To Go On or Stay Off? The Truth About Birth Control

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Being on the birth control pill is often dismissed as simply being a contraceptive, or a way to treat things such as acne and severe period cramps. In reality, taking birth control is so much more than that. The pill contains hormones that alter the way our body works, which means that choosing to go on this medication is a big decision.

In recent months, social media platforms such as TikTok have been overwhelmed by women talking about their experience on the medication, and in many cases encouraging women to go off the pill. On the other end of the spectrum, many women have been advocating for expansion of the medication due to recent threats to women’s body autonomy.

In college and during young adulthood in general, many women are faced with the decision of going on, staying off or getting off the birth control pill. With so many varying opinions and effects to consider, this decision can be incredibly intimidating for many women. VALLEY is here to break down the benefits of taking the pill, as well as why you may want to consider getting off the pill or staying off it.

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Benefits of the Pill

Birth control impacts every woman differently, but there are a few benefits that are somewhat universal. According to Planned Parenthood the birth control pill can have the following benefits:

  • Prevention of pregnancy
  • Lessened acne
  • Prevention of bone thinning
  • Preventions of certain cancers and infections
  • Ovarian cyst prevention
  • Anemia prevention
  • PMS prevention
  • Period regulation

For women that are prone to ovarian cysts and certain cancers, including endometrial and ovarian, getting on birth control can be a beneficial choice. Additionally, it can make life a lot easier for women who struggle with intense period cramps and period-related symptoms including acne, mood swings, etc. Like many things, birth control does not have the same effects on every woman, so your experience may not exactly reflect these benefits.

Benefits of Getting Off, or Staying Off

For those considering getting off the pill, or not getting on it in the first place, many of the benefits of this decision involve the cons of taking the birth control pill. Taking any medication, especially one that alters your hormones, can have negative side effects. The recently popular movement of getting off the pill has been inspired by many women on social media who have discussed how drastically it impacted their mentality and personality when they were on it.

Many women claim that getting off of the pill after years of taking it made them “feel like themselves” again, and reduced feelings of anxiety and stress. Taking a look at some of these testimonies, such as this one by @lindsaymariebarber on TikTok, can give you an insight into what getting off the pill may look like for you. There are so many videos on social media that discuss the drastic mood shift that women experience when getting off the pill, which in many cases can positively impact relationships, life outlook and life in general.

When making the decision to get off or stay off the pill, try reading this book by Sarah Hill. Her book, This Is Your Brain on Birth Control: The Surprising Science of Women, Hormones, and the Law of Unintended Consequences, published in 2019, breaks down how birth control can make you a different version of yourself, while also highlighting some of the positive effects. It is an important read for understanding the trade off you will be making if you get on the pill.

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Things to Consider

No matter what decision you make about the birth control pill, or any other type of birth control, it is always important to talk to your doctor. Every body is different, and depending on what medications you take and health conditions you have, your doctor may have a specific recommendation for you. If you decide to start taking the pill, it is also critical to understand that it’s a process. Sometimes the first pill you take may not work well for your body, and you’ll have to try others until you find a good match.

It is also essential to consider one of birth controls functions: birth control does act as a contraceptive. If your partner is putting pressure on you to get on the pill for this reason, or if you feel a societal pressure to get on the pill as your primary contraceptive method, you may need to take a step back from making the decision. Assess all of the potential effects this medication could have on your body, and make the decision for yourself, not because your partner wants you to.

Even though the stories and conversations online may sway you in one direction about your decision, another person’s experience will never look exactly like your own. If you want to get on the pill because one woman online said it made her lose weight, then you probably shouldn’t get on the pill. For some women, birth control makes them lose weight, for others it makes them gain weight. For some it stabilizes their mood, and for others it can do the opposite. There is no perfect birth control pill that will solve all of your problems, so be considerate with your own body to make the right informed decision for YOU, not for anyone else.

What do you think about the birth control pill? Tweet us your opinion at @VALLEYmag!


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