Mood swings, migraines, skin and weight problems, abdominal pain and other complaints: more and more women decide to stop taking the pill or hormonal IUD because of the severe side effects. Amanda (27), Jaimy (24) and Sarah* (25) also said goodbye to their hormonal contraception for good.
But that is not a real solution: „I would like an alternative, but I do not want anything with hormones anymore. And then there are few options left.”
Pill use decreases every year
Many women feel that the benefits of hormonal contraception no longer outweigh the drawbacks: the number of women using the pill or other hormonal contraception has been declining for years. Between 2019 and 2020, the amount of prescribed hormonal contraception decreased by no less than 20 percent, according to figures from the Foundation for Pharmaceutical Core Numbers (SFK). Well, problem solved, you might think. But that is unfortunately not true: due to the lack of a good alternative, unwanted pregnancy is lurking and women are at the mercy of the complaints that their menstruation brings. The fact that they are willing to take that risk already indicates that using hormonal contraception is really no fun. Three women tell why they decided to stop.
‘Suddenly I was given a different kind of pill’
Amanda, 27, started taking the pill when she was sixteen because of severe menstrual complaints, but started to question the contraceptive when she was twenty when she suddenly got a different kind of pill at the pharmacy. “They said it was exactly the same pill, and it just looked different. From that moment on I started to notice a lot of changes in myself, which I could really only trace back to that pill. For example, I got very severe acne. I also became sexually active around that time, but I noticed that I never felt like it and that sex was very painful because of that.”
Still, Amanda didn’t decide to stop right away, she didn’t until a few years later. “At the age of twenty-five I was not feeling well at all, and I was curious whether stopping the pill would help. That was the case: I felt better, I could reach my emotions again, sex went well again. I noticed that I really became myself again.” There is no alternative for the time being, says Amanda, because she wants absolutely nothing more with hormones. “And then there are few options left.” She hopes that GPs will no longer give the pill so easily in the future. “I think it is prescribed way too quickly. It’s good that it’s there, but let it be an informed choice. Make people aware of the pros and cons.”
‘I thought I was just prone to depression’
Sarah (25) stopped taking the pill two years ago after twelve years when she found out that the severe migraines she suffered from every month were a result of the pill. “As soon as a migraine set in, I couldn’t do anything for one to three days. It sometimes made me desperate, because there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I thought.”
Ultimately, the migraines turned out to be a side effect of the pill. “I started taking the pill when I was twelve out of a kind of laziness, because it reduced menstrual complaints and improved my skin. Only when the reporting about the pill became more negative in recent years did I check with myself whether I also suffered from side effects. Then it turned out that a lot of ailments that I thought belonged to me, were caused by the pill.” Mood swings and a decreased libido were also a side effect of the contraceptive. “I could be very depressed at times and thought I was just prone to depression. But since I stopped taking the pill two years ago, I’m much more stable and I’m a lot more comfortable in my own skin. I now suffer from the migraines once a year, instead of every month.”
That she only found out after twelve years how bad the pill was for her could have been prevented, according to Sarah. “I find it strange that my GP let me go on the pill when I was 12 without asking questions or even explaining the possible dangers. Fortunately, there is now more clarity about this, but I am disappointed that I have not actually been myself in the past twelve years.”
‘I felt that something was not right in my body’
Jaimy (24) said goodbye to her hormonal IUD and is just going back on the pill, but with some reluctance. “I always had a lot of problems with my periods: stomachaches, backaches, migraines. The pill didn’t work, so I decided to put an IUD with my doctor. The betting was a drama, real horror, but you hear that with a lot of people.” After the pain of insertion, Jaimy was no longer in pain, and the IUD started to do its job. That went well for a year. “After that I got a lot of complaints. My uterus started to hurt, I was very tired, very dizzy, and I got migraines again. I couldn’t have sex anymore either, because that caused a lot of pain and I didn’t think it was worth it. I could just tell that something wasn’t right in my body.”
That worried Jaimy, because in her environment she only heard positive stories about IUDs. “I kept it up for two years, but at a certain point I just couldn’t do anything anymore. The IUD didn’t help my period at all, and it just made me really sick. So then I decided to have him taken out.” With success: Jaimy now notices that her complaints are a lot less. But that also means that the menstrual symptoms come back. “So I decided to go back on the pill. That’s exciting: I don’t know how I’m going to react to that. If that bothers me too, I’ll have to come up with something else. But there is very little choice in that area.”
*Sarah’s real name is known to the editors.
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More and more women are stopping the pill or IUD for good
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