Horrible/Amazing Experiences We’ve Had On Birth Control Pills

Last week’s discussion of the condoms 32% of you are not using prompted us to start thinking about alternate forms of birth control – like, say, birth control pills. My experience on the pill has been fairly uninteresting, so I called a group of friends (the pill names I’ve used to disguise their identities are arbitrary and no reflection on their pill popping) who offered some stories about their experiences. And I learned that it’s seemingly making people lose their periods. And control of their emotions. And the ability to move the left side of their face, maybe. And, well, you can read the rest and see how they compare with your own experiences, if you’ve tried the pill:

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    • teenie

      crippling anxiety. almost destroyed my relationship…. perhaps the best birth control ever?

    • hola

      depression. weight gain. loss of libido. still dealing with the effects even after stopping the pill. as teenie said, ‘best birth control ever’.

    • rosie

      I’ve been on the pill twice, once for 3 years starting in college and once at age 27. My first experience was mostly positive, until that one time when it didn’t work and I got pregnant. That was pretty negative. 5 years later my then-boyfriend begged/convinced me to try again (with a different pill, obviously) and it was the most miserable negative experience… fat, broken out, zero-libido (if he touched me I started crying), basically psychotic and suicidal. Dealt with the effects for over a year after going off. Never say never, but… I don’t think I’m going to try a third time.

      • teenie

        @Rosie: you said you dealt with the effects for over a year after going off? I was on the pill this last time for just a month and a half(6 years since I was last on it) and it was so awful I quit. I’ve had one cycle since then, and have started another, and I’m still feeling super anxious. I’m hoping it’s the pill’s “after effects”…

      • rosie

        @teenie: It definitely could be after effects… I was on the pill for 4 or 5 months and it took me about a year and a half to feel normal. Luckily the suicidal depression went away first, but my general anxiety and mood swings stuck around for a while (as did the acne). Good luck! I hope you’re feeling better soon.

    • Lauren

      While my experience on the pill has been pretty uneventful – I had to change it twice, but it was right in the beginning and I have been totally fine for about 6 years, I want to thank you for this article. A lot of women I know don’t ever think that their birth control could be causing the problems they are having and should be asking their doctors about it. Also, I am glad you chose to include Miss Vicodin’s story about getting an abortion, I think that was very brave of her to share, even if she was anonymous, and it will provide insight to some people who have never known anyone who have experienced it.

    • Rebekah Mae

      I can’t speak for having an experience on the pill, due to the fact that I get the shot, but my experience on the shot has had it’s up’s and down’s. The up was the fact that I didn’t have to remember to pop a pill everyday and that I stopped having my period. The down…Extreme weight gain (30lbs over the course of a year and a half, though some of this I think was also caused by the fact that I eat when I’m stressed, which I was), mood swings and semi loss of libido.

    • matbo

      I went on the pill and lost my libido in the process. I’m off it now and both me and my boyfriend are much much happier. Sure condoms suck, but I like it so much better when I feel sexual feelings. I actually want to touch my boyfriend sexually and I lust for him in a way I never did while on the pill. We use about the same amount of lube off the pill as we did on, despite the condom drying me out a lot.
      Going off the pill I suddenly recognized my body again and I felt much more like “me”. And I am never going back…only question is, how do you prevent pregnancy in condomless sex without the hormones?

      • Sharonica

        My BFF swears by a diaphragm (she’s in her 20s) – for some reason they’re out of fashion, but that’s basically what you’re looking for.

      • Kelsie

        You could give Fertility Awareness a try. I’ve been doing it since I started having sex (ripe old age of 21). 8 years later, and no babies. I just take my temperature every morning around the same time and take a peek at my cervical fluid every now and then. My body is pretty good about telling me when I’m going to ovulate.

        There are studies now supporting withdrawal as an effective method–and this is what I use in combination with fertility awareness. Basically, we withdraw every time, no exceptions, until 4 days after I’ve confirmed ovulation. By then, even if I’ve miscalculated a bit, the egg is long dead. For the next 9 or 10 days, we can have awesome sex without withdrawal. Good stuff. No babies. You should try it! If my hungover college girl ass could handle it, you can probably handle it, too. :)

    • Reems

      Mixed experience but the pros outweighed the cons.
      Pros: no babies, bigger boobs, clear skin.
      Cons: loss of libido.
      I’d be interested to hear how the rest of you dealt with the loss of libido. It was frustrating for me and I even went off the pill for a few months to see if it got any better (it didnt).

    • J

      The Pill had me crying five times a day for no reason.

      Not. A. Fan.

    • jen

      I have been on the pill for 12 years, I too have crippling periods, and I have never experienced loss of libido. If anything, I am far more “lascivious” when I’m taking it than the year I spent off the pill. I guess I’mm different.

    • Tania

      I’ve been on it for eight months now with no issues. Definitely no problems in the libido area; more like the opposite.

      I’m now more thankful than I was before for the clearer skin, less cramps, and lighter period. (2-3 light bleeding instead of 6-7 heavy bleeding? Yes, please.)

    • Rose

      I always thought girls who said they couldn’t take the pill because it made them crazy were complete pansies. I never had a single issue in seven years. I was on Seasonale for 5 years starting at age 18, and then switched to the NuvaRing on the advice of my gastroenterologist. He felt that concentrating the hormones locally could calm my IBS symptoms that were exacerbated by my period. That worked like a dream, and I LOVE the Nuvaring, however, I am not rolling in money, and $60 a month is a wee bit excessive. I asked my nurse practitioner if I could switch to a continuous pill to skip my periods alltogether, and she said sure, go for it, here’s a low-dose pill. Then shit hit the fan.

      Three days in and I was biting everyone’s head off at the slightest provocation and crying uncontrollably multiple times a day, even at work! I have never felt so utterly out of control of myself, it was madness. The day after I switched back to the Nuvaring, I was totally back to normal. Night and day.

      If you try birth control pills and they make you crazy, don’t give up. There are tons of different formulations of birth control pills or other hormonal birth control. Try something else, and it may be perfectly fine!

    • Leah

      Obviously the hormones from the pill can have effects on your mood, but I think it’s worth noting that people who experience crippling anxiety and depression (especially so long after stopping the pill) may have other problems that need to be addressed, unrelated to the pill.

      On another note – the story about the girl who got prego and didn’t know for 11 weeks is my worst nightmare. I’m pretty much constantly convinced that I’m pregnant, even if I haven’t had sex in months. Terrible!

      • teenie

        @leah: what sorts of problems would these women have? I’d love to know.

    • Abby

      I went on the pill when I was 16 (10 years ago) when my mom was convinced that I was going to be having sex with my boyfriend. At that time, it made me SO SICK that I woke up with morning sickness and it lasted pretty much the entire day. After a month or so of being miserable, I stopped taking it. After that, I never took BC until I got married and decided to get responsible. I was on the NuvaRing for a year but I just stopped taking it because, well, I was too lazy to get it renewed. Now, I get my period every 6 weeks so it’s obviously messed up my ‘cycle’ but I’m okay with fewer periods in the year so I don’t mess with it.

    • Melissa

      My experience with birth control pills was fairly uneventful despite some weight gain and initial mood changes for the first month. That said, in order to avoid the hassle of a daily pill, I went on the nuvaring and within 24 hours noticed a significant change in mood and increased anxiety. Within a week, I was perpetually dry despite experiencing arousal. Within a month I had developed full blown dyspareunia (chronic painful sex). I was in a happy and otherwise healthy relationship and not on any other meds so no confounding variables there. Lubrication didn’t help with the dyspareunia at all. It was a terrible experience and I later found out from my GP that a number of her clients had recently reported similar experiences. Great. I’ve been off of it for 2 years and no symptoms have returned. Thank goodness.

      My advice for anyone who feels they can’t or don’t want to deal with hormones in would be to consider the copper wire IUD. FYI: I’ve been told by my GP that preliminary studies are currently evaluating negative symptoms related with the nuvaring.

    • Shae

      Ick. Bad. Totally bad. Tried five different kinds with horrific side effects before giving NuvaRing a shot (which I loved).

    • j

      i’ve been on two different pills. once, after about 5 years of use (yasmin) i had zero sex drive. i switched to loestrin 24, and bled about the equivalent of a light period every stupid day for four stupid months. i switched back to yasmin and i’m fine now.

    • Carrellynn

      After being off the pill for 12 years I just started taking it again a month ago – I am on Seasonique so that I have fewer periods throughout the year. I was told by my OBGYN that it was low dosage on hormones.and that I wouldn’t experience all the issues I had in the past (I was on OrthoTriCycline before).
      I am normally a happy go lucky person but in the past week I have cried uncontrollably about nothing, convinced myself that my boyfriend doesn’t want/need me, and think I am worthless. All of this comes in waves and I have to keep telling myself that it’s just the pill and I should stop listening to the voices in my head. I would call my doctor to change the pill but I have read over and over that if I can make it through the first 4 – 6 weeks I should be okay.
      All I have to say is that I’ve been having a lot of make up sex because I feel terrible for my outbursts. I miss the days of the fun-I-can’t-wait-to-ravage-you sex, I really do.

    • oja

      Birth control pills made me lose the weight that anti-depressants made me gain.

    • Colleen

      I went on the Pill at the age of 18, in preparation to heading to university, where I presumed I’d start having sex at some point. Miss Prepared, Miss Responsible. I had no problems at all, no weight gain, lighter periods, no cramping, hunky dory.

      At the age of 33, I stopped getting my period, and that made me nervous. My doctor assured me that this wasn’t an issue, that I was fine, but if I preferred to keep getting some kind of period, I could switch pills. So I did.

      I switched to a lower-dose pill, which seemed fine for the first few months. Then, my period started getting heavier. And heavier. They got to the point where I was missing work a day or two a month because I was in so much pain, and no amount of over-the-counter painkiller medication would ease the cramps. For the first time in my life, I was also experiencing PMS symptoms. Lucky me, I had started dating a new guy, who was just completely confounded by all this….he felt so helpless.

      Looking for relief, I went back to my doctor to try out a different Pill. He said this one was for PMDD sufferers, so I should be relieved of some of these symptoms. He was wrong. It got even worse. Two months in, I had migraine headaches and nausea every day, and in that third month (the last one), my period lasted over 30 days.

      I’ve been Pill-free for two years, and, following the removal of a uterine fibroid (which might have been causing some of the problems all along), I’m feeling great. I won’t be going back on the Pill…but if it works for you, that’s awesome.

    • Silvia

      I went from horrible to just fine – by changing the type of pill.

      I experienced a horrible 6 months on Avaine. I was so sick from the very beginning I had to cancel my activity classes. I would wake up in the middle of the night from a deep sleep to vomit and cry for hours. I had severe heat flashes and dizziness. It got so bad I could only eat between the hours of 2-4pm, otherwise I’d throw it all up. I lost weight and my hair began falling out. The vomiting was nothing compared to the mood swings, crying, and awful depression. To top it all off, I had just begun a brand new relationship with a truly wonderful man, and felt awful about my uncontrollable daily behavior. By the time I went back to the clinic, I was nearly suicidal. I can’t believe I lasted 6 months!

      I then tried Junel for a few months. It was ok for the first month, but then the sickness and depression came back.

      I’ve now been on Apri for 4 months, and haven’t had any mood swings whatsoever, and I can eat like a normal human. I finally feel like me again. I’m back to my calm and mellow self. I’m a little nervous about it, as some reports find desogestrel to be much more dangerous than other types of progestin (http://www.citizen.org/Page.aspx?pid=532)
      However, I will probably still continue to take it for a while. The new man stuck with me through it all, although he is much happier with the ‘old-new’ me :) If you have trouble with one pill, don’t be hesitant to try another. And DON’T stay with a pill that makes you miserable!

    • Mandy

      I got on birth control at the old age 0f 21. But since I’ve always had trouble swallowing pills I’m on the patch version, Ortho Evra. It’s been a little over a year now and I’ve had no big problems. My libido has decressed but since I’m not dating I don’t mind. And since I’ve always had trouble with PMS and heavy cramping I enjoy the patch b/c it has regulated my period and allows me to skip my period occassionally if I feel like it. I have no desire to get pregnant in the future so I think I’ll be on BC for a good long time.