What to Expect When Going off the Pill

What to Expect When Going off the Pill

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Know How Your Body Might React

Many women have been on the pill since the start of their period as a means to balance hormones and their resulting physical and emotional symptoms. However, whether you decide to try to get pregnant or have other health or non-health related reasons, going off the pill is a choice often fraught with anxiety and uncertainty.

If your pre-pill symptoms were particularly awful, it’s difficult to make the leap to a pill-less existence. But by informing yourself of common occurrences and becoming familiar with your body’s cycle again, you can judge whether staying off the pill is right for you.

Ovulation & Menstruation

Birth control pills prevent ovulation due to their content of the hormones estrogen and progestin. When on the pill, ovulation stops and periods may be very light or disappear altogether.

Within a few days of going off the pill, these hormones work themselves out of your system leaving you open to pregnancy and having a drug-free menstrual cycle again.

For some women, their bodies adjust to the change within a couple of weeks, others a few months. If no period occurs after three months or more, schedule an appointment with your gynecologist to check for pregnancy or evaluate potential lifestyle causes.

Heavy periods or painful cramps may return if they were an issue before the pill. Unfortunately, everyone’s body responds differently to the change and there is no way of knowing for sure how your body will react until you take the plunge.

Ovarian Cysts

In addition to having painful periods, you may experience painful ovulation as well. Mid-cycle pain may come as a surprise, especially if you started the pill at a young age.

When an ovary follicle bursts, releasing an egg, it can sometimes be felt in the form of a sharp pain or dull throb, which usually goes away after a few hours.

While a little bit of pain is normal for some women, intense pelvic pain or pain during sex is not. Without the constant presence of estrogen and progestin, hormones may become unbalanced, leading to the growth of ovarian cysts.

Typically, these cysts are nothing to worry about and don’t cause any symptoms. However, in some cases, they may grow quite large, causing constant pain.

In latter scenarios, they’ll most likely need to be removed, sometimes taking the ovary with them.

If your pelvic pain becomes consistent or debilitating, see a doctor right away. Other possible causes of pelvic pain, or pain during sex, are endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, appendicitis and ovarian cancer.

Weight Changes

When starting the pill, there may have been an initial overall weight gain as well as an increase in breast size. Estrogen and progestin trick the body into thinking it’s pregnant, thickening the lining of the uterus and plumping you up for a potential baby.

Each type of birth control has a slightly different combination of hormones, which may influence weight gain.

When going off the pill, you may lose a bit of water weight due to the pregnancy hormones leaving your body. Most women lose up to five pounds and may go back to their previous cup size after getting off the pill.

However, in some cases, you may actually gain weight when going off the pill as your body tries to compensate for lower levels of estrogen and turns more calories into fat.

Acne Returns

As adolescents, many young women are prescribed birth control to help with acne. Unbalanced hormones are a frequent cause of acne and birth control works to regulate hormones, especially sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone.

The pill suppresses testosterone, so when you stop taking it, higher levels of testosterone in the body can cause acne to return.

Therefore, if you had acne issues before going on the pill, it is likely it will return in some respect. However, if your face and body were acne free before, breakouts shouldn’t be a problem after the pill.

If you do get acne, a dermatologist can help treat it before it gets any worse.

Increased Sex Drive

While taking birth control, the combination of low levels of testosterone and lack of ovulation often suppress the sex drive, which may not be noticeable to some women depending on their sexual activity. However, upon stopping the pill, you may be in for a big, pleasurable surprise.

Your body naturally revs up around the time of ovulation in order to increase the possibility of a pregnancy. As you begin to ovulate again, you, and your partner, may notice an increase in desire.

In fact, many women report that their libido skyrocketed after stopping birth control. Just remember to use a condom if you’re not looking to get pregnant!

Resources

Women’s Health Magazine (9 Things That Happen to Your Body When You Go off the Pill)

Popsugar (What You Need to Know Before Quitting the Pill)