If you’ve been taking an oral contraceptive for many years, the idea of stopping your birth control regimen might seem like a daunting prospect. After all, you don’t have to look far on the internet to find unpleasant anecdotes about women going off the pill and suffering from debilitating cramps or sudden acne outbreaks. While these stories are undoubtedly true, it’s important to take them with a grain of salt. Bear in mind that most people don’t share their experiences on the internet unless they are either especially great or terrible. When people have more benign, unremarkable experiences, they tend to just go on with their lives instead.
In any case, if you feel that you need to go off the pill – whether it’s because you want to get pregnant or because of other health concerns – you shouldn’t let these stories deter you. Generally speaking, the adverse effects of stopping birth control are minimal and short-lived. So what should you expect? That depends largely on your own personal physiology, but there are a few common changes associated with going off oral contraceptives.
Slight Weight Loss
When you started taking birth control, you may have noticed a slight fluctuation in your weight. Likewise, when you stop taking birth control, you may experience similar symptoms as well. Many women lose a few pounds when they stop taking birth control due to changes in their hormonal balances and lost water weight.
If you found that your sex drive was suppressed upon starting your birth control regimen, you will likely find that it returns when you stop taking the pill. This is because testosterone levels drop in some women while they’re on birth control. Once testosterone levels return to normal, their libido tends to return as well.
Heavier, Irregular Periods
This symptom is particularly common in women who started taking birth control to regulate their menstrual cycles in the first place. If your periods were regular prior to taking to birth control, you may not notice much of a difference when you stop taking it. It can also take a few cycles for your hormone levels to return to their pre-birth control levels.
This is another symptom that will generally only flare up if it was an issue before you started taking birth control. Like the weight fluctuations mentioned earlier, it’s also caused by changes in testosterone levels.
You Can Get Pregnant
This one should be fairly obvious, but it’s still worth noting. Pretty much as soon as you stop taking oral contraceptives, you will be able to get pregnant again. In terms of your fertility, there is not a transitional period after you stop taking the pill. As such, if you’re going to be sexually active and you don’t want to get pregnant, you should to switch to a backup form of contraception immediately.
To get a general idea of what going off the pill will be like, just think back to life before you started taking oral contraceptives.
“Most women can pretty much count on getting a return to what their periods were like before the pill, rather than getting really bad side effects going off the pill,” said Dr. Alyssa Dweck, an OB/GYN and assistant clinical professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in an interview with The Huffington Post. “If you went on the pill in the first place to regulate symptoms of hormone imbalance, those imbalances may return after you go off the pill and cause fertility issues.”
Speak with your doctor before you stop taking birth control. They may be able to provide you with some more personalized insights as to how it will affect you. They will also be able to provide you with strategies for dealing with the potential effects of hormonal changes.
If you have any more questions about birth control or any of the procedures performed at South Avenue Women’s Services, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.