To Stay on or Go off Birth Control… Questions, Answers, Experiences

I’ve had this conversation with friends recently. Stay on or go off birth control. We all often have concerns either way and there are a lot of factors to consider. I’m going to preface the rest of the post by saying I decided to go off birth control at the beginning of July. However, I’m not advocating that someone should. The pill is really good for a lot of reasons (mainly, you know, helps if you don’t want to get pregnant).

Individual Differences: So there are a lot of different reasons people might choose to go on the pill and to stay on the pill or go off of it. For example, I decided to go on the pill because it is supposed to help with menstrual pain and cramping. When I was younger I got really bad cramps and often had to go home sick from school or call in sick to work. The pill actually really, really helped with this. I stopped missing work due to cramps and my periods were much less bothersome. Because I was married to a woman at the time I had no concerns around pregnancy – though after I divorced and was back to dating women and men, I did appreciate that I had less worry about getting pregnant when sleeping with men. Some people will also go on the pill to help with depressive symptoms as it can improve mood in some people. It can also reduce risk of certain cancers (ovarian, endometrial) And of course, most go on to prevent pregnancy. All are valid reasons. And so, it’s the same as far as individual differences go when going off of the pill. I went off because my periods were incredibly light, I’m getting older so if I decide to have kids at some point, I want to make it easier on my body, and though I’m single and still date men and women, I’m comfortable with any male partners using other types of contraception. Many people go off of it to become pregnant, some people have side effects they don’t want, etc. Again, all valid reasons.

Concerns & Questions: There are a lot of common questions or concerns about making this change.

  • Irregular cycles – I talked to my naturopath about this, as she mentioned it can take a few months for a cycle to come back (not the case for me but common).
  • Heavy flows, lots of cramps – Another part of the conversation with my naturopath. I did notice my flow increased to normal and I certainly had cramps, though not as bad as I used to get them (ask me again a few periods from now and we’ll see)
  • PMS comes back – I didn’t know this until, again, I had a conversation with my ND. PMS often disappears or becomes milder while on the pill. So going off means you might experience again (so far, I have not but I also didn’t really have much of it before).
  • Weight loss – Some people will lose weight after they stop taking the pill, so beware of this if it’s a concern for you (I haven’t, again, may be too early to tell).
  • Acne – I think most of us have heard this one, though my ND also mentioned it. It was probably one of my bigger concerns since I had terrible acne as a child (yes, as a child, literally ages 8-16). I’ve had a bit more than normal, but mild at best.
  • Increased hair – I didn’t know this but apparently it can cause unwanted hair growth (
  • increased libido – I asked my ND about this because I was literally laughing at myself for days about this. I feel like I’m a 18-21 year old version of myself. Which honestly, there is nothing wrong with, but also something to be aware of if you go off of it.
  • Changes in mood – this is one that seems to be everyone’s biggest concern, which is understandable. As I mentioned early, sometimes the pill can help with depression, and so, going off can mean you experience lower mood. There are many coping strategies available for low mood (self-help books/podcasts/tiktoks, therapy/counselling, etc. can help). I haven’t experienced mood changes.

According to some articles I found online there are some added benefits of going off the pill. Apparently it can cause headaches in some people, so going off will bring relief to that. And also, that cancer protection we talked about earlier, apparently that can continue (if you were on the pill long enough).

I think what’s really, really important when making these types of decisions is that you talk to your doctor and other healthcare professionals. If you’re a Spoonie, include your specialist in the conversation if necessary. If you have a naturopathic doctor, they can be helpful to provide tips for natural relief for cramps, acne, etc. And if you’re experiencing mood changes, especially if you’re already prone to low mood, seeking help for a licensed mental health professional can be beneficial.

Take care and keep making the most of it!

How to Stay Hydrated in the Summer

Okay, this might seem simple, but sometimes I forget to hydrate enough. Last year I was on an app that had us do a 30 day challenge, part of which was drinking 8 glasses of water a day. I honestly felt so great that whole punch (despite having to pee all the time). Unfortunately, I have not been able to keep up the habit. It’s not that I don’t want to or think it’s important, it’s that for some reason it’s a little harder than I thought it would be (this reminds me that I might do a post on habit forming in the future). What I have noticed for myself is that when I’m working, especially from home, I drink a lot of water. One glass per client, plus probably 2 extra on top of that. So on days where I have 4 clients, that ends up being at least 6 glasses of water. In the office, it’s close to the same, but perhaps a little less. The less I work, the less I drink water…

Always have that water bottle.

Except for when I go for a hike, walk, or to the beach. The summer is my favourite time of year. Yes there are some downsides to the weather being hot, but I do love outdoor activities. And I normally do pretty well at staying hydrated. I always bring a water bottle, though I’ll admit sometimes I should probably bring 2, and it’s always empty by the time I’ve returned home. I’m also always happy to get a glass of water at a restaurant, or buy a bottled water at a convenience store if I’ve run out and need more.

While water is 100% important for every human, I think it’s additionally important for Chronic Pain/Illness Warriors. Research suggests that staying hydrated can improve our joint health and functioning by increasing flexibility and lubrication within the joints (could’ve helped the Tin Man). It also has been shown to remove toxins in the body, and toxins are often the source of inflammation. Less inflammation = less pain. Added benefits are improved mood (because being dehydrated can make us angry, depressed and tense – I’ve definitely experience this before, have you?); and it can aid in weight loss, if you have that goal. We know that the mind and body are connected, so when we feel emotions like sadness, anger, and anxiety we tend to feel more pain. When we feel more pain we get into these states easier (so imagine being dehydrated as well).

Here are some ways I make sure I’m staying hydrated:

  1. I always have a full glass of water within arms reach. As soon as the glass is empty (or low) I fill it up, with some ice cubes and just carry it from room to room with me throughout the day.
  2. I bring a water bottle with me as often as possible. I take it to work, on walks, etc. Again, having it near means I’m more likely to drink it.
  3. I order a glass of water at the restaurant. Even if I’m also ordering another drink. Nothing else really hydrates us, so while I’m happy to have a beer or a soda or coffee, etc. that is really for the flavour, socializing experience, etc. I need to have water for the hydration.

Also, side note PSA, if you have a dog and you’re taking him or her for a walk, please, please bring one of those doggy water bottles for them. If you need to be hydrated, they do too!

Enjoy the rest of your summer and keep making the most of it!

Should I Be Taking Prebiotics, Probiotics, or Eating Fermented Foods?

I don’t know about you but I find that what I eat really affects how well I’m feeling. For example, back in 2019 I went to Costa Rica with one of my best friends. Neither of us had ever eaten healthier in our lives. Everything was farm or ocean to table. Fruit was literally picked off the tree. There were no preservatives in anything. I could pretty much eat anything without any problems. Unfortunately back at home that can be harder to do because of costs and availability. There has been so much talk over the past several years about the benefits of probiotics, and more recently on prebiotics. And then I was falling this Flo Living diet last year that emphasized eating fermented foods during certain parts of your menstrual cycle. So this got me thinking, what should we be taking/eating?

Farm to table breakfast in Costa Rica

Since this isn’t an easy question to answer, I thought we’d just look at the benefits of each. Let’s start with prebiotics. So this week on the podcast I had on Beau Berman from Layer Origin, and they specialize in prebiotics (though they also make probiotics) and he gives a very thorough explanation of what prebiotics are and the benefits of them, so I highly recommend checking it out. Here’s the Apple link, the Spotify link, and the web link. My quick summary is this, prebiotics helps stimulate the growth of gut bacteria that are important for digestion and can improve the immune system. Some of the benefits are:

  • pay help prevent colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease
  • helpful in relieving constipation
  • may be helpful in preventing obesity and lowering cholesterol
  • and may improve your ability to absorb minerals such as calcium and magnesium
Check out the podcast for more on prebiotics (and probiotics).

What about probiotics? These can promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, but they don’t stimulate the growth of what’s already there (basically you’re introducing new strains – listen to the podcast for more on this). Here are some of the potential benefits:

  • prevent and treat diarrhea
  • may promote heart health
  • may reduce severity of some allergies
  • may reduce symptoms of colitis and Crohn’s
  • boost the immune system
  • may help you lose weight
  • may help with mental health – some strains have been linked with improvements in anxiety, depression, and OCD

Finally, there are fermented foods. Fermented foods are full of probiotics, so they are similar to taking probiotic supplements in many ways (with the benefit of getting to eat food instead of taking pills or powders). Since they are similar to probiotics, they also improve the digestive and immune systems because they add new bacteria strains to your gut. Here’s some benefits:

  • helps to manufacture vitamin B and synthesize vitamin K
  • may help with lactose intolerance because they break down lactose in food, so foods like yogurt are easier to digest
  • and may help with mental health as they have been linked with the production of serotonin in the brain

My conversation with Beau has inspired me to try out probiotics, and for me, I think I’ll stick with fermented foods as opposed to taking probiotics because they are honestly more delicious. I think it really comes down to each of us figuring out what works for us and what seems to be helping. Talk with your healthcare team before making any changes because they may have some suggestions on which route to go. Everyone, keep making the most of it!

It’s about finding what’s right for you.
(Me in Costa Rica, 2019, eating vegan chocolate mousse on my birthday).

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