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What to Expect When You Go Off the Pill

Whether you're ditching birth control to get pregnant or not, you're probably curious about any side effects when going pill-free.

by / Views 198 / February 23, 2016

Breaking up with your birth control can be hard to do. They can make periods lighter and less frequent, control acne, and even lower cancer risks. But whether you’ve been on the pill for 10 days, 10 weeks or 10 years, it’s important to know what birth control side effects may pop up when you stop popping the pill.

What should I expect?

To begin, birth control pills work by preventing ovulation. Once you stop taking the pill, the hormones come out of your body within a few days. This is why women who miss a couple days of birth control pills have a chance of ovulating and getting pregnant. Even if you’ve been on the pill for 15 years, these hormones escape your body quickly. Once all the hormones are out of your system, your body will start producing hormones that initiate menstrual cycles. While some women take just a few weeks to start ovulating, others can take up to a few months. But generally speaking, you should begin ovulating within two to three months after stopping the pill.

There is a condition called “Post-Pill Amenorrhea” that can occur after stopping the birth control pill. According to the Mayo Clinic, this condition simply describes a lack of menstruation due to your body taking longer to produce the hormones necessary to ovulate and menstruate. However, if you have not had your period in over three months, consider taking a pregnancy test. If you do not wish to become pregnant, there are many options such as IUDs (Intra-Uterine Device), condoms, or diaphragms.

Many women take birth control pills in order to regulate their acne. After stopping the pill, you may see a sudden increase in acne on your face or other parts of your body. But don’t panic! Once your body’s hormone levels balance and regulate, most acne subsides. As far as weight fluctuation is concerned, each woman is different. Birth control pills that are higher in estrogen may cause weight gain and water retention so you may see some weight loss occur due to the loss of water retention in your body.

It is important to note that – contrary to the belief that a long stint on oral contraceptives can hinder fertility – you can get pregnant very shortly after stopping the pill. In fact, according to research, the more time spent on the pill, the greater the likelihood of getting pregnant within six months of stopping the medication. So unless pregnancy is part of the plan, you will want to start a new contraceptive immediately. Breaking up with the pill can be a hard thing to do at first, but, by knowing what you should expect, you’ll get over the separation quickly.