With an effectiveness rate of 99.7% with perfect use, it is no wonder that millions of women across different geographies and cultures prefer birth control pills as their choice of contraception. However, a woman may decide to stop using these hormone-based birth control pills for various reasons, such as wanting to get pregnant. Just as there are side effects to taking these pills, there are side effects of stopping the pill after prolonged use.
If you are considering going off the pill for any reason, it is advisable to know the potential side effects so that you are informed and can develop strategies to minimise the impact of the side effects. Listed here are ten physical, emotional, and behavioural changes that you can expect when you go off the pill:
Research has proved that you can get pregnant in as little as two weeks after you stop taking the pill. This is because you can start ovulating again within two weeks of stopping the pill. So, if you are not ready to get pregnant but want to change your method of contraception, make sure you use an alternative birth control method while having sex.
2. Weight changes
It could either be weight gain after stopping birth control pills or weight loss. The hormones in the pill can lead to fluid retention, which in turn leads to weight gain. In such a situation, going off the hormone-laden pill may result in weight loss. It is uncommon, but going off the pill may also result in weight gain. A healthier diet and a regular exercise regime can help manage this weight change.
3. Pelvic pain
Since hormonal birth control pills keep you from ovulating, when you go off the pill, the ovary releases an egg again. This may lead to you experiencing some discomfort or cramps on one side of the pelvis. The vaginal discharge may also increase.
4. Irregular menstrual cycle
The hormones are what keep your cycle consistent. Once you’re off the pills, it may take a while before they become regular without hormonal intervention. If your cycle was irregular before you went on the pill, then it is likely to be irregular again. If you don’t get your period after stopping the pill, give it a few months before it restarts.
5. Heavier bleeding
If you had a heavy flow before you started on the pill, you are likely to experience a similar flow and cramps once you’re off the pill. If you started taking a pill as a teenager with a heavy flow, and you have stopped it in your 30s or 40s, then your flow may not go back to being that heavy.
6. PMS-related symptoms
The hormones in the pill help alleviate the feelings of depression and anxiety that often come as a part and parcel of Premenstrual Syndrome. With no pills, these mentally draining symptoms may crop up again.
7. Acne problem may return
The hormonal balance that leads to constant acne and facial hair is corrected by the pills. Going off the pill may throw off the balance again, leading to these perceived issues again.
8. Increased libido
One of the side effects of taking pills can be lowered libido. An increase in sex drive could be an effect of going off the pill.
9. Cancer protection
Many research has indicated that long-term use of hormonal birth control pills significantly reduces the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer, fibroids, and fibrocystic breast disease. The protection continues for a long time after you stop taking the pill. However, please note that it doesn’t guarantee the prevention of these diseases and you should continue to lead a healthy lifestyle with regular medical check-ups.
Going off the pill has its pro and cons so weigh them carefully. Consult your doctor who has your detailed medical history so that they can guide you further.