OCP Stopping Surprises

Unexpected Side Effects of Stopping the Pill

There are so many reasons that women are placed on the birth-control pill. Many take it for acne, heavy bleeding, painful periods, irregular cycles, endometriosis and PCOS. But the pill doesn't treat the underlying cause of the symptoms. For many women, the main reason for the birth control pill is preventing pregnancy, but lots of women (and teenage girls) take the pill as a way to manage symptoms. 

Unfortunately, if you go to your doctor with any period related concern, the pill is often theonly option given. And while these symptoms are common, they are by no means normal, they are a sign of an underlying hormonal imbalance. The good news, there are other options, starting with balancing hormones after stopping the pill.

So what happens when you stop the birth control pill?

  1. You mood may change for the better. For many women, the pill has an overall negative effect on mood, including increased anxiety and depression. Every woman doesn't have the same experience, but studies show that 40% of women on oral contraceptives have symptoms of depression (that's a lot!)
  2. You'll probably experience a return of any symptoms the pill was masking. The pill often provides a temporary band-aid solution. For many, it reduces period pain, acne, endometriosis or PCOS related symptoms. However, when the time comes to stop the pill, you can expect these symptoms to return, and possibly be worse than before. 
  3. Your period may not return for months. True menstruation only happens after ovulation, which is suppressed when on the birth control pill. After taking the pill for years, women are surprised to find that sometimes it takes several months for their period to return, even up to 2 years for women who were taking depo provera (the shot)
  4. You might discover that you hate the way your partner smells! Hormonal contraceptives change our preferences when it comes to partners (through pheromones). Women on the pill are more attracted to genetically similar males, whereas women who aren't on the pill are attracted to males that are genetically different. Studies have shown that birth control pills may be "tricking" a woman into choosing a man she may not otherwise choose if she were fertile.
  5. You might discover difficulty getting pregnant. Taking the pill is like putting your fertility on a shelf for a while. It allows you to go about your life without addressing any of the important health concerns that could affect your fertility later on. Fertility isn't just a switch that can be turned on an off, when you go off the pill after several years, you may find that it takes longer to get pregnant than you thought it would.

Next steps!
Check out our Women's Health & Hormones page to find information on what type of hormone imbalance you may have, resources to get started on your health journey, and access to our doctors for a free consultation. 

Posted on October 2, 2017 .