 2010, 1:38 pm

      Hi Alyssa,

      I used the other IUD, Paragard (the copper one), for seven years. I debated between Mirena and Paragard but ultimately went with Paragard because I really wanted to be totally off the hormones, and Mirena has a low dose of hormones that are released into the body. Mirena can stay in the body up to 5 years, while Paragard can stay in for up to 10 years. I was on Pargard for seven years, from the time I was 23 until I was 30. I was so happy with it. My only issues was that cramps with the IUD were more severe than they had been when I was on the pill prior to getting the IUD, but it honestly wasn’t that bad and I adjusted to it quickly. I didn’t have to think about or pay for birth control for seven years, and when my husband and I decided we were ready to have children a few months ago, I got pregnant the same day I got the IUD out! It was crazy how fast it happened, but with the IUD there are no withdrawal periods or having to “get it out of your system” before you can achieve pregnancy.

      Getting the IUD put it in a little uncomfortable but it’s over in just a minute. It’s nothing you haven’t felt before if you usually have cramps. Getting it out is even easier–it took my doctor about 5 seconds to remove it. She told me to cough, and with one strong cough, she pulled it out. It didn’t hurt at all.

      I’d recommend the IUD to anyone who is looking for long-term birth control, and the Paragard specifically to people who have had trouble with hormone-based BC in the past. It really is a great option.

    • Kate December 29, 2010, 2:42 pm

      I was on the Pill for about 8 years before going off of them to get pregnant with my son in 2008. It took 6 months of actively *trying* before we conceived. After he was born, I had Mirena put in because I wanted to be able to get pregnant *rightaway* the second we were ready to try for #2, which my OB assured me you can do with Mirena. I didn’t have a period at all with Mirena for about a year, then suddenly started having normal periods. This kind of worried me because I was always told you have no period with Mirena. I was also used to not having to deal with cramping or PMS from the Pill….not so with Mirena. Aside from these issues, I did enjoy not having to think about our contraception while on Mirena, and as someone else mentioned, it could’ve stayed in for up to 5 years. I had it removed in July and we did not actively try to conceive…but just found out we are pregnant with baby #2. Overall, Mirena worked for me and I will probably go on it again after baby #2 arrives.

      One word of caution — Mirena is not recommended for use by women who have NOT had a child yet, as it can sometimes aggravate infertility problems. A friend of mine had in vitro with her first child and her doctor recommended Mirena for her post baby #1….it took them 2+ years to conceive baby #2 once it was removed, and she was furious that her doctor had not let her know about the aggravation of fertility issues.

      • kalin December 29, 2010, 8:13 pm

        it’s not fertility issues that make IUDs not recommended for women w/out kids (IUDs are common in many countries for women who have not had children, with no major issues), it has to do with the fact that having a baby changes your uterus, and so it may not fit well/be painful/come out easier if you haven’t (source: )

    • Shannon December 29, 2010, 2:50 pm


      I have an IUD (mirena) and I LOVE it. I had it put in in July, and haven’t had a period since August (I spotted for about a month after having it put in. Before getting the IUD I experienced extremely painful and irregular periods that would make me sick the entire time I was menstruating (but I didn’t have any cysts, or endometriosis.) I wasn’t willing to go on the pill because of the hormones, so my doctor recommended Mirena because it’s lower hormones, and in women my size (I’m 4’11 and very petite) it usually takes away your period completely within a year. The insertion of the IUD was EXTREMELY painful, especially since I have never had children, but completely worth it. I no longer get my period, so I no longer get sick, bloated, or moody each month. I definitely recommend it!

      • Alyssa December 29, 2010, 2:55 pm

        Thanks, all, for very helpful replies!

        Angela– I decided against the Paraguard for the reasons you mention: I know it can cause heavier periods and worse cramps (not like mine naturally are bad AT ALL, so it would probably be fine, but it makes me nervous!)

        Kate– good to know about the fertility issues that can be associated with Mirena. I haven’t had children, and am not planning on having children for 5 years + (if ever). If the IUD makes it more difficult to have children in the future, I’m actually not opposed to that.

        Shannon– I’m so glad to hear that you’ve had a positive experience with Mirena. I know the insertion is very painful, and I’m bracing myself for that (and for the several weeks of cramps and spotting that I’ve heard is very common). Not getting a period is not a problem for me (as long as I know the IUD is still there and working!), so I wouldn’t mind if that happens to me (although I’m a larger person than you (5’6″) so who knows?) I’ve heard the Mirena is sometimes associated with weight gain and depression, both of which I’m more than a little concerned about, but I suppose it can’t be totally side effect-free. I figure if it doesn’t work for me after a year, I’ll have it removed.

        • Cynthia (It All Changes) December 29, 2010, 5:01 pm


          I’m 5’6″ and have Mirena and it did stop my periods. Occasionally I’ll have spotting but very rarely.

          I actually lost weight after having it inserted (I was trying to do so) and my depression didn’t worsen (I’m being treated for it).

          The insertion is horribly the after a day or so I was fine. 5 years worry free is great. And my GYN checks it at my annual exam to make sure it is still properly placed.

        • Wendy December 29, 2010, 7:53 pm

          Mirena stopped my periods, I have no cramping, no weight gain (due to the IUD, at least), and no problems with depression. I don’t know how much size has to do with it – I am 5’10”. Insertion was only mildly painful for me, and the cramping afterward wasn’t bad, but I had delivered a 9+ lb baby a couple months before!

  • Camille December 29, 2010, 12:14 pm

    Thanks for giving such an honest opinion of birth control methods.
    I have found that the pill doesn’t work for me. I was on it for a few months at the insistence of my boyfriend and I swear I just cried for like, 2 months. It threw my hormones completely out of whack and I physically didn’t feel like myself. I felt like I was wandering around in someone else’s body. Luckily my boyfriend was very understanding and he was happy that I tried it. It took about 6 months after going off the pill for me to feel normal again… aka, it took longer to recover than I was actually on it.
    We, of course, practice safe sex and we find that condoms are the best option for us. I think we are more okay with not being on birth control because, though kids aren’t on the agenda right now, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we did get pregnant. Not to say that we aren’t careful, because we are (probably more so than most people) but we have discussed having kids and we both know that we want them, any “accident” would simply put us a few years ahead of schedule.

    Thanks again!

  • Annie December 29, 2010, 12:15 pm

    As someone with a family history of ovarian cancer, I think it’s important to point out that BC has been consistently shown to reduce the risk in developing ovarian and endometrial cancers. In fact, increasing the duration of being on the Pill provides greater “protection” against developing the disease. After much discussion with my doctor, I know that I will likely continue to take BC for most of my life.

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 12:19 pm

      This is true! My doctor told me this when I said I was concerned about going back on it.

    • Julie P December 29, 2010, 12:21 pm

      Good point. I was put on BC at the age of 15 because my mother had ovarian cancer. I’m still on BC at the age of 34. I often wonder about the hormones and negative effects….but I know in my situation, I should stay on BC long-term.

      • Julie @ Peanut Butter Fingers December 29, 2010, 1:19 pm

        unfortunately the pill is also linked to an increased risk of breast cancer… though the risk appears to decrease once women went off the pill for 10 years:

        • Julie P December 29, 2010, 4:06 pm

          I’ve read this also. I guess it really depends on your situation what’s best. In my case, I have a very high chance of getting ovarian cancer which is very hard to diagnose and is difficult to treat.

      • Kimberly December 29, 2010, 2:09 pm

        My mom is currently in remission from ovarian cancer. When I asked my doctor if there was anything I could do to reduce my risk, he said no, and recommended an IUD (with no hormones) since I was wary of hormones. I now have an IUD and am happy with it, I never have to worry and get my periods consistently. But after researching BC and finding that it reduces the risk, now I wonder if I should choose BC instead.

    • Rachel S December 29, 2010, 3:21 pm

      I am in the allied health field, and I have had a 22 year old patient who had a stroke caused by her birth control. Unfortunately the risks outweigh the pros for me.

      • Annie December 29, 2010, 11:26 pm

        I also work in an allied health profession. While the case of the 22 year old you speak of is certainly tragic, many more things could have been at play. Was she a smoker? Did she have any predisposition to clotting disorders? Those factors combined with the birth control may well have caused the stroke. I just think it’s important to remember that people need to make their health decisions based on their own research, beliefs and consultation with their medical professionals.

  • Stephanie @ Confessions of a Trophy Wife December 29, 2010, 12:16 pm

    I was on BCP for years… like 10 maybe? Anyway, I stopped taking them in August 2008 in hopes of getting pregnant and at the same time I read up on the FAM and began charting to TTC.

    It took my body a long time to adjust to coming off the pills, much longer than they say it will, and I guess I’m just unlucky that way because I know that it varies from woman to woman. I also went through trouble with my period being irregular, although not as bad as you, and major skin issues, no fun.

    But 10 months later, we finally conceived our son who was born in Febrary 2010. Once I was cleared by my OB/GYN I went back on hormonal BCP because we absolutely did not want another baby so soon after our first and considering the crazy schedule you have with a newborn in the house it just seemed like the best option for us.

    Now that he is 10 months old and our schedule has calmed down (he has been sleeping through the night for a while now, which as you probably know is very important to tracking your BBT) I’m planning to return to the FAM, this time to avoid pregnancy, after I finish this month’s pack of pills.

    I have mixed feelings, I really want to get off BCP. I don’t like relying on artificial hormones and it took me so long for my body to recover from them the first time that it scares me that it will affect future pregnancies. But at the same time, after using BCP to avoid pregnancy for 10+ years and only being off it for the purpose of achieving pregnancy it’s going to be quite the change to rely on my own body, and my knowledge of it to avoid pregnancy.

    Have you ever looked into something like the non-hormonal IUD? Admittedly, I don’t know much about it, but I’ve heard that some women really like it. Although, it may not be the best option for you since you’re hoping to TTC within the next year.

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 12:21 pm

      I did look into it but I am really not down with putting something in my body, at all. Especially considering that I have scar tissue on my cervix already from a LEEP procedure… I know some women love it but it really freaks me out.

      • Angela December 29, 2010, 1:41 pm

        I wrote a reply to Alyssa’s comment above about Paragard, the non-hormone IUD. I used it for 7 years, LOVED it, the time came to start a family, and I got pregnant the day I got it out. It worked like a charm, and I’d recommend it highly–although it can be freaky to think about having something in your body for so long! And it might not be the best option for you if you are hoping to get pregnant next year. The cost is a few hundred, which is great if you are going to use it for several years, but if you would only need it for several months, it might not make sense.

      • caronae December 29, 2010, 10:30 pm

        I got the ParaGard IUD about two months ago. It might seem a little invasive, ideologically, but it honestly is completely harmless (there are, of course, possible complications of insertion, but once it is in correctly, it isn’t going to have long term effects, besides minor scarring, which would be worse if you had an STD). It is about the size of a penny; I never feel it. The only difference is the heavier periods and cramping (which are, admittedly, unpleasant, but if you really want the hormones out of your body it isn’t a huge deal). It cost me $25 for 10 years of worry-free BC. I’m very health conscious and honestly don”t think it will have any serious side effects over a large population. My mom’s a doctor, and I discussed it thoroughly with both her and my GYN. It’s actually the most common BC type around the world.

        For people like me who can’t take hormones for whatever reason (in my case, a history of thrombolysis), it is such a convenient option — I think it might actually be more effective than the pill.

        Full-disclosure: I tend to be more of a pill-popper than a natural-remedy type, probably since my parents are both doctors and I just grew up around medicine and I genuinely believe in the science behind it. But I really don’t think it is going to harm me in the long term — I wouldn’t take it if I did. Ultimately, it’s an individual choice that I made and you will make as well. Good luck! Let me know if you have any questions about it. 🙂

  • Jessica @ Black Cat Kitchen December 29, 2010, 12:18 pm

    I had a similar experience about a year ago. I got so freaked out by being on Depo for so long (now, almost 10 years), that I went to my doc and demanded to go on BC pills. And I hated every single minute of it. With Depo, I don’t get my period, I don’t get mood swings, I didn’t gain weight, I felt normal. But with the BC pills, I was a raging bitch. I felt normal for all of about a week out of the month. After a few months of that, I figured I was better off with the ‘devil you know’ and went back on Depo. And I still love it – even though I battle with the fact of using unnatural hormones. But, my doc also explained to me that Depo was probably good for me because my grandma died of ovarian cancer (and depo essentially stops ovulation) and my mom had breast cancer (and depo lowers your estrogen levels). So … I say do whatever works best for you.

    • Lisa December 29, 2010, 3:17 pm

      Wow 10 years? I took Depo for 6 months and was a total neurotic, psychotic mess. It messed me up so bad! Plus I gained 40 pounds!!!

      • kalin December 29, 2010, 8:15 pm

        Lisa, you did depo too? Sounds like we had the same time (I gained ~20 pounds, was a constant crying mess)

  • Erica December 29, 2010, 12:22 pm

    I stopped taking BC last January because my periods had all but disappeared, and my husband and I wanted to start a family. It has taken a year for them to get back on track. I just had my first one a few days ago and plan to use FAM from now on. I tried using it when I first went off of BCP, but my cycles never came back so charting my temps seemed irrelevant.

    I had a similar experience as you with my gyno when I went to him with concerns about my abnormal cycles this fall (after 9 months of not being on BCP, I had only one cycle …). He just attributed it to my low weight (Right … I’m 5’4″ and 122) and working out (right again … I run 3 miles 3 times a week and do 2 days of strength – nothing major). He tested my hormones, they were all normal, and gave me a pill pack to see if I got withdrawal bleeding. That at least made me feel healthy, and so I knew that the periods would come back eventually. And now, they did!

    This series of posts has been really interesting. Thank you for alerting me to the FAM method!

  • Leanne December 29, 2010, 12:22 pm

    I talked to my doctor when I went in for my annual physical in November and she said that theres been many studies about how being on the pill can protect you from cervical cancer & how there’s been enough studies to show that in the long term it doesn’t harm you.

    I’ve been off of birth control for the last 2 years now and will most likely stay off bc for the rest of my life because I just feel better being off of them.

    I think that it’s important to talk to your doctor but also always listen to your gut. We can’t just do everything the doctor says (ex. the doc. saying he will give you a big dose of hormones to get your period going) but I think we can work alongside our doctor to give us the best chance at being healthy!

    • Lindsay January 1, 2011, 2:12 pm

      That’s kind of funny. I actually stopped taking birth control pills because I have a history of abnormal pap smears and was told that hormonal contraceptives increase your risk of cervical cancer. They don’t seem to be sure on why — either the hormones causing the cells to grow too fast or because it leaches vitamins from your body. So, I’m probably not going to take them again.

      But I agree about doctors. I listen to my doctor for the most part, but I also feel that it’s my responsibility to be informed and make choices because I’m sure that not everything doctors are taught is always the best for the person they’re treating.

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) December 29, 2010, 12:23 pm

    I was the girl that had the horrible periods with so much pain it was crippling. I stayed on the pill from the age of 16 until I was 22 (when I had my first son). I am sorry things got so out of whack for you, but I am glad you have found a way to make things better. I hated condoms too, so I totally get that and with the marathon training messing things up even more, it sounds like it was more stressful than healthy.

  • Jessica M December 29, 2010, 12:24 pm

    I have been on and off BC for about 8 years. I have gone off of them a couple of times- Once it was only 3 months or so. It took like 3 months to get my period after that! And the other time I went off it for longer… I think it was nearly a year that I was off of them. My period came back faster the second time, but initially I had HORRIBLE cramps. Like, the worst of my life.

    I went back on them about 6 months ago and everything is good. I wonder if they make me moody though. I cry very easily. I am a sensitive person, but BC may make it worse.

    Thank you for writing this series of blog posts! I hope everything works out for you guys!!

  • Jordan December 29, 2010, 12:24 pm

    Being a girl is such a pain, isn’t it?! Why don’t guys have to go through any of this crap?? 😉
    I went on the pill about a year ago to regulate my periods (I was having them WAY too often and it became unbearable), but after trying out a couple of pills I realized I absolutely hated it! It made me moody, it made me gain weight, and it didn’t really help my period problems. After going off, my periods evened out a little. But this past summer I began running a lot more than usual and I have now not had a period in a little over 3 months. It totally freaked me out, and I went and got blood work done last week. I am getting the results tomorrow…so we’ll see!! Hormones are such a crazy thing to have to deal with!! :-/

  • Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete December 29, 2010, 12:24 pm

    Yikes, well the last time I commented on this, I mentioned that my sister was using the FAM method, and that is how I got my 2 nephews.

    The hubs and I don’t need to be getting preggers at this time as well, and condoms don’t do it for us either (I don’t want to put out that bad example to peeps just entering into a sexual relationship, but we have know each other for 6 1/2 yrs and have gotten multiple STD tests — he is required due to his job every year- military and I’m paranoid like that). Anyway, you guys have got to do what is best for you both. If this works, then do it.

    I think it also depends on strong your BC is. Are you on a lower hormone dose or full strength?

    When I was on the patch, I gained a bunch of weight and bloated for the entire month except for the week that I took it off for my period. It is sad that the only week that I actually felt good was the week of my period.

    I’m on orthotricyclen-lo now and seems to regulate pretty well. Although, I do start my period sometimes a week early. Annoying, but I would rather deal with that than using more synthetic hormones.

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 12:25 pm

      I’m on regular ortho because the lo version isnt generic 🙁

  • Shannon December 29, 2010, 12:24 pm

    I’m a huge fan of BC, not really afraid to admit it. 🙂 I’ve been on it solid for more than 3 years now and probably won’t go off of it until I decide to try for having children – which won’t be for another several years I’d say! From what I’ve heard, it’s more dangerous to go on and off of it, so I feel better staying on it continually. A lot of my friends have had bad side effects from going on and off of it – nausea, headaches, losing their periods, appetite, etc. Yes it’s hormones, but sometimes…that’s life! And once I found a brand that I liked and that worked for me, I’ve been happy to say that I’ve had little to no problems with it. 🙂

  • LB December 29, 2010, 12:24 pm

    It took one year for my body to get itself balanced out after getting of BC. I have broken out, gotten cramps, and was moody. We have been TTC this whole time and i am shocked at how quickly doctors jumped to me needing hormones meds. Those were what got my body to this point! So frustrating. I now use the Creighton method and highly recommend it.

    • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey December 29, 2010, 6:49 pm

      I hate how easily doctors try to give you meds too – when I went in because I still hadn’t gotten my period, the doctor tried to give me mega hormones to induce my period. Then after she prescribed them, she said they “may or may not work” depending on if it had anything to do with my thyroid levels still being abnormal. Umm.. no thanks, I’m definitely NOT taking them!

  • Karen December 29, 2010, 12:25 pm

    I was on the pill for a solid 20 years before my husband and I decided to have kids. I never had any major issues with it, although my husband swore that for a week or so each month, I got “weird.” Like I lost my ability to feel or express emotions. I never noticed it.

    He said that went away after I went off the pill, so I never went back on it. After we had our 2 boys, I used the Mirena IUD for a while. That was nice. No crazy system-wide hormones, but reliable BC. (Although getting it inserted was NOT fun.) Then we decided to try for a third baby, so that came out. No third baby ever arrived, but my husband’s insurance doesn’t cover the cost of BC (he works for a Catholic school), and the Mirena isn’t cheap, so we haven’t been using anything.

    Well, we use the withdrawl method, I should say. But no external BC method or hormones. In 7 years, we haven’t had any issues at all. (He has excellent control. LOL!!) But we’re also in a place that if we did get pregnant again, it would ruin our lives, so…

    A friend of mine has been using NuvaRing for a long while now and really likes it.

    Thanks for being so open and honest all the time! I hope you continue to get great info from your readers:)

  • mary ann December 29, 2010, 12:26 pm

    Ireally hope this comes across right… but i was wondering if you ever considered the thought that women’s bodies werent built to be runners? I certainly dont have an opinion yet, but several of my naturopathic physicians have put the thought out there. I used to be a long distance runner for years, but it was just too taxing on my body. Not only did I struggle with shin splints and sprains, i also had a hard time maintaining a decent weight despite what i was eating. my period definitely stopped and my I got osteopenia. After a lot of difficult thought and discussion with several specialists, i finally decided that despite my love and passion for running, i simply couldnt tax my body anymore. one of the hardest decisions ive ever made. i now walk and do yoga but little else. maybe a hike every so often. my bones have gotten soooo much stronger and my period has returned to normal. i hate the thought of blaming my female body for having to give up running, but it was something i decided for myself that i had to do, especially if i ever wanted to have children. i am IN NO WAY preaching that this is the right/best solution, it was just necessary for me. I just thought it was interesting conversation with some professionals on how the female body simply wasnt constructed for the sport of running. have you ever heard of this idea? what do you think?

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 12:29 pm

      I have heard this argument and I definitely think its true that not everyone’s body is meant to be a long distance runner. I don’t think the issue is female-specific though.

    • Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete December 29, 2010, 12:37 pm

      That really sucks that that happened to you. I don’t know what I would do if that happened to me.

      I’m a long distance runner and I’m doing an Ironman next year in AZ. I don’t get shinsplints, and with proper resistance training and foam roller use, my knees are just fine. Of course, if one overtrains, it is only natural that the body starts to break down. I don’t think Caitlin’s was. I just think it changed her menstrual cycle.

      I had a friend that overtrained, and she ended up in the hospital with heart problems. A doctor could say to her that running is bad for her since that is what she was doing before she went to the hospital, but really, she wasn’t taking care of herself. I’m not saying this happened to you, but everyone is different.

      I really think it just depends on the individual, NOT the sex of the individual. 🙂

      • Whitney December 29, 2010, 2:16 pm

        I agree with these comments. In no way, shape or form does it have to do with being a female! I am a long distance runner (not on BC) and have never had any issues with missing a period, not having one, etc. It gives me the creeps to even hear this mentioned. It most definitely varies from person to person. If a woman can give birth than a woman can do anything!! 🙂

  • mary ann December 29, 2010, 12:29 pm

    ps: i too take bc for protection, now that i know my period is normal without it. i take a combo of progesterone and estrogen called necon777 that has been really consistent with preventing skin issues and pms.

    • Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete December 29, 2010, 12:38 pm

      Oh, and I thought you brought up the topic above in a nonconfrontational manner. I thought you did a great job of that! 😉

      • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 12:45 pm


  • Debbie December 29, 2010, 12:29 pm

    I had the same concerns because I was 36 and been on the pill since early 20’s…I thought it would be difficult for me to get pregnant given my age and the pill for so long. So my fiance and I decided to go off the pill and use the FAM method (probably should have waited until after the wedding in hindsight 🙂 I guess I did it wrong since I was pregnant the next month! We were shocked but extremely happy. I went back on the pill after my daughter was born and went off it again to have a second child…this time trying with the same method…and again I was pregnant with my son the first month. I know it is not the same for everyone, but the pill did not affect my fertility as I assumed…so do what is best for you and don’t worry about the pill.

  • Paige @Running Around Normal December 29, 2010, 12:31 pm

    Whoa, weird. I JUST went back on the pill this past Sunday. Only because I had a scare that made me realize how NOT ready I am to have kids (I’m married, so it’d be “ok but not ok” but then I realized it’d be more “not ok than ok” haha
    Plus, going to a one year old’s birthday party? FREE birth control.

  • Lisa December 29, 2010, 12:34 pm

    I’ve only been on the pill twice for 3 months at a time. I didnt like that I was putting artificial hormones into my body and it made me feel constantly sick!
    So, we used NFP and it worked well for 20 months of our marriage. Then, I ovulated 3 late(Which I never do so I didnt even check my temp) and now I’m 14 weeks pregnant! We’re totally happy and totally okay with Husband is 33 and I’m 27…we both have full-time careers. It honestly is a perfect time!

    As much as I’m against artificial hormones. If you are not in a position to have a baby I’d recommend being on the pill. Natural family planning is not 100% effective..I’m “Growing” out the proof of that!

    • Lisa December 29, 2010, 12:41 pm

      3 days late that is…

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 12:42 pm

      Congrats on the baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Marissa C December 30, 2010, 12:01 am

        Congratulations! But you cant really blame the method if you didn’t use it correctly (i.e. not checking the temp). That is like forgetting to take a pill, getting pregnant, and then blaming it on the pill. Ironically, the exact same thing happened to me this month–I ovulated 3 days later than usual, and it was the temp the tipped me off–I actually want back ~15 months in my charts and found another month where the same thing happened.

        • Marissa C December 30, 2010, 12:02 am

          PS–I hope this doesn’t come off as bitchy. My parents have been NFP “promoters” (basically a volunteer support role for the Catholic version of NFP), so I am passionate about the subject.

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey December 29, 2010, 12:34 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been off of BC pills since February. I had my period ONCE since then (right after), but nothing after it. I thought it was due to half marathon training, so I bumped up calories big time. Still nothing. After I got married, I finally went back in and found out my thyroid levels were out of whack. It was a big decision for me (as I’m sure you know because I spoke with your hubby about it) but I decided to go on thyroid hormones until after we have kids. My levels are teetering on normal ranges right now, so hopefully once they are normal, I will finally get my period again. I have a feeling I will NEVER go on birth control again. It made me a crazy person and really “covered” up a huge medical concern!

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 12:42 pm

      I’m so glad you figured out what was really wrong with you and now can take steps to heal it!

  • Theresa @ActiveEggplant December 29, 2010, 12:34 pm

    I’ve been off of the pill for years now (since shortly after getting married) and I totally see the difference in my skin AND in PMS symptoms. My skin looks atrocious the week before my period (and sometimes just randomly) & I definitely retain water/bloat a lot. And within the past year or so I’ve started getting cramps again! It amazes me that after this long I’m still seeing changes in my cycle now that I’m off of the pill.

    When I was on the pill, my biggest complaint was that I would get super bad headaches the week during my period. Also, if I was even 3 hours later than normal taking the pill, I would get breakthrough bleeding or start my period early. I actually had to use an alarm to make sure I took it at the same time every day. (I’m apparently very sensitive to the levels of hormones in the pill, so as soon as the level dipped even a little my body though it was time for a period.)

    We’re ok with getting pregnant now, but I don’t know yet what I’ll do sometime down the road after we do have a baby – I don’t want to go on the pill again (the risk of complications from it go up now that I’m over 30), but I don’t want to NOT be on the pill either because it’s such a sure-fire method of BC.

    It’s definitely a tough decision – so thanks a bunch for sharing your experience with all of us – it helps to see what other couples do/think in the same scenario.

    • Baking 'n' Books December 29, 2010, 1:59 pm

      This is very interesting! This is what I was thinking and where I get so confused.

      Some people find being ON the pill causes hormonal imbalances, skin, weight problems, mood swings, etc…but then you hear it from the other side that the pill helps to stabilize all that!

      I was put on the pill years ago specifically to help with skin, mood, hormones, and regulation of my period…was on for years, went off for awhile , but then went back on.

      I seen a Naturopath a few years ago – long story! – but mostly for depression issues – and she told me to go OFF the pill! That it wasn’t “natural” and was causing a lot of issues….

      Interesting because your Husband is into the Holistic Medical Practice right?? So what is beliefs are about this?

      I haven’t been back on since, but my periods aren’t consistent and …well, I don’t know anymore really!!! Ugh – I give up!

      Great post Caitlin – very honest and quite a discussion topic! …and at the risk of your pa reading!!! 🙂

      • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 2:26 pm

        He really isn’t a fan of me being on BC but… I think it’s the best decision.

      • Christine December 29, 2010, 2:34 pm

        My Naturopath tells me the same thing – that it is playing God and I should get off them. But – I no longer have migraines, am not extremely moody 3 out of 4 weeks a month and don’t have horrible cramps and heavy periods anymore. I feel like my quality of life is 100% better on birth control.

  • Amber - Blonde and Balanced December 29, 2010, 12:36 pm

    Hi Caitlin!

    I am loving these BC posts, as it has been a big topic in my life over the past year.

    Last year, I went off the pill, because, like you, I didn’t want hormones in my body. My experience was both similar and not so similar to your experience. Luckily, my cycle has always been ridiculously regular, so that was all good after I went off the pill. BUT, I broke out SOOOO badly like you said you did, too!! Like, it was the worst it’s ever been in my life! I get 1-2 breakouts the week before my period (on the pill), but nothing crazy … EVER.

    Needless to say, it was depressing. So, I went back on the pill and am very happy with how my skin looks.

    However, I’m getting married in June, and I want to give the no hormone thing a go again (because we did have a lot of success with the whole charting thing). So, after the wedding, I’m going off the pill (I refuse to go off the pill BEFORE the wedding and have my face be a mess at the wedding. ha). I’m hoping to give it more time and see if maybe, just maybe my body will naturally balance out if I give it more time.

    The ONLY thing that helped my skin when I was not on the pill was ZERO SUGAR. Sucks, but it works. Sugar does aggravate any skin issues, especially breakouts. So, after I go off the pill, I hope to take it easy on the sugar and see if that helps … fingers crossed! I’d love to not have to deal with the pill ever again! : D

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could slowly ween (sp?) ourselves off the pill instead of just going cold turkey and having our body freak out?? One can dream … 🙂

  • Beth @ Will Run for Books December 29, 2010, 12:36 pm

    I’m on the Pill (ortho lo) not only for contraception reasons but also because I get absolutely terrible, debilitating cramps (like can’t get out of bed, feel like i’m going to throw up, curled into a ball cramps) and naturally, i get my period every 21 days, which is awful. despite the horomones, it’s the only thing that works so i can’t imagine not being on it, with the exception of when i have children.

  • Kelly December 29, 2010, 12:38 pm

    I went off mine for a month, my skin freaked out and I was sweating through ever shirt I owned! My hormones freaked completely. I’m no where ready for babies, so I’m back on now, but crazy to see what the pill can do. Thanks for being so honest with us!

  • Mercedes December 29, 2010, 12:39 pm

    Hi Caitlyn –
    I had written a comment after one of your previous posts on the topic, and I still completely relate to your predicament. It took me a solid YEAR of acupuncture to regulate my cycle (and this was after a previous year of irregular periods – I only had 3 or 4 bleeds the entire year after stopping BC – nuva ring). But I can say that after 12 months of acupuncture (and some herbs), and tracking my temp/using FAM, I think it’s close to evening out. However, I still ovulate “late” (anywhere between days 16 and 22) and I’ve had longer cycles than I ever used to. Also, I was experiencing skin problems too but they’ve almost disappeared now…so I think what I’m getting at is that it took a full YEAR for my body to even attempt to get “normal” (or what is normal for me) again. Even just in the past 3 or 4 cycles have I started to notice cervical fluid, when I never used to before.

    It’s been a LONG and stressful road back to getting my normal cycle back after 8ish years on and off birth control. After all this, I can’t really see going back on hormones, though I’m not married and I *completely* understand the hassle of condoms. It sounds like for your current situation, you’re making the best decision for you. I think we ALL relate to how difficult this topic is, and the right answer for each of us varies and different periods in our lives. GOOD LUCK and you’re SO lucky to have ready access to acupuncture! It literally saved me 🙂
    Happy New Year!

  • nicole December 29, 2010, 12:39 pm

    Thanks for sharing this! I’m always wondering how bad putting hormones in my body is. I know you aren’t necessarily an advocate for BC, but it’s somewhat calming that you decided to go back on, especially since you and your husband seem to be very educated on the subject.

  • Kalli@fitandfortysomething December 29, 2010, 12:44 pm

    Oh Caitlin, this is a great topic! I love reading all the comments and how much we all share in common-young and old. I am 40 years old and STILL battle with this issue. I have been on the pill for over 20 years now. have tried to go off of it twice in my life. The first time, I was like you-in my twenties- and thought I had been on the pill too long so I tried the diaphragm. Ugh that was the worst. Then two summers ago I decided to try again. Instead of the diaphragm I got the nonhormonal IUD put in. I was determined to be hormone free for once in my life. THAT WAS A NIGHTMARE. It hurt like hell and I had them take it out. Then I waited for my period to come-it never did-to go back on the pill. I just ended up starting the pill regardless. I always feel better on the pill, never get cramps, short periods and clear skin. Though I will always wonder…….
    Thanks for letting me share!

  • Caitlin @ Caitlin Running December 29, 2010, 12:44 pm

    I also went off the Pill about 2 months ago and had a slight freak out moment because I have yet to start Aunt Flo yet; however, all tests I’ve taken have been negative. While I’m not up to 60+ days like you, I’m starting to understand what a difficult time this might be for my husband and I. Lucky for me we aren’t trying to get pregnant, but we’re also prepared for it to happen. Thanks for putting this post out here at just the right time!

  • Kate @ Spoonful of Vigor December 29, 2010, 12:45 pm

    I went off the pill for a couple weeks about a month ago. It wasn’t purposeful; mostly, my libido had been really low and I was a little lazy about stopping at the pharmacy to pick up my prescription. Well, my libido came back with a vengeance! I’m back on the pill now but seriously considering the non-hormonal IUD. I’m about 1.5 years away from finishing my PhD, which will be followed by at least another year of post-doc work, so I’m nowhere near ready to have a baby.

    I also wanted to comment on your experience with your gyno… sounds like a fairly typical experience, which definitely doesn’t make it okay! I can’t find the article right now, but we read this article in my psych of women seminar about how gynecologists tend to not pay much attention to the side effects of birth control pills because they’re generally accepted to be safe and effective. This is anecdotal, but I know a lot of women who’ve felt dismissed when talking to their doctor about birth control concerns. I think the way birth control is perceived is a sort of microcosm of the way women’s health issues are perceived in general; that is, women’s health is seen as something secondary or abnormal and not as the health of half of the population.

    Phew! I could talk about this stuff for hours.

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 12:48 pm

      I agree with you 1000000% re: my doctor’s behavior. This is exactly what I do not trust most doctors (not trying to insult anyone). I feel like doctors never pay attention to what you say at all, instead they just rely on statistical evidence. It’s really frustrating. That doctor also enjoys talking over me.

      • Katie December 29, 2010, 1:55 pm

        I think doctor’s do pay attention to a certain extent, but it has to be incredibly frustrating to be a doctor and have people come in to your office to consult you and then try to do your job for you. there aren’t many other professions where that happens.

        it’s not necessarily right that doctors seemingly don’t listen, but they must get tired of people telling them how to do their job, too.

        • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 2:00 pm

          While I agree with some of what you said, especially re: Dr. Google. However, “paying attention to a certain extent” is seriously not what I want out of a doctor (or pay for!!). I want someone who will pay 100% attention to what I say.

        • Katie December 29, 2010, 2:04 pm

          Touche – you are right and I completely agree!

      • Natalie December 29, 2010, 2:16 pm

        Is it possible for you to find another gyno? I think you would feel MUCH better if you had a doctor who actually 1)gave a shit, and 2)truly understood what you were talking about. I actually go to the nurse practitioner/midwife at my gynecology practice (I think most large practices w/ multiple docs usually have at least one on staff), and I did the same at a previous practice I was with. I’ve absolutely LOVED both of them. The one I see now listens to everything I have to say, spends lots of time talking to all her patients and therefore has good tips and advice to answer any questions I might have, complete with real-world examples she’s seen, and best of all, she’s a woman, so she truly understands where I’m coming from. She’s also affiliated with a large university hospital (I’m in a metro area, so I think this is common), so he regularly works with top researchers and doctors talking about the latest advances and studies. And, she not at all adverse to trying natural methods to issues–I told her about chronic yeast infections my sister has been having and she totally gave me a “prescription” for a cure–garlic pills!

        Seriously, do yourself a favor and ditch the doc. You’ll feel better for it.

        And also, have you considered the Nuva Ring? I recently switched to it after almost 9 years on Ortho (including the generic) and seriously, I wish I’d been on it sooner. Low-dose hormones with NO side effects on my part…and no remembering to take a pill every day.

        • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 2:18 pm

          I definitely will ditch the doc down the road – he was no bueno.

        • alli December 29, 2010, 2:53 pm

          i agree about ditching the doc 🙂 you are the employer, so you deserve to get the treatment you want/deserve!
          i left my gyno earlier this year and switched to a midwife (who also delivered my baby 3 month ago) i find that overall she cares a whole heck of a lot more about me than my previous dr. did. we have real conversations, and i consider her a friend- in fact we are “facebook friends” :). in my experience the midwifery model of care far exceeds that of any other health care professional that i’ve personally associated with.
          good luck! 🙂

    • elaine! December 29, 2010, 9:43 pm

      Yeah, reading your account of the doctor visit, it got me thinking about how doctors tend to treat your body like a machine. No period? No problem! They’ve got a massive injection to take care of that.

      I know a doctor will never intentionally neglect someone’s health, but a lot of doctors don’t keep very good track of the overall picture… sometimes because patients are intimidated and don’t want to share too much personal info, but sometimes just because the doctor doesn’t seem to care.

      That said, I think it’s funny you want to go back on b.c. to get your periods back. 🙂 There’s no reason you need to have a period on hormonal birth control. I’ve wanted to switch to a b.c. that just eliminates it altogether, but the last time I switched b.c.’s, I turned into a fat, angry mess. And I guess getting your period is cheaper than taking a pregnancy test every month if you’re worried about accidents.

      I often wonder if my periods would be regular if I wasn’t on birth control.

  • Sarah @ Long Legs Healthy Life December 29, 2010, 12:49 pm

    Thank you for being so honest and sharing your experiences Caitlin. Last year I tried to go off the Pill for the first time in 10 years because it gives me wicked migraines. My skin was horrible, I was moody, my migraines got worse, and my periods were wonky. I went back on after 3 months, and stayed on for a year, stopping again this September. After reading your posts about it, I bought taking charge of your fertility, and started to use the FAM method. This time around, my migraines are all but gone, my skin has evened out, and my periods are coming at regular intervals. I’m telling you all this because I truly believe that my body wasn’t ready to handle going off the Pill last year, but it was this year. When the time is right for you, your body will let you know. It’s good that you’re following your instincts vs. following what your Dr said, especially giving you a megadose of hormones to kick-start your period. Imagine what else it would do to your body if it can make your period start!!

  • Mellissa December 29, 2010, 12:49 pm

    Due to a relationship ending I just went back on the pill after using FAM for almost a year. It is Day 3 and as of right now I am feeling ok but a bit hormonal. Hopefully I won’t have crazy side effects like I did before.

  • Suzanne December 29, 2010, 12:51 pm

    We tried the natural family planning method to try to prevent. We now have two boys (used it in combination with spermicide). My cycles are just too irregular to be able to predict it accurately. Now that we’re done having kids I had a tubal ligation. It’s nice to not have to worry. I’m glad you made the decision that’s best for you. Having unpredictable periods can be very stressful.

    When I was 20, I was exercising about six hours a week and eating around 1400 calories a day. Once I got below 130 pounds (I’m 5’5″) I lost my period. It was gone for over a year. I’m not sure why I lost it, I wasn’t overexercising or undereating. I wasn’t underweight based on the charts, but I didn’t get it back until I regained some weight.

    • Baking 'n' Books December 29, 2010, 2:04 pm

      Yes, it’s trick isn’t it? It also may not just be a factor of weight at all – but of what you eat. I.e. Not eating enough fats in your diet. Even increasing the fat content (not necessarily upping calories! – but decreasing protein for more carbs and fats) can make a difference…

      • Clare December 29, 2010, 10:21 pm

        Agree, agree, agree. I had the same experience as Suzanne, above, and I have come to conclude that that it was because I was eating too little, too lowfat in combination with regular, moderate exercise. For me there seems to be some pre-determined weight (at which I’m certainly not too thin), below which I cease to get my period. When I gained a few pounds (via adding more healthy fats), the problem disappeared.
        I’m also another fan of the pill. I’ve used it on and off for 15 years and had no problems going off it to have my three kids. I’ve gone back on it now (we’re DONE) and will continue for as long as I’m able as I feel better on it than off.

  • Jackie W. December 29, 2010, 12:51 pm

    I was recently on birth control to regulate a hormone in my adrenal gland. About a month after I started on the birth control, I started getting terrible migraines once or twice a week. Even with excedrin and sleep, they wouldn’t always go away, as had previously happened for me in the past. After finally becoming sick from Excedrin one morning, I went to my college’s Student Health Center. I’d expected to hear the headaches were from stress, (I’m a college senior, involved in many activities). She gave me a prescription for a medicine to take when I got headaches, and wanted me to get a neurology consult, just in case. 2 MRIs later, I found out I had a blood clot in one of the sinus veins in my brain, caused by the birth control. The migraines, since they were not where the clot was, were not a symptom of the clot, so I showed ultimately no symptoms. Luckily, I didn’t have a stroke, as they put me in ICU initially for worry of that. I was in the hospital for a week and got out a week ago. As an RA, I now plan to do programs for my residents about birth control. To me, it’s no longer worth the risk. Hopefully, with blood thinner medication, I’ll be back to normal in 3-6 months.

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 1:13 pm

      Ohmigod that blood clot is sooo scary!!!

      • Julie @ Peanut Butter Fingers December 29, 2010, 1:24 pm

        eek! were you taking yaz by any chance? i read a lot about yaz specifically being linked to a lot of cardiovascular issues (including pulmonary embolism).

        • Jackie W. December 29, 2010, 2:28 pm

          I was on Yaz three years ago for about four months because of amenorrhea. However, I was just on Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo. My endocrinologist and neurologist both said it was such a low dosage of birth control they were shocked it could have caused it. I too have seen those claims about Yaz, and just recently reported to the FDA what happened to me.

        • Sarah December 30, 2010, 9:17 am

          Jackie W, are you saying that your doctors think the recent clot is related to the Yaz that you took for a short time several years ago? Just wondering if the side effects can last that long?! I just got off of Yasmin earlier this year and wonder what the long-term effects might be.

  • Erin December 29, 2010, 12:53 pm

    I share in your woes…big time. I was on BC for awhile, but I was having dizzy spells and blackouts from it. Several expensive tests and visits to the doctor later, we discovered that it was the pills. I stopped taking them in September, and my skin immediately freaked out. I never had breakouts in my life and suddenly at 30 years old I felt like a hormonal teenager. I’m concerned because my period still hasn’t returned, and I do want to try for a baby soon. I am still researching the heck out of any natural rememdies I can find. I did read that taking wild yam can regulate periods (and if you take enough, it can act like BC), and I started to take them about a week ago. Nothing to report so far though!

  • Wendy December 29, 2010, 12:55 pm

    I am married with two kids, and currently have a Mirena IUD. I LOVE it, and highly recommend it, unless you are really attached to your period. I no longer have periods, or any PMS-type symptoms, only a bit of spotting here and there. It’s a low, localized dose of hormones. It’s also awesome to not have to worry about taking pills, using condoms, or anything. It’s really a great option for when your pretty sure you’re done having kids, but don’t want to take any permanent steps.

    I’m not critizing your decision at ALL, but I wonder if your period would straighten itself out naturally now that you’re no longer training so intensely?

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 1:14 pm

      Maybe and that’s definitely something I struggled with… Should I just wait and see what happens? But there were so many other factor (sex life) that I just decided the Pill right now was the best option.

  • Emily December 29, 2010, 12:57 pm

    Oh my gosh, thank you for this post! This is almost my exact story. I went off birth control two years ago for similar reasons- I’d been on it for years (at first to “fix” irregular periods), wasn’t comfortable with the idea of synthetic hormones, etc. But since I’ve been off it, it’s been a nightmare. HORRIBLE skin (cystic acne), periods are still irregular, and my emotions are nearly out of control. It sucks because I still don’t want to go back on it, but it does seem really appealing right now. Especially if I begin a relationship at any point- god willing!!

    OK just wanted to say thanks for letting me know that I’m not alone! I’m off to read the comments.

  • Rebeccajs December 29, 2010, 12:57 pm

    It has been really interesting following your experience with ending BC and trying FAM. When you initially posted your thoughts on this subject, I was just beginning to think about getting off of BC. I had been on it for 10+ years with little to no problems, yet I just didn’t feel comfortable being on it any longer (I am also recently married and was OK with the possibility of an accidental pregnancy). About 6 months ago my prescription ran out, I educated myself on the FAM method, and I began to track my cycle. Other than having heavier periods and more painful cramps, I am so happy with my choice. I know that I have been lucky in that I got my period right away, my cycles consistently last between 30-31 days and my period last fewer days, my skin is about the same as it was on BC and other than some initial headaches I actually feel better off BC than on.

    I’m glad you shared your experience and have prompted an honest and open discussion about our individual experiences with our cycles. This is a subject that is rarely discussed and understood, but is so important. Thanks!

  • Amber from Girl with the Red Hair December 29, 2010, 12:58 pm

    Basically this post is why I love you and your my favourite blogger! So open and honest!

    I’m on BC and have been since I was 14 BUT stacking pills does NOT work for me so I take one week off of taking the pill every month to allow for my period to come. So I still get my period once a month. When I was stacking my period would come ANYWAYS despite taking my pills straight through and ever 4 months or so when I would let it come it would be really, really heavy and I would be laid up in bed by the terrible cramps. Now I get a light (4-5 day) period once a month!

    Anyways, we don’t like to use condoms either and absolutely CANNOT get pregnant right now so BC is the safest and best option for us.

    Thanks again for such an honest post, Caitlin!!!

  • Sara @ OurDogBuffy December 29, 2010, 1:06 pm

    Whoa, what a post. I’m on the pill because I feel like it’s the best option for us as a couple. We do NOT want to have a baby and I’m probably too scatter-brained to remember to take my temperature. Plus I have the acne issue too. Soon as I went on the BC pill–it went away like magic! No acne! Hopefully it won’t pose any issues when we try to conceive in a few years. Did your gyno tell you to start taking prenatal vitamins? Mine told me to take them a year before trying to conceive/a year before you want to be pregnant. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 1:14 pm

      Oh thanks for that mention re: the vitamins. I will ask the Husb!

      • Katie @ Healthy Heddleston December 29, 2010, 10:49 pm

        Lots of gyno’s will tell you to take a prenatal basically for the folate..(this prevents neurotube defects from forming) Sooo make sure you get enough folate (leafy greens) and you should be good. Or, I take a flinstone complete and it has the recommended dose 🙂

  • Leah @ Why Deprive? December 29, 2010, 1:10 pm

    This is such an important topic, and I think its something everyone should educate themselves on. I was on the pill for awhile a couple of years ago, but I just didnt like it. I didnt like how it made me feel in general so I went off of it.

  • Jess December 29, 2010, 1:11 pm

    I went off the pill back in April and my body also went a little haywire. My skin broke out like a teenager and I had uneven moods. Luckily for me my period kept going like clockwork, every 28-30 days. The skin and mood issues lasted only the first month then I was back to normal.

    I had been on the pill for about 7 years. I wanted to make sure my body was free of all of the hormones before the hubby and I started working on a baby. I agree that condoms are the worse. I had forgotten how much I didn’t like them until we had to use them again. We stopped all BC in September and I’m due in July with our first little one!

    Now thanks to the pregnancy hormones it’s back to breaking out and moodiness, but it’s all getting better as my pregnancy progresses. I think after the baby we’re going to try out NFP but we’ll see. The verdict is still out on that one.

  • Jenny December 29, 2010, 1:13 pm

    After being on the pill for 10+ years, I went off it in September because we were ready to have a baby. I had some minor withdrawal symptoms, but anything negative was very much made up for by the return of my sex drive. Wow…it was a very nice side effect. I’m almost positive that I know when I ovulated, based on the drive alone. We were blessed enough to get pregnant almost immediately. I did do a lot of research prior about FAM and enjoyed learning more about my body.

    After the baby is born, I plan to try FAM. My periods are very regular (even with serious running) and my bodily signs seemed very obvious to me. We plan to have a second child and I don’t want to go back on the pill in between. We are also okay with having two children very close in age, if I did make a mistake with FAM. After we are done having kids, one or both of us will have surgery. I look forward to (hopefully) never going back on BC again.

    I understand I am in a very different place in life, and if we were not ready for kids, I don’t think I’d have the confidence in myself to use FAM. I am proud of you for posting about such a private matter and helping make people aware that options exist.

  • Lisa December 29, 2010, 1:13 pm

    Thanks for this post! I think it’s so interesting to hear how other women deal with this issue and really gives some good insight into individual struggles and decisions. Personally, I prefer to stay away from BC pills: I’ve tried multiple prescriptions and was always left with headaches and a sluggish feeling. Of course, I’m self diagnosing, but I decided BC prescriptions weren’t the right choice for me. However, my cycle is irregular so that can be scary sometimes. I’d be interested to hear more of your (and your husband’s) thoughts on alternative medicine for regulating cycles. I’m thinking of seeing a naturopathic doctor to help me regulate my cycle because I’m a little hesitant to try BC again.
    Thanks so much for this post. Such a helpful community discussion!

  • Ashley December 29, 2010, 1:15 pm

    kudos to you for exploring different methods and figuring out what is right for you! i think the method needs to be compatible with the woman, and no one way is inherently better or worse than another.

    i would personally recommend NuvaRing! it is basically the exact came thing as the pill (biologically), but is great because you only need to really think about it twice a month, to insert and remove, and is actually more effective because it has higher adherence rates, since you don’t have to remember to take a pill at the same time every day. being on hormonal birth control (pill or ring), for me, significantly reduces my pms symptoms (headache, pain, back pain, etc.). i also have cystic acne which is improved by BC; i definitely don’t think that’s a vain reason to use BC, especially as an adult! thanks again for catalyzing this conversation! =)

    • Verna December 29, 2010, 1:36 pm

      I also loved NuvaRing! Way less hormones! My body doesn’t do well on BC but this was a lot better!

  • Rachel December 29, 2010, 1:16 pm

    Oh wow this was so interesting! Thanks for sharing an update on your story. That’s so exciting to hear that you may start trying in about 10 months! That’s the same for me and my fiance.

    I’ve been on BC non-stop for 7 years (since I was 16).

    My fiance and I are getting married in September and after that I’m going off birth control. We won’t be specifically trying, but we won’t be preventing. If we get pregnant it will be absolutely fine, but if not, no big deal either.

    If we aren’t pregnant in 6 months to a year after that, we’ll start actively trying.

    I can’t wait to go off birth control. I hate surging my body with hormones all the time and I have no idea about my own fertility because I’ve had forced periods since I was 16. I’m ready to see what my body does naturally. Its also the only pill I have to take every day and I’d like to be free from all pill popping ASAP. I have a hard time getting myself to take it at the same time every day. I used to do the birth control patch and that was way easier to handle since it was just a 1x a week thing.

    P.S. I also hate condoms.

  • Hannah December 29, 2010, 1:17 pm

    I’m 18. I remember reading you posts as well as the Fitnessista’s and Gena’s views on birth control, and I was so freaked out by the pill and its artificial hormones. Then, I had/have a serious boyfriend, and my mom was concerned and wanted me to get on the pill. I vehemently denied this option, until I did a research paper on it for one of my college classes. After studying many peer-reviewed studies, talking to my college gynecologist, and to my college doctor, there really isn’t much statistically significant evidence of major effects of the pill. If you think about it, 12 million women in the U.S. take it. My mom took it for 10 years and she is as healthy as a horse! Sure, there are other methods of birth control, but many are nowhere near as protective, and some of them are way too complicated. I finally decided to go on the pill, and everything has been pretty much positive. Of course, I’m younger than you, but obviously what I learned is that you can’t listen to some bloggers or random myths on the internet. I’m not saying your concerns aren’t valid-artificial hormones are a bit strange-and I feel the same way you do sometimes! But, in reality, it comes down to your personal decision. It may not be the most “natural” and “organic” thing to do (and I feel there is a lot of pressure to be this way in the blogworld) but if you aren’t ready to get pregnant, this seems like the best option. I think you were smart to explore your options, Caitlin! Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 1:18 pm

      That is true re: the studies and I applaud you for making the best decision for you!

  • Angela (Oh She Glows) December 29, 2010, 1:17 pm

    I’ve been off the pill for 2 years now (after being ON for 10!) and I have thought about going back on it because I experience more breakouts and irregular cycles while off it too (45 days is average for me). For now, I have convinced myself that this is how my body is supposed to be naturally, even though it is a pain in the butt at times. I think I will just stay off it now since it has been 2 years now and I am kind of used to not having that convenience. I think that as women, we have to do what is going to work for us personally. No one body is the same and no one solution is the same! I think in the long run if you have to go back on the pill for a year it is not a big deal at all in the grand scheme of things…esp. if it will make you happier personally and as a couple!

  • Joanna @ Drizzle of Sunshine December 29, 2010, 1:20 pm

    Great post Caitlin! I agree with the other commenters about loving your writing because you’re so open and honest! Love your blog!

    I have been on the pill for about 5 years now. I started when my Hubster and I started dating. I wish I could say that it was a seamless process but I had a LOT of trouble finding one that worked for me/us. I was first put on Ortho-tricyclen and experienced 2 periods a month. It was so annoying because they were heavy periods that lasted 4-5 days then I had a break of 2-3 days, then it started AGAIN. I switched to something with a different combo of hormones and I ended up getting blurred vision. It got so bad I could barely drive. The pharmacist says that is rare but can happen. I switched yet again, and was put on something that made my emotions go BAH-ZIRK!! omg, my hubby was scared because I was crying one minute, screaming the next, and laughing all in the same breath. I switched AGAIN. I’m on something now that I feel ok. My skin is clearer, my periods are short and regular, and I’m not emotional. I honestly haven’t put much thought into being on it for TOO long. But now I’m definitely going to talk to my doctor. We want to start trying in about a year or two and to be on the pill for 7 years seems crazy. Thanks for making me more aware!

  • Madeleine @ Stepping to the Bright Side December 29, 2010, 1:22 pm

    What a great discussion this has prompted… I’ve been on BC for close to 7 years now and I can’t really imagine going off it now, though there have been many times when I’ve been tempted. For the last 2 years, I haven’t gotten a period at all. It freaked me out at first and I’m still not crazy about the idea, but I’ve spoken with several gynos and they’ve all said that the dose I’m on is so low that it just stops a period from coming… they’ve also said “we can put you on a higher dose to get your period back if you want.” i don’t think so. i’m already weary enough about taking hormones daily… i have several friends that are adamantly against BC, not necessarily for moral reasons but because they don’t like the idea of ingesting more hormones than our body produces. but i’m with you: there’s NO WAY i could have a baby right now and condoms just don’t work for my boyfriend and me… i plan to see a holistic doc in the new year and am eager to hear what she has to say about this topic.

  • Maggie K December 29, 2010, 1:30 pm

    I haven’t read all of the comments completely, so hopefully this isn’t a repeat. But, I wanted to chime in (again) as a family nurse practitioner who works in women’s health and let you know that you do NOT need to wait for your next period to start the pill. If you are reasonably certain you are not pregnant now (which you are) you can start the pill at any point in your cycle – Sunday may be easiest d/t the way the pill packs are marked. It takes one week for the pills to be effective so be sure you’re using your back-up method until then. But, if you think you may have another month or more before your next period I wouldn’t bother waiting (and wasting money on condoms). That’s a pretty old-school attitude about needing to wait for the period. Good luck, hope you feel better back on them!

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 1:34 pm

      Thank you so much Maggie!

      i love your name 🙂

    • elaine! December 29, 2010, 9:48 pm

      You know, I thought that was the case, but it’s been years since I “started” a pill. Another -1 for Caitlin’s doc. :/

  • Runeatrepeat December 29, 2010, 1:31 pm

    I got the Lady Comp and got off birth control after your series of BC posts. I’m still trying to figure out my body’s fluctuations so I haven’t completely decided how I feel about this “natural” method yet. But, I too have started to break out and am not happy about it. I’m going to give it a few more months, but I really don’t want to live with pimples forever since it was pretty bad in high school.

    Also, I am super paranoid so the fact that I’m not 100% sure is making me crazy 🙁

    Question: We’ve decided we don’t want to get pregnant until the end of 2011 (I guess similar timing). But, I thought you were supposed to get all the BC out of your system for a few months before you started trying. Is this not true? Are you going to get off the pill and use a backup method for a few months before trying?

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 1:35 pm

      I don’t know if that’s true or not, I think you can start trying immediately.

      • S December 29, 2010, 1:48 pm

        Some doctors suggest waiting a few months after getting off BCP, other doctors say there is no need… so it’s really up to the couple to decide.

    • Carin December 29, 2010, 1:59 pm

      I don’t think it matters too much about “getting it out of your system” before getting pregnant – I wondered about this too, after being on the Pill for 21 years before trying to get pregnant, but a doctor told me not to worry about it – it doesn’t harm the baby at all. In fact, coming off the pill gives you a fetility “boost” which is useful in “older” women TTC – both me and my friend became pregnant in month 1 coming off the Pill, which I attribute to this boost (although my husband chooses to say that it’s down to his v potent “swimmers”… in which case, thank goodness I took the Pill for so long, otherwise I’d have 10 kids by now!).

      You can’t assume that you’ll get pregnant, but I think it’s absolutely sensible to try to avoid it if the timing really isn’t right. I had babies just before hitting 38 and 40 and that was right for us, in terms of doing other things (travelling, enjoying ourselves (!), emigrating) beforehand. The advice to do it earlier, just in case you have problems conceiving later in life, doesn’t work for me – and I don’t think it works for the child, either, which of course is the most important thing. To me, this is just pushing people into panic mode – and who made good decisions about anything when in that situation?

      BTW, I think there’s a lot of truth in the notion that you can be TOO fit to conceive – if you’re really lean and running a lot, the body is in “flight” mode, ready to regularly flee predators – and you can’t flee very well if you’re preggo or have a newborn! I think it’s very beneficial to reduce the exercise and lay down a bit of fat if you want to conceive – it’s much easier to do so when the body feels that it’s in a safe, comfortable place. I realise that this goes against the grain for many health/ fitness bloggers, but it works and it’s all about the baby, right? Better to be aware of this than spend a couple of years of heartbreak TTC, only to go to a consultant to be told (for a hefty fee!) to cut back and pile a bit on!

      • Runeatrepeat December 29, 2010, 2:06 pm

        Thanks for this! Love the reminder not to have babies just because the clock is ticking.
        Re: being too fit to conceive: Luckily, I keep an extra layer or two of fat on my hips, butt and thighs for just this reason (or so I’d like to think) 😉

        • Carin December 29, 2010, 2:14 pm

          Whereas I’m trying really really hard to get rid of my extra layer(s)!!!!

  • Verna December 29, 2010, 1:32 pm

    Thanks for posting! Everyone’s situation is SO different, and everyone’s body is so different. It’s hard to have a cut and dry answer for these topics. All you can do is what is best for you and your husband. Just an idea, you might want to stop the BC a little before you actually start trying. It sounds like your body is going to need some time to adjust, and once you decide you are ready for a baby, it is REALLY REALLY hard to wait! Just a suggestion. Good luck!

  • Brie @ Brie Fit December 29, 2010, 1:32 pm

    We went off the pill on the same day–I remember your post about it!

    I am still off the pill, even though it hasn’t been easy. My first cycle was at the end of marathon training, and was 3 months long and awful. I actually got my first period post-BC DURING the marathon because I ran a lot less during the taper and was less stressed!

    Since then, I’ve been fairly regular. I don’t love the breakouts, but I don’t miss the nausea, bloating, and other issues I had on BC. We are using condoms now, too, which isn’t really fun, but we are going to TTC as soon as my husband gets a new job and I don’t want to have to wait to self-regulate again that soon. It can be a pain, but I get really dorkily excited when I know what my body’s up to!

    We’re also at a point where an oops baby wouldn’t be the end of the world. I never could have done this a year or two ago, but now that we’re married and stable, I feel okay about it.

  • Jessica @ Jessica Balances December 29, 2010, 1:33 pm

    Caitlin, thank you so much for sharing this with us. I honestly know very little about BC because I’ve never been on it. My periods have been extremely regular my entire life (I’m 22) and, aside from cramps, they aren’t bad. My dad actually tried to talk me into going on BC when I was 15 (I played competitive golf and periods can REALLY screw with performance) but I had an uneasy feeling about putting hormones into my body, so I refused. I still feel weird about it and am very reluctant to “mess with a good thing”, if that makes sense. And, my bf and I are saving sex for marriage (TMI?) so I don’t have to worry about getting pregnant just yet… I guess taking BC or not really depends on your personal situation/preferences/body/etc and maybe there is no right or wrong way to go about it. Again, thank you SO MUCH for opening up about these things!

  • Danielle December 29, 2010, 1:33 pm

    I was on BC for over 10 years (longer if you consider some on and off years prior). After 5 years of marriage it was time to go off.
    So, last summer I decided to go off the pill. We were ready to have kids and I wanted to give myself several months to understand what my REAL cycle was like. I got my period the next month and my cycles ranged from 27-37 days over the next 6 months. Frankly, I don’t even consider this irregular, I think “irregular” is just normal for me, and everyones “regular” is going to be different. Thats why I don’t completely have faith in FAM, because given my range of cycle lengths, I know I ovulate differently each month. After going off the pill yes, I did have skin issues but had I been off the pill long enough I think that would have subsided on its own.
    Anyway, the first month that I started charting temps I was also using an Ovulation Predictor Kit. We got pregnant that month, and although fairly inconclusive because I only had one month of data, it looks like my post ovulation temp rise occurs over several days, so its hard to use FAM for indicating with certainty when I ovulated.

    After my baby arrives I will have to make some decisions about what birth control method we will use going forward. honestly, I dont want to go back on the pill, at least not right away because I still do want to get to know my body and my cycles a little better. I think its good for everyone to do this, and if I have a daughter I will instill this in her as well (thought not at the expense of actual protection!)

    On that note, I dont think anyone has asked, and I’m sorry if this is too personal, but with all the issues you have had, have you and your husband ever talked about him getting a vasectomy? I’m totally not an expert here but I thought that they were reversible.

    Whatever you decide, good luck to you and keep us posted!

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 1:36 pm

      I think vasectomies CAN be reversed but it isn’t 100%. The Husband would maybe do this after we had 3 kids but I highly doubt it would do it now!

      • Danielle December 29, 2010, 1:49 pm

        Cant blame him, my husband would never go for it! Plus if its not 100% so not worth the risk. Yikes, what we ladies have to endure. I actually can’t imagine what it was like in the pre-pill days…whole different world!

        • Danielle December 29, 2010, 1:50 pm

          I mean if getting it reversed is not 100% its not worth the risk!

      • liz December 29, 2010, 3:52 pm

        One of my friends had a vasectomy thinking he was done having kids. Then he got divorced and married a younger woman who wanted children. He got the reversal and it did not work. The doctors had to perform some sort of sperm extraction that was extremly painful. They also had to go the invitro route because of this. I would advise waiting until you had kids before getting something so drastic done.

    • Jacqueline December 29, 2010, 4:28 pm

      Thank you for being so open & honest, Caitlyn. When the time is right I think it will all work out for you & the hus. 🙂
      Please don’t be offended but, I think I’m the only one that has never been on BC & does not want to have kids. I know, I’m probably that 1 girl in a million. 😉
      After years & a lot of talking it over we decided that the hus getting a vasectomy was our best option. (BTW he has 2 girls from a previous marriage & didn’t mind that I didn’t want kids).
      It’s been 3 1/2 years & we are so happy we made the right choice for us.
      Best of luck to you!

      • May Peterson April 20, 2013, 6:04 am

        My husband and I also went for the vasectomy. I never thought of getting a tubal ligation or other forms of contraception but my adorable husband was willing to do the big V and so we went for it. 🙂 The vasectomy did wonders for our relationship and for our finances. During the years that he was snipped, we were able to straighten out our funds and were free of stress that often arise from the possibility of a pregnancy.
        When the time came that we felt that we were quite ready to have a baby, we finally decided that it was time for him to get a reversal, and it was a success. I think it has got a lot to do with Dr. Wilson, the one who did the reversal for $1700. He’s a good doctor and a Christian. His site’s
        Anyway, the vasectomy that my husband had was one of the best decisions we had made, and now we’re reaping the rewards.

  • Heather December 29, 2010, 1:36 pm

    I’m normally on the pill, but I went off of it two months ago. My next gyno appointment is for January, and I’m going to ask her for a new script. I did not like the one I was on (Loestrin) because it completely stopped my period. Some women might like this, but it freaks me out. I need to have something otherwise I’ll be convinced I’m pregnant and waste a ton of money on home pregnancy tests.

    I don’t like being on the pill and having artificial hormones pumped into my body, but I’m with you, condoms are no fun (for a monogomus couple – of course you should use them if you have multiple partners!) and I don’t really want a baby right now in my life.

  • Katherine: Unemployed December 29, 2010, 1:37 pm

    Thanks for the candid, honest post. for me, a lot of decisions with medicines have to take side-effects into consideration since I usually experience some. best wishes with the entire process in deciding.

  • Amber K December 29, 2010, 1:47 pm

    I have never been on the pill. I didn’t have sex until I was married and we immediately started trying for children. Unfortunately we tried for a year with no success. Then, I got pregnant, but miscarried.

    Now it’s been since March 2008 since I have had a period, so still no baby for me. I didn’t have health insurance until just recently and so far they haven’t been able to determine where my cycle has gone. All exams and bloodwork shows everything is fine, when it’s obviously not.

    It’s definitely frustrating!

    • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey December 29, 2010, 8:48 pm

      I am so sorry you’re going through that! It sounds really rough!

      • Amber K December 29, 2010, 9:21 pm

        Thanks, I don’t know why, but it felt good to let it out and have someone respond! It’s frustrating, but I can get through it…eventually. 🙂

  • S December 29, 2010, 1:47 pm

    I haven’t read all the comments yet, but I am actually surprised that you would go back on BC to mask other issues. Not ovulating is an issue that can make it hard for you to get pregnant in the future (obviously). Now that marathon training is over, wouldn’t your cycles go back to 28-30 days and you would begin to ovulate normally again? If not, that is an issue to explore.

    I am not judging you in any way and I am sure you have thought this through, but just wanted to make sure you thought about the other side of it- when you WILL want to get pregnant will you have issues that have been masked from going back on BC? I guess maybe it isn’t something to face until/unless you will have to face it 10 months from now, but it was my motivating factor for getting off BC in the first place (about 6 months before we were ready to TTC).

    Also, I understand wanting to go back on because of your skin. My skin is not the admirable skin I used to have- I have little bumps that I never did and it is because BC kept it away. I hate it!

    When you guys are ready to get pregnant you will hopefully be done marathon training and will be back to your old 28-30 day cycle!

    Best of luck Caitlin, and thanks for being so open about this topic!

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 1:50 pm

      The crappy sex life was a major contributing factor to my decision. It’s totally a band aid, but I really could not continue to use condoms!! Bah.

      I do hope stuff evens out eventually.

  • Jess December 29, 2010, 2:03 pm

    Without the pill I have MAJOR cystic acne and 14 day periods out of every 32. I was also diagnosed with sever endometriosis. After 8 years on the pill (I started using it for the acne), I have 3 day periods, clear skin and no cramps. I don’t like to think of it as using synthetic hormone…I like to think that my body is at peace on the pill 🙂 I’m not anemic, I don’t have debilitating cramps or pass giant clots (TMI!!!) and I never PMS. Sometimes we need our pill! I dont think my body is a “failure” and I hope you dont either!!

  • KVH December 29, 2010, 2:14 pm

    I’ve been keeping up with your Period Posts because I recently went off BC in order to try to get pregnant. I experienced a ton of withdrawal symptoms and didn’t get my period for the first 5 weeks I was off BC. I actually thought I was pregnant since I was having symptoms (tender breasts, BLOATING, dizziness), but it turned out to be PMS! It had been so long since I had naturally had my period that I forgot what the symptoms were like. I am now waiting to get my 2nd period after going off BC so I can begin regulating when I am ovulating.

    My SIL, however, was not so lucky. She went off BC in March and has only had 2 periods since. She is desperately trying to get pregnant and I know it must be hard to be trying for almost a year with nothing. We have chatted about whether or not we will go back on the Pill once we have been pregnant and had kids, and both of us are thinking that an IUD with “natural” hormones might be the best choice for us.

  • Amanda (Life in bloom) December 29, 2010, 2:14 pm

    When I was first found TCOYF, I was learning about it to achieve pregnancy, but thought it was the best thing ever for birth control too and that’s what I wanted to do post-baby. My cycles are totally wacko also, always have been, and was one of the reasons I started the pill ages ago. Because of that, I loosely used TCOYF to get pregnant, and luckily had no problems even though I had been on the pill for 10 years prior. Now that we are trying to avoid pregnancy, I decided to do Mirena for bc instead of pills. I just can’t read my body with enough certainty. And I also like having my period so I don’t freak out about getting pregnant when my cycle is wacko. Long story…..but good luck 🙂

  • Marissa December 29, 2010, 2:15 pm

    Thanks for being so open and honest about these issues. I think its important to discuss them and know what other women have/are going through. I had the exact opposite reaction as you- with the pill I had horrible skin, became depressed and anxious, and was not intrested in sex. I went off of it and all the issues resolved and we did the FAM method successfully for 5 years until our first baby. I am now pregnant with our second and each time used acupunture to “prepare” for pregnancy and also used it from week 35 to birth to “prepare” for delivery. After kids we may do something more permanent but we will see. Best of luck with your decision- thanks again for bringing up this topic!

  • Lauren December 29, 2010, 2:17 pm

    I think it is great that you made the choice to go back on BC to regulate your period. When I was running around 45 miles a week I lost my period for a year! Now that I look back on that time I realize how foolish it was of me to just allow myself to not have a period for a year. I know some doctors say it is not a big deal, but I think it is a huge deal to not get your period, so good for you!

  • Anne December 29, 2010, 2:17 pm

    I had been on birth control since I was 12 or 13 because of irregular periods. I had one that lasted 6 weeks that only ended because I was given medication to stop it. I was 13 and it was a nightmare so they put me on birth control to regulate my periods. For the past 15 years I have been on numerous types including yasmin and more recently yaz and its generic version. This past summer I was diagnosed with a blood clot in my collar bone and was told to stop taking birth control immediately. I got my period that week (because I was scheduled to) and then haven’t gotten it since. It’s been 5 months. Other than the obvious concerns that come along with not having my period, I really miss the predictability that came with being on the pill. But the risk of being on it just isn’t worth it to me, and after reading about the medications people have taken to bring their period back I think I’m going to wait and hope it comes back on its own.

    Thanks for posting this Caitlin. It’s helpful to read about other people’s experiences with this topic!

    • Allie December 29, 2010, 2:24 pm

      Were you on Ocella (I think that’s the generic version of Yaz)? That’s what I was one. I’ve been on the pill since I was 15 because I had TERRIBLE acne but I decided to stop taking it last month (I’m 21 so I guess I’ve been on it for 6 years). Still haven’t gotten my period yet and I’m a little freaked out by that. I tried to get off of it two years ago and it made me CRAZY. I was a huge b*tch and very depressed and emotional. I am so scared that that is gong to happen again this time. Since you’ve been off have you noticed any mood/skin changes?

      Has anybody else stopped taking Yaz/Ocella? How did it effect you after you stopped?

      • Anne December 29, 2010, 2:32 pm

        I think it was Ocella. It had just come out and my pharmacy switched me to it. I was on it for about 2-3 months before my clot was found. I didn’t notice any reaction when I went off of it but I was also one month out from my wedding so I might have been overly emotional from going off the pill or from wedding stress. I got a really bad headache for a couple days and that was the only real side effect I noticed. My skin for the most part has been fine except I’ve noticed recently if my diet is out of whack with too much sugar I’m likely to break out, which hasn’t been an issue in the past couple years (I’m 28).

  • Carin December 29, 2010, 2:22 pm

    I don’t think it matters too much about “getting it out of your system” before getting pregnant – I wondered about this too, after being on the Pill for 21 years before trying to get pregnant, but a doctor told me not to worry about it – it doesn’t harm the baby at all. In fact, coming off the pill gives you a fetility “boost” which is useful in “older” women TTC – both me and my friend became pregnant in month 1 coming off the Pill, which I attribute to this boost (although my husband chooses to say that it’s down to his v potent “swimmers”… in which case, thank goodness I took the Pill for so long, otherwise I’d have 10 kids by now!).

    You can’t assume that you’ll get pregnant, but I think it’s absolutely sensible to try to avoid it if the timing really isn’t right. I had babies just before hitting 38 and 40 and that was right for us, in terms of doing other things (travelling, enjoying ourselves (!), emigrating) beforehand. The advice to do it earlier, just in case you have problems conceiving later in life, doesn’t work for me – and I don’t think it works for the child, either, which of course is the most important thing. To me, this is just pushing people into panic mode – and who made good decisions about anything when in that situation?

    BTW, I think there’s a lot of truth in the notion that you can be TOO fit to conceive – if you’re really lean and running a lot, the body is in “flight” mode, ready to regularly flee predators – and you can’t flee very well if you’re preggo or have a newborn! I think it’s very beneficial to reduce the exercise and lay down a bit of fat if you want to conceive – it’s much easier to do so when the body feels that it’s in a safe, comfortable place. I realise that this goes against the grain for many health/ fitness bloggers, but it works and it’s all about the baby, right? Better to be aware of this than spend a couple of years of heartbreak TTC, only to go to a consultant to be told (for a hefty fee!) to cut back and pile a bit on!

  • Lauren December 29, 2010, 2:22 pm

    I haven’t noticed any big effects from being on the pill, but I just feel so much safer. I do wonder if my periods are normal without it though because they have always been so light and short. With the pill, they are just as light and even shorter (only 2 days). It’s so interesting to hear how every woman experiences different periods and affects people so differently.

  • Kristine December 29, 2010, 2:22 pm

    I would HIGHLY recommend the NuvaRing as well – I switched to it two years ago because oral contraceptives interfered with my thyroid meds (no one had told me this before, even though I’ve been on thyroid meds my ENTIRE LIFE…sheesh). The lower dose of BC in the NuvaRing meant less drug interactions, plus I only have to think about it twice a month. Plus my period is like clockwork and basically two days of light spotting – enough to know I’m not pregnant but not enough to interfere with my life.

    Your gynecologist doesn’t sound like a super listener. Have you ever considered going to a certified nurse midwife for your OB/GYN needs? I switched to a CNM and I could not be happier – she can still write prescriptions and do everything a doctor can, but I love her nursing background too.

  • Jen December 29, 2010, 2:22 pm

    I’m in grad school, so at this point I would not consider anything other than birth control pills, but thank you for the information in this series of posts. I really wasn’t aware of non-hormonal methods (I see why my doctors would not discuss alternative methods for me since I started HBC when I was in college and needed the most reliable method), but down the road, I think it’s worth considering these options, especially if I decide to have children and want to “detox” from the artificial hormones.

  • Beth @ 990 Square December 29, 2010, 2:25 pm

    I’ve actually worried a lot about this. I went on BC at 17 because of irregular/painful periods, and I’ve been on BC now for 12 years. I’ve been on the low dose nuva ring for the last 7, but I doubt I would have regular periods without it (to be honest, my periods haven’t been that regular recently WITH it).

    Thanks for being so honest!

  • Lisa December 29, 2010, 2:27 pm

    The bf and I aren’t married obviously so I am on the pill. I had to try a lot of different ones to find a pill that didn’t make me a total NUTJOB. Seriously. Some of them out there made me such a hormonal, emotional wreck I could barely function. Or they made me break out like a 12 years old. UGH!

    Finally found one that worked and I’ve taken it for 3 years now. I am okay with it. Since we aren’t married and not planning on kids for at least 5 years I don’t worry about family planning in other ways right now.

    However, I do worry about being infertile from years of bc pills…

  • Jess December 29, 2010, 2:33 pm

    Thanks for sharing! Clearly there are a lot of women who need to talk! 🙂

    I’ve been battling BC options for years. I started my period when I was nine (in a hardware store, with my dad — eek!) and have been dealing with painful cramps ever since.

    Went on BC pills at 18, and then went through a whole slew of other BC options: the ring, the shot, etc. before deciding the pill was the best for me. The shot caused me to have a three month period!

    I guess I’m on the other side of BC effects though, if I miss a pill, I start my period by 7pm that same day. Clearly my body just likes asserting its autonomy! Best of luck!

  • Jazz December 29, 2010, 2:34 pm

    I’m totally not into putting hormones into my body.. just seems unatural. We use FAM/ condoms and I am thinking about the copper IUD … Then again we are married and a pregnancy wouldn’t be the end of the world for us either! Thanks for bringing this up!

  • Chari December 29, 2010, 2:44 pm

    I didn’t know that much training would effect some women’s cycles, but it does make sense.

    Just FYI, in case you haven’t thought of it yet, condoms are really the only thing you can ‘rely on’ if you are breastfeeding your baby and don’t want to get pregnant again. FAM is pretty much impossible during this time or until your period returns.

    My advice, if you don’t like how your doctor treated you I would start researching out a new OB/GYN now if you plan on trying for a baby in a few months. If you don’t think she listens to you now it will be the same during your OB care and possibly into your delivery. I experienced this with my first baby. I stayed with my OB/GYN just because I had seen her for years. I ended up with treatment and a delivery that was opposite of what I was hoping for. I’m now pregnant with #2 and have changed to an OB that is completely different. She doesn’t even prescribe birth control!

    • Wendy December 29, 2010, 8:19 pm

      There is a progesterone-only “mini-pill” that you can take while breastfeeding, and IUDs are also safe. Condoms are not the only option. I used the mini-pill while breastfeeding both my children, and have the mirena IUD now.

  • Jenny December 29, 2010, 2:45 pm

    What did you think of the Lady Comp overall? I know you mentioned it in your last period post but was it helpful overall? Worth the big bucks?
    Hubby and I want to ditch the condoms and sometimes I think $500 is so worth it to me (and him!)

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 2:58 pm

      I love it and thought it was great. Someone else mentioned they got a used one on Ebay for $200!

  • Kimberly @ Healthy Strides December 29, 2010, 2:45 pm

    I went off the pill in May so that my body would be “adjusted” when my husband and I decided to start a family. I thought it would be so simple – just stop taking a pill – but it wasn’t. My mood became more volatile, my skin broke out as your did and my cycle didn’t seem to make sense from one month to the next. (I was charting temps, as well.) We had to rely on condoms, which is a real bummer when you’re married.

    It’s hard anyway you go, and it’s important to pick what’s right for YOU.

  • Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) December 29, 2010, 2:45 pm

    Thank you for being honest, real, and totally upfront about everything you are going thru, have tried, have done, and where your head is at about it all. I just want to thank you for sharing this personal info about yourself..b/c clearly it’s helping tons of women as I’m comment #98 with 150 in the replies already 🙂

  • SarahC December 29, 2010, 2:53 pm

    I’ve too have experienced doctors dismissing me with an attitude like it’s not important for me to understand what is happening to my body. I know they are busy and sometimes feel like all we need as patients is to be told what to do, but I believe it is important to understand our own health and ask questions. Sometimes you have to be an advocate for yourself!

    I echo the suggestion to shop around for another doctor. I recently changed gynecologists(because my insurance changed), and cannot believe the difference. I didn’t know what I was missing! I too have had concerns re: hormonal birth control and wanted to explore my options (strong family history of breast cancer, other potentially hormone-related symptoms). She talked with me for an hour and really listened to what I had to say. I know the danger in relying on Dr. Google, and how much doctors must hate that, but you also have the right to learn as much as you can about the human body and your options. I just admitted to her that I know the internet has a lot of misinformation, but I read such-and-such and want to know what she could tell me about it.

    Okay, now this might be controversial, but I absolutely prefer female OB/GYNs – not because I am shy or embarrased, but because I think that, as women, they just “get it” more than male doctors. They understand the impact hormones, birth control options, etc has on our lives. The doctor I had before was a sweet older gentleman, and a perfectly good doctor, but he just didn’t listen to me or take me as seriously as this female doctor. Of course, this is just one person’s experience based on only a few doctors (more than just those two), but it has made a difference for me.

    If you do look for another doctor, I also suggest trying to find one at a teaching hospital. I have been lucky enough to use our local teaching hospital on several occasions, and it is true that they have the most up-to-date information. They also seem to be more patient-friendly because they are used to teaching others.

    Whew – long comment! Thank you, Caitlin, for sharing about your experience. This is a struggle we girls can all relate to!

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 2:59 pm

      You’re totally right. I need to find a good doc.

      • Amanda December 29, 2010, 4:02 pm

        I would suggest trying to find a female gyno. This doesn’t matter to some people and truthfully until I switched I didn’t realize how much I disliked having a guy doctor. My doctor now is so much easier to talk to and work with to find what is right for me. She has to go through being a woman too so it makes sense that she is more in tune with what we are actually experiencing.

        • Sarah December 29, 2010, 4:28 pm

          I have a Nurse Midwife who practices under several MDs… I really feel like it’s the best of both worlds! She actually listens to what I have to say (unlike my first OB/GYN), and she has really good insight into what is best for us as a couple, and me as an individual. Might be worth looking into. PLUS, as an added bonus, they have a crazy accurate prediction rate with the sex of the baby in early pregnancy, because they’re trained to be tuned to hormonal changes within your body.

    • elaine! December 29, 2010, 10:05 pm

      I had a male doc for a couple years and I really liked him. 🙂 He had a bunch of daughters around my age, so maybe that was part of it. I currently see a female nurse practitioner, but the thing they have in common that I appreciated was… I don’t know, an interactive component? For example, the male doc was the only gyno who told me that a certain percentage of women, including myself, have ropy breast tissue, which has made it less confusing to do self exams. The nurse practitioner, when I asked her about IUDs, talked it over with me and then actually had me poke my belly to feel how small my uterus is, which is why she suggested I avoid IUDs until after pregnancy, which stretches your uterus out and reduces IUD complications.

      • Jess @ NZ Girl Runs December 30, 2010, 1:01 am

        I, too, have a male Dr and have no problems with him. I find him very understanding and easy to talk to about my “lady issues” (as my boyfriend calls them). Here in NZ we don’t have gynos unless you want/need one, so he is just my GP and he has been my doc since I was 8, so that probably helps.

        • Caitlin December 30, 2010, 9:09 am

          If you don’t have a gyno, who performs your pap smears? The regular doctor?

        • Jess @ NZ Girl Runs December 31, 2010, 6:53 pm

          Hi Caitlin. Yep, my GP does my pap smears. And it is done completely differently from in the USA, I hear. No stirrups, just a padded table. The only reason I would get a gyno is if there was a problem and I needed someone with more specialised knowledge of lady land

        • Jessica January 3, 2011, 5:52 pm

          I live in the US and my regular doctor does my pap smears. She is also an OB, so now that I’m pregnant she does all of my prenatal and delivery stuff too.

  • Lindsay December 29, 2010, 2:56 pm

    Thank you for sharing your perspective on this whole issue. I believe it is COMPLETELY a personal decision! I am considered high risk for breast cancer because both my mom and grandma died from it premenapausal. I was advised not to go on it because of the hormone contribution to cancer. It has made me find other ways and has been challenging at times. When my husband and I started trying to get pregnant we used the FAM method and it took 3 months to get it down, but it worked 🙂 In my expirience, you have to be intune with your body and make the best decision for yourself.

    • Lindsay December 29, 2010, 2:59 pm

      Oh and another thing to look for if you consider switching to a different doctor is a nurse midwife. Alot of them are now doing well woman care and would probably be much more in line with your thinking.

  • Heather December 29, 2010, 2:57 pm

    Thanks for such an open, honest post on a topic we all can relate to. I may be the minority here, but for most of my adult life I’ve NOT been on the pill. I have PCOS, which basically means a totally out-of-whack cycle (and horrible male pattern hair growth, ew), so I’ve NEVER had a regular cycle. Since the age of 14, I would go sometimes 6 months, even a year between my periods. These days I can go a week in between periods, or a couple months. All doctors want to put me on the pill, because that’s the only way to have a “normal” cycle, but the more I talk to other women, the less I believe in “normal.” I finally found a doc who supports my wishes, and after trying the pill for 6 months (I gave it a fair shake), and dealing with horrible horrible migraines and bloody noses and crazy weight gain and moods, I gave up the pill forever. It’s condoms or pull-out method for me 😉

    I’m engaged and in a monogamous relationship, and luckily my partner and I have quite the healthy sex life — he’s willing to put up with condoms in exchange for not having to deal with a pyscho lunatic Heather 😉 I’d gladly take an unpredictable period and a few extra pimples over 20-30 extra pounds and reeeeally bad side effects and mood swings.

    It just shows, that on this issue, everyone needs to do their own research and listen to their own body!

  • Kacy December 29, 2010, 3:02 pm

    I went on the pill 8 years ago when I randomly stopped having periosd as a 16-year-old version. I am a bit freaked out about what my body would do if I wasn’t on BC, but I don’t really worry about it that much. I am not sure I ever want children, so being on the pill is just right for me right now.

  • carlee December 29, 2010, 3:03 pm

    I was on birth control for my skin! and my periods have always been so so so crazy.

  • Teri December 29, 2010, 3:06 pm

    I was on BC when we first got married (over 10 years ago) but had to go off of it b/c of horrible side effects. My cycle was always a long one (45-50 days) which I attributed to running and low body weight (I’ve always been tall and skinny no matter how much I eat. I know, it’s a curse!) I never worried too much because it always came, just took a little longer than most people.

    But then after having my first daughter and weaning her I started getting my period like clockwork every 31 days. After that we used strictly condoms until we were ready to conceive our 2nd, which happened no problem. After weaning baby #2 my period regularized at every 28 days (I don’t know what happened to those 3 extra days!) I started using FAM and had great success for several years. I also started running more competitively and doing more marathons with no change in my cycle.

    Now I am pregnant with my third and still running – although I’ve slowed down a lot! I’m not sure what I’ll do after this baby is born but I’m looking forward to racing again! Hopefully I won’t lose 3 more days in my cycle and be down to 25!

    I have thought of going back on BC in the past but it always boiled down to me just being lazy about using other methods and I realized that wasn’t a reason to subject myself to the hormones.

    As someone else posted, FAM works like a charm when you have regular cycles, but if you’re experiencing a lot of irregularity it probably isn’t the best choice. Good luck figuring things out for what works best for you and your husband!

  • Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat) December 29, 2010, 3:07 pm

    All I can say is: Do what’s right for you. Every woman’s body is unique and there’s no one right answer. As long as you’re happy and healthy, that’s all that matters.

  • Carrie S. December 29, 2010, 3:09 pm

    This is such a great post, as all of your BCQ posts have been. I went off the Pill about four months ago and while my cycle been cattywompus (yes, cattywompus: 4 wks, 6 wks, 5 wks), being sans BC has actually helped my sex life and my skin hasn’t looked this good in a while! I have suspicions that BC has a negative impact on my sex drive (getting it back now though :)) and the hormones gave me a borderline amazing case of melasma (lovely huge dark patches across my forehead, chin, and upper lip. Very attractive). Def goes to show how different we all are! Thanks so much for your honesty and for your awesome blog.

  • Rachel December 29, 2010, 3:12 pm

    Perhaps I am in the minority, but I love the pill. I don’t feel any different than before I started taking the pill. My skin is decent and I always get my period on the same day. What’s not to like?

  • Emily December 29, 2010, 3:16 pm

    This post has definitely be so interesting and informative. I have had issues with BC since I started with it about 2 1/2 years ago. I never wanted to be on it until I was in a committed relationship and I also got to miss taking it during those crazy teen years of hormonal insanity. Since starting it’s been nothing but trouble. I started out getting really heavy and stronger periods so they switched me to a low dosage formula. The low wasn’t strong enough and I began having breakthrough bleeding. They put me back on a regular dosage but since then I have been having periods that are still heavy and painful with symptoms very similar to endometriosis. They have ruled out endometriosis for me via all the non-evasive methods (everything but lathroscopic surgery) and also put me on the pill all the time (no breaks for sugar pills). This obviously eliminated the painful periods each month but as my body has adapted to the constant dosage of the pill I’ve begun having breakthrough bleeding and cramping/back pain on a somewhat monthly basis. I wish I had a better solution than the pill but I am REALLY in no place to be off it and messing around with potential pregnancies.

    Thanks for sharing and allowing me to share, too! Good luck with everything and hopefully the 10 months will fly by and then you can shift your focus to bigger, better, and happier things!!!

  • Kara December 29, 2010, 3:18 pm

    I’ve never tried NFP or FAM, but I will tell you that having a baby can change how your body functions! I’m back on the pill after giving birth in June (had to wait awhile to restart my normal birth control due to breastfeeding) and it’s completely different, tons of breakthrough bleeding and craziness. I never had a problem with it before, but my body reacts differently to it now. I share your hatred of condoms, so the pill is the best choice for us. Just something to keep in mind as you plan out future birth control options, until baby and in between babies!

    Also, skin breakouts and hormonal rage are a super fun part of pregnancy to look forward to! 🙂

  • Lindsay J December 29, 2010, 3:20 pm

    Hey, Caitlin! Your posts introduced me to the FAM method and I was intrigued. We actually got into charting and the whole nine yards. We were trying to get pregnant though. After four cycles of charting, it worked! Luckily my periods were fairly normal. Sex Ed doesn’t teach you the real stuff. Not everyone has the same fertile window each month! Thanks for introducing this to me!

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 3:25 pm

      Congrats on your pregnancy!!!!!!!

  • Katie H December 29, 2010, 3:32 pm

    I went off of the pill five months ago after being on it for ten years. I left my pills in my work bag over the weekend and decided to just stop taking them- my husband is overseas so it’s not like I needed birth control! I’ve been tracking my temperature to get a feel for my cycle because 1) I’m dorky like that and 2) when my husband returns home we will likely use FAM as our BC method.
    As for the transition, I didn’t experience any withdrawal systems and my cycles are pretty normal. My skin has been revolting against me the past few months, which I expected. However, I recently started using coconut oil as a facial moisturizer and my skin is magically clearing up. Odd really, seeing as how coconut oil is so, well, oily!
    My husband will be home in a few weeks on leave and I am a little nervous to completely rely on the fertility awareness method. I may have to find some back up protection just in case!
    Thanks for bringing awareness to this topic- it is so interesting to read about everyones’ experiences!

    • Katie H December 29, 2010, 3:35 pm

      Also, this is completely superficial but- when I went on the pill I went up a cup size. I was concerned that I was going to go back down a cup size going off the pill but I didn’t 😀

      • Rys December 29, 2010, 4:02 pm

        The pill has done wonders for me in this arena and controlling acne flare-ups. I don’t think feeling confident with whatever bust size you have or with clear skin is superficial 😉

      • elaine! December 29, 2010, 10:15 pm

        LOL, my boobs shrunk when I switched to a lower-hormone b.c. (Yasmin to Yaz), after about a year and a half. I think part of it was probably that I lost 10-15 lbs during that time through diet/exercise in addition to my body getting used to the lower hormones.

        And you know what’s funny? I never cared about my boob size before, but after I realized how much they shrunk, it kind of depressed me! I had all these plans to get my nipples pierced because I thought it would make me feel a little sexier… but then I switched to Nuva and got my boobs back. Along with another 20 lbs and awful mood swings.

        I’m back on Yaz and the boobs are still voluptuous… but I’m anticipating that after another 6-8 months of Yaz plus me drying my darndest to get rid of the Nuva hormone/mood swing weight gain, me and the girls will probably be back at square one.

        Next time maybe I’ll just get some cute tank tops, since they never make cute tank tops for busty girls. 😛 And VS makes some nice push-up bras… ha, ha.

  • Nicole (the other one) December 29, 2010, 3:34 pm

    Caitlin – I love how open you are to talk about this stuff.

    It frustrates me to read that so many women had a bad experience with the pill and end up settling for other options, like condoms.

    Finding the right birth control is like finding the right man. Not every woman is the same and you should really explore several options before giving up (of course, only if you want to be on the pill).

  • Ashley December 29, 2010, 3:37 pm

    I’ve tried three different pills before and all of them made me crazy. The last one I was on I would actually wake up crying. I felt miserable and everyone around me was miserable because of it so I refused to take it anymore. I did some research on the most effective and hormone free birth control and I came across the IUD.
    If you didn’t already know, the IUD is a small t-shaped contraption that sits in your uterus and blocks the sperm from the eggs.
    I love it. The one I have has no hormones and will last 10 years, it’s also 99% effective and if I ever decided to get pregnant I can have it removed and I wouldn’t have to wait for my body to get back to normal or anything.
    The drawback to my bc is it can be EXTREMELY pricey if insurance won’t cover it. Also, I recently found out that not all women who have not had children can get this done. Apparently your uterus has to be at least 6cm in depth for it to stay in place. I didn’t know this until my sister went to have the procedure and they told her it wouldn’t fit.
    The procedure is also very painful. It causes lots of cramps for a few days, but after that I haven’t felt it since.

  • Veronica December 29, 2010, 3:37 pm

    I’ve been on a quest to find the right BC for me for about 8 years (I’m 25.) My problem is that I’m very susceptible to the added hormones so nothing really “fits” for me.

    BC kills my sex drive and depresses me. Its like I’m in total neutral and cannot shift out of it when I’m on the pill. When I’m not on BC, I’m good as gold 🙂

    We hated condoms too. So for that reason, we tried NFP and I charted my temps and CM which was a chore. Granted, I got pregnant with boy #2 after 4 months of this, so its not foolproof! Luckily we are married and stable so it wasn’t a problem. The way we felt about NFP was this “we might get pregnant, but at least we’re actually HAVING sex!”

    Now that we have 2 kids, DH is getting a vasectomy and I dont have to take the pill ever again. He’s not excited to go under the knife, but he’s excited to get his sex kitten wife back!
    I hope you find what works for you and good luck in 10 months! You’re healthy and young, you’ll have a sparkle in your eye in NO TIME!

  • Juli D. December 29, 2010, 3:37 pm

    Very interesting, thank you for the post! I got on birth control for the first time when my husband and I were dating. I’ve never been comfortable taking meds or hormones of any kind though, and stopped BC about a year ago. Even when I was on BC, we still used condoms. Now we just used condoms, which I’m okay with because although ideally we’ll wait longer to really try having kids, since condoms aren’t 100% reliable if I get pregnant we’ll be happy with having a kid now. That’s a bummer they didn’t work for you but I’m glad you figured out something that works.

  • Ashley December 29, 2010, 3:37 pm

    I too, feel the pain of highly irregular cycles. If you know you’re not pregnant, it is fine to start your BCP – it helps prevent the endless waiting. You could take a pregnancy test, and then start (or you could check with your dr/pharm to see if this is ok– but that’s what my dr told me).

    It took me 52 days to get my first period after going off BCP. So as I’m sure you know, you likely want to stop it around 3 months before you plan to TTC (at which point I was personally ok with an ‘oops’ – but we used pull & pray til we started actively trying). SOME people get pregnant right away off the pill but some people take awhile to regulate again.

  • Nadine December 29, 2010, 3:46 pm

    Caitlin – I’d recommend getting tested for PCOS just in case. I was recently diagnosed with it myself, and had just gone off BC. If you wait until you’re ready to get pregnant to go off BC, and you end up also having PCOS, you could be looking at a major delay in the ability to conceive. Good luck!

  • Mary Allison December 29, 2010, 3:51 pm

    I stopped taking birth control 5 weeks ago and haven’t had a period. I am an avid runner and Pure Barre nut. Caitlin, how long did you it take you to have a period after you stopped taking BC?

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 3:57 pm

      It took exactly 30 days

  • Graze With Me December 29, 2010, 3:57 pm

    I went off BC (NuvaRing) in June and didn’t get a period until October. I had done some research and a lot of people recommended Raspberry Leaf tea. So, I bought some, drank 3-4 cups a day and after a mere TWO DAYS I had my period back! It was absolutely incredible.

    Since then, I have been using the FAM method and it’s been going as smooth as can be. My periods are a little on the longer side (35-40 days) but the very day my temp drops I get a period. It’s AMAZING.

    When you do go off the pill again, please try the tea. I’m curious to see if it works as well for others!

  • Rys December 29, 2010, 4:00 pm

    Thank you for being so brave and sharing your story. You being the wife of a doctor who practices Oriental medicine, no wonder you’re freaked out by the idea of the pill. Although, as a young woman who not only has been on it for five years but also works with organizations educating women on having a safe sex life, the pill is not a bad thing or scary- like many seem to think. Although they are indeed artificial hormones, the pill is the best thing to ever happen to women; married, unmarried, in a monogamous relationship or not. It truly transformed women’s independence and gender roles in society. I hope that you can look at the method in a brighter light and not stress over it as much. Thank you for being so open, Caitlin. You’re amazing.

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 5:45 pm

      Thanks Rys!

  • Bridget December 29, 2010, 4:06 pm

    Thanks for facilitating such a great discussion. I have had an off and on again relationship with BC, finally stopping using it for good about 6 months before I got married. We have used the FAM method for the past year and a half, and were TTC for about 6 months without luck. For now that’s alright, but I’m hoping next time we try we have more luck.

    I am happy to not be adding the extra hormones to the body as my mom had estrogen fueled breast cancer at 41 and 43. She also was a long time birth control user, 15+ years.

  • December 29, 2010, 4:11 pm

    This is such an interesting discussion and I think it is great you are able to be open about your own experience. I too am a little weary of being on the pill, which I am currently, for an extended period of time. However, I don’t feel my husband and I can totally depend on a natural method like FAM. Maybe because it is more time intensive and sometimes just taking the pill once a day is hard to do. I also have heard about the research supporting bc for preventing of ovarian cancer while concurrently raising your risk of breast cancer. As with most things, this is obviously just not a cut and dry thing and I think it is great that you provide a forum for discussion.

  • Jayce December 29, 2010, 4:12 pm

    Ok, I honestly did not read the comments before mine because I am in a time crunch, but I have to weigh in on this matter…

    I have had irregular periods since I was about 16 and got to an unhealthy weight. Even after getting better, my period continued to be very irregular, with about 90 to 120 days between. I am now 25. I never thought much about it because fertility, etc., was not a big deal at the time and it was kinda nice to not have to deal with a period every month.

    I took BC pills for about 8 months in 2009, leading up to my wedding in May and for about 3 months after. I hated how emotional/crazy they made me feel and felt that my face was breaking out more, so my husband and I decided together that I would stop the BC pill in August 2009. We began using condoms, and that was fine for us (but certainly everyone has their preferences on that). After stopping the pill, I got a period in Sept 2009 and again in December 2009. After that, they just seemed to stop altogether. This time I was concerned.

    We began trying to conceive in May 2010 (with no success yet). Yes, I am young still, but my husband is 9 years older and we are ready for the next phase. I spoke with my gyno about my period issues in July, and instead of really trying to find a root cause she just recommended that I try a drug called Provira, which is basically super-high doses of progesterone to jump-start a period (I’m assuming this is what your gyno was suggesting). She did order a bunch of labs, which all came back normal, but she did not delve any further than that. I said “no, thanks!” to the hormones and decided to wait it out. We continued trying to conceive, albeit with no real way to know where my cycle was. I work nights so even BBT/FAM is not really an accurate measure since my schedule is always all over the place. After doing some research, I discovered a natural progesterone hormone cream called Progesta-Care. I decided in October, after 10 months with no period, to try it out. I used the cream twice a day for 14 days, then stopped for 14 days, then started again. On December 11th, I started my period!! I don’t know for sure if it’s related to the cream, but it very well may be. I plan to continue the cream, and to go back to the gyno in May if I have still not conceived so that she can refer me elsewhere.

    I encourage you to not give up on trying to figure out what exactly is going on with your body. The next 10 months is the time to figure it out – believe me when I say it is absolutely heartwrenching dealing with all this as we so badly want to get pregnant.

    • andi December 29, 2010, 4:17 pm

      i just wanted to chime in and agree with this — i was on the pill for about 10 years and went off just before my wedding because we wanted TTC…only to find out that my cycles are REALLY irregular and bcp was masking the problem. it’s been 8 months and i’ve had 3 cycles and each cycle that goes on is more heartbreaking than the last because we want to have a baby. that’s not to say that others don’t have it SO much worse or deal with so much more, it’s just that when you deal with it when all you want is to see a positive pregnancy test…it’s really hard.

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 5:53 pm

      I’m sorry you’re having trouble TTC! I wish you the best.

  • Emily December 29, 2010, 4:13 pm

    Thanks for the open discussion on this subject!

    I used the pill for a few years and got on well with it. It took me two tries to find the brand that worked for me and then was fine. And it helped with my skin issues too! When I came off it my periods settled back to normal fine, though I do know women who have been irregular for a long while after: the doctors do say it is often 6 months to settle down again.

    I don’t know about in the US, but in the UK we have the ‘mini-pill’ (progestogen only pill) which is similar but has less hormones in it. I know some women choose this because they find it less freaky.

    I can’t use oral contraceptives now since I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease which makes them unreliable. Its such a difficult issue.

    I don’t think I could trust the FAM method: the consequences if it went wrong would be too dire!!!

    I’ve pretty much ruled out depo provera and the implant. I don’t usually get freaked out about these kinds of things but the side effects I’ve read about are scary. I think I’ll be getting a mirena coil, when I get round to it!

    I feel fortunate that in the UK all contraception is free to all women on the NHS, and it is easily accessible too.

  • Anonymous December 29, 2010, 4:15 pm

    Currently I am a Sophomore in college but when I was a Senior in highschool my teacher found me laying on the floor of my class, completely delirious because of my cramps. I went to my doctor and she prescribed me Yaz which I never tool because I was worried about infertility (I know I was young to be worrying about that!). After having a pregnancy scare with my boyfriend I started taking Natazia in November. It’s a new pill so I’m kinda freaked out. I’ve only been on it for a month but I want off it so bad :/ I have headaches and I’m sleepy all the time. Unfortunately I have to be on it though because we aren’t married or ready to have kids. After I get married I want to get the ladycomp and chart my temperatures. I don’t want to be on BC forever and the boyfriend and I don’t like condoms/we usually forget. Condoms ruin the mood for me…there’s nothing sexy about them. So hopefully in around two years (when we get married) I can get a ladycomp & try out the FAM method!

    • Stephanie C December 29, 2010, 9:33 pm

      Have you considered some of the older BC pills? It seems your Dr has been prescribing you some of the newer lines of BC and maybe those just aren’t working for you.
      I am not anti new BC pills. I am on one that I absolutely love.. and wish was available to me earlier.
      I take it to prevent pregnancy, but also to lessen the amount of time of my periods and cramps (1-3 days versus 8 days).
      I stayed home from school a lot as a Senior in high school for the same reason.. felt like someone was stabbing me in the stomach with a dull knife.

  • Pro-science December 29, 2010, 4:16 pm

    It’s completely unsurprising that real medicine blew acupuncture and “herbs” out of the water. Because, you know, the former works and the latter two don’t. I’m sure you’d like to believe otherwise, but reality doesn’t bend to what we want.

    • Anonymous December 29, 2010, 4:43 pm

      Have you tried herbs or acupuncture yourself? I wouldn’t knock someone’s opinion because everyone is nettled to their own. There is no reason to be rude… you can display your opinions in a well though out manner.

      • Anonymous December 29, 2010, 4:45 pm

        That is supposed today entitled*

      • Anonymous December 29, 2010, 4:46 pm

        That is supposed to say entitled*

    • sarah (the SHU box) December 29, 2010, 4:53 pm

      as someone who works in the field of traditional medicine (i’m an MD) but has a firm belief in the validity of complementary treatments (i heart my chiropractor and am considering acupuncture), i find this really sad.

      • Anonymous December 29, 2010, 5:03 pm

        I absolutely love my chiropractor and I am getting more and more into natural medicine. People used to live longer before they were introduced to all of these medicines and fake ingredients!!

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 5:55 pm

      Since you can’t discuss things in a mature manner, I’m not going to bother to do so either, especially when you insult my Husband’s business (um, that he went to medical school FOR FOUR YEARS FOR)….

      You are totally right. Western medicine is always the perfect solution because it totally has ZERO side effects.

      Oh wait – here is a list of potential side effects for birth control pills:

      Depression or other emotional changes
      Breast lumps
      Heavy vaginal bleeding between periods (light bleeding or spotting is normal)
      High blood pressure (hypertension)
      High cholesterol
      Signs of a blood clot in the leg, such as:

      Pain in the calf
      Leg cramps
      Leg or foot swelling

      Signs of a blood clot in the lung, such as:

      Shortness of breath
      Sharp chest pain
      Coughing up blood

      Chest pain or heaviness, which may be signs of a heart attack
      Sudden loss of vision or vision changes, which can be a sign of a blood clot in the eye
      Signs of a stroke, such as:

      Vision or speech changes
      Weakness or numbness in an arm or leg
      Severe headache

      Signs of liver damage, such as:

      Yellow eyes or skin (jaundice)
      Dark urine
      Upper-right abdominal pain

      Signs of an allergic reaction, such as:

      Unexplained rash
      Unexplained swelling
      Difficulty breathing or swallowing.

      Many of these serious side effects can be attributed to the estrogen content of birth control pills.

      • Marissa C December 30, 2010, 11:56 am

        I totally agree! My husband is in med school right now (traditional allopathic) and I’m curious to see how they cover contraceptives and if they cover FAM methods at all. I talked to his parents over Christmas (one is a gyn oncologist, the other is a no-longer-practicing radiation oncologist) and my MIL said when she learned the FAM method 20+ years ago she was absolutely astounded that none of it was taught to either of them in the course of their 8-10 years of medical training. NOTHING! FWIW Caitlin, if you ever decide to try FAM again, you might try going to an NFP-only gynecologist once to see if they can find any underlying issues. They tend to have much more knowledge and treatment options since they are forced to look for underlying causes instead of covering up the symptoms with the pill. It seems based on why my in-laws said and what my husband is learning that traditional medicine’s first response to any gynecological disorder is to put you on the pill–maybe that explains your experience with your gyn?

        • Caitlin December 30, 2010, 12:00 pm

          I had no idea there were FAM-specific gynos. How can I find one???

        • Marissa C December 30, 2010, 2:30 pm

          This is the most comprehensive list that I know of–though there may be more:

          Just be aware that they are all Catholic and do not prescribe any sort of artificial birth control at all. I highly doubt they would be judgmental of you though–just explain your situation. I think many would be excited to hear that a non-Catholic has even tried FAM/NFP. You might ask how they usual deal with situations like yours in advance, but I think you might have good luck!

          Another resource that might be helpful to anyone else out there is CCL’s version of FAM called NFP(Same as TCOYF, but doesn’t allow the use of condoms officially–charts look the same, etc.). It is a Catholic organization (but not limited to Catholics), so obviously there are Catholic teachings interspersed in their literature, but if you join the organization ($35 for a year I think), you can send any charts to their consultants at the central office (which include MDs), if you see things that concern/confuse you. I haven’t had to use this yet, but I did call my teacher a few times when I first started. It was nice to get an outside opinion.

          Additionally, this Clinic (also associated with the Catholic Church and exclusively pro-life, full disclosure) is known for its ingenuity and skill at treating gynecological and fertility disorders from a non-contraceptive point-of-view. I don’t think you would/need want this, but it might be an option for other readers:

        • Marissa C December 30, 2010, 2:53 pm

          PS–I’m new to your blog. I love it–so inspiring, especially for someone attempting their first half-marathon and trying to eat right!

  • Annette December 29, 2010, 4:22 pm

    Caitlin, I too had major hormonal issues and didn’t have my period for over 5 yEARS (combination of being a dancer and runner and not eating enough). When I did get my period back, my skin went nuts because of the change in hormones again. I was afraid of going on the pill when I got married because I didn’t want my hormones to go crazy in another way, gain tons of weight, or cause more skin issues.

    My husband and I decided to get the paragard (form of internal IUD that is made of copper and does nOT emit hormones) and we love it! I and he can not even tell it is there and I have no facial, weight, or other issues. Also, because of my skin, I have tried EVERYthing out there and have since found THE best facial skin treatment/wash out there. it is seriously the MOST amazing skincare kit- and has changed my skin in less than a month! It is a miracle and I love it! It is ALL natural, no synthetics or chemicals, and made completely from essential oils. The company is doTERRA. Let me know if I can hook you up, because it is expensive- retail price (but I can get it wholesale as an Independent Product Consultant for doTERRA).

    hope these suggestions work, if you hate the pill again and/or need a really amazing facial skincare kit! 🙂

  • Carly (Swim, Run, Om) December 29, 2010, 4:38 pm

    Just popping in to say that Pill withdrawal is seriously no joke, and neither is switching from one brand to another! And I think it’s really great that you share your experiences with us.

  • Kate December 29, 2010, 5:03 pm

    Have you tried the copper IUD? Al of my friends are on it, as am I, and we have no complaints! No hormones, extremely effective control. Look into it!

  • Lauren December 29, 2010, 5:22 pm

    It’s somewhat comforting to know other people have such BC related issues too! I just went off BC a couple weeks ago and I blame the 2 week headache I’ve had on it but I couldn’t stand to be on it anymore. I’ve had issues in the past and had to switch pills so much and just when I thought I was out of the woods I started getting my period off and on ALL month. I couldn’t deal with it any more so I’m done! For now…

  • Allison K December 29, 2010, 5:22 pm

    I really wish that I had the time to read through all of the comments right now!
    I quit taking hormonal bc in….October? I can’t remember. It was September or October. I was pretty nervous about it, as my husband and I are also NOT trying to have a baby right now.
    I love being off the pill. The different versions I’ve been on have caused me to have the following symptoms at varios times: 9 days periods, no sex drive, crazy emtions crying all the time, bloating. I like not taking hormones, but I have to admit, there are times when I look at the pills I have in my cabinet, and I want to start taking them again, because work! and Condoms? suck. We’ve never used condoms, and it’s lame for sure. Although, now that we are in my 4th cycle with FAM, I am getting more and more comfortable with my cycle, and we are only using the condoms for about 10 days out of my 31-35 day cycle, which isn’t soo bad!

  • Skinny Sushi December 29, 2010, 5:22 pm

    I’ve been on the pill since I was 18 and never had any issues, but when I stopped taking the pill to get pregnant I discovered I DID have a sex drive… I went back on the pill after my daughter was born because it was the easiest thing to do, but now I’m looking at the copper IUD because I miss my sex drive! Besides, after my daughter was born, my periods are terrible even on the pill, so I don’t think going with a nonhormonal IUD will be much of an issue. The only drawback is that the copper one can make your period heavier, and mine is pretty bad already, so… we’ll see, I guess! Good luck to you with getting back on the pill, and I hope you find something that works!

  • Heather December 29, 2010, 5:31 pm

    this TOTALLY happened to me. I started marathon training in august and I got off the pill in sept. I had always been right on cue with 28 days and then after I got off the pill and had my initial period, it has ranged from 35-49 days for me to get a period. I get a few unsightly pimples, but it hasnt been enough to deter me. Yes, its stressful trying to NOT get pregnant, but, the pill made me absolutely CrAzY and unhappy and mean so its just not an option for my mental health!

  • BethT December 29, 2010, 5:44 pm

    Do you think you’ll back off your running as you get closer to having kids? I was on the pill for 13 years and had no problems getting my period back or conceiving. Of course, every body is different, but I often wonder (as you suggest) if the intense training is more to blame for period issues than the BC pills.

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 6:00 pm

      For sure… I will probably cut back on all forms of physical activity!

      I wonder that, too!

  • Danielle December 29, 2010, 5:46 pm

    You should definitely think about switching DRs. Sounds like the current one is promoting something you’re really not comfortable with. Also, thanks for being so open-minded about this topic 🙂

  • Becky December 29, 2010, 6:01 pm

    It is so interesting how differently peoples’ bodies react to things!!! I am also struggling a bit with acne after going off the pill (I stopped it over the summer to see how I’d feel after being on it for quite a while), but I think that I feel better in general than I did while I was on it, and my periods have stayed regular, so I will probably stay off of it. I have really appreciated all your posts on this subject, and was even inspired to buy the book on FAM that you reviewed (I randomly came across it at a yard sale for .50 over the summer!) – while I don’t think FAM is the best method of birth control for me at this point (we use condoms and are fine with them), it has been really interesting to learn about and I hope to someday use it when trying to conceive! Thanks again for your openness and willingness to share – one of the reasons I continue to read and enjoy your blog!!!

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 6:02 pm

      Thanks Becky 🙂 I appreciate that.

  • AFG December 29, 2010, 6:10 pm

    I totally get the BC and condom issue. I’ve had three kids… Hubby and I hated condoms and BC was expensive with no script coverage so we opted for the vasectomy. Best decision EVER. now I understand that is not something you can do since you are going to have babies down the road. I agree with the BC decision – but keep the vasectomy in mind when you are done having children. Makes sex so much more fun when you don’t have to deal with the drama. 🙂

  • JessicaR December 29, 2010, 6:13 pm

    Is anyone else disturbed by the number of women here who experienced irregular periods and acne after going off the pill? (Myself included!)

    Scary to think what outside factors (environmental, food, etc.) are influencing this.

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 6:26 pm

      YES – me!

    • kristin December 29, 2010, 7:22 pm

      Me too, I’d love to know what women’s periods were like in the olden days before birth control, pollution, artificial ingredients and hormones and GMOs in everything etc etc etc and if they have an effect on periods and fertility.

  • Jacalyn December 29, 2010, 6:16 pm

    I am a physician assistant and went through similar situations recently. I had been on BC for 10 years when we decided we wanted to get pregnant. I stopped and BAM! one month later – prego. I had my son, decided to try the nuvaring, but had pretty bad emotional rollercoaster rides with it, so decided I wanted to be natural and not use BC anymore. (Being that I am a PA and have personal and professional experience with medication, I feel comfortable changing medication around. I don’t suggest you do this without medical advice) I stopped it immediately and 1 month later – BAM! My face was busted like a 13 year old boy going through puberty. (This was exceptionally difficult for me to deal with as I am always complimented on my complexion and skin tone). The hubby and I decided to stick it out and try condoms – failure on the first attempt. It’s a hilarious story, but one that gets me odd looks when I tell it. Besides the fact that we dont like condoms and my face totally exploded, I was always paranoid I was pregnant. you took 3 pregnancy tests? I took 6 in a 2 week time frame! I found Clinique acne wash, toner and lotion helped calm down the acne, but knew it wouldn’t go away without Rx assistance. I gave it about 3 months and decided to go back on OCP’s. I just started them again and am getting seriously nauseated because my body is no longer use to the hormones. I am looking forward to beautiful skin and carefree sex again!

    Don’t be worried about the progesterone jump to help your period kick in. It’s totally safe, but you do have to worry about possible nausea and headaches and you are overstimulating your ovaries.

    I hope this helps you and/or any of your readers. It’s funny how all our stories coincide. We are all women dealing with female issues and are more similar than we realize.


  • Heidi - apples under my bed December 29, 2010, 6:32 pm

    Really interesting post! Well done on doing a lot of research. I’ve benefited from all your research too – I feel better informed. I think you really did all you could & so I hope you’re happy with your decision. If I were in your situation, I think I would have done exactly as you did. I’m on the pill, and have been for 9 years. No real concerns on my end.
    Heidi xo

  • Carrie December 29, 2010, 6:40 pm

    I went through a similar process over a year ago after being on various birth control pills for 10 years. Now I’m back on BC – once I was off the pill I was diagnosed with PCOS, which wouldn’t have happened if I had never tried to get off it. So I’m grateful for that, but with PCOS they wanted to put me right back on the pill and after a lot of thought, I decided right now that is best for me.

    Also Caitlin, I live in Charlotte so let me know if you need any recs for a new gyn!

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  • BetsyH December 29, 2010, 6:52 pm

    After 10 years on birth control, I went off in preparation to get pregnant. My face didn’t break out, but my cycle length was anywhere from 17 to 35 days. And my period was anywhere from 3 to 12 (bummer!) days long. I’ve read-up on FAM (Taking Charge of Your Fertility). With an irregular cycle, it’s really hard to rely on the charting. After I had my son this past September, I went on the Nuva ring. I HATED it. My face went crazy. It always felt like it was seconds from falling out, and (TMI) it made me really lubricated. So much so that I almost wore a thin pad. After two weeks, I took it out. I just couldn’t take it anymore. And after year and a half of being hormone free, I didn’t like the idea of the artificial hormones. I haven’t gotten my period since I went off Nuva ring six weeks ago, but that could very well be because I just had a baby. Currently my husband and I are using condoms. Our sex life has taken a minor hit, but I don’t know if its the condoms or the 15 week old! Eventually, I plan to use FAM. Thanks for sharing, Caitlin. It’s awesome to see woman speaking candidly about something so personal.

  • Carolyn @ one lazy bride December 29, 2010, 6:55 pm

    I too have been debating my birth control options lately. I’ve been on the same pill for about five years, and I definitely don’t want kids, but I’d just been feeling sort of uncomfortable with it, and my periods hadn’t been that regular anyway lately. But I experienced major debilatating cramps for the month I was off it, and my skin got pretty bad too, even though I’ve never really had bad skin prior to going on the pill.

    A friend of mine’s vision started going weird when she went on the pill – she already had pretty poor vision and so I remember having to guide her around until the doctors realised what it was! That freaked me out and made me want to go off the pill ASAP. I never had that problem, but just the fact that artificial hormones can change your body so much scared me!

    My fiance and I are considering getting some permanent solution a couple years after we marry in the fall, as we are both fairly certain we don’t want kids. But we’re young and those are pretty drastic measures! But like you, I’m just so sick of artificial hormones! Lots to think about…but for now the pill unfortunately seems to be the best solution!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 6:56 pm

      Whoa. Super scary about your friend!

  • Elizabeth December 29, 2010, 7:12 pm

    Thanks for discussing this. I have been trying to get my period back for 3 years (I’ve only had it once); I’ve never been on the pill, but was offered that and Provera as a solution to my problem. Like you, I was kind of shocked at the idea of using a ton of unnatural hormones to get my period, so I am still waiting. It’s informative to read others experiences with BC!

  • Jen December 29, 2010, 7:20 pm

    After being on the pill for 15 years, I finally went off it two years ago. I’d been having irregular bleeding (everything from spotting to full on bleeding) between periods for a long time and I finally couldn’t take it anymore. My doctor didn’t seem concerned and literally said “there are a million different pills you can try…we’ll find you the right one” – that’s when I decided to ditch the pill and the doctor because I was concerned there might be an underlying problem. Fortunately my periods regulated within about six months (I’d always had regular periods before the pill) and the mid-cycle bleeding completely went away. I feel more energized and finally have a sex drive again, much to my husband’s (and my!) joy. The downside is that we don’t want kids ever, so we’ve been using condoms ever since I went off the pill. That will have to do until one of us can get “fixed” (which is looking pretty much impossible at the moment – neither of us can find a doctor who will tie my tubes or give hubby the snip because they’re scared we’ll come back later with regrets…don’t even get me started on that one). I’m lucky that I can feel it when I’m ovulating (I’m actually ovulating right now, lol – feels like a stitch in my lower right side) so I know that in 10 days I’ll have my period. That doesn’t mean we don’t use condoms for the rest of the month – we’re just extra careful after I’ve ovulated. Anyhoo, what it all comes down to is doing what’s right for you, and if the pill is your best option at this point and you’re comfortable being back on it then it’s the best solution at this time. Good luck with it!

  • Brooke December 29, 2010, 7:25 pm

    When I first thought about going on birth control, I knew for me, the pill wasn’t the best option, only because I probably would’ve missed a day or two here and there, and I didn’t want to risk anything. My sister, at the time, was on NuvaRing, so I decided to try that, since she had success with it. I always had issues with it falling out and I could never seem to get it in perfectly. My sister said she never had that problem…turns out, my uterus is tilted, which is why it could never get positioned right. I’ve had major blood problems in the past, and I didn’t want to mess with the “shot”, so my other option that I tried briefly was the patch. Not convenient at all! The corners would just flip up and not stick, and it was just annoying. My other option, that I discussed with my obgyn thoroughly, was Mirena, the new form of an IUD. I liked how it only effected my uterus, and didn’t go through my whole system (similar to the pill and the “shot”). I originally got it put in in 2006, and it hurt like a mother for the first day (cramping and such) then it was perfect. It’s good for 5 years, but if you wanted to have it taken out anytime before then, you can. I recently got it replaced last week, and I probably won’t go the full 5 years this time, but it’s nice to not have to worry about it!! I hope you can figure out something that works for you! But it sounds like your doctor should really learn to LISTEN to you better!

    • Brooke December 29, 2010, 7:28 pm

      Oh side note: my obgyn is actually on Mirena too, and she told me that she has had a wonderful experience with it (she’s on her 3rd). I, personally, still get my periods, but they’re light which is nice, but I know that every body is different and people have different experiences. My best friend went on Mirena, and she stopped having her period, but otherwise had a great experience with it too. [ Apologiesfor the novel of a comment! 🙂 ]

  • kristin December 29, 2010, 7:31 pm

    Everyone has said this already but I’ll say it again, I love that you are so open in discussing this! Thank you for opening this topic up for discussion, the comments are so interesting!

    I went off BC a few months ago to see what would happen and I’ve realized my period is irregular (30-51 days between periods) and cramps suckkkk! I had forgotten after 8 yrs on BC. But, I’m sticking it out because my boyfriend and I don’t mind condoms (too much ha), pregnancy wouldn’t be the end of the world and I want to wait and see if my cycle evens out in a few months.

  • Jessica December 29, 2010, 7:50 pm

    It’s good to know I’m not alone in this struggle. I’ve been on the pill for years now and since becoming more active in the past 3 years I’ve probably only had my period 6 times. I’ve talked to my doctors about it several times but they always assure me that it’s ok. Maybe I should trust their professional opinions but I do wonder what’s going on.

  • Gracie (complicated day) December 29, 2010, 7:54 pm

    My period stops during high-intensity cardio times, too (I ran 5 marathons, 3 half-marathons, and a 10-mile race this fall…like, since Oct 1st!). I LOVE it. And I use the FAM method without a problem. It gets easier to understand as time goes by – actually, after 3 years, I don’t chart at all (actually I stopped charting after 2 years). I can tell day to day where I am in my cycle, and when I’m exercising intensely I know that the infertile time will extend. Fine with me! Of course, that’s just me, but for the others who might read this and want to use FAM, I have PCOD and still use the method. And I’ve been married for 3.5 years with no babies 🙂

    • Theodora December 29, 2010, 8:44 pm

      Wait, you ran all those races since Oct. 1?!?!! WHOA.

      • Gracie (complicated day) January 2, 2011, 9:56 pm

        Hey, why waste marathon training, right? I wanted my money’s worth out of my 20 milers!

  • Jane December 29, 2010, 8:00 pm

    I was on the Pill for 7 years (age 15-22), but I still had issues with cramps and super heavy periods even then, though they were better. After I passed the 5.5 year mark, I started to get really bad reactions to the pill- I was nauseous all the time, migraines, things like that – and it wasn’t helping with my other issues, they were getting worse! I got fed up when I started being unable to eat ANYTHING and got off the pill, and got a copper IUD, so no hormones.
    I absolutely loved it, but this past summer I essentially had my period (really heavy spotting) for 2 months. They did ultrasounds and discovered that I had a cyst on one ovary, most likely of endometrial tissue, and considering that and all my other symptoms they diagnosed me with endometriosis. The kicker – they wanted me to get back on the Pill because hormones are really the only treatment! I said absolutely not, so they compromised and switched my copper IUD for the Mirena, which is hormonal but typically has less side effects. The first one started to come out and was no longer reliable birth control (yikes!!) so a few weeks ago they took that out and put in another one. Hopefully it sticks this time!!

    • Brooke December 29, 2010, 8:22 pm

      I’m so sorry about your Mirena experience! I’m always nervous that mine will come out so I always check for the wire. I had an ovarian cyst burst about a year BEFORE I went on Mirena, and I heard that if you have previously had a cyst, the chances of another one appearing is greater, so I was afraid at first to try Mirena, but so far so good! I hope this second one works out better for you, Jane! 🙂

      • Jane December 29, 2010, 9:10 pm

        Thanks! I had no issues with my other IUD for 3.5 years so hoping that was a fluke. Just glad my doctor was cautious about checking it! We are not ready to be pregnant yet… I’m in my last semester of a ph.d. program and we are getting married in march 2012!

  • Kristina @ life as kristina December 29, 2010, 8:02 pm

    These posts are great…and very educational. I’m someone who tends to listen to personal experience rather than google searches and male gynos! I’ve been on the pill since I was 15 (i’m now 27). I’m getting married in May and have been talking about going off the pill afterwards to start trying for a baby-I’m nervous, for obvious reasons! Thank you for being so honest and open about this topic!

  • Katy (The Singing Runner) December 29, 2010, 8:11 pm

    I have never been on The Pill. My cycle has always been pretty regular and I am not sexually active at this time. However since I started running 4-5 days a week in preparation for my half- marathon, my period cycle has changed drastically. I was always on a pretty regular 24-27 day cycle but now it has spaced out to 35-40 days. I am concerned for the future because in 2011 I want to train for a few more halfs and a marathon. Even though I am not sexually active, the idea of not having my period scares me.

  • kalin December 29, 2010, 8:25 pm

    I went off birth control ~3 months ago and it’s the most magical thing EVER.
    I get migraines, and I noticed they were centered around my period. I mentioned this to my Dr, and just got a script for migraine meds (I’ve tried no estrogen and low estrogen pills in the past for the migraines and they were no good for my body). It was getting where I couldn’t function for days on end every month. So I ditched the pill.
    I broke out like craaaazy the first month. Second puberty style. It was bad. (we’re using condoms, but I’m charting just to make sure I’m not preggers-I have longish cycles so it’s easy to start worrying! The husband said using just FAM made him nervous… So we don’t use FAM as BC)
    NO MIGRAINES since I went off. It’s magic.
    And, turns out I’m happier off of it. I wasn’t depressed before or anything, but I can tell for sure I’m happier off.
    Long term I am going to go to a gyn and see about a IUD because condoms forevah would be lame. But right now? It’s rad.

    • Gloria December 29, 2010, 10:01 pm

      I was taking hormones to get a regular period and was getting those horrible migraines as well!! I stopped them recently and am going through the same “pizza face” phase (even though I didn’t even break out during puberty.. grrr). Thanks for sharing, I’m really glad to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel 🙂

  • Shayla December 29, 2010, 8:31 pm

    Great post Caitlin and thank you for being so open and honest about this, I really appreciate it. I’ve been contemplating when to go off the pill since we want to start trying for a baby next summer. So many people say you need to be off the pill for at least 6 months prior to trying to get pregnant – do you have any thoughts on this?

    • Caitlin December 29, 2010, 10:27 pm

      I have not heard that!

  • Marci December 29, 2010, 8:34 pm

    Again, so glad you’re sharing this. I think about your previous BC posts when I look into going off the pill. And I appreciate the discussion about opinions on waiting or not waiting before trying to conceive once off the pill. I also used to have very long periods before I went on the pill (5-7 weeks, etc), so I think it could be unrelated to running, but I don’t really know your body! Now can you jumpstart the campaign against self-employed insurance plans that don’t cover maternity including pregnancy and labor/delivery?! That is what’s causing me stress right now!

  • sarahMTSBB December 29, 2010, 8:46 pm

    going off the pill ticked off my skin too…ugh! but just to warn you- keep an eye on your blood pressure and maybe even your liver enzymes! i was on seasonale/jolessa (the 90 day packs) for several years without issues. then i went in for my yearly physical and blood work and suddenly my blood pressure was way up (150/110) and my liver enyzmes were elevated too! i felt completely fine…i thought that the BP was “white coat syndrome”/job stress and assumed that the lab mislabeled my tube when i sent it out (i’m a lab tech) until i repeated it myself at work and the values were even higher. my family doctor didn’t want to believe it was the meds b/c i had taken them for years, but made an apt for me to see a liver specialist. i was so concerned (i need my liver!) while waiting the 3 months it took to see the doctor that i went off the pill and singulair and monitored my BP/liver values myself as an experiment… by the time i saw the liver doc, it was all magically resolved! i’ve steered clear of the pill ever since and resumed singulair and both my BP and liver are again happy. it was just scary to realize that i could be damaging my liver and not even know it. i forget the exact statistic the pharmacist gave… a drug has to cause an elevation in >1/10,000 or something like that to require monitoring of liver enzymes (i.e. lipitor or that common acne drug) so if it’s less than that, you aren’t monitored. so as an FYI, as patients we should be proactive and make sure ask for labs yearly or so if we are on medications and our doctors don’t run them automatically!

    • Jenn January 19, 2011, 9:55 am

      I had liver enzyme problems on Yaz, went off and everything back to normal. Gyno tried to blame my allergy medicine, which I had been on for years. Thats not what it was… it was the Yaz. Tried Nuvaring and didnt give me the issue. People don’t usually think about these “invisible” side effects. I think doctors really need to check on this more often, people could be potentially hurting themselves without knowing it. All drugs have potential liver and kidney side effects that can seriously affect someone.

  • Shannon December 29, 2010, 8:51 pm

    I don’t know if you read all the way down this far but….good for you, doing what feels right to you. My best friend had the same skin problems as you when she went of BC pills not long ago…and she ended up going back on them too. I see nothing wrong with that. It’s a medication that works for you; why not use it if it is not harming your physical or mental health?

    As for me, I’m an almost-forty mom of two small children, and since the 2nd was born (4 years ago) I’ve had the Mirena IUD. It has stopped my periods completely, which some people think is just freaky and wrong, but I LOVE IT. Seriously–as a busy, active mom and a runner, it is a dream come true to not have to worry about when/where I will get my period, having enough supplies with me, dealing with it during runs, etc. My dr. has assured me over and over that this happens to some women, and that it is totally fine. She swears I can stay on it till menopause if I don’t want to get a period again. (Though some women start to get it again eventually, even on the IUD.)

    Just my experience! Good luck with all of it. When we started trying for a baby when I was about 31, we could not get pregnant and after 1-1/2 years of trying, tests, treatment, etc., my first daughter was conceived via IUI. The second time around when we tried for baby #2 (when our first was 15 mos. old), it all happened quickly and naturally, so the body is truly a mystery. 🙂

  • Andrea of Care to Eat December 29, 2010, 9:04 pm

    Personally, I think you made the right choice. When I decided to give up the Pill and do FAM, I didn’t want to get pregnant, but we would have been okay with it. We did use condoms (which sucked hard core) and we slowly phased them out as I got more comfortable with FAM. But, I wouldn’t be so quick to say your cycles were irregular just because of marathon training. It took me a year and a half to start ovulating again and have regular periods after going off the Pill, which apparently is completely normal for some women. My skin also freaked out big-time, and took about 6 months to clear up. Not fun at first, but worth it in the end if your lifestyle allows 🙂

    • Tracy December 29, 2010, 10:11 pm

      Thanks for this post, Caitlin, and your comment, Andrea. I’ve been searching the comments for something mentioning period loss when going off the pill – I haven’t had a period in 14 months (Oct 2009) and went off the pill in April 2010 thinking that would solve the problem. Since then, I’ve been on 3 doses of different hormones which my dr. assured me would “jump start” my period; no results. They did take blood tests and say my hormone levels are normal, but I still am totally freaked out about infertility.

      My skin is freaking out too, but honestly I don’t even care, I just want a period at this point! Glad to hear things worked out for you Andrea, gives me hope!

      • Andrea of Care to Eat December 29, 2010, 10:36 pm

        Every woman/body is different so I hope you find an answer soon. My Dr. wasn’t overly concerned about my irregular periods after some initial tests (thyroid, etc.) came back clear. I had a hunch it was just my body needing more time than most women and I was right – once my cycles returned to “normal” (like they were before I started the Pill 8 years before) I was able to conceive and I’m currently 6 months pregnant.
        Meghann over at Meals & Miles has a great post about her lack of periods (for no apparent medical reason) if you haven’t seen it yet – would be worth checking out!

        • Tracy December 30, 2010, 8:40 am

          Thanks for the advice – I’ll check out Meals and Miles today!

  • Meagan December 29, 2010, 9:07 pm

    I am in the middle of the “coming off BC nightmare”. I haven’t had my period since August. I know I’m not pregnant…my body just does not want to do its thing. We want to start trying for a baby next year, but were planning on using FAM to avoid until then. Luckily we don’t have quite the issue with condoms that you do, but they are quite the bummer.

    Good luck with everything! You’re not the only one…

  • Jess December 29, 2010, 9:31 pm

    Hey Caitlin, I experienced the same thing when I was training for my marathon. My cycle stretched longer and longer as my mileage increased and I was definitely eating plenty too. (I even wrote about putting on weight while I was training).

    Since I dropped my mileage to more normal for me levels, my cycle has returned to “normal” as well.

    I understand you wanting to go back on BC for now, and I hope FAM will work for you when you’re ready!

  • Gloria December 29, 2010, 9:56 pm

    I’ve been dealing with hormone/cycle issues for over 2 years. In fact, I haven’t had a period since August of 2008. I had been taking BC for years and decided to stop a month prior because I was looking to follow a more natural lifestyle. Of course I freaked, took pregnancy tests, and when they came back negative assumed that my body was just adjusting to the new level or hormones. I started running and exercising around this time (I had never exercised in my life prior to this) but didn’t think this moderate level of activity could possibly be the cause.

    My gyno had the same nonchalant attitude that yours did! I was underweight (as I have been my entire life – I have the metabolism of a 5 year old and the appetite of a 200 lb man, so trust me, calorie intake is NOT an issue) and he said he sees this kind of thing all the time with “runners” my size. I took 12 days of progesterone – no period. He did various other tests and concluded that I was still fertile (thank GOD!)

    Finally a few months ago I decided to take hormone replacements for a week every month to induce a period. It seemed like a great idea, until I started getting the most horrible classic migraines of my life and was spending a full 24 hours curled up on the floor of my pitch black bathroom every few weeks. No more hormones for me – I feel awesome and have tons of strength and energy even without that regular cycle.

    • Tracy December 29, 2010, 10:14 pm

      Gloria, I had a very similar situation – haven’t taken hormone replacements yet but have gone 14 months without a period and have been on 2 doses of progesterone as well as another hormone with no results, and a very nonchalant dr. Went off the pill in April 2010 looking for a change but nothing so far. Good luck to you – know that you are not alone!

      • Gloria December 30, 2010, 9:34 am

        Thanks so much, Tracy! It sounds like there are more women struggling with this than I thought. And many are perfectly fine with the present irregular state of their cycles. This is definite motivation for me to stop worrying so much. Good luck to you too 🙂

  • Susan - Nurse on the Run December 29, 2010, 11:45 pm

    While I didn’t read through all the comments, I am shocked at the number of people who are on BC! I suppose I’m lucky in that I’ve been running since I was 12 and have ALWAYS had regular periods…I haven’t missed one since I first got it, and it’s pretty much regular within a couple days. The thought of taking hormones on a daily basis or messing with what works just fine kinda scares me!

  • Jess @ NZ Girl Runs December 30, 2010, 12:51 am

    The last period I had was 2 years ago. I was on the pill, took my sugar pills as usual, but when I went back onto the hormone pills my period didn’t stop. 2 months later (so I had a period for 2 months!)my doctor switched me to a stronger pill and told me to just skip the sugar pills (meaning I won’t get a period that won’t stop again). 2 years period free means a lot of money saved on tampons!!! Since I don’t want kids I’m not concerned with it affecting my fertility.

  • Katie December 30, 2010, 7:09 am

    I went off the pill three years ago after taking it for about three years, and it took almost two years for my skin to get back to normal again. I went to both a doctor and a dermatologist who said that it isn’t unusual for it to take that long. Now it’s to a point where I have a small break out once a month just like clockwork, and it clears up in about two days–I can handle that, it just took forever to get to that point. I also used to get painfully bloated before my periods, and that got a lot better a few months after I got off the pill.

    I am kind of freaked out about BC now just seeing how long it took my body to adjust to being off of it. It obviously had some long-term ramifications for me.

  • Ashley December 30, 2010, 7:43 am

    I know many of you have said that your skin was your main issue with stopping the pill. If that is the only issue, I would recommend seeing a dermatologist for topical antibiotics and/or Retin A. I know many of us cringe at the thought of antibiotics but artificial hormones can be just as harmful. Also, once you stop the pill again, you will have to go through the same thing over again….

    • Caitlin December 30, 2010, 9:09 am

      I tried it all. 🙁 I know the skin thing is pretty vain, but I guess it was really just one of three major factors.

  • Kristin December 30, 2010, 8:38 am

    I am an obstetrician/gynecologist. And just to reassure you, long term use of birth control is safe. And shouldn’t impact your ability to get pregnant when you try. That is mostly impacted by how old you are when you are trying. Also, you can start the pills right away when you get them, no matter how long it is til your next period. And you will be protected after 7 days. The waiting til you start your period is an old method of starting your pills… Hope you are happy with your decision.

    • Caitlin December 30, 2010, 9:10 am

      Yay for hearing from an OB/GYN! Good to know ladies can start the pill at anytime.

  • Madeline - Greens and Jeans December 30, 2010, 10:50 am

    I have REALLY enjoyed reading these posts Caitlin! I have actually just decided to go back on the pill (ortho tricyclin lo) after a few months of being off of it (long distance relationship) because my periods are few and far between when I’m not on it and my skin is REALLY out of control. I’ve struggled keeping my period pretty much since I’ve got it (long time runner with a history of eating issues) and I don’t want to lose it after working so hard to get it back!

  • Laura December 30, 2010, 11:15 am

    I think you’re bringing light to a very important issue Caitlin. While this is a personal issue and everyone should certainly do what is best for them, I also have an opinion on the effects of birth control pills.

    I was on bcp for 13 years, since I became sexually active. Although I had a few issues after switching to generic, overall I was happy with bcp. After 3 years of marriage, my husband and I decided it was time to add to our family and I went off of bcp. I had just turned 31. I did not expect any issues with conception, but after a few months, there were signs that something was going on. I had spotting consistently for about a week before my period started, had very light periods, and also started having night sweats fairly regularly. My ob/gyn dismissed most of my concerns, although she did start testing my progesterone a week after I received positive indications of ovulation. My progesterone was always low, making it uncertain whether I had ovulated. My ob/gyn did not push us towards seeing a fertility specialist, but after a year and a half of trying, we decided to see one. We found out that I had extremely low ovarian reserve for a 32 year old – my day 3 FSH was so high (over 30) that most doctors would have said it was basically impossible for me to get pregnant with my own eggs. However, our doctors worked with us and despite the odds, I am now 14 weeks pregnant with twins conceived through IVF.

    My concern about BCPs is not that they caused my fertility issues, although I have thought a lot about that possibility, but I do think they covered up some signs that we could have noticed earlier that I might have trouble. By adding hormones to my body, we had no idea what my natural hormones were doing. If we had known there were potential issues, we would have started trying for children sooner in our marriage. We did not expect at age 31 to have any issues. My other suggestion to women is to consider having a cycle day 3 FSH test done. It’s a simple blood test and is the primary way doctors diagnose ovarian reserve issues. I wish I would have done that a lot earlier. I assume you do need to be off bcps for that test though, but I’m not positive.

    Thanks for your posts and honesty!

  • Nikky December 30, 2010, 11:54 am

    I’ve actually been thinking of re-attempting the pill. I tried the pill once as a teenager but got such bad nose bleeds I had to quit.

    Anyway, I have PCOS, and can go anywhere from a normal month to a year (my longest was 13 months) without a period. I’m not too concerned about getting pregnant, but less “Hey! Surprise!” would be nice. Also, and this is totally vain, no one likes a chick with a mustache, which BC would apparently help. 🙂

  • Lauren December 30, 2010, 2:48 pm

    I have a Paragard (non-hormonal copper IUD) and I love it. Copper IUDs are very common in other countries- I got mine while living in London. The Paragard does not influence future fertility and are not only for women who have given birth before. Insertion was not painful- just uncomfortable. The best part is that the IUD is hormone-free and lasts for 7-10 years until it needs to be replaced. I continue to get my period regularly and it is only mildly heavier and more cramping. I recommend the Paragard IUD because of its convenience and lack of hormones.

  • Cynthia December 30, 2010, 5:33 pm

    I was on the pill before and I hated it. It made me so emotional and I also got tons of migraines on it. After that, I got an IUD. MUCH better . . . and no crazy side effects.

  • Lisa C. December 30, 2010, 6:35 pm

    Very informative post! Although I don’t use the Pill now (major hormone problems) I was required to take the ‘mega dose of hormones’ for testing reasons and it really wasn’t as bad as you might think. Very similar to the transition period when you go on the Pill with perhaps some increased abdominal pain.

    Good luck!

  • Susan December 30, 2010, 8:59 pm

    After being on hormonal birth control for 11 years, I went off it at the beginning of 2010 since I was single and didn’t see the point in taking birth control if I wasn’t sexually active. I will admit — the acne thing really sucked, and I did consider going back on the pill just to get rid of it. But then I figured out the right skincare products and all was good…i would say I went back to having “normal” skin within about 3 months.

    I didn’t have any issue with missed periods, and this is as I was training for an Ironman. I think it’s important to recognize that each person is unique and deals with “stresses” placed on the body differently.

    I don’t know if anyone has written about this yet, but one thing I noticed was my mood and my libido changed. I definitely felt better off the BC…and for the first time in my life, I actually HAD a libido. Which, given that I went off BC because I was SINGLE, kinda sucked. But it was nice to know it was there! 🙂 When I met my current boyfriend and we discussed BC, we both decided we didn’t want to go the hormonal route…I am now on the ParaGard IUD and really like it.

  • Leila @ Spinach and Skittles January 1, 2011, 8:58 pm

    Totally late to the party…but, I wanted to make sure I read all the comments first. I’m constantly looking for others who were on depo, because it seems there aren’t many out there that talk about their experience going off. *sigh* I was on/off bcp for 5 years (17-22) and never found one that worked for me. I generally had a period for 2 weeks, had 2 weeks off, then back on for 2 weeks. Didn’t matter if I was on generic, regular, lo, yaz, whatever. I think I tried 9 different types.
    Then at 22 I went on depo to try something new. I was on it until a brief 6 month period when I had no health insurance and went on bcp because it was cheaper. Period returned “normally” (aka only during sugar pill phase), but so did the headaches, cramps, etc of PMS. So when I got health insurance again I went back on depo.
    Now I’m off depo, and it has been 7 weeks since I was supposed to get my shot. No period yet. Arrrgh. Two preggo tests, and nothing. I’ve been charting my temp, but it really isn’t going to tell me anything until I get my period back since my temps are all over the place. I know it has only been 7 weeks, but I really want my period back!
    I had my annual exam the day I was scheduled to do my shot. I met with the ONLY ARNP to the ONLY OB in the practice. I hoped to get in with the OB, but she is part time. So I figured that the ARNP would be pretty knowledgeable on all things baby related. So anyway, I was very interested in FAM since we don’t want to TTC yet. I have a few friends who’ve successfully avoided pregnancy with FAM and I wanted to explore it. The ARNP knew NOTHING about FAM. Nothing! She had to print info from some online doc site and read over it with me. And her response was, “well that sounds like a lot of work.” Ummm, thanks? So I am shopping for a new doc, and will most likely go with a midwife that also does regular annual exams/wellness so when I am ready to TTC she will know my history.

  • Kelly January 3, 2011, 1:02 pm

    I’m so glad you linked to this on your holiday recap post because I realized that I read half of this and then got distracted. That’s so exciting that you’re going to start trying for a baby in 10 months! I’m totally baby crazy right now and I don’t think it’s going to go away until I have one of my own. But we’re waiting a little while longer so cuddling friends’ babies will have to satisfy me for the time being. 🙂

  • whit January 3, 2011, 1:07 pm

    Speaking of gynos, I really recommend Carmel Ob/Gyn at Blakeney. They have always treated me well and there are three specific doctors there that I feel comfortable recommending. My sister and I have both been there, and also the Bradford Clinic is highly recommended in the Charlotte area, although I’ve never been there.

  • Jess@atasteofconfidence January 3, 2011, 1:08 pm

    I’m glad you are so honest about all of this! I don’t exactly like being on birth control, either, but I know getting pregnant right now is not something that is in the works (I’m 21!) I’m on ortho tri cyclen lo, and being on a low dosage birth control definitely helps my peace of mind- I know it has less side effects because of this (I just need to be a little more careful and make sure to take it on time).

  • Melody January 3, 2011, 3:19 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and I love it! This is my first time commenting because I felt like I had to share my experience with birth control as well. I started on ortho evra right after college and stayed on it for over 5 years. Prior to that, my cycles were always 30-35 days long, and fairly predictable. When I finally decided to get off of it due to the mounting health concerns related to the patch, I lost 20 pounds in one month, without having changed anything in diet or exercise. My periods shortened from 5 days to 2, my cycles are wildly unpredictable, with my longest one over 3 months. For the first 6 months off of birth control, I suffered hair loss, acne, and seborrheic dermatitis. The weight loss came as a complete shock to me. Having been tiny for most of my life, I had always associated my weight gain after college with a slowing metabolism and not so great eating habits. It was only afterwards that I realized the weight did start coming on after starting the patch. I have been off birt control for over a year now, and while the skin/hair conditions have gone away, my periods are still irregular and very short. I honestly wish I had NEVER gone on hormonal medication in the first place and will never go back on. While all my blood tests have come back normal, I can’t really ignore the effect it has had on my cycles, and am very afraid that I have damaged my ability to conceive in the future.

  • jenn s January 3, 2011, 8:49 pm

    This is all very interesting, but I am struggling with something somewhat different… I have beenoff birth control for 8 months, had bad acne , had regular periods june- august, then had an early period… had regular periods until dec, when it came a week late! My husband and I have been trying and trying to get pregnant, and he has been diagnosed with a varicose vein in his manly areas…. so I am not sure what gives, but it seems we try and try to stop pregnancy but when we want it, it won’t happen! Anyone have a similar experience?

    • Caitlin January 3, 2011, 10:32 pm

      Maybe try an alternative doctor – this would be right up my husband’s alley!

  • jenn s January 3, 2011, 10:46 pm

    Would we both need to see the doc or just me for my irregularity?

    • Caitlin January 3, 2011, 10:52 pm

      It depends but the Hus would start with you to get your cycle evened out.

  • jenn s January 3, 2011, 11:01 pm

    Thanks! I will research in my area!

  • Jenny January 4, 2011, 1:08 pm

    Hi, I am a long time lurker and just wanted to thank you for sharing these personal posts with us. I really respect your point of view and decision to go back on birth control. Ten months is going to fly by…I can’t wait to see your posts about a little HTP!

  • Kate January 13, 2011, 12:43 am

    I went off birth control myself about 10 months ago a) because I wasn’t in a relationship and b) because I didn’t want to be on medicine.

    Like you, my skin is awful..I never had these problems before and you know, many teens go on birth control for this.

    I’d been on it pretty regularly since I was 16 (bad cramps/ovarian cysts/mom had ovarian cancer).

    I definitely need to call the dr to get back on it for next cycle.

    I didn’t have any issues getting my fact I had the opposite problem…3 periods in 1.5 months! I am back to normal..basically 28 days…but sometimes less, sometimes more.

    My PMS has been awful..the week or so before my period..WATCH OUT. And then, until I get it I’m a blubbery mess…

  • Jenn January 19, 2011, 10:12 am

    Caitlin – thanks for sharing this personal info with all of us. I think all women need to find whats best for them, and make an informed decision. For me, its still trial and error, which I think is common. I have read somewhere that women try an average of 5 birth control methods before they find out whats right for them. Seems about right…

    As for the IUD debate, I have had both kinds. The non-hormonal copper I had for 3 years, one gave me non-stop painful periods. Its not for everyone. I stuck with it a while because I am sensitive to hormones. Some pills gave me migraines, others gave me liver issues, some gave me scary leg cramps, some depression. My doctor was frustrated, as was I. I am now on the Mirena, for the last 4 months. I am still in the getting-used-to-it stage, so verdict is still out. Seems okay so far.

    Bottom line, everyone needs to find out whats best for them and listen to your body. Listen to the little “voice inside your head” too. If something doesn’t seem right, it might not be. There are lots of options.

  • menssanaencorporesano January 23, 2011, 9:37 pm

    Hey Caitlin!

    I’m a huge fan, and I just wanted to take a minute to address this issue that I’ve found a lot of women are confused about: birth control.

    I’m a 4th year medical student and have used birth control in the past to regulate my periods, decrease the pain from cramping, control heavy bleeding and help my skin out.

    After studying about female hormone regulation I have decided to stop taking birth control pills.

    Birth control pills are designed for women to take them for 3 years AT MOST, then to take a 3-6 month break and let their hormones adjust–but mostly to prevent DISUSE ATROPHY. Disuse atrophy is arguably the main cause of this epidemic of infertility. When birth control pills take over the regulation of menstral cycles, the ovaries no longer are stimulated to produce hormones, so they shrink — the body no longer needs them anymore. This happens gradually, over a few years, but the longer oral contraceptives are used, the longer it takes your ovaries to grow back strong enough to regulate your cycles like they were meant to do in the first place. It’s just like any other gland or muscle in your body: you don’t use it, you lose it.

    So you might ask what I’m doing now with my cramping and heavy cycles: well, I’ve found that weight loss and regular exercise have done wonders for all of those problems. I can talk more about that if anyone is interested, but I thought this might at least clear up some of the questions everyone seems to be confused about.

    Look it up: disuse atrophy.

  • Rachel February 9, 2011, 6:21 am

    White Flower Oil ( was introduced to me by my mother. During one of my headaches, she gave me this tiny bottle of oil and told me to massage it on my temples and forehead. Amazingly, it worked! Somehow the oil penetrates into the affected area and relieves the pain.

  • how to get pregnant facts November 27, 2011, 1:32 am

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  • Meggie December 11, 2011, 1:21 am

    Very late to the game on this one, but, just for future reference, you can quick start the pill (ie start it the day you get the script) as long as sure are not pregnant!

  • Ashley // Our Little Apartment February 10, 2012, 7:43 pm

    Okay, I know this is a very old post, BUT! I am commenting in case someone like me is reading old posts and their comments.

    Marquette University did a study using a Easy Clear Blue Fertility Monitor to avoid pregnancy and we took part in the study. It took all the guesswork out of charting and temperature and cervical mucus – I peed on a stick a few times a month and inserted it into the monitor to find out my fertility level. (You can find info here.

    When we were fertile, we just practiced withdrawal (I KNOW, right? But it works if your guy has great control! F’real – it has 90+% effectiveness)

    I’ve never been on hormonal birth control – because eating organic and vegetarian…just seemed kind of weird to put hormones in my body. I’m glad my husband agrees. And I would use the copper IUD, but there are higher rates of infertility among users – and I always said I’d rather have a surprise baby than have trouble getting pregnant.

    Now I have a 17-month-old and we’re using condoms until I feel like paying attention to my fertility and such. 🙂

    Great topic!

  • Natalie Rodriguez February 18, 2012, 10:03 pm

    It is a hard issue. I want to be sensitive on how I say this. But I believe the pill has WORSE side effects then getting off. The best way to go is NFP(natural family planning). The Couple to Couple website has more info on classes. The pill causes infertility and worse cancer!

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