Stopping Birth Control? 4 Things that May (or May Not) Happen
When you’ve been on birth control for a while (say, five years or longer), you may be used to your routine of popping one small, round pill out of that circular disk at the same time every day. If, for whatever reason, you or your doctor decide that stopping birth control pills is the right decision for you, what can you expect? Most birth control pills contain synthetic progesterone and estrogen.1 What happens when you’re no longer getting a steady dose of hormones?
Check out these four things that may (or may not) be affected by you stopping birth control. If you have any questions or concerns following your decision to stop taking hormonal birth control, talk to your doctor.
- Back to Regular Periods
According to the Mayo Clinic, your normal period should return in about three months, though in some cases it may take several months. Typically, most women resume ovulation about two weeks after stopping the pill. Once you start ovulating again, you can get pregnant. If this happens during your first cycle off the pill, you may not have a period at all. If you’ve had unprotected sex after you stopped taking the pill and your period hasn’t returned, you may want to take a pregnancy test.2 Every woman’s body is unique, so talk to your doctor when you discontinue the pill.
- Skin in Flux
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Dr. Debra Jaliman notes that birth control pills may improve women’s acne because they reduce the production of androgen, the hormone that produces the oil that clogs pores. But what happens to your skin once you discontinue the pill? Does your skin revert to its previous condition? Not necessarily. If you’re already prone to breakouts, your acne may return when your hormones normalize.3
You may want to ask your doctor about seeing a dermatologist to help you through this transition.
- Weighty Matters
There isn’t conclusive evidence of whether discontinuing combination contraceptive pills or skin patches has any effect on weight.4 Some experts suggest that the link between birth control and weight gain is mostly a myth. What women may perceive as weight gain or loss is actually water weight.5
There are so many factors that attribute to weight fluctuations that may or may not be related to birth control. Of course, every woman’s body is different. The best way to keep your weight under control is by adopting a healthy exercise routine and well-rounded diet.
- Cancer Protection
According to the National Cancer Institute, one of the benefits of long-term birth control use is that it may lower the risk of developing ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer. The good news is that when you stop taking birth control pills, the beneficial effects remain for several years.6
1“Birth Control Pills.” National Women’s Health Resource Center. http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/birth-control-pills
2“Birth control pill FAQ: Benefits, risks and choices.” Mayo Clinic. May 4, 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/birth-control/in-depth/birth-control-pill/art-20045136
3Adams, Rebecca. “Birth Control And Acne: What Going On (And Off) The Pill Does To Your Skin.” The Huffington Post. October 23, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/23/birth-control-acne-skin_n_4144120.html
4Gallo, MF, et al. “Combination contraceptives: effects on weight.” Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews. January 29, 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24477630
5“Birth control pills and weight gain.” Columbia University. http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/birth-control-pills-and-weight-gain
6“Oral Contraceptives and Cancer Risk.” National Cancer Institute. March 21, 2012. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/hormones/oral-contraceptives-fact-sheet#q4