How long have you been taking the birth control pill? For many women, this is a first-choice birth control option because the success rate (99%+) is so desirable. For others, especially women diagnosed with conditions like endometriosis or unexplained, irregular periods, the pill can normalize things. When taken daily, over the course of years, you may not even remember what your body or life was like before the pill.
Hence, when you’re ready to get pregnant or begin fertility treatments, going off the pill will be a Step 1, and the side-effects can be a bit startling.
7 Things That May Happen When You Stop Taking Your Birth Control Pill
- You might feel friskier. Here’s a fun one; your attraction to your mate is a large part of your libido, but so are your hormones. In a natural state, your body is more prone to feeling sexual when you’re getting ready to ovulate. This makes sense, right? It’s saying, “Let’s do it, we’re about to be fertile!” Once you’re on the pill, you no longer ovulate which eliminates this natural cue. Also, many pills lower testosterone levels, and testosterone is also partially responsible for your sex drive. When it comes back, your sex drive might surprise you.
- Things smell better…or worse. We’re sure you’ve heard that pregnant women often have highly acute smell. Estrogen and progesterone are partially responsible for your sense of smell so, as they fluctuate closer to ovulation, your sense of smell can become more acute. Being on the pill neutralizes this effect, and now that you’re off it you may become more smell-sensitive around the time that you’re ovulating.
- Your breasts may get smaller. While you may not drop an entire cup size, women who go off the pill often report that their breasts shrink. Estrogen and progesterone can increase breast mass so when these hormones are left to their own devices again, you may lose a little of that hormone-triggered breast volume. Some women (about 30%) also find they lose a little weight – although equal amounts find they gain weight or their weight remains about the same.
- Periods can become heavier and more uncomfortable. While this is especially true for women with conditions like endometriosis, which may have led them to taking the pill in the first place, it can happen to anyone. When you are left to the mercy of your natural hormone fluctuations, typical PMS symptoms, like cramps, moodiness and inexplicable tears may commence. Your flow may become irregular again, more clotty than usual or heavier than you remembered.
- Fertility doesn’t automatically begin when the pill stops. Depending on your body, you may have a period within days, weeks or months after you stop taking the pill. If you fall into the category of women who has a period very soon after you stop taking the pill, this doesn’t necessarily mean you ovulated. Women can experience more than one period, without ovulating, while the body gets back on track. On the flip side, some women get pregnant within days of quitting the pill, so you just never know which category you’ll fall into. If you aren’t ready to have a baby yet, switch to other forms of contraception the same day you go off the pill so there is no chance of accidental overlap.
- You might get acne. It can feel like a blast from the past when you go off the pill and start experiencing breakouts. The pill lowers testosterone levels. Once these levels go back up, your skin may be more prone to breakouts. If regular breakouts or acne were an issue for you before you started taking the pill, we recommend scheduling an appointment with a dermatologist before you stop taking the pill in case there is something they can give you to counteract the effects.
- Your fertility specialist may ask you to start back on the pill again. If you are using a fertility specialist or some form of assisted reproduction, there’s a good chance your doctor may ask you to go back on the pill. There are several scenarios in which being on the pill before treatment will streamline the process, giving the doctor more control over when your menstrual cycle begins.
Have questions about the birth control pill and its potential effect on your fertility? Did you go on the pill to quell a condition related to infertility? RRC is here to help. Schedule a consultation to discuss your situation.