The Internet abounds with articles, posts and forum discussions about coming off the birth control pill. Women are looking for information and advice. Many are trying to get pregnant, others are just done with hormonal contraception.
It’s a topic that interests many of us connected to the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research (SMCR) because of
how the pill and other forms of hormonal contraception impact the menstrual cycles of the women who take these medications. Some of us are experts in menstrual cycle function and dysfunction, most are advocates for healthy, positive menstrual cycle experiences from menarche to menopause.
A young woman in Paris was looking for advice and comments from other blog readers about how to manage the effects of coming off the pill. Siobhan O’Connor, the blog co-editor, shared Paris girl’s story with a graceful, inclusive invitation to readers:
There’s no judgment—implicit or explicit—on anyone who is on or has been on birth control pills. Some people love them, some people have to take them for medical reasons, some people abhor them. Here, we want to talk candidly about what happens when you go off them. Because, whoa. That can be hectic.
The post drew over 80 comments, with a few coming from SMCR members. What struck me was how many women:
1) had already ditched the pill or were planning to
2) expressed a desire for the return of regular, normal menstrual cycles
3) were concerned about their skin (it often breaks out after quitting the pill).
SMCR member, endocrinologist and guest blogger Dr. Jerilynn Prior answered the concerns about acne and bad cramps in a comment posted on November 22, and included a link to Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research website where readers can find information about all things related to menstrual cycle health.
Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner Geraldine Matus, another member, commented on November 26 that it was concerns and experiences like those expressed by posters that prompted her and colleague Megan Lalonde to write the guide: Coming Off the Pill, the Patch, the Shot and Other Hormonal Contraception.
I invited No More Dirty Looks readers to visit this blog to learn more about the menstrual cycle and the issues raised by their online discussion.
Regular visitors to re: Cycling know that we cover a broad range of topics, but bloggers frequently address hormonal contraception as it relates to women’s health issues.
Check out this sampling from the re: cycling archive:
- While the 50th anniversary of the pill was, mostly, celebrated in the media, re: cycling offered a different perspective.
- We advocate for better access to non-hormonal methods of birth control.
- Re: cycling answers questions like: Does your birth control stop your cycle?
- We review books and resources that keep women informed about their choices.
- Good, bad and interesting news about birth control methods can be found on this blog
- Guest bloggers offer challenging opinions that get readers thinking.
Several of the women who responded to the Paris girl post at nomoredirtylooks.com expressed eagerness to reclaim healthy, ovulatory menstruation and a willingness to learn how to manage their fertility without the aid of hormonal contraception.
Over the next few months, I intend to explore many aspects of the coming-off-the-pill experience through personal stories, media analysis and interviews with SMCR members with expertise in this area. I’ll include opinion pieces based on my 25 years experience as a pro-choice sexual and reproductive health advocate.
If coming off the pill is a growing trend, then may it be accompanied by a renaissance in women’s understanding of their menstrual cycles.