What Happens When You Stop Taking Birth Control?
Birth control or pregnancy prevention is nothing new.
Humans have been using condoms since around 3000 BC. However, the invention of the birth control pill in the 1960s changed everything.
It was touted as a feminist miracle which would promote equality... but at what cost.
Oral birth control changes a woman's hormones which can impact every part of her overall health. Some studies have even linked it to cancer. Plus without the use of condoms STIs can still be passed from partner to partner.
This leads to an important question... Is it really worth it?
It's important for each woman to decide for themselves and consult with a doctor before doing anything to drastically change their hormones - aka the bodies "control center".
Whether you want to reset your hormone balance or get pregnant - here's what you can expect when you stop taking hormonal birth control:
- Pregnancy (as soon as 6 months)
- Breast tenderness
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- False periods
- Heavy bleeding
- Vaginal discharge
- Vaginal infection
- Bowel changes
- Dry skin and brittle nails
- Pelvic pain
- PMS including bloating, fatigue, mood swings, cramps, irritability, and anxiety
- Weight loss
- Increased hair growth
- Increased sex drive
- Fewer headaches
- Prolonged reduced risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer
The side effects listed above are associated with all forms of hormonal birth control including pills, patches, vaginal rings, IUDs, injections, and implanted rods.
It can take anywhere from two months to one year for your body to transition, depending on how long you were on the birth control and how your body reacts to the change.
Birth Control Detox
A “birth control detox” or “birth control cleanse” is a product designed to help the body transition from hormone-controlled menstruation to natural menstruation.
Most doctors agree these products are not necessary. If you’re having a hard time dealing with post-pill symptoms, doctors recommend minimizing stress, maintaining a healthy diet, and increasing iron consumption.
According to holistic practitioners, you can mitigate the symptoms of post-birth control syndrome by making changes to your diet up to three months before you take your last pill or have your IUD removed.
Practitioners recommend a diet low in processed foods, dairy, and refined sugar and high in veggies, fruits, healthy fats, and gluten-free grains. Drink LOTS of water and avoid alcohol and soda.
Since birth control can lead to nutrient depletion, it’s a good idea to take a multi-vitamin. Practitioners also recommend drinking hot tea designed for healthy menstruation, increasing your fiber intake, and adding fermented foods (like kimchi and kefir) to your diet.
Keep in mind that birth control shuts down your entire reproductive system, and there is no way to prevent every side effect that comes along with quitting birth control.
If you started taking birth control to manage symptoms like acne, irregular periods, PCOS, or endometriosis, expect these symptoms and conditions to return.
We encourage you to document all symptoms and menstruation changes after quitting birth control and visit a doctor if symptoms are severe.
By April Kuhlman