Like a lot of women in their mid-20s, I’ve been on some form of contraception for the best part of a decade. The Pill, the Implant & the Mirena Coil, I’ve had it all. So when my Coil was due to be removed in December 2020, I faced the decision of what to do next. Should I get a new one put in? Try something different? I chose to have a break. Why?
Okay, this sounds dramatic…
But I didn’t fully know myself off of contraception. I was the classic early starter, out of my training bra and diving headfirst into heavy cycles by 11/12. By the time I was 13, my bleeding was so heavy, I hadn’t done PE for the best part of the year and would be off school on my heaviest days. To combat this, I was put on the Pill, Microgynon to be exact. Did it help? Yes. Side effects? Many. The normal mood swings of puberty ramped up and I was a hysterical monster once a month. Not a good look.
I stayed on some form of Pill until I was 15 and then my doctor recommended the implant. At the time, this was the form of contraception they were pushing. I honestly believe it didn’t work. It buried its way into my arm and I had to have an ultrasound to have it removed – it had moved over three inches from the site of insertion until it was nearly in my armpit. It had helped control my moods, but I was sceptical whether it worked as a contraception, especially by the age of 18.
Once that was removed, I toddled back off the doctor to see what the next hot product was. This time it was the Coil. I felt more faith in this than the Implant, as it was actually in the place where all the drama took place. I had the Mirena Coil to be exact, again as a way to control those heavy cycles. It was honestly dreamy. I know people react differently to the Coil and you hear some real horror stories, but for me, it was honestly perfect. My periods calmed down to very light bleeding and after the first year stopped. I still knew when I was having a ‘period’ after that, as I felt a bit grouchy, hungry or sore, but apart from that my symptoms were minimal. I was winning.
Fast forward to January 2021…
And I finally had my appointment to have the Coil removed. Although it was due out in early December 2020, COVID-19 had caused a waiting list, so I got my turn in early January instead. It was an odd morning. The appointment was at 7am as my GP is also a local test centre. The lovely doctor on the phone also suggested I get my first smear test done at the same time (this is important ladies!!) as I’m due to turn 25 in the next few months. Being speculum-ed at 7am is an odd experience, but within 15 minutes I was smeared and contraceptive free.
When she asked what my plans were next, I said quite honestly that I wasn’t sure. I was tempted to have a detox as I hadn’t had a period for the best part of 5 years and I wanted to get my cycle back. I was surprised then to be told that sounded like a good idea – like a lot of women, I’m quite used to having a doctor do a sales pitch for the Pill/Implant/Coil or whatever new thing they’ve invented. Having the backing of the doctor, I was quite happy in my decision to take that break.
Back home, the worry that I had been pushing to the back of my mind came rushing forward and it was the secondary reason for wanting a hormonal detox. What if something had gone wrong? I had been pumping myself full of hormones for 10+ years now. Truthfully, I knew it was extremely unlikely for contraception to cause any damage in that way, but I hadn’t seen a speck of blood for 5 years. What didn’t help was the fact the doctor said I would have cramps/bleeding post-removal. Did I? Nope. I didn’t want pain but I wanted to know everything was back up and running ASAP. My cycle could take up to a year to return and I had made the decision to wait until I had three normal consecutive periods to decide what to go on next.
My period returned three days after the removal and I felt like a teen all over again. I very excitedly text my mum ‘I got my period!!’ and felt so much better. I felt so in tune with my body again, going about doing its normal business. I was also relieved to feel normal. Another fear of mine was that I was going to turn back into a hormonal monster, but I feel like that was just a horrible side effect of hormonal contraception + puberty that caused that. I’ve been with my partner since I was 16 and I feel like he was also relieved to find that mess hadn’t returned.
I’ve had two cycles now, both relatively normal. The second was much heavier than the first. This could just be side effects of my body sorting itself out or it could just be how I experience menstruation. I feel like I need to go back onto some form of contraception in the near future – I couldn’t look after a sourdough baby, let alone a real one. My decision as to what I go back onto will be impacted by how I experience these next few cycles. Like I said, I ‘enjoyed’ the Coil, I had no side effects and it works for me. I might try a Pill or two out, to see if I can retain my cycle and then decide what I feel best on.
Regardless of what I decide to do next…
I’m very happy in my decision to come off of one contraceptive and not jump back into another. As a grown woman (ahh!), I’m glad to feel in tune with my body after so long of being regulated and controlled by various hormones. After speaking with friends about this, I’ve found that I’m not alone. Several have come off various Pills over the last year as they weren’t needed and have had varied experiences. Some feel exactly the same, some feel like this dull weight has been lifted, and some like me just feel a bit more awake and in tune with what is happening in them. If you’re in a position to take this kind of break, it really is something I’d recommend.