Physical Health

20 Women Share Their Experience on Birth Control Pills


When it comes to birth control, one size definitely does not fit all. Some women experience nasty side effects like weight gain, acne, and severe impacts on mental health and their moods. Others experience no side effects at all — and actually experience positive things on the pill. The whole process of finding a birth control method that’s right for you can be a challenge, and it can honestly be a scary experience. We spoke with 20 women and asked them to share their experiences of being on the birth control pill.


On how helpful the pill can be (for more than just preventing pregnancy)…


“My birth control hasn’t really helped my acne. I will say, though, I am still looking for a birth control to help that. However, my birth control does help my cramps (they went from every day during my period to just the first day, and are totally bearable as opposed to so awful), and that’s actually the most important thing to me.”


“Birth control pills have helped me immensely and I was able to go off them and get pregnant no problem (although the pain did come back right away when I had non-medicated periods). I’ve even taken Seasonique, which only gives you four periods a year and life was seriously wonderful, but I never even told my mom that I did because I would never hear the end of it about how I’m messing up my body. More education and trust for young girls with painful periods, please!”


“I went on birth control pills when I was in college and was on the same formula for 10 years. I was extremely lucky that I had no negative side effects. I had fewer breakouts, a lighter period, and most importantly for me —  no pregnancies. I went off birth control when my husband and I started trying to conceive and were able to get pregnant right away.”


“I’ve been on the same pill for almost 10 years! It’s a low dose and I love it. The biggest negative was when I first started taking it: I broke out on my chin for a few months, but that subsided. Now, I only really get side effects when I forget to take it — I get a headache and become significantly more emotional. I cry a lot more easily when I forget to take it. And, generally speaking, as far as my period goes, I almost never get more than a couple drops in a cycle!”


“I’ve been taking birth control since age 18, and I’m now 36. Started for regulation, as I had debilitating cramps each month and a very heavy flow. I’m now at a light flow for only about three days each month, with hardly any cramps, and have been that way for years. Once when my pharmacy substituted for a different generic than what I had been on, I immediately noticed mood swings and irritability. I asked them to switch me back and dispense as prescribed, and have had no problems since.”


On finding the right pill for your lifestyle


“I’ve tried going on birth control twice, once before and once after having a baby. Prior to, I felt like I went totally crazy. So many mood swings and I just wasn’t myself at all. After I had a baby, I tried to go on the pill that still allows for breastfeeding. It totally dried up my supply, and even after getting off it (I was only on it for about a week), I was never able to get back to meet my baby’s demand. I was short about a bottle or so every day. I’ve decided never to go on the pill again.”


“Long story short, I am 27 and have been through seven different birth control pills, which all worked for me to varying degrees at different times in my life. As a Hispanic woman, birth control is a little taboo to speak about or admit to taking, but I wish more people would understand that many times its purpose is not to “control any births,” but actually balance your hormones. I have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and only found out when I was 24 (I got my period at 9!).”


“I am on a wonderful brand of birth control that gives me easy, light periods and less PMS; however, I had a rough path to this point. The first birth control I went on got discontinued, and I was switched to a generic “equivalent.” This almost cost me my life — it threw me into a dark depression which I couldn’t understand the source of. I isolated myself from friends and family and was unable to control my emotions. I considered leaving college thinking that maybe it had been too hard a transition, even though I was doing well and making friends. When I brought this up with my mom, she googled the brand of birth control I was currently taking.”



On those side effects…


“I’ll never forget the first time I started taking my birth control pills. It was at a week-long summer camp that my university puts on for incoming freshmen. I took my first birth control pill that first night. Around 2 am, I bolted out of the cabin to a nearby tree outside and threw up. This continued for the next three nights. I was terrified and confused. For the next two years, the same thing happened every single time I started a new pack after my period. I’d wake up around 2 am, rush to the bathroom, and throw up. I was so complacent that I just had a routine for throwing up those first three nights or so on a new pack of pills. Here I am about seven years later, have never switched pills, but no longer throw up. It was a disturbing side effect that I should have addressed, but I was young, stressed about college, and didn’t speak up.”


“Hair loss… anyone else?!”


On how great other forms of birth control can be…


“I spent many years on the pill. Started around 13 years old due to painful and heavy periods, and I played a lot of sports so it helped to settle it down. When I was in my 20s, I switched to Implanon, which I liked for the first few years, but then got a new one and just bled all the time. Fast forward to my 30s, and I decided to switch to the copper IUD. While I do get cramping and a slightly heavier flow, I much prefer having no synthetic hormones in my body. I’m not moody and generally feel pretty good. I’d recommend it to anyone —  it’s worth a try at the very least. My partner and I aren’t ready for kids yet, but I dare say I will return to the copper IUD after we do have kids.”


“Birth control pills… this is something I’m so passionate about! I came off the pill about two years ago and am on Nexplanon. My moods have greatly improved and I have no periods. I used to have really painful periods, so not having them is awesome for me. My acne has significantly decreased. It was slightly painful to get in and had some pressure, but I’d say I wish I made the switch sooner! I feel much safer on it because I don’t have to remember a thing, except when the time rolls around to get it replaced.”


“I went on the pill in college and immediately lost any and all interest in sex. I realized after a few months in that I felt emotionally flat and disconnected from my partner. I decided to go off of them and switched to the hormonal IUD. It’s been almost a decade on the IUD and I’ve never looked back! I love the high efficiency, I never have to remember to take pills, my period is only 1-2 days of spotting, and I feel like myself 100% of the time.”


“Three years ago, I switched from the pill to a hormonal IUD, and I will never go back. I’m one of those lucky women who stopped getting my period, and it felt like I was set free. No more worrying if my heavy flow would derail a vacation, no more stressing about whether its unpredictable timing might sneak up on me. I didn’t realize how much my understanding of body was shaped by it until I didn’t have it anymore. Now I can just live my life. This is what men feel like all the time!”



On staying away from birth control completely…


“After suffering with ‘pizza face’ for a few years, my face was cleared within three months of taking the pill. The positive sides were a clear face and no more cramps; I was now a confident 18-year-old!

Fast forward to being 23 years wise, I began reading what birth control can do to the woman body. I’m in a committed relationship, and my partner is well aware of why I decided to get off the pill. I had mood swings, my hair was thin, and what I desired was to be my true self. I wanted to feel every true feeling of the woman body. I got to experience an authentic period. Now, my forms of birth control include condoms and tracking my monthly cycle. I am more aware of myself and my body. I truly believe that every woman should do what makes them feel wonderful, sexy, and makes them fall in love with their bodies.”


“I have chosen to go off birth control pills completely, and I couldn’t be happier with this decision! I struggled with severe menstrual cramps, sickness when beginning my period, mood swings, uneven periods, pain with sex, vaginal dryness, and a loss of libido. Now that I’m off birth control, I can let my body work like it’s supposed to! I had a baby last June and haven’t had a period since, but as soon as I get it back and regulated, we will be doing natural family planning.”

On having to convince your primary healthcare provider that something needs to change…


“I’m 22 and have been on the pill since I was 18. I’m really lucky in that it totally cleared my skin up and I get super light periods that come like clockwork and only last a day or two. I gained a little bit of weight but started it when I began college, so it’s hard to say that the pill caused it!

But, my biggest problem with it has been getting my insurance to cover my medication. I’m on a name brand pill that has a generic option. I tried the generic option for six months (which my insurance required me to do) and had horrible side effects — weight gain, acne, and mood swings, so my doctor switched me back to the one that gave me no problems. I get my pill mail ordered in three-month packs, and every time I run out, I literally have to spend hours on the phone with my doctor and insurance getting them to send me the name brand version. Once, I literally had a man at my insurance explain to me on the phone that he didn’t understand why I couldn’t just go on the generic version of it. It’s so frustrating that it’s looked at as something that isn’t a necessity in the eyes of so many. I always wonder if other women go through the same thing, because something definitely needs to change.”


“I started the pill in college (though still a virgin) because I was told it would regulate my period. I stayed on it until I was 28 (I used many types of the pill and then Nuvaring). Not once did my doctors tell me of the stroke risks or how depleting they are to your body, nor did they ever offer an alternative to birth control when I complained of spotting, intense headaches, and PMS. I wish there were more resources and education for women — and men — on how the female body works. There is so much power in knowing your body and respecting the natural cycle it goes through. It’s so much healthier in so many ways. I’m much happier taking control of my own health and reproductive decisions without the use of birth control.”


“I was on the pill for a number of years and didn’t realize what the side effects were until I went off of it. I was on a couple of different pills and then switched to an IUD. About a month after I stopped taking the pill, I was so much less bloated, my mood swings were much less severe, my sex drive (which had been very low since I started taking the pill) went up, my acne got better, and best of all, my period cramps essentially vanished. I had no idea that the pill was doing this to my body. Even though my doctor was amazing, I never even considered anything else other than the pill. I have friends who absolutely love the pill, but for me, my physical and mental health improved so much after I stopped taking it. I cannot imagine going back.”


“I had to advocate for the pill that was right for me and tried four before finding one with manageable side effects (occasional headaches). I went through several prescriptions dealing with weight gain, irritability, and mood changes, migraines, etc. It’s amazing how much a little pill can impact your life. If you don’t feel like yourself, make a change.”


What are your experiences with birth control? Share with us in the comments below.