What to Expect When You Stop Taking the Pill

Discarded hormonal birth control packs next to a stethoscope after a patient decides to get off the pill.

The long history of the contraceptive pill has been a revolutionary journey in female sexual health. Women fought for their reproductive rights, and unfortunately, new generations of women are still fighting for those same rights in 2022.

The pill has many benefits, and there are various personal reasons why women choose to take it but realistically, there comes a time when a woman wants or needs to come off the pill. Whether to have a baby or switch to a different kind of birth control, staying on the pill forever is not always plausible.

Here are a few things you can expect when you come off the birth control pill.

Inconsistent Cycle at First

Even if you had regular, punctual periods before starting birth control, it might take several months before they start becoming consistent again. As a general rule, if your periods haven’t restarted after a few months, then it’s worth seeing your doctor to check for any medical issues or an unexpected pregnancy.

PMS Symptoms Might Reappear

Birth control helps regulate cycles and control hormonal symptoms, so a lot of women go on the pill to help relieve premenstrual symptoms like cramps, bloating, and nausea. If you decide to stop taking the pill, don’t be surprised if you feel like your breasts are more tender right before your period or if you feel more irritable and moodier; these are most likely your PMS symptoms returning. Some women might also notice the return of a menstrual migraine right before they get their period.


If you stop using hormonal birth control, pregnancy can happen sooner than you think. Many women think it takes a long time to conceive after they stop the pill, but research shows pregnancy rates are about the same as those for women who had used barrier methods like condoms. If you’re not trying to get pregnant, make sure to use condoms or another type of contraception immediately after you stop taking your pills.

Your Skin Could Break Out

Combination birth control pills, which combine estrogen and progestin, clear up acne in many women because they can lower the body’s androgen levels. This hormone produces oils on the skin. You may discover new crops of pimples after you stop taking the pill, especially around your period, when hormone levels fluctuate. Going off birth control pills may return acne symptoms that were present before starting birth control pills. If you decide to go off the pill, there are other ways to manage your hormonal acne, like switching cleansers, reducing stress, or taking probiotic supplements.

Your Libido Might be Affected

 A small number of women find that the pill drives their libido down, especially if they take some very low-dose pills. Therefore, some women experience an increased sex drive after going off hormonal birth control.

Hair Changes

It is possible for women who stop taking the pill to lose or grow more hair. Some forms of birth control have higher levels of hormones that cause hair to fall out more slowly than usual. Once birth control is stopped, hair can start to fall out at increased rates for about six months. For women who had hair loss related to hormonal imbalances before starting the pill, stopping the pill can cause this condition to return. The opposite can also be true, where your birth control causes your hair to fall out faster than usual. In this case, you will notice less hair falling out once you stop taking your birth control. Stopping birth control can also lead to an increase in androgen hormones. These hormones can cause coarse, dark hair to grow on the face, chest, or back.

There are various forms of the birth control pill, and everyone’s body responds to them differently. Coming off the pill will be a different experience for every woman. It is important to discuss your desire to come off the birth control pill with your doctor before making final decisions.

If you want to explore different birth control options, a qualified physician at South Avenue Women’s Services will be able to give you all the information you need to make a safe switch to a different form of birth control. Call (585)271-3850 to speak to a caring professional who can guide you to the perfect birth control option for your body.  

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