What Happens When You Stop Taking Birth Control?

There are many reasons that you may want to stop taking birth control. Maybe it's too expensive, too much of an inconvenience, or you want to have a baby. Whatever your reason is, there is some planning you need to do before you stop taking your birth control.

When you stop taking birth control, your reproductive system goes under some changes. Although you want freedom over your reproductive system, there are some uncertainties that come with starting and ending birth control.

What Happens When You Stop Taking Birth Control?

Quick note: It is very important that you discuss any changes with your doctor. You should never stop taking birth control without your doctor's approval and knowledge because you do not want to harm your reproductive system in any way. On the other hand, it is also important to discuss changes in which birth control you will use with your doctor.

1. Weight Changes

About 1/3 of all women who stop taking birth control will gain weight, 1/3 will lose weight, and 1/3 will not have any weight changes. It is more likely for you to be in the 1/3 of those who lose weight if you were taking birth control with added estrogen because estrogen actually causes water retention. Plus, adding any hormones to your body may result in weight gain, so when you allow your body to use its natural hormone balance you may lose weight.

Those who gain weight will most likely do so because they find their appetite is no longer suppressed so they eat more.

2. Irritating Skin Changes

Many birth control pills are specifically designed to help treat acne. When you stop taking birth control pills, you open yourself to the possibility of the acne coming back. Changing the hormone levels in your body may also cause other irritating facial skin changes.

As you get older, you may find that your skin pigmentation changes due to sun exposure. On the other hand, you may discover that you have fewer sunburns because the birth control was increasing your skin's sensitivity to the sun.

3. Breasts Shrinkage

What happens when you stop taking birth control? Your breast may get a bit smaller. Progesterone and estrogen control the growth of your breasts. Since most forms of birth control contain these, your breasts will get larger while you are taking birth control. Once you stop, the levels of progesterone and estrogen in your body will decrease, thus leading to a decrease in your breast size as well.

4. Increased Vaginal Discharge

It is not uncommon for women who stop taking birth control to notice more vaginal discharge. Birth control suppresses your body's ability to ovulate, if you aren't ovulating your vaginal secretions lessen. When you are first off your birth control, you may notice more moisture around your ovulations.

5. Increased Libido

What happens when you stop taking birth control? It could lead to an increased libido. Many women claim that birth control suppresses their sex drive. This is due to many factors such as lowered testosterone or the lack of ovulation; however when you cease to take birth control that sex drive will come back.

6. Mood Swings

Eliminated birth control from your body can be a stressful time, both physically and emotionally. You may find that your emotions become quite erratic with crazy mood swings. This is because you are changing the hormone levels in your body when you stop taking birth control. Eventually these mood swings will even back out as your body becomes accustomed to its new hormone levels.

7. More Discomfort During Period

Since you are not ovulating when you are on birth control, you do not have the symptoms of menstrual cycle discomfort. When you stop taking birth control, these pains will be more noticeable and you may feel the discomfort of ovulation for a few hours each day. You may also experience lower back aches, cramping, and small pinches in your sides during ovulation.

8. Changed Menstrual Cycle

If you had irregular periods before you began birth control, then you will most likely go back to having irregular periods. The same is true for those who have normal periods before beginning birth control. Unfortunately, some menstrual cycles may change and even the opposite may occur. You may also find that your periods are heavier or lighter than they were before.

It is also possible that you may have an effect called post-pill amenorrhea. This is when you do not have a period during the first few months that you are off the pill. It takes some time for your body to rebalance its hormones and begin having regular periods.

Are These Changes Serious?

Now you know what happens when you stop taking birth control, you may wonder if these changes are serious. Gynecologists agree that you do not have much to worry about when you stop taking birth control. The changes mentioned above are not things to be concerned about; there are very few side effects to stopping birth control that can cause you ill health or harm.

The ones that do cause ill health or harm do not last very long and are extremely minor. Most of the time, the side effects will only last a month or two. You will have even fewer side effects if you are taking low dose birth control.

When to Stop Taking Birth Control Pills

Unlike many medications, you can safely stop taking birth control pills at any time, even if you are in the middle of a package. The only ill effect that you may notice is that your cycle is a little off. When you stop in the middle of a pack, you may also notice a small amount of bleeding due to your uterus being confused (this will go away within a week or two).

If you wait to finish the pack, you will also be able to better judge your cycle. It is important that you watch your cycle once you stop. You want to make sure your period returns to normal.

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