What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Taking Birth Control

Just like when you first started, ditching it can cause some noticeable changes.

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You might be familiar with the changes that take place when you start birth control for the first time—bloating, regular menstrual cycles and less bleeding and pain during your period. But when you stop combined estrogen and progestin hormonal birth control methods like the pill, rings and skin patches, you may notice a few changes, too.  

Whether you’re ditching birth control to get pregnant, or you’re just ready to be free, we talked with OBGYN Jenny Buck, MD, of Medical Center of Trinity in Florida to learn what happens when you kick it to the curb.  

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You can get pregnant ASAP

If you’re having regular sex post-birth control, it’s possible to get pregnant the first month. “There’s a lot of misconceptions that it’s going to take a while for your body to go back to normal and for the hormones to get out of your system, but really, it only takes a couple of days,” says Dr. Buck.

As long as you were ovulating regularly prior to taking birth control, once you stop, you should start ovulating again, she adds. A normal cycle returns for most women in one to three months. 

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Your period will go back to the way it used to be

Buck says that for the first month or two sans birth control, you may notice lighter periods. But for the most part, it should go back to the way it was before birth control. “If your period was really heavy and long prior to being on the pill, it’s probably going to go back to being heavy and long after you stop taking it.” Likewise, if you had irregular periods before you started taking birth control, you’re likely to have irregular periods after you stop, too.

Why does it take a month or two? “When you’re on birth control, the lining inside the uterus remains very, very thin and the tissue doesn't build up, so it's possible that it may take a couple of months to redevelop that normal endometrium, or endometrial lining,” says Buck. 

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You’ll probably want to spend more time in the sack

“For many women, sex drive, or libido, is tied to ovulation,” says Buck. Obviously, your libido still exists at other times, but it generally surges during ovulation. “Being on the pill inhibits ovulation, so going off the pill would increase a woman's sex drive.”

Specifically, the three to five-day window of ovulation is going to be the height of your sex drive. 

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You may have more vaginal discharge than you did

Regular ovulation cycles bring vaginal discharge, so if you’re not ovulating because you’re on birth control; it’s likely you’re not going to have as much discharge unless you have some sort of infection, either. Once you nix birth control though, you’ll notice different types of discharge in your undies, especially during ovulation. “A lot of women will notice that around the time of ovulation, they have a watery discharge that can be pretty prominent,” says Buck. "Then after ovulation, during the luteal phase, the last half of the month, you'll often have more of a sticky, thicker discharge." 

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That weight you may have gained…will still be there

There’s a longstanding belief that the Pill makes you gain weight. But it turns out; birth control probably isn’t to blame. You may notice some water weight in the beginning, but women who take the pill don’t gain any more weight, on average, than those who don’t take it.

Some women say that birth control stimulated their appetite, and Buck believes it might be possible. But if you did happen to pick up a few pounds, it won’t magically disappear when you stop taking it. “It will be just like losing any kind of weight when you get off of it, says Buck. “It’s also possible that if you had a larger appetite on the pill, once you’re finished, you won’t eat as much. So, you’ll lose weight, but it’s not a function of the pill.” 

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