The IUD Chronicles Part 6: Two Months Hormone Free!
I haven’t taken hormonal birth control pills for two months now! My experiences this month have been very similar to the ones I described in my last post. But, I wanted to check in and review the benefits to stopping hormonal BC that I have noticed, and continue to notice, and reflect on how my periods, cramping, and acne have been. Let’s go!
I have a little bit more acne than before. It’s not catastrophic. Right now there are two nasty zits right next to one another on my chin, and I hate them, and I am guilty of having picked at them. I’m not gonna photograph them right now because my urge to pick and pop and scrape would be exacerbated by that, but here’s a photo from a few days ago, as they were coming in:
I can’t say that my face is wrecked by stopping BC. I use my salicylic acid face scrub more frequently, and I moisturize more, and things are tolerable. If I didn’t pop shit, I wouldn’t have temporary acne scars or large, irritated marks on my face at all. But I am an impatient child and picking at my skin is a stim and I can’t help but scrape at that shit.
I do have some bacne, as I mentioned in my last post. Some of the zits are kinda big and weepy and painful. Every zit disappears on its own after two or three days, if I leave them alone. I don’t leave them alone.
Because my mental health is better now that I’m off BC, the acne doesn’t bother me like it used to. Years ago, I wouldn’t leave the house if I thought my acne was too unsightly. I’d put benzoyl peroxide on the same zit over and over again, for hours, until some of my skin burned off. I just don’t care as much about that shit anymore. I’m able to forget about the pimples and drag myself away from the mirror.
I am sleeping so fucking well. I used to stay up for an hour or more after my partner dozed off, without fail. I’d spend that time crying and thinking about the inevitability of death and feeling pathetic. This is not a problem anymore. Usually I drift off within a few minutes of him; a few long-winded sentences from Dan Carlin is all it really takes. He talks about war and death and torture methods and nuclear weapons and other manifestations of human evil, and I find it comforting. He always sets out to devote an hour to a subject, but then it morphs into a 12-hour, five-part series unveiled over the course of two years, which my info-dumpy obsessive autistic ass can really appreciate.
On the rare occasion that I can’t fall asleep immediately, I can read or screw around on my phone without feeling distress. No freak-outs, no long crying jags. I always had those when I was on BC. Which brings me to:
I hardly ever cry now.
THIS IS INCREDIBLE! I used to cry every other day. I cried trying to fall asleep. I cried waiting for my partner to come home. I cried if I made a mistake. I cried if I thought about my family being all Republicans. I cried if someone frustrated me.
I don’t cry much now. I can feel misty and sentimental watching a cute video of a dog, and I can feel sorrow contemplating the unfairness of life, but I don’t sob and sob and sob. I used to have hours-long meltdowns with clear snot and tears dripping without relent. My head would pound for hours afterward, sometimes the whole rest of the day. My sadness seemed inescapable. It was white-hot and intense.
And now…crying is relatively rare and more self-contained. When I do cry, it is briefer and relatively controlled. I’m able to explain to my boyfriend what’s upsetting me, instead of shaking like a morose leaf and leaking snot for hours. I can’t believe how much better I feel.
I am so much more resilient than I was on BC. I still get annoyed at loud sounds and feel stress about work deadlines, but it’s far more manageable. I’m able to switch emotional gears. I can distract myself. I can get shit done. I don’t hold onto bad feelings or obsess over them.
I find myself singing around the house more. Even singing as I walk down the street. That’s always been a positive mental health sign, for me. I’m able to feel joy with so much ease. I can process sadness, anger, and annoyance without being destroyed by them. I can think about difficult things without falling into a spiral of negative thinking and distress.
I love inhabiting my own head, now. It was never like this before.
I’m horny all the time and my body is far more sensitive and it continues to rule. I can orgasm more easily, I masturbate more often, I find more humans beautiful and attractive, I like having my nipples touched (I never liked it much before), and even something as simple as having my thighs gently squeezed can make me combust into aroused flames. It’s fantastic.
My second period, post-IUD, was totally fine. It was maybe a day and a half longer than my average period used to be, on birth control, and it was a bit heavier. I did wake up one night to find I’d been sleepily staining the sheets with my blood. But that shit just happens, man. We have black sheets it’s fine. It has been a manageable amount and intensity of flow. Compared to the bleeding I had after getting the IUD inserted, it’s been a walk in the park.
At times, I can still feel the IUD inside me. The cramps are on the right-hand side of my body; they’re stiff and make me acutely aware, still, that metal is inside me. I feel it sometimes temporarily during sex, or while walking down the street, or when I need to poop. It’s intermittent and not at all debilitating.It’s not disturbing or intense on the level that it was during the first few weeks. I haven’t had to take Ibuprofen all month.
My boobs have deflated a bit and I love it! They are less heavy and dense than they used to be. They don’t look like they’ve gone down in actual circumference or anything like that — they just feel less full of tissue, and less prominent. This makes me very very happy. Sometimes I forget I have boobs at all — which has always been the idea. I can go days without wearing a bra (despite being a DDD) and feel utterly secure. When I do wear a soft sports bra, my boobs aren’t sore by the end of the day.
As I wrote in my last post, I’m having way less gender dysphoria than I used to. My mood is in better shape, my body is no longer flooded with excess estrogen, and my boobs are soft and inobtrusive. I feel a lot more comfortable in my body and my identity as a result. I don’t mind as much when I get called “she” or “ma’am”. I know that my identity is valid and true and deep inside me, no matter what people make of what they see on the outside. I feel less dependent, overall, on the approval and understanding of others.
My vagina is wet all the time. That’s all.
I love my copper IUD. It is my best little lucky penny friend. With it, I am happier, healthier, more comfortable in my body, more confident, and more down to fuck. I don’t love having a few more zits as my body tries to adjust to my new hormone levels, but it is a price I will gladly pay for the mood boost I have experienced.
I will keep updating this serious periodically, as new developments arise. Unless something catastrophic happens, all future posts will probably be short check-ins, like this one. I may follow them up with a final, big-picture reflection six months or a year into the process.
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This is part of an ongoing series documenting my transition from hormonal birth control to a copper, hormone-free IUD. You can read the series from the beginning here: https://medium.com/@dr_eprice/the-iud-chronicles-part-1-why-im-going-off-bc4b2859367e