10 Surprising Things That Can Happen When You Go Off Birth Control
Whether you go off birth control because you don't want to take any hormones or you're just not happy with the pill, you might notice some startling changes in your body once you ditch the pack. There are a number of surprising things that can happen when you go off birth control. Some are more temporary, while others might last indefinitely, but knowing what could potentially happen when getting off the pill can help you make the right decision when it comes to your sexual health.
Depending on what pill you are on — and your own unique body — each woman can have different symptoms when coming off the pill. "Birth control pills work mainly by two mechanisms," says Dr. Kecia Gaither, OB/GYN over email. "The estrogen and progesterone work by preventing ovulation, and progestin works by thickening cervical mucus, which acts as a barrier, preventing sperm from ascending up the reproductive tract and fertilizing the egg. Different oral contraceptive pills have differing concentrations, and ultimately they will have differing effects for each woman."
Every woman has a different experience with the pill, but here are 10 surprising things that can happen to your body when you go off of birth control.
1. Immediate Pregnancy
Of course it would seem obvious that once you stop taking birth control, you increase your chances of getting pregnant, but a lot of women have the misconception that there is a weaning-off process for your hormones. "This is not the case," says Fares Diarbakerli, M.D. FACOG over email. "You can get pregnant the next time you ovulate which is seven to 10 days after your last pill."
2. Skin Changes
Going off birth control can either improve your skin or cause more acne, depending on how your skin was prior to getting onto the pill. "Some women can get clearer skin from going on birth control whiles others do not," says Diarbakerli. "So if your skin changed from going on the pill, going off the pill will change your skin [again.]"
Mittelschmerz, the German word for "middle pain," is a medical term used to describe a one-sided, lower abdominal pain associated with ovulation. "In the middle of one’s cycle, one may start cramping on one side, which is usually the time that the ovary releases an egg," says Christine Greves, MD, OB/GYN over email. "Birth control pills suppress ovulation from occurring, so this pain is not present."
4. Increased Sex Drive
Ironically, getting off birth control could leave you feeling more in the mood. "Coming off of your birth control can actually increase libido," says Elisa Felsen Singer, DO, an OBGYN at NYU Langone Huntington Medical Group, over email. "For some women, being on birth control lowers their sex drive because natural hormones testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone are suppressed."
5. Increase In Discharge
Don't fear — an increase in cervical discharge is no cause for alarm, and in fact, it's quite normal. "The cervical mucus is no longer thickened from the progestin effect," says Gaither.
6. Decrease In Bra Size
Some women find that their breasts become slightly bigger when they are on birth control. Unfortunately, this is only temporary, as once you're off the pill, they go back to their usual size. "The breasts are no longer retaining fluid, so your bra size might decrease," says Gaither.
7. Heavier Periods
Some women experience heavier periods and cramps once they get off birth control, says Gaither. This is usually the case for women who found that the pill help lighten their period when they were on it.
8. Irregular Periods
The cycle of your period can also get out of whack. "Bleeding irregularity may occur, especially in the first few months, due to lack of the hormonal manipulation," says Greves. Some women may have naturally irregular periods without realizing it, since the pill can help regulate your cycle.
9. Different Taste In Partners
When you're on the pill, you're more likely to be more attracted to partners who share similar genes to you, according to a study from the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. But once you're off the pill, you are more likely to be attracted to partners with genes different than yours. You might not notice the change constantly, but it could affect the type of people you go for.
10. Changes In Mood
Research recently published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that women on the pill had an increased risk of depression compared to women who don't use the contraception, so getting off the pill might make you less likely to be depressed. However, some women benefit from the steady amount of hormones on the pill, and coming off birth control can cause mood swings, says Sarah Yamaguchi, MD, OB/GYN over email.