This all started as a fashion blog and almost 10 years down the line I’m baring it all and talking contraceptives, fire nipples and my experience of coming off the pill. This is not a post for the masses but it’s exactly what I needed when I decided to go off the pill. Just a normal women talking about my experience, side effects and weird things that happened when I came off the hormonal contraceptive pill.
Before we jump, head first into the deep end of my personal life and all things, sex, contraceptives & nipples let me say that we are not trying to have babies, for the next few years. So I didn’t come off the pill with the hopes of falling pregnant, in fact, I’m still very much in the stage where I would cry (A LOT) if I found out I was pregnant now!
We’re about to become very close & you’ll learn a lot more about me so lets leave our prejudice and negativity here shall we? Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start – if you understood my Sound of Music reference & sung the rest of that, just know, I’m very proud of you!
The Start Of It All
Being the somewhat rebellious teenager, still going to church regularly and having a mother that blushed at the thought that we (my sister and I) were even thinking about being sexually active (I feel like a proper adult writing that). I just went to a regular GP with a friend one day after school at the ripe age of 17. We were both ‘ready’ (read: stupid & definitely not ready) so we went to a doctor neither one of us knew and got prescribed the pill for ‘skin issues’ with not a zit in sight. It worked well for it’s intended purpose (me not becoming a teen mom) until I was about 20/21 when I decided to come off it.
There’s quite a bit more backstory to this but Sean & I decided to stop sleeping together before we got married (for about 3ish years) so there wasn’t really a need for any contraceptive. I was also notoriously bad at taking it so was happy to chuck it out!
Fast forward to 2017, a couple months before we got married and I had to decide on a contraceptive method once again. I sat down with one of my best friends (who happens to be a doctor) and we chatted about all the different contraceptive options. The chat included hand drawn sketches of the female reproductive system and me taking notes – let’s just say it wasn’t basic chat! I didn’t feel like I knew my cycle or body enough to go the period tracking route, the IUD just wasn’t a good fit (quite literally) and I’ve had a couple friends that said the injection didn’t work for them. So I went with the devil I knew – the pill.
The plan was always to reevaluate once I’d done more research and felt comfortable with making an informed decision – needless to say, it didn’t work out that way! While I was on the pill I wouldn’t have said that I had any serious side effects, besides weight gain but that could be down to my love for carbs so I didn’t take that too seriously. Since coming off however, I really have noticed a shift in my mood, attitude, work ethic, etc.
Coming Off The Pill
I really thought I’d planned everything perfectly for our trip to the US but it turns out my calculations were off by about 4 days for my pill so instead of fighting it I just decided to come off. No big moment backed by months of planning, just a calculation oversight was enough to get me here. I’d had a few conversations here and there with friends or read the occasional Instagram post about alternative contraceptives but it definitely wasn’t enough to feel prepared.
Returning from my trip I had a little under a week at home and then flew to New York for 3 days so there wasn’t much time to think or research. Life carried on as usual sans the pill and I hadn’t notice any differences besides having one down day while in NYC which I didn’t think related to coming off the pill, but more on that later.
I was two weeks into being back home, somewhat back to normal life and thinking “maybe I’m one of the lucky few that experience no heightened emotions, mood swings and crazy side effects”. It was then that I was hit with the fire nipples (aptly named by Anna). That wasn’t a typo! I had FIRE NIPPLES which had me feeling like a pubescent teenage boy! I’ve never experienced anything like it before so I had no idea what to do. I would regularly be seen cupping my boobs in the hopes that it would protect them from the air, which felt more like tiny shards of glass flying around me but only targeting my nipples! Something as simple as turning over in bed or a slight graze would have me wincing in pain.
Being a smart, resourceful 2020 independent woman, I decide to google, because surely Google knows what’s happening to me! Nope! Learn from me – don’t do it! Every single article told me that I was probably pregnant and the sensitive nipples should subside after about 2 weeks. By the time I started googling, I’d already had painful (not sensitive) nipples for over 2 weeks, so thankfully pregnancy was crossed off the list of possible suspects!
The fire nipples continued for about 2 months and just as I was preparing for a life of pain, they started to feel normal again. I can’t tell you how happy I was to shove them in any old bra until their next big moment – breastfeeding. Which I don’t see in my near future so we’re good!
Going into month six of being off the pill and it feels like a dark cloud has been lifted. Sounds cheesy but it’s the only way I can describe it. Since before but definitely heightened by finding out about my dads death last year (2019) I’ve had this low hanging grey cloud that follows me around, encouraging me to stay in bed and skirt-by doing the bare minimum. But in the last month or so I’ve experienced a mental clarity that I completely forgot was possible – I’ve been productive, creative, had a clear headspace, feeling genuinely happy and just generally lighter. Sean, friends, family & even people on Instagram have noticed a change in me and the only thing I can peg it on is stopping the pill.
If I’m being honest, this is the change I was hoping for but it comes along with a side of pregnancy paranoia every now and then. Aside from the fire nipples, my period cramps are back but thankfully only on the first day (we all know, it’s always the worst). TMI, even for me – I’ve noticed that my periods are heavier (this makes sense because on the pill you’re only having a withdrawal bleed) & I get one or two hormonal spots before, after, during or throughout my period. I don’t know if any of you have experienced the same but over the last two months I can actually feel when I’m ovulating – it’s nothing hectic, it just feels like slight period cramps. Has anyone else experienced that?
Now let’s talk about our current contraceptive method since Sean & I are not ready for mini Aldridge’s just yet. We’re doing a combination of cycle tracking and condoms. Now is when I really hope my mom isn’t reading this! Mom, if you’re reading, skip this section! Using condoms can be such an annoying faff and let’s all be honest in saying it’s just not the best but just like everything in life, it takes some getting used to.
Overall, I’m a happy camper! It hasn’t been the most pleasant experience (thanks to the fire nipples) but even if just for the mental clarity I’d say it’s worthwhile. So if you’re considering coming off the pill, the best thing you can do is just go for it. But also, do some research so you feel a bit more prepared than I was!
This isn’t a bash the pill blog post because I know there are many women that don’t have any side effects and love being on the pill. I read this blog post & listened to this podcast episode which really helped me understand that literally everyone responds differently to hormonal contraceptives so this isn’t a one size fits all situation. If you’re looking for more diverse opinions check out the comments in this Instagram post. Everyone was honest about their experiences and I feel like there are positives and negatives listed for almost every contraceptive method.
I would love to hear your thoughts whether you’re currently on hormonal contraception, you’ve come off or you’re thinking of coming off – what has your experience been like?