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The Day I Tossed My Birth Control Pills Away For Good

After 18 years on and off The Pill, I was done and done.

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garbage can with birth control pill package in it
Ana Porte
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I should have made a bigger deal about it. Not a ceremonial bonfire per se; perhaps a prolonged private acknowledgement. I was out of refills on my birth control pills. The next logical grownup step would be to ask my gynecologist to order a new prescription. Except I had below-zero motivation to follow through. I picked up the empty package that now resembled a used Dentyne Ice pellet packet and absentmindedly tossed it in my trash. The end. After 18 years on and off The Pill, I was done and done.

Was it a force of sheer laziness or a moment of true clarity? Now that some time has passed and I’m still pill-less, I’m voting for the latter. I don’t have kids, and I’m fully aware there’s a remote medical possibility I could still get pregnant via the old-fashioned method. I’m chancing it anyway. I’m finished with finagling with my hormones and being beholden to a pill the size of a picnic ant. Besides, if my awkward freshman year sex ed class taught me anything, it’s that I need to, you know, go all the way with a guy in order to get knocked up. My nocturnal activities have been inconsistent at best, and I’ve never been one to sleep around with randos. On top of all my other stresses, I don’t need my birth control pills to taunt me with their presence. They had to go, along with that size-0 Limited wrap dress hanging in my closet since 1999.

The pathetic truth is that I was so late to the pill party, I was convinced some of my friends were already gone by the time I got there. The epitome of a late bloomer, I was a “Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee”-type throughout school and too mortified to talk to my mom about the birds and the bees. I didn’t see my first gynecologist until I moved to New York City a few months after graduating college and nabbed a capital-b boyfriend. Getting my hands on that fantastic plastic pink shell full of color-coded meds was a true milestone for me. When I visited home, I made sure the container was prominently on display on the bathroom counter, as if to boast to my mom, I’m adulting on my own now, so there!

Indeed, even though I experienced droughts in between relationships, the one constant was dutifully ingesting that pill every morning. Of course, I enjoyed the physical benefits (no more surprise periods, phew!). And if I may be so bold as to quote Shania Twain, The Pill made me feel like a woman. Occasional nausea be damned, this is what females had to do to be responsible for their bodies, I reasoned. Plus, I’d find a new guy soon. No need to panic. Each time I considered permanently giving up the pills, I worried that I was somehow giving up on myself.

One of the great luxuries of being a certain age is the ability to make rash, unapologetic decisions. Maybe breaking up cold turkey with a hormone-affected pill wasn’t the wisest action — and definitely not the most rational. But the second I did it, I knew in my gut I was liberated and ready to embrace the next phase of my life. I’ve never once regretted it, even as I continue to navigate the dating world. At long last, I’m the one in total control.