So you’ve decided to ditch the pill. Maybe you want to get pregnant, maybe you were experiencing too many side effects, or maybe you just heard too many negative things about it. Whatever the reason, there are a few things you need to know before taking this big step. The longer you were on the pill, the more careful you need to be about coming off it. Also, the exact issues you will experience will depend on the reason you were on the pill, how your cycles were before it, the type of pill you were taking, and more. These tips are mostly general and should benefit anyone, regardless of all of these aspects.
The pill depletes your body of nutrients
There’s already been extensive research and confirmation that the pill can and does deplete essential nutrients. A few examples include Zinc, Magnesium, Selenium, B vitamins, vitamins C and E. This is something you need to consider even if you don’t want to quit the pill just yet. Try to supplement as much as possible. But remember that even with supplements, your body will still have a difficult time absorbing these nutrients while you’re on the pill. It is also preferable to go on a nutrient-rich diet – the type low in junk and processed foods. Why am I telling you all this? Because once you quit the pill your body will begin a process of going back to normal and learning to balance itself out. If you have all these vitamin and mineral deficiencies, it is possible your body will lack the necessary strength to bounce back. That’s why it is important to replenish as soon as possible, to give your body the best chance to fight. Don’t forget to add in a good probiotic to heal your gut and help your body absorb all nutrients!
Your period might not come back right away
It is, sadly, more common than you realize. The important thing is to give your body time and not jump right back on the pill, or on fertility treatments. If your periods were irregular before the pill, post-pill amenorrhea is only a diagnosis after 6 months without a period. If they were regular before then the mark is 3 months. I am not saying to necessarily wait 6 months before you talk to your doctor. It can be dangerous to go more than 90 days without a period if your uterine lining is building up and becoming thicker and thicker. It puts you at high risk for uterine cancer and very long bleeding once your period does return. So if 3+ months go by, check with your doctor. Preferably ask for an ultrasound to know how thick your uterine lining is. Do not be alarmed if they tell you your ovaries look polycystic. That does not automatically mean you have PCOS (unless you know you had it before the pill). Polycystic ovaries just mean your ovaries are producing follicles but none of them is becoming dominant enough to release an egg.
You might have at least one anovulatory cycle
Even more common than the post-pill amenorrhea, is anovulation for the first cycle (or more cycles). This is when you will get a breakthrough bleed, that you might be tempted to “classify” as a period. In reality, no ovulation occurs. To know if you ovulate, you should start charting your cycle as soon as you get off the pill. This will give you a better understanding of your body and you’ll see when your fertility actually returns. Also, check out this article by dr. Lara Briden on signs your period is not a real period.
Your sex life might change
One of the side effects of hormonal birth control is that it alters our feminine instincts and the way in which we choose partners. Our hormones are suppressed, we are getting a fake dose, so the way in which we choose partners might be less intuitive. Once you ditch the pill, you might realize your partner no longer attracts you.
On the other hand, you might also realize your libido is much stronger now. Many women report very little interest in sex while on the pill and they find all of it back when they ditch it.
Finally, the less than happy, but usually temporary effect, is a decrease in libido after you ditch the pill. This is usually indicative of a hormonal imbalance. If the situation does not improve in a few months after coming off the pill, talk to your doctor and try to ask for a full hormonal panel to see what is off balance.
You might get some acne & even hair loss
Two of the side effects that are annoying mostly because they are visible are acne and hair loss/thinning. If they do happen, you should not be alarmed. They are part of the post-birth control syndrome and, if no other hormonal imbalances are present, should subside in 6-9 months after you ditch the pill. The fluctuations that naturally come up in your hormones during this time, make some acne almost inevitable. Hair loss is rarer and usually a sign that your testosterone is a bit too high, or your estrogen to low. Whatever the reason, if symptoms do not get better in 6-9 months, it is definitely time to see a doctor. If these are your only symptoms, an endocrinologist is probably a better bet than an OB/GYN.
Whatever problems you have before starting the pill will still be there
Lastly, you need to know that if you went on the pill because of various issues – irregular periods, heavy bleeding, severe cramps, acne, and more – they will all still be there once you ditch the pill. Birth control is not a cure, it is a patch that suppresses your hormones and masks symptoms. Take it off, and the “wound” is still there. I’ve talked about this repeatedly on the website, so I’m not going to go into detail again. Browse through my posts relating to the pill to find them all.
Despite it all, you might be fine after you quit it
The truth is, despite the nutrient deficiencies and hormonal changes, there are plenty of women who are lucky and get their cycles back immediately after ditching the pill. There is, sadly, no way to know. The more normal your periods were before the pill, the more chances you have to get back to normal post-pill.
Did you ditch the pill?
How did it go? What side-effects did you encounter, if any? How long did it take to get your period back? And if you did not ditch it yet, but are on the pill, were you aware all these things could happen? Leave a comment below.