When a woman decides to stop taking birth control, it is generally because she wants to reset her hormone balance or get pregnant.
Whatever the reason, you can expect a variety of side effects.
Here is what happens 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. That includes pills, patches, vaginal rings, IUDs, injections, and implanted rods.
It can take anywhere from two months to one year for your body to transition. It depends on how long you were on 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 have difficulty 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 multivitamin. 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 everything that happens when you stop taking birth control.
If you start 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.