What was I taking? For the first 8 years, I took a number of different pill forms, and then for the last 3 I was on the Ring.
Why did I stop? HBC was doing a major number on my libido, and my lack of sex drive was starting to drive my partner and I absolutely nuts. So, after talking things through, we decided that it was best for me to stop taking HBC, and that we would use a combination of other methods instead. I also wanted to live a more natural lifestyle, and HBC just wasn't part of that picture for me.
What happened when I stopped?: For the first three months, my period was 100% on schedule. I still maintained at 28 day cycle, and my periods were generally light. When the fourth month came, however, I had a 43 day long cycle. Talk about NERVE WRACKING. My partner and I were *very* careful: we watched my cycle, avoided the "danger days" and used condoms every time. I knew that the chance of pregnancy was very slim, but I was definitely stressed out until my period came! For the next several months, my period was all over the place: 43 days, 40 days, 38 days.. etc.. etc. It was frustrating, to say the least. FINALLY, 8 months later, I'm starting to get into a more regular schedule. Right now I'm hovering around a 30 day cycle, which is ok by me.
In addition to irregular periods, I also had an increase in acne. It's been pretty brutal, to be honest - but I'm also under a huge amount of stress since I'm finishing a graduate thesis, so I'm sure that factors into the equation. The acne increase didn't start until the periods started getting longer, so I do think that it's at least partially due to stopping HBC. I started taking some homeopathic remedies recently, so I'm hoping that those, combined with finishing my thesis - will have me acne free by summer time.
As for PMS symptoms - it's been a real learning experience. I barely recall how my periods were prior to being on HBC. On HBC, I barely had any symptoms, aside from a little moodiness in the couple of days prior to my period starting. Off HBC, I definitely notice more symptoms, but perhaps it's because I'm beginning to be more "in tune" with how my body naturally works. I get pretty nasty anxiety in the day immediately before my period, and I also experience some breast tenderness in the week prior. The first day of my period is pretty awful, but nothing that a few advil, a bunch of water, and a nice massage from my partner can't fix Generally, my periods last about 5-6 days, and they're nothing that the Diva Cup can't handle.
The best part of stopping HBC? My libido is back!!!! FINALLY! I find myself thinking about sex at the oddest times, and I feel like I can get aroused at the drop of the hat. Before I was just NOT interested in sex - at all. It was horrible!
Stopping HBC has been a wonderful thing for my partner and I, as my lack of libido was really starting to dampen the closeness of our relationship. It had nothing to do with a lack of attraction - in fact our relationship was pretty much perfect except for my lack of sex drive. (That's one of the reasons I decided to quit - I figured that what was the point of taking HBC to avoid getting pregnant if I was rarely having sex?)
It took a while for the HBC to wear off completely, but in the last three months I've had at least 3 times the amount of sex that I had in years prior. It's been WONDERFUL. Truly wonderful.
So that's my story. I hope someone finds it useful!