Getting Off Birth Control—4 Major Reasons To Stop Contraceptives

getting off birth control

Hormonal birth control is something that many women have experience with. 

From the first menstrual cycle to the moment they decide to try to get pregnant, many women are on birth control pills or some other form of hormonal birth control. 

Getting off birth control can be relieving when the decision is made, but it can also be a bit scary.

This article will discuss what to expect when stopping hormonal birth control methods. 

We’ll also cover each form of birth control and the side effects you may face when stopping birth control.

Getting off birth control

When a woman decides to stop birth control pills, it’s important to know that side effects can occur. 

The birth control method you have been using may determine the side effects and how long they may stick around.

You may also find that after quitting birth control, you have an interesting journey ahead of you that pertains to finding out your body’s rhythms and what your menstrual cycle may be like after hormonal contraceptives are no longer altering your hormonal makeup.

For many women, it’s like meeting someone for the first time and getting to know them. 

For so many women, birth control has become a major part of their life, and they have little to no experience dealing with their menstrual cycles, mood, or day-to-day life without the presence of man-made hormones playing a role.

Why stop taking birth control?

Just like taking birth control is a choice that has to be made individually, quitting hormonal birth control is much the same. 

If you don’t like the hormonal birth control pills you have been taking but still want to be on birth control, you can ask your gynecologist to try a different type of hormonal contraceptive.

Discontinuing birth control altogether, however, is a major decision, and women make that decision for several reasons.

If you are thinking about stopping birth control pills or whatever form of birth control you are on, the following are some of the main reasons why many women who started birth control later chose to stop.

1. To get pregnant

Hormonal birth control works to prevent pregnancy in several different ways. It can alter your cervical mucus, make you stop ovulating, and more. 

Stopping birth control is necessary if you wish to become pregnant, and many doctors recommend stopping birth control methods several months before you plan to conceive.

2. To self-regulate hormones

Hormonal birth control changes the way your body makes and distributes certain hormones. For some women, it can alter their mood, cause weight gain, cause acne, irregular periods, or no period.

Many women don’t want to stay on hormonal birth control forever and want to allow their bodies to do what comes naturally to them regarding hormones.

Women who do not wish to become pregnant but don’t want to be taking hormonal birth control anymore can use condoms and other family planning methods or ask their partner to get a vasectomy.

3. Menopause

Older women who are nearing menopause or have entered menopause may want to stop birth control because oral contraceptives and other types of birth control because they are unlikely to get pregnant at this point, and they no longer need birth control that would regulate their menstrual cycles.

4. Sterilization

Some women decide after their last pregnancy that they are done having children and can even speak with their healthcare provider during their previous pregnancy about sterilization after the delivery of their baby.

When this occurs, there is no need for combined hormonal birth control or any other form of birth control to prevent pregnancy.

getting off birth control

The most common types of birth control

There are many different options when it comes to hormonal contraceptives. 

Before taking birth control, you should always speak with your doctor or healthcare provider about the best type for you.

The following are just some of the options available to women.

1. Oral contraceptives

Also known as the birth control pill, this has several variations. 

A progestin-only birth control pill option, also known as a “mini-pill,” is safe to take while breastfeeding and will not affect milk supply.

There are also combination birth control pills that you take daily to prevent pregnancy.

All of these options use synthetic hormones, or man-made hormones, that alter your reproductive hormones, ovulation, and cervical mucus so that preventing pregnancy is simple.

2. Intrauterine device

Also known as an IUD, this birth control is attached to the uterine lining and can stay put for several years. A doctor or healthcare specialist must insert or remove it in a doctor’s office or hospital setting.

Many types of IUD options are available, and most women describe the process as somewhere between mildly uncomfortable and very painful. 

Intrauterine devices can also shift or cause internal bleeding and implantation issues in some extreme cases, so make sure that you speak about all the risks involved with hormonal IUDs with your doctor before choosing this method.

What happens when you stop taking birth control?

When you stop taking birth control, you don’t just return to “normal” immediately. You have to give your body time to adjust to this absence of extra hormones.

Remember that many women rely on birth control for years to manage their reproductive cycles. 

When you stop using birth control, it may take a few weeks or months to reach a balanced equilibrium in which possible side effects have tapered off.

getting off birth control

Side effects of stopping the pill after prolonged use

After years of being on birth control pills, you may find that it can take up to three months before the reproductive medicine you were on for so long no longer affects your life.

Many side effects are associated with stopping hormonal birth control, as your body tries to get back to relying on its hormones like before you ever began taking birth control.

The following are some, but not all, of the side effects to women’s health that women and women’s health experts have noticed.

1. Changes to the breasts and breast tenderness

Breast tenderness can hang around for several months as the hormones leave your system. 

Many women become worried that they have become pregnant due to the soreness they tend to feel in their breasts. 

However, even women who are celibate or use barrier methods of birth control after stopping the pill have found that they have tender breasts to contend with.

2. Polycystic ovary syndrome

Also known as PCOS, this syndrome occurs when the ovaries produce too much male sex hormone, causing painful periods, irregular bleeding, body hair, thinning hair on the head, acne, weight gain, bloating, and fatigue.

This is often masked when a woman is on hormonal birth control pills because of the female hormones being supplemented by the pill.

3. Mood swings and mental health issues

Mood swings are common after getting off birth control. 

Women regularly experience depressive symptoms, symptoms of anxiety, and other emotional issues until their bodies have been able to acclimate to life without birth control.

This can be worsened by the fact that many women who have stopped taking birth control also see a lack of sex drive, which can be damaging to relationships and self-esteem.

Speak with your doctor or a medical professional if your sex drive or low libido is causing you emotional or psychological distress.

4. Changes to your period

More severe menstrual cramps, heavy periods, and irregular cycles for the first few months are common. 

Heavy flow and painful cramps can also be a sign of PCOS, so make sure that you let your doctor know if you don’t get back to a regular menstrual cycle after a few months.

For some women, the reappearance of a period may take some getting used to. 

Many forms of birth control can actually stop your period from occurring, and some women skip the placebo pills to skip periods (this is usually not recommended by doctors).

This means that for the first time in years, women have to become once again familiar with what a period would feel like for them if they did not have artificial hormones to regulate the duration, heavy blood flow, and cramping associated with a period.

Suppose you have heavier periods each month, and the heavy bleeding is soaking through more than one pad every two hours. In that case, you need medical attention, as medical intervention can often reduce symptoms and help you return to a happier and healthier state.

5. Weight changes

When you stop taking birth control, you may think you’ll lose weight fast because everyone has heard that being on the pill makes you gain weight. 

That may be true for some women, but many women don’t consider that when they get off the pill, it’s typically years and years after they started taking it. 

Time and metabolism have worked against your ability to lose weight quickly, especially as your body has become used to the influx of synthetic reproductive hormones.

However, you may find that that weight is either harder to lose now that you’re off your medication to prevent conception or you are gaining some weight.

Taking vitamins regularly, getting lots of exercise, and eating a healthy and balanced diet are all ways to get back to your healthy weight, but don’t rush it; instead, make healthy choices when you can rather than obsessing over the number on the scale. 

It’s just a number, and that number will not ever define you.

When you stop taking the pill

Every sexually active female in the US has tried or considered using IUDs or taking birth control pills. Remember that you can stop taking these pills or have these pills removed at any point.

There are options available such as the barrier method, sterilization, and even family planning, that uses a cycle tracking app to avoid sex when you’re ovulating, which can help to keep you from getting pregnant but won’t mess with your hormones.

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