I, like many other girls and women, first went on the pill in high school because of horrible periods. My periods were so heavy that I would have to wear maternity pads because I could only keep a tampon in for about five minutes before having to change it. This was particularly a problem at night, as my period would often leak through multiple layers of sanitary products and all the way into my mattress.
Naturally, I initially thought going on the pill was the right choice. Health professionals, along with society, often told me that the pill would ‘regulate my hormones’. However, I have since discovered that the period doesn’t ‘regulate’ your hormones; it puts your natural cycle on ‘pause’ and you won’t experience a period or ovulation of any sort. The bleed that you get when you’re on the pill is a drug induced bleed (or a withdrawal bleed) that is designed to ensure that you feel ‘normal’.
After experiencing erratic pill bleeds (where I would not get a bleed for two months, and then out of the blue a bleed would occur), loss of libido and mood swings, two and a half years later I decided to go off the pill to see what changes would occur in my body:
My weight changed
I had also gotten SO skinny to the point where I was basically skin and bones. It turns out that I had no progesterone or estrogen in my body – the hormones that enable a period and help you to fall pregnant. To overcome these deficiencies, I began treating myself using lots of herbs, incorporated lifestyle changes (such as reducing stress and incorporating more self care) as well as acupuncture to try and get my period back. I thought that I would need to completely overhaul my diet to gain the weight back, but the kilos began to return as soon as my body readjusted to my natural cycle. Turns out that your hormones play a much bigger role in your weight fluctuations than you might think.
I felt more in touch with my sexuality
Once I decided to go off the pill, I eventually got my cycle back and started to feel more ‘normal’. When you’re on the pill, you don’t get to experience the normal effects that occur during a menstrual cycle. These can include feeling sexy and empowered, connected to your cycle, being able to listen to your intuition and feeling grounded.
During my ovulation phase, I also noticed that I started to feel more womanly and more in touch with my sexuality. This happens because estrogen is peaking during this time, and we are at our most fertile stage so we feel the desire to reproduce.
When you’re on the pill, you may not experience these sensations. It is common to lose your libido, even for a long time after coming off the pill. It’s also important to understand that there is only a very small window of about five days where you can fall pregnant. You need an egg to be present in order to be fertile, which occurs during the ovulation phase. Throughout the rest of your cycle, there is no egg present and it is extremely rare to get pregnant.
I learnt how my body is supposed to carry fat
Since coming off the pill, I also learnt more about the storage of fat. As you may know, women hold more fat than men. This is due to hormones and biochemical pathways. Women carry fat around their hips and bottom, as this is the closest areas to where a baby grows. Having enough fat tells our body that it is functioning normally, providing us with the best environment to grow a baby. In fact, women need 22 percent of body fat to maintain healthy menstruation and 17 percent fat to get their initial period.
My body and mind felt more connected
From my experience, I cannot endorse more highly the beauty of having your own natural cycle and feeling the changes in your body and mind. It is so interesting. Being able to tune into how you feel at different times of your cycle and how you connect with yourself and your partner is truly magical. What’s more, knowing your cycle actually involves your partner in the process of contraception and it’s not such a one-sided process. Of course, please obtain advice from a trained health professional in regards to areas of women’s health.
Words by Monica Yates
Please note: This article is not intended to serve as medical advice. Everyone’s body and experience is different and if you have any concerns or questions about the Pill, please consult with your medial practitioner.
Monica Yates is a Wellness and ICF certified Life Coach, as well as the co-founder of Healthie Hampers, a hamper delivery service providing the gift of health. After struggling to find a healthy gift to send a loved one while they were in hospital, Monica and her mum Jacque noticed a gap in the market for gift options that could aid the body and contained real, natural products with research-backed health benefits. Through Healthie Hampers and her wellness coaching, Monica is on a mission to educate and empower consumers to choose foods that heal and nourish the body from the inside out. She hopes to inspire others to gain a better understanding of how the body works and their relationship with food, allowing them to reach their personal health and wellness goals.
Want to try Monica’s 8-week program? Click here for all the details!