Many of us have ridden the rollercoaster that is birth control pills; they are often touted as a miracle for preventing pregnancy, reducing hormonal acne and even easing painful period cramps - and by and large, they are.
However, thanks to acne medication, IUD’s, and the questionable effects of hormones on our bodies, people are moving away from birth control pills in droves. Currently, the scientific consensus is that most people won’t have any adverse effects when taking hormonal birth control pills. But, evidence is less conclusive regarding the more discreet ways these tiny magic pills affect our moods, sex drives, and even our mental health.
Hundreds of anecdotes can now be found online of people claiming that quitting birth control helped restore their libido, eased symptoms of anxiety and depression and even lifted that all-consuming and vague ‘brain fog’. But what other changes can happen to our bodies when we quit taking birth control pills?
You could get pregnant
This one seems like a no brainer, but getting pregnant when you come off the pill is easier than you think. The average time between quitting birth control pills and conception is about five months; however, it is possible to get pregnant much sooner than that.
Your periods may become more irregular - at least temporarily
One benefit of using hormonal birth control pills is that it regulates your period. Those little sugar pills at the end of the pack only mean one thing - aunt flo is coming to town. Or, if you so wanted, you could just skip your period altogether. Without birth control pills, you lose the ability to play God over your cycle, and your periods may become irregular for a few months while your body adjusts to its natural state. If your periods had stopped altogether while on birth control, note that it may take some time for things to start up again.
Your periods could become heavier and more painful
If you experienced heavy or painful periods before taking the pill, these symptoms will likely return once you stop taking it.
Additionally, PMS may also make a comeback when you stop birth control pills. This is because the medication helps balance out the hormonal shifts that occur during that time of the month, reducing symptoms of breast tenderness and irritability symptoms.
You might lose or gain some weight
Some women may find their weight fluctuating a little after going off birth control pills. This may be to an increase or reduction of water retention through bloating or hormone irregularity. However, weight gain or loss isn’t experienced by everyone, and a healthy diet and exercise is a much healthier and more reliable way to maintain your weight.
Your acne might return
As birth control pills can help reign in and regulate our hormones, those of us with a somewhat chaotic system might experience acne when going pill-free. Luckily, if hormonal acne is something you struggle with, doctors can prescribe other treatments such as retinoids and antibiotics to reduce the problem.
Your libido might increase
For a small percentage of people, birth control pills can suppress your libido. So, when going back to the ‘au naturale’ system, your testosterone levels will increase again, giving an extra boost to your sex drive.
You’ll still have protection from some cancers
You might not know this, but the long term use of some birth control pills can lower the risks of ovarian and endometrial cancer. If you took birth control for an extended period of time, it’s likely that your body will still see the benefits of this added protection even after you stop taking the pill.