Most women who use the contraceptive pill plan to stop at some point in their lives. Although this is a decision that should be discussed first with your gynecologist or GP to assess its risks and benefits, it is usually not difficult to achieve. Therefore, if you are thinking of stopping taking these pills, we will reveal the most appropriate time and explain what happens in your body after stopping them so that you are prepared for the changes that lie ahead.
The main reasons to stop the contraceptive pill
The side effects of birth control pills are the cause that leads up to 65% of women to abandon this treatment, according to a study carried out at the University of Valladolid.
It is also often considered by women who want to get pregnant or those who are breastfeeding and want to protect their baby from the effect of synthetic hormones. In the same way, it is usually valued as an option before other contraceptive treatments or in those cases in which secondary health alterations appear as a consequence of the use of the pill.
Are breaks recommended as an alternative to leaving the contraceptive pill permanently?
Contrary to what many women think and do, specialists do not recommend taking break periods from the contraceptive pill. The reason? Today’s pills contain very low hormone concentrations, which means they don’t have much of an impact on the female hormonal system. In fact, taking a break not only brings no benefits but also increases the risk of unwanted pregnancies.
Stopping and taking the pill again also considerably increases the risk of thrombosis, which is much higher during the first months after starting the contraceptive pill and, obviously, increases after each new break. Therefore, unless there are important secondary factors or risk markers, taking breaks from the contraceptive pill is not advised.
Can you leave the contraceptive pill permanently without further ado?
If you are thinking of leaving the contraceptive pill, it is best to consult your doctor about this possibility and evaluate other contraceptive alternatives together, in case you do not want to get pregnant. However, if you decide to make the decision on your own, there is no danger in stopping the pill since, unlike other long-term medications, you do not need to gradually reduce the treatment before stopping.
How to stop the contraceptive pill safely?
Although you can stop taking the contraceptive pill at any time, specialists recommend waiting until you finish a cycle of pills to make the final decision. In this way, the transition to activate the physiological cycle of your body will be much easier and, after leaving the pill, your hormones will be able to resume their functions naturally.
One aspect to keep in mind is that after stopping the pill, your period will most likely come, whether or not you have completed the pill cycle. Another point that you should consider is that, once you have abandoned the treatment, if you do not want to get pregnant, you should immediately opt for another contraceptive method since the effect of the pill ceases immediately after the last dose.
What can happen after stopping the contraceptive pill permanently?
Whether you’ve used the contraceptive pill to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, control acne, lessen the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome, or any other reason, you should know that once you go off the pill, those problems will return. Basically, your body will go back to square one as it starts to function on its own again.
It is worth noting that in many cases the abandonment of the contraceptive pill is usually accompanied by some symptoms that appear as a consequence of hormonal deprivation. These manifestations can vary from one woman to another, both in their diversity and intensity. They usually go away after a few months, but if they don’t, it’s a good idea to see a specialist. Among the most common symptoms you may experience are:
1. Changes in body weight
After stopping the contraceptive pill, most women experience weight gain associated with an increased appetite and a decreased feeling of satiety. Likewise, it is common to experience increased fluid retention and inflammation in the body, which can lead to the appearance of cellulite in the parts where more fat accumulates, such as the buttocks and thighs.
2. Rule changes
During treatment with the contraceptive pill, there is not a normal period but a withdrawal bleed, which is much lighter and hardly bothersome. However, when treatment is discontinued, the period returns and with it an increase in the volume of bleeding and premenstrual pain. Also, it is common for the rules to start to be more irregular, especially if it was a common problem before treatment.
3. Changes in vaginal discharge
One of the mechanisms of action of the contraceptive pill is the inhibition of ovulation, which causes a reduction in vaginal discharge. However, when stopping treatment and ovulation returns, it is normal to experience an increase in flow, as well as slight changes in its consistency throughout the menstrual cycle. In some cases, it is also common to experience a slight abdominal pain in the middle of the cycle as a result of ovulation.
It is also common that after abandoning the contraceptive pill you experience an increase in libido. The effect of treatment on estrogen pulses causes a decrease in sexual desire that can be more or less intense depending on each woman. However, when the medication is stopped and the natural hormonal balance is restored, libido usually increases.
Likewise, it is common for women who experienced mood swings or a greater propensity for depression during treatment with the contraceptive pill to recover their emotional balance once it was discontinued. Regarding fertility, once the pill is abandoned, the woman recovers her fertile capacity, although in many cases a few months must pass before the menstrual cycles are regularized and she can become pregnant .