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6 Changes to Expect After Going Off the Pill

So you’ve finally decided to part ways with the pill. Whether it’s been a long or short road for the two of you, one thing’s likely: you’ve probably experienced some changes since you started taking the pill, whether positive or negative. Going off birth control means your body will have to re-adapt, so don’t expect to return seamlessly to pre-pill status. But now that you’ve made the decision, there are some changes you should be prepared to experience since your body now has to re-adapt. Here’s what you should expect!

1. Your period might not return right away

Birth control pills may seem to work in a magical way, but they’re really taking on a powerful role—disrupting your body’s hormonal system in order to prevent pregnancy. So since going off the pill is imposing a new and big change for your body, it’s possible that your periods will be irregular in frequency for a while.

Rozalyn Yannaccone, a registered nurse practitioner at Bucknell University who specializes in women’s health, says there’s no need to worry, since having irregular periods is one of the most common sides effects of going off the pill. “If you stop taking birth control, the frequency of your periods may be irregular at first, since your body has to re-acclimate to its natural hormonal cycle,” she says. “For some, it may even be months before you get your period back, but if it’s been more than three months you should meet with your health provider.” Yannaccone says that while a missing period could indicate a pregnancy, it could also be a result of other issues, like a hormonal imbalance.

2. If you had bad PMS pre-birth control, it will likely be the same when off the pill

Any collegiette who has suffered from a bad case of PMS knows that it is the absolute worst. You feel like a bloated whale, you’re emotionally irritable and let’s not forget, you can barely do any physical activity because the bad cramps basically paralyze you. For those who go on birth control to keep PMS at bay, we have some unfortunate news for you: the pill may help, but it doesn’t cure you of it—which means it might come back.

“When you go off the pill, any pre-pill conditions you may have had will return,” Yannaccone says. “Some women decide to stay on birth control for this reason alone,” she explains. But don’t let this setback turn you off to the idea of stopping birth control, especially since it has great benefits, like reducing your odds of ovarian or endometrial cancer. Plus, there are many effective ways of alleviating or even avoiding PMS (remember your good friend Midol?).

3. You may experience new bouts of acne

If you thought acne was a horror of your past, you may want to think again. One of the reasons some women start taking birth control in the first place is to regulate their acne, but the truth is, the pill isn’t a permanent cure for keeping breakouts away. So if you saw a positive change in your complexion when you first started taking the pill, you may see a flare up in blemishes when you stop.

According to Yannaccone, taking birth control pills lowers the amount of testosterone in your body. Testosterone, she explains, causes a build-up of oil production, which in turn attracts bacteria to your skin. But if you didn’t experience skin changes when you weren’t on the pill, you won’t necessarily fall victim to new breakouts after going off of birth control.

4. Weight gained when you started the pill won’t come off right away

The relationship between weight gain and birth control pills is a fiery one. While many women may report no changes in their weight, some swear that they’ve packed on a few pounds after starting the pill. Yannaccone says that while there’s no formula that will indicate what happens to your weight, it may be harder for those who gained some pounds while on the pill to lose it, mainly because weight loss is simply a slower process than weight gain is.

“If you’ve gained some pounds over the duration of your time with birth control, it’ll be a struggle to lose weight once you stop taking the pill,” Yannaccone says. “But I warn patients that weight gain can be attributed to a number of things not having to do with the pill, like change in activity level or change in lifestyle.” So before pointing the finger at the pill for weight gain, think about any other potential change as being the culprit.

5. Your sex drive could return to its pre-pill status, but not necessarily right away

One of the main side effects women complain about when going on the pill is a lowered sex drive. Testosterone is the hormone that stimulates sexual desire and arousal in women, according to WebMD. And since we now know that birth control pills lower your levels of testosterone, it makes sense why women may experience this change. So will stopping the pill drive up your libido?

“Sometimes the pill has a longer-lasting effect on your libido, so if you stop taking the pill, you might not see an immediate change,” Yannaccone says. “Your sex drive will return, but it may return to a lesser degree.”

Since your body may experience many side effects like decreased libido when you go on the pill, it’s normal to expect the reverse side effects when you go off, but just know that it may not always be the case.

6. You could get pregnant right away

Given the literal meaning of the term birth control, the number one thing you must now take into consideration is your ongoing plan for contraception. “If you’re still sexually active, it’s imperative that you make sure you have other protection, whether it’s condom use or another method,” Yannaccone says.

Though your body has some adjusting to do once you stop taking the pill, your ability to get pregnant is very much intact, she explains. So while you may be ready to celebrate the benefits of ending your time with the pill, remember that you must now rely on other forms of protection!

Although these consequences may scare you away from ever deciding to go off the pill, don’t worry—Yannaccone reassures that no two women will ever have the same experience. So instead of fearing that you’ll never be the same pre-pill person again, just be prepared to potentially experience some of these changes!