It’s Not You, It’s Me: When Is It Time to Break Up with Your Pill?

As much as it hurts to remember, we have all been the victims of a painful breakup at some point. Whether it was your high school sweetheart, your first kiss, or the guy whose professions of love sounded convincing after numerous tequila shots, we have all been there.

While some are more painful and memorable than others, breaking up with your pill (or thinking about breaking up with your pill) can be pretty frightening. For many of us, it keeps us pain free, it keeps us headache free, it keeps us acne free, and most importantly, it keeps us baby free. However, when you start to think about having a baby, you start to wonder: could all those years on the pill be doing something bad to me?

Although voices don’t carry over the Internet or through the written word, picture us shouting NOOOOOOO as loud as possible! The pill did not harm your fertility, and the pill is not causing your infertility. The pill did not harm your ovaries or your eggs or your uterus or your tubes. Whether you spent one, five, ten, or twenty years on the pill, it does not matter. Fertility issues arise totally irrespective of the length of time you were on the pill. In many ways, the pill protected you from some of the fertility monsters (think fibroids and endometriosis) as well as some of the other monsters in GYN (ovarian and endometrial cancer).

One of the most common complaints we hear is “I spent so much time on the pill I don’t know what my period is like.” And while this is true, it doesn’t matter so much. Yes, it might have tipped you off to menstrual irregularity before you started to try and led you to stop the pill a couple of months sooner, but in the grand scheme of things, it won’t make a huge difference in your fertility or your future pregnancies.

While you may not know you had something going on, the delay is unlikely to change the outcome. The only time it may have blinded you to important information is for women who undergo an early (a.k.a. premature) menopause. In these rare and select cases, had a woman not been on the pill, she might have seen her cycles becoming shorter and more irregular and therefore sought treatment earlier. However, premature menopause is very, very rare (affecting an infinitesimally small subset of the population). Bottom line, breaking up with your pill to rule this diagnosis out is completely unnecessary.

There have been many amazing developments along the way for women and women’s reproductive rights. Oral contraceptive pills are definitely at the top of this list. And while your friends, your mom, or any stranger willing to give you advice on anything and everything, we want you to stop worrying about how many years of your life you have devoted to this daily ritual; you did NOTHING wrong by engaging in chronic pill use. In fact, you did just the opposite—you were proactive in thinking about your reproductive health. This wise and thoughtful decision definitely gets a double thumbs up.