My Hormones Story

Hi, guys!

I wanted to go into more detail about my “wacky hormones” since I received a few questions recently. I apologize for not giving more detail. Thursday’s post started as a “What I’m Loving Lately,” but then I just sort of rambled about the hormone stuff, leaving you guys in the dark about a lot of stuff. Sorry about that! Ok, so let’s rewind and give you a little background.

At 19 years old, I started to take oral contraceptives. I had always struggled with acne, and I had heard that the pill might help to regulate my hormones and clear it up. Plus, I had a long-term boyfriend, so… you know. I could get free oral contraceptives from my college’s health services department, so I figured why not? I was put on Ortho Tri-Cyclen and my skin cleared up within a few months. I don’t remember any major side effects, so I took that same pill for years.

When I moved to Boston after college, I didn’t have an OB/GYN, so I did some Googling and found my current doctor. When I was about 22/23 years old, she switched me to Alesse/Aviane. I don’t remember why she switched me to a new pill, but it worked just fine, so I stayed with it for, oh, a good 10 years.

In my early 30s, I got a little freaked out that I had been on the pill for so long. A friend of mine raved about her IUD, so I ended up stopping the pill and trying out the Mirena. I liked it just fine (I don’t remember any negative side effects) and used it until we decided to try to get pregnant.

After giving birth to Qman, I started a progestin-only oral contraceptive (recommended by my OB/GYN) because I was breastfeeding. I’m not sure if I had some postpartum depression going on, but taking that pill made me nuts. Holy mood swings! I joke that Mal kept me alive during those first few postpartum months (I was also bleeding and going to the bathroom 20 times a day), but he absolutely did. I was truly falling apart, both physically and mentally, so the progestin pill had to go. (I also started Remicade around this same time.) I knew the hormones were effecting me, so, this time, I went with the Paragard (non-hormonal/copper) IUD. (I also didn’t want to get surprise-pregnant on the Mirena – I know two people in real life who this happened to!) The Paragard was awful. For three months, I had bloating and swelling in my abdomen. My doctor said it should go away in a few weeks, but my abdomen was literally sore to the touch. I felt terrible, so I had it taken out.

After that, I decided to give my body a break and see if my hormones would balance themselves. Around this same time, Nicole contacted me about working together. I had just started Entyvio, but it was only kind of working. (It can take up to 6 months to work.) Our main goal was to address my GI issues, but it seemed liked a lot of them were tied to hormonal stuff. We tried natural progesterone and diet changes, but my hormones were still out of control. I had night sweats 2 weeks out of every month, heavy periods, and terrible cystic acne on my face and neck. I just couldn’t take it anymore, so I decided to go back to oral contraceptives.

That was a year ago, and, up until 10 days ago, I played the pill game, trying to find the right one. I started with a super low-dose pill (Lo Loestrin Fe), but I had breakthrough bleeding every month. After that, I tried Alesse/Aviane because it had worked for me in the past, but, again, I had breakthrough bleeding. Most recently, I tried Altavera, which was much higher in hormones (both estrogen and progestin), and I pretty much hated the whole experience. The side effects (hair loss, weight gain, dry skin, bloating, moodiness, fatigue) were just not fun, so I knew I needed to get off the pill.

So, that’s my story in a nutshell. I just stopped taking the pill a little over a week ago, so not much has happened with regard to my hormones, but I know I’m in for an adventure. I’ll be sure to keep you guys in the loop with how things go!

Question of the Day

How are your hormones? Any words of wisdom for making this transition easier? 


  1. I’ve never had any testing done so I honestly have no idea where my hormones are, technically speaking. But I can say that I am a much happier, level-headed person when I’m not using any form of birth control. It’s interesting to read others’ experiences on this topic because I’ve done so much wavering about whether or not to go back on any form of birth control since having my boys. I was on Ortho Tri-Cyclen, and then Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, followed by the NuvaRing (by far my favorite), from the ages of 19 – 27. Shortly after we got married, I stopped renewing my prescription and we simply “took precautions”, though we weren’t opposed to starting a family at any point. When we actually “started trying”, I had been off of birth control completely for about 3 years. We had twins, so we definitely were not looking to have any more children right away, and I went on the progestin-only pill while nursing as well. I won’t rule out the lack of sleep or the hormones that were still trying to navigate their way back to normality post-partum/during nursing, but that pill made me absolutely crazy. I couldn’t stop taking it soon enough. I didn’t even tell my husband that I had done so, but a couple of weeks later he mentioned something about me seeming happier, less moody, and at that point I sort of vowed to never go on birth control again.
    During a “preventive health annual physical” a few months ago, with a doctor I’d not previously met, I was lectured for at least 20 minutes about what could happen if not on birth control, and why I should absolutely be on some form. I was appalled, embarrassed (not sure why), and completely astonished that not only would my appointment be wasted on this one doctor’s agenda, but that all of my other concerns were totally ignored since we “didn’t have time” to discuss them.
    I’m not sure where I go from here, or if no birth control is best for me in the long-run, but it’s where I’m at right now. Happily.
    Good luck to you!

  2. I had dealt with wacky hormones and acne all through my teens and adulthood. Now 41, I have to credit trial and error with face products. My body never worked well with any contraceptives. My body suffered and I usually get all or most of the side effects. It hasn’t changed much now other then I was currently diagnosed with perimenopausal since I’ve done three IVF’s and a family history of early menopause. My body is totally wacky. I am seeking what foods work and I’ve learned my body works well with all organic and natural deodorants, face products and more. It’s amazing when you listen and take notes of what works well with your body you learned it speaks to you back.

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