I quit... Birth Control Pills that is.

I quit.

Birth control pills that is.

For the non-female readers - you might want to skip this one. Actually, guys, I strongly advise you to skip this one. I might lose all my non-female readers over this. Uh-huh.

A little while ago I gave up caffein. Not completely, though. I do allow myself to have caffein on race days. Result: on these days I go all out on Coca Cola - ergo, I hardly sleep the night after. Nutso. ;) The difference that the caffein detox made, is pretty remarkable. I have not regretted it since. 

And since I had jumped onto the detox wagon with the whole caffein thing, I figured, why not get rid of these hormones I've been taking: i.e. birth control pills (there are other ways, you know). I'd been taking these babies for 12 years now (got on BCP just a few months before I turned 18 - and was clockwork regular). Got on BCP for obvious reasons: heavy bleeding and cramps when I was having my period (too much info, I know), and well...birth control. Plus, every single one of my friends was on BCP. So, there really was no harm in taking BCP, right?

Well, I could not have been more wrong. I've stayed on BCP ever since. Even when I wasn't in a relationship. You could say I continued taking them out of pure laziness - a bit like a bad habit. Now I can only say I wish I would have stopped taking BCP earlier. 

I took my last BCP on October 28th, had the start of my withdrawal bleed on November 1st (too much info again, I know - get over it), and after that my body was forced to start 'working' without the monthly hormone shot. Not fun. Not fun at all. Last week I suffered from nasty headaches. A bit like tension headaches. Add this charming acne outburst on my chin and all sorts of non-fun activity in my tummy to that (ouch - seriously, ouch!), and I am proud to introduce you to 'BCP suck fest 2012'. 

Getting off birth control pills

According to my GP my body is - as would be the case with every girl quitting BCP - hormonally imbalanced as a result of quitting BCP (oh, perfect). Apparently it can take 3-6 months, even up till a year, for things to get back to normal (as in similar to before I started taking BCP) again. And that's 'on average'. Are you effing kidding me? There seem to be pills that will kick start the whole thing when it's not working properly, but still.

My GP explained to me, that my body needs to ease into working the hormones all by itself. Ovulating seems to be 'a thing', since BCP has prevented my body from ovulating in the last couple of years. Ergo, my body has to figure out how to ovulate again. And how to work these LH and FSH hormone thingies. Plus, the whole monthly cycle and getting your period side of things. It needs to figure that out again, too. My GP advised me to carry around tampons 24/7. Again, perfect! Another advise: get yourself a pack of ovulation tests to check whether or not the LH-levels in your urine are fluctuating. Hello, embarrassing moment at the check out counter.

For those of you that have been reading this blog for a while now, you can probably figure out how I've been feeling about this whole ordeal. Yep, correct. I am freaking out. What the ef is going to happen. Will everything work? How long will it take? What if it doesn't? Oh yeah, you betcha I have Googled this thing for hours and hours. Insert: total freak out mode.

Birth control pills and running

As for BCP and running - you'll get a zillion hits on Google on this one. Livestrong.com gives a pretty 'main stream' opinion on it:

The effects of birth control pills on running are varied. Some athletes have reported reduced muscle endurance, while others cited a lower rate of injury. Some studies have even discovered increased protection from bone loss as a result of taking oral contraceptives. Runners who prefer to reduce menstrual flow during competitive running can see their cycles decline to four per year, according to Dr. Cathy Fieseler.

Source: http://www.livestrong.com/article/321839-running-birth-control-pills/#ixzz2CCMSgv9g

Running and your monthly cycle

Which brings me to this. We all know the (possible) effects of long distance running and a 50 miles + / week training regime on a female body. Even though my BMI (19) and my fat percentage (19-20%) are within the healthy range, I'm still worried about this one. Freak. Out. Mode.

Needless to say, I would never have started taking BCP if I'd known about this side of things.

What are your thoughts? Are you on BCP? If you where and quit taking them: what's your story?


Kitty said...

I haven't take any BCP for 15 years now. Gave birth to a baby boy about 13 years ago, and never got on it again.
I got my son with a little a help from ICSI/IVF wich include shooting yourself up with hormons. I then saw what those little things did to my body and my mood(swings)... I decided not to take them again.
Now I'm a little bit older and my body is changing again, I'm concidering getting back on BCP to regulate my period better. We'll see I've not decided yet!

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

Great decision! Although it might be tough, stick with it.

Unknown said...

Hi there,
I started taking BCP last year in October and that was for the first time I ever take them, but every day I forgot about them or took them too late. End of November last year I gave up on them I didnt want them in my body anymore! If this means I can get pregnant anytime so let it be it would be a blessing :-)

pepperland67 said...

I was on them for 10 years straight, until last year when I was FINALLY able to quit them after my husband had a vasectomy. (2 kids & done with a capital D!) I never had any negative side effects from them, but in the back of my mind I was always worried about potentially having a blot clot or high blood pressure from them, even though I never experienced any symptoms of either. I feel so much better mentally knowing that I'm not putting those hormones into my body anymore. Not that they caused problems, but the less I have to put into my body the better, you know? I didn't have any withdrawal symptoms or notice anything funny after I quit taking them. Nevertheless, so glad to be done with them for good!!

Anna. said...

Thank you, Blogspot, for sucking up my comment *mad*

Well, again.

Just that one point. If it won't work out (within that year your GP suggested), just get back on it.
My pcos experience: a simulated working body is better than one that doesn't work at all.

B. Jarosz said...

I quit a couple of years ago, and while the transition was weird, things eventually went back to normal. Happy to share details in PM if you'd like (coffeeb123(at)yahoo(dot)com!)

a runner said...

A good acupuncturist/herbalist can hook you up with treatment to ease that transition that will also help your body...like actually HELP it and not just strong-arm it into maybe-sort-of-kind-of being more balanced than it is right now. Hormonal imbalances really suck. Just wait til you're older...

M said...

I, too, went off BCP about five years ago. At the time I was traveling a lot and started getting worried about blood clots - I never had any problems, but I just didn't want to risk it. I also didn't want to have my cycles simulated thanks to little pills. I started charting (I have an app on my phone where I can track everything), and I now have it down to the day when my body goes through all it's various cycles. I strongly suggest this book: http://www.amazon.com/Taking-Charge-Your-Fertility-Anniversary/dp/0060881909 It helped me understand a whole hell of a lot, and it pretty much made me decide I'll never go back on BCP again!

Stacy said...

Great information. My husband recommended I go off BCP ten years ago, and I'm so glad I did.

Recently running again and enjoying your site. Thanks

Silly Girl Running said...

Thank you so much for your thoughts on this! All of you! :)

RunningRonald said...

ik heb 'm niet geskipt, wel gelezen maar echt veel advies kan ik je hier niet in geven :) Misschien de volgende keer met een ander onderwerp hihi

Unknown said...

Well, I do have to say, everyone will have different bodily reactions towards birth control pills. Some may go back to being fertile after taking them, some would take a bit longer before doing so. Others take them in order to stabilize their mensies and avoid the crazy abdominal cramps that come with them. Maybe if your GP says it is a possibility, then it might be. But I think you should take his advice and just wait a little longer for your body to get adjusted to not taking those pills. :)
Harold Judelman