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The Side Effects of Going Off Birth Control

So, you’re thinking of going off birth control. Maybe you’re ready to try for a baby. Maybe you don’t like the way it makes you feel, physically or emotionally. Maybe you don’t have a reason to be on it anymore. Whatever your reason is for going off birth control, it is important that you are aware of the side effects — both minor and life-changing. 

The five biggest side effects of going off birth control are:

You may become pregnant.

Yep, we know what you’re thinking: “well, obviously!” Don’t listen to chatter about how birth control may “take a while to get out of your system.” The second you stop taking birth control, you increase your chances of getting pregnant. If you’re trying to start (or add to!) your family, this can be exciting news! For those not looking to conceive, the increased risk of pregnancy can be scary. If you’re going off birth control but do not wish to become pregnant, you may first want to talk to your healthcare provider about different birth control options that are a better fit for your needs.

The symptoms that the hormones suppressed may return.

Intense period cramps? Crazy acne? PMS? Irregular periods? If you were using birth control to cope with or alleviate other side effects caused by fluctuating hormones, there’s a good chance those same side effects will return.

You may end up with an out-of-whack cycle.

After you’ve forced your body on a regular cycle for years, you can’t expect it to pick back up where it left off. If you had irregular periods before birth control, you may fall back into that cycle. If you’re trying to get pregnant, you may want to closely monitor your cycle using a free app like the Flo period and ovulation tracker. While we cannot guarantee the accuracy of these apps, they may be helpful for you as you try to understand how your unique body and cycle work!

You may lose weight.

While going off birth control isn’t a viable weight-loss option, and we certainly don’t recommend it, women may lose weight when eliminating birth control hormones from their body.

Your protection against cancer diminishes.

One of the best “side effects” of the pill is that long-time use lowers your risk for ovarian and endometrial cancer. And if you took it for long enough, the payoff continues after you stop. The same is true for some kinds of non-cancerous breast problems, like fibrocystic breast disease, and for fibroids.

As always, we recommend that you discuss your options with your healthcare provider. Keep in mind that some teens and adults are more sensitive to hormones than others, so the side effects you experience will be unique.