If my body were a temple I would be sort of a F5 level Tornado. It’s not entirely my fault. On hormones, off hormones, switching hormones, going continuously on hormones. The straw the broke the camels back, as it turns out, was narcissism. Six months in to my purge from hormonal birth control my body went through what seemed like puberty round two. My skin broke out for the first time in over a decade. My hair was unbearably greasy. My complexion looked dull, and no matter how hard I tried to smile with my eyes, I looked dead inside.
It’s possible that’s because for the last decade my body had been fed with a more or less steady stream of estrogen. This is the me that I knew. The me pumped with hormones. I thought I was strong enough to beat it. I know if I’d waited just a little longer I might have stabilized. But I’m weak. It all came crashing down with that final, unbeatable pimple. And then all of the things that birth control had provided me clicked at the same time.
I was sick of depending on condoms in an unstable and terrifying political climate. Is the condom good? Did it break? It is safe? Am I pregnant? What if I get pregnant and I can’t get an abortion? What if abortion is illegal? What if I decide I want to get back on birth control but I no longer have insurance? My cycle was irregular and physically demanding. My initial uptick in mood had leveled off and I no longer felt self-righteous euphoria. I almost crawled back to my doctor asking her for more. I take no pride in this moment.
I asked for a lower hormonal dose, I started the next day. I’ve kept the pills in my desk drawer as a sign of my defeat.
I am still critical of how we dependent we are on hormones. Women, in particular, as the bearer of protection and the bearer of children. But there simply isn’t a similar option for men, yet. And even if there was, how can we really know for sure that extended use of hormones is safe? I might have a stroke, I might get a blood clot, or I might just not get pregnant. These are the moderately well-informed risks we take.
I now feel more in control of my own sexual health, again. Which is in direct competition with what I said before. Not being on birth control also made me feel more in control of my own sexual health. It’s just the way it is. I’m a complex person and I hold a multitude of feelings. I’m unlikely to get pregnant. My cycle quickly regulated. My skin cleared up in a week. And my hair has decided it’s okay to brush it again.
The Great Both/And
The moral here is that I may not have found my end all be all. Maybe you haven’t, either. Perhaps there is no final solution. Sometimes we’re on hormones, sometimes we’re not. Sometimes we feel good about it, sometimes we don’t. It is intersectional, my feelings on these pills. My privilege of having them. The frustration that I have to use them. My fear of losing them. The concern that one day they may not work the way they are intended. The little pleasures they bring. The potential medical grief they could bring down upon me. I’m going to take it one day at a time. I hope that my admission that it’s not always so clear makes it a little easier for you to ask these questions too.
Do you need advice? Submit at Ask Suggestive and I’ll answer it on my blog. Today, start a calendar to track your sexual and mental health. You can use a notebook and journal, jot notes in your schedule, bullet journal, or write on a scrap piece of paper. How do your emotions change throughout the month? How often are you having sex? What kinds of symptoms do you experience throughout the month (headaches? stomach pain? arousal?) If you menstruate, what is your cycle like? Do you have PMS? Make the calendar your own and see where trends pop up.