Goodbye Birth Control: A Diary of Balancing Out My Body
First, let’s answer the elephant in the room: are we trying for a baby? The short answer: no. The long answer: eventually. And this is what sort of spurred the whole getting of BC thing. A handful of my friends who are pregnant and/or have had babies suggested getting off the pill 6-9 months before even starting to try because it can take a minute for your body to regulate. I had no intention of getting off until MAYBE the fall of this year but in January I found out that my BC was discontinued. A sign? Yes and No. Either way it was definitely the pharmaceutical industry giving a lot of us a big F U (ICYMI: a TON of BC’s were discontinued in January with absolutely no notice.)
Instead of trying to get on a new pill and go through hormonal changes just to get off in the fall, I decided it was time to navigate life off of it. Mind you, I had been on the exact same one for longer than I care to share and even when I tried the generic version in the past it made me feel funny, so I was paying TOP $ for the brand name all these years just to stay the same “me” I’ve known my whole adult life.
This is a long one (and will only get longer), so grab a glass of wine and dive on in:
When I get off and started sharing my journey on IG stories, so many of you could relate to some of the changes I saw my body go through and asked me to share more. We’ve talked a little more about in the EDP Facebook Group where we’ve shared tips and stories about everyone’s unique experience. (Request to join if you’re interested!) And I’ve been keeping a diary of sorts for the last 4 months to give you some insight into what I’ve been going through.
The most amazing part is that EDP contributor Marissa also got off around the same exact time. Her and I have an ongoing text chain about our acne, hair loss, weight changes, etc. which has been all sorts of hilarious and sad at the same time- haha. It’s been nice to go through it with someone. She is sharing HER journey over on THIS POST. Obviously everyone is different, so I think it’s so nice to have these two POVs.
* * A quick reminder that neither of us are medical professionals. We are just sharing our personal journeys of getting off the pill in hopes that it may help you navigate the process or at the least know that you’re not alone in the craziness.**
Keep scrolling to read my journey, how I’m currently feeling, things I wish I would’ve done, plus some tips from the EDP fam.
January 9, 2019 - Bye Bye BC
Welp, guess we’re doing the damn thing. Called every pharmacy in LA and finally got a straight answer from someone that my BC is not on backorder but discontinued indefinitely.
All my gals pals suggested the FLOW app to track my cycle so I just downloaded it.
January 14, 2019 - Save the skin
One of my biggest concerns about getting off the pill is acne. I’ve battled acne since high school and I’m fairly certain that going on the pill significantly helped it. Tip: don’t go down the rabbit hole of google entries about post-bc skin issues. There are SO many horror stories and now I’m freaking out. Bacne and chest acne? Umm, no thank you.
Google did help me discover a supplement called DIM that is supposed to naturally help hormonal acne. Of the many articles I read, this one from a girl I actually went on a press trip with helped cement my purchase decision.
Fingers crossed. DIM, please don’t fail me. **Keep reading for more of my thoughts on DIM **
January 29, 2019 - Losing weight
I haven’t weighed myself but I can tell that I’ve lost weight. It’s not just the boobs (which everyone says goes when you get off BC) it’s like this layer of blubber / water weight /something all around my body. It’s hard to explain but clothes aren’t fitting right and I don’t feel like myself.
For me, losing a few lbs. is a significant amount of my body weight and is honestly something I really would rather NOT happen. I spent much of my early 20s trying to fit in non-jr. sized clothes and have become so comfortable and confident in my body these last 5 -6 yrs. Of course, it’s hard to talk with friends or even share on social because I feel like I’ll get body shamed for complaining about losing weight since I’m already thin.
** At my annual appointment my gyno confirmed I’d lost 5 lbs. since the same time last year. She also said it was normal to see weight loss of 10 -15 lbs. when getting off BC **
February 7, 2019 - I’m late
According to the FLOW app I’m officially late but this is totally expected, right? My gyno said this is normal and I should only be concerned if I skip more than 2 periods.
But what if it’s the DIM ? Oh man, I mean, my skin has been pretty great but what if there’s something in it that’s messing with my estrogen and that’s why I’m late? Stopping ASAP.
Leaving to Colombia and won’t remember to take it daily anyway, so I’ll decide if I want to continue taking it when I get back.
** Got my period 2 days later! **
End of February - But why?!
Skin is FREAKING the EFF out. All sorts of hormonal chin stuff (the painful kind), even breakouts on hairline and places I’ve never really broken out before. Even more frustrating is that according to the flow app this is my ovulation week and I should be GLOWING, not having PMS related skin stuff. Starting back on DIM! Fingers crossed.
March - blessed but stressed
Aside from the physical side effects of the past few months, I haven’t really felt that different emotionally or mentally. So many friends said they experienced crazy mental clarity when they were pill free but also extreme moodiness/PMS compared to before.
Oh but wait, remember that day mid-month when I went to the post office and lost it? Like, literally balled my eyes out trying to get packages shipped because everything was frustrating me and the post office man was being stern with me about some stupid box I grabbed? Yup, that happened.
On the bright side my skin is looking NIIICEEE after starting back on DIM last month.
April 4, 2019 - losing my hair
A few weeks ago I started noticing that my hair was looking different in pictures. At first I thought it was just cuz it’s been growing out and with a shorter lob a little grow-out can change the whole shape of everything. But no… it’s 100% because my hair is falling out, like, EVERYWHERE. Operation FREAK the EFF OUT is officially underway.
Marissa said she read somewhere that a side effect of DIM is hair loss so I’m stopping today. I complain to Andy and he says I’m being crazy but there are a few things that really confirm this is happening: I literally take photos and videos of myself EVERYDAY for my job! I can see when it started… back in February. Funny how in March we had to have our maintenance people come de-clog my drain after only a few months since the last time. ** my hairstylist also confirmed when I saw her last week**
I’m kicking myself because my gyno and my hairstylist told me back in January to start pre-natal vitamins ASAP. The gyno suggested more for the folic acid intake for future baby health but my hairstylist suggested it for hair, nails, etc. WHY DIDN’T I LISTEN?! And if you read up anywhere hair loss is a SUPER COMMON side effect of getting off the pill…. like V common. The shitty part is that it happens so slowly you don’t notice it until it’s too late. I shared this on IG stories and a lot of you provided some AMAZING suggestions to combat:
Food: Avocado, Salmon, Walnuts, Sunflower Seeds
Biotin smoothie + Biotin supplements
Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
Superfood like the Super Elixir from WelleCo
Thorne — Basic Nutrients - Pill taken 2x/day
Oribe Power Drops (Hair serum) - just bought these to try!
Niacinamide tablets for acne + Zinc tablets for hair
The Hair Lust
Ouai hair products at Sephora: Ouai Thin + Shampoo/Conditioner
Navy Shampoo + Conditioner
Books: Woman Code + Beyond The Pill
Just sharing these in case anyone else is going through the same thing. I cannot vouch for any of them yet. I will say that I’ve read and experienced that biotin can make you break out, so I am not going the straight biotin route. Here’s what I am doing:
Got off DIM. Granted, I don’t think this was making my hair fall out but I’m tired of going on and off things. Also trying not to take 1 million different things daily. Started: Rainbow Light Prenatal Vitamin | HUM Glow Sweet Glow Skin Hydration Vitamins | Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides and praying the combination both helps my hair and keeps my skin breakout free.
2 handfuls of Spinach
Tablespoon of Chia Seeds
Tablespoon of Almond Butter
Scoop of Vital Proteins of Collagen Peptides
4 month reflection
The one thing I wish I would’ve done differently the past four months is CHILL. I was so reactive to every change and symptom. The reality is, there are so many variables. My skin issues could’ve been hormone related or the fact that I was on and off a plane every other week for 3 months straight. While I think my hair loss is definitely connected to getting of the pill a part of me also feels like it was exacerbated by the insane amount of stress I was feeling towards the end of Feb/through March. There’s always something, so it’s hard to isolate one thing and say THIS is the cause. If anything, I wish I would’ve had more of a plan.
My goal is to stick with my new vitamin/supplement regimen for at least 3 months to see if I'm seeing success. I will say that my skin has been pretty amazing the last 3 weeks, even through the worst part of my cycle, so that’s a great start. I’ve also been home and trying to take time for myself the past 3 weeks… so you know… variables!
I’m learning to love my new body. Missing my boobs but abs are looking toned AF - hah! Unlike others, my sex drive has definitely not changed. And I’m still not experiencing increased mental clarity but maybe I was already clear? I’m going with the latter!
If you’re going through something similar, I’m sending you positive post BC vibes. We’ll figure it out.
P.S: Def don’t forget to read Marissa’s Post BC Diary - so insightful to have two POVs.
Rest of April
Trying to be diligent about taking my: Rainbow Light Prenatal Vitamin and Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides every day. I’ve gotten the hang of the morning smoothie thing and it’s a really nice way to start the day.
Nothing magical has happened in the last 3 weeks but I imagine it takes a minute for these things to kick in. My nail gal did say my cuticles were looking very good when I went in for my recent mani - maybe the VP doing work? Ready for it to do work on my hair though, if we’re being honest.
MAY 10, 2019 - I’d rather live in a cave
My skin is at it’s all time worst; the typical hormonal spots like chin and jawline. When I go to get my monthly facial my gal Molly (who I adore and has been a skin LIFE SAVER for me) is literally like “WTF is going on Ash?!” Then I remind her we’re entering the 5th month of post BC and she re-assures me it’s all part of the process and in a few months we’ll be out of the weeds. Damn, I hope so. Between my hair and my skin I legit never want to leave my house or look at my husband. Self confidence is such a mind eff!
Btw, I bought this Azelaic Acid booster from Paula’s Choice a few weeks ago because there were TONS of positive reviews about how it helped hormonal acne. Huge fan of other products from the brand but after testing for 3+ weeks I finally stopped because it def wasn’t helping anything and may have been making it worse.
June 5, 2019
Umm girlfriend has B.O. So I forgot to put on deodorant today (it happens to the best of us) and I am smelly AF. Like what? This NEVER HAPPENS. Of course, my best friend was JUST telling me that when she was pregnant she had to up her deodorant game cuz her hormones made her have crazy B.O. Great, so I’m pregnant!
But seriously, it’s amazing how the littlest change in this whole detox process can make you think the craziest things. Def not pregnant but sure thought I was for about 5 days after this because even when I was putting deodorant on I was smelly AF. It has since subsided… who knows what’s happening. Literally, we’re in the wild wild west of hormones.
June 6, 2019 - Fertility Event
Working on educating myself about all things fertility, so I go to an event in LA that is supposed to be all about health + wellness while trying to conceive. Welp, I left feeling less educated and more scared. Most of the conversation was geared towards fertility issues and struggles to get/stay pregnant.
The “you’ll never know until you try” mindset combined with other’s harrowing fertility journeys really make a girl think: OMG, I need to start trying like YESTERDAY. After I talk myself off the ledge, I realize I need to take a “when we’re ready” approach.
Some helpful takeaways from this event were all about preparing your body for pregnancy. I shared these on my IG story:
I did meet the founder of ROBYN, a website for Maternal Wellness - the site is a great resource for all of us thinking about parenthood journeys.
June 14, 2019 - PRAISE the acne gods!
I go to see Molly for a hydrafacial - my skin actually has been looking good for the past 1.5 weeks. Primarily cuz she did some serious extractions during my monthly facial on the 9th. But also could it be the Vital Proteins kicking in and the extra H20 I’ve been drinking? SO MANY VARIABLES. Adding a few hydrafacial treatments over the next months to really keep my skin in a good place. Fingers effing crossed, PLEASE!
My skin from May 10th - June 14th:
6 month reflection
I keep coming back to variables. Unless I can lock myself in a research lab and control all of my surroundings, food, etc. I feel like it’s SO SO hard to say X has helped my acne or Y has helped my hair. Today, June 17th, I can say that my skin is the clearest it’s been since 2018 and I’m praying the worst is over with hair fall out. It’s been falling out less and less over the past month or so. My hair stylist said it would take about 6 weeks for prenatals to fully kick in which was the end of May so things seem to be right on track.
Since mid- April these have been the constants:
daily Vital Protein collagen smoothies
drinking water like a crazy lady
no change to my regular skincare routine
regular monthly facials
no change to diet or workouts
I received a few DM’s last time about my period, etc. and TBH my period has been normal with minimal cramps; same as it was on BC. Funny enough, my weight has kind of balanced and I’m back to my BC weight. I’m using the FLOW app to track everything and find it SUPER helpful to input as much data as possible around weight, water, breakouts, mood, etc. to have something to look back on. Also using the app as a way to track my cycle / naturally NOT getting pregnant - it’s been spot on (no put intended!) with predicting my period and ovulation for the past 3 months.
Until next update, wishing you glowing skin, minimal mood swings, and luscious locks. xx - Ash
P.S: Def don’t forget to read Marissa’s Post BC Diary - so insightful to have two POVs.