What are the effects of stopping the pill?
The contraceptive pill has become a controversial topic these days and more and more women report side effects when taking the pill and also when stopping it. However, many doctors still recommend the pill to “treat” period problems and other hormonal symptoms. It is important to remember that the pill cannot ‘cure’ symptoms. The symptoms often disappear because the pill simply covers them up. After all, if you put a bandaid on a broken arm, the arm will still be broken.In the meantime, the root cause of the symptoms just keep bubbling under the surface – and the longer they remain untreated, the more difficult they are to treat in the long term. We therefore always recommend looking for the cause of the symptoms first.
What effects does the pill have on the body?
Many women don’t even know, even if they have been taking the pill for years: What does the pill actually do in the body?
Well, combined contraceptive pills usually contain the two female sex hormones estrogen and progestogen. They inhibit the formation of certain messenger substances in the brain. More precisely, the messenger substances that are necessary for ovulation. They are therefore also called ‘ovulation inhibitors’. Without ovulation, of course, no egg can be fertilized and pregnancy cannot occur, which explains the contraceptive effect. The progestogen contained in the pill also changes the cervical mucus so that sperm cannot enter the uterus. And: the pill also prevents sufficient build-up of the uterine lining, so that implantation cannot take place.
The so-called ‘mini-pill’ only contains the hormone progestin and thus changes the cervical mucus and prevents sufficient build-up of the uterine lining. Mini-pills do not usually prevent ovulation, with the exception of a pill containing the active ingredient desogestrel.
Does the pill have negative effects?
The more you delve into this matter, the more astonishing (and frightening) it is to read the long list of negative side effects. One of the things we know nowadays is that hormonal contraceptives have a negative effect on the microbiome, and thus on gut health. The microbiome is still a relatively unknown area for scientists, but more and more research is being published that clearly shows that a healthy microbiome is necessary for good physical and mental health. It is also essential for absorbing nutrients well, which brings us to the next point. Hormonal contraceptives also make it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients, vitamins & minerals. It has been observed that women on hormonal contraception are particularly deficient in B vitamins, magnesium and vitamin C, which of course has a lasting negative impact on their health. These nutrients are essential for hormonal health and a deficiency can therefore lead to problems with conception after stopping the pill. If there is nutrient deficiency and poor absorption of nutrients, you can assume that your physical & mental health will suffer sooner or later.
We can only emphasise this again and again: Ovulation is not only important if you want to get pregnant. Research has shown that consistent ovulation – that is, optimal fertility – protects a woman’s health in the long term, especially when it comes to avoiding problems like osteoporosis, heart disease, heart attacks and breast cancer.
Does the pill have an effect on hormones?
Think of it this way: the body has natural, built-in mechanisms that constantly try to maintain homeostasis (a natural balance). The body has many different systems that let us know when the body is out of balance. This protective mechanism of course applies to our reproductive system as well. When you take synthetic hormones on a daily basis, you are significantly interfering with the body’s natural system. Because the brain perceives this foreign interference as a disruption in hormone balance, it tries to correct the excess by shutting down the production of the natural hormones. This ‘shutdown’ may be why it takes years for some women’s natural cycles to return to normal after coming off the pill.
Does the pill have an effect on the psyche?
It is no secret that a change in mood is one of the (many) possible side effects of the pill. Especially if there is a history of depression, it may not be advisable to take the pill as symptoms could get worse. In any case, it is advisable to be mindful and monitor changes closely should you decide to use hormonal contraception. Many women also report that they experience increased irritability and mood swings.
Does the pill have positive effects?
We can all agree 100%: The pill offers reliable protection against unwanted pregnancy and is also comfortable to use. Many women also find it positive that they can ‘influence’ their cycle. The duration and intensity of bleeding also often decrease when taking the pill. It should be noted, however, that the bleeding you’re experiencing is not a real period, but only a cessation bleeding.
What to consider when stopping the pill
Nowadays, more and more women are making the conscious decision that they no longer want to use synthetic hormones. They naturally ask themselves whether there is ‘a right way to come off the pill’. The main aim is to make the transition easier for the body and to avoid the unpleasant side effects that are often associated with coming off the pill. We have put together a guide to come off the pill that will help you prepare and support yourself and your body in the transition.
I want to stop taking the pill. What are the common side effects?
As you can imagine, after you stop taking the pill, your body needs to restore its natural balance – yes, that’s your cycle. How long this takes varies from woman to woman, of course, but it can take quite a while. Once you have made your decision and stopped taking the pill, there may of course be some side effects. The question often arises as to whether you can simply stop taking the pill. Of course, it’s possible, but you should take a few things into account and prepare yourself physically and mentally.
These are some of the common side effects women often report after coming off the pill:
- heavier menstrual bleeding
- irregular cycles
- hormonal acne
- mood swings
- hair loss
Stopping the pill also brings many positive benefits:
- a lower risk of thrombosis
- increased libido
- less water retention
- a better connection to your own body & cycle
- feeling more like ‘yourself’
The cycle after stopping the pill
The typical 28-day cycle, which has become the norm because of the pill, unfortunately gives a very false picture. In fact, very few women have a natural cycle that is exactly 28 days long. In science, cycles of 24-36 days are considered healthy cycles. And not every cycle is always the same length. Here, too, natural variations from woman to woman and from cycle to cycle occur. While you are taking the pill, of course, you don’t think about your natural cycle. After stopping the pill, however, many women notice that their cycle is no longer as regular as it was before they started taking the pill.
The first cycle after the pill
In the first few months after stopping the pill, the cycle is often rather irregular and the first period sometimes takes its time to reappear. Again, this varies from woman to woman and from case to case. Some women’s menstrual cycles return to their natural rhythm within a short time, while for others it takes a long time. In most cases, you can assume that the cycle simply needs some time to recover & find its balance again.
Is an irregular cycle normal after the pill?
Yes, to a certain extent it is ‘normal’ to have irregular cycles after coming off the pill. This basically just means that the body is out of balance and is trying to get back into balance. Of course, it makes sense to support the body as much as possible and to prepare well before coming off the pill.
Increased libido after stopping the pill?
It can be seen as probably the greatest irony of hormonal contraception: you take the pill to prevent pregnancy and end up having no desire at all to do what leads to pregnancy. Sound familiar? Well, you are not alone in this. Many women complain of loss of libido from taking the pill. In fact, studies have found that women can experience a greatly reduced sex drive not only while taking the pill, but also after stopping it. This effect could be due to the pill’s influence on testosterone levels, which can permanently suppress sex drive. Again, it is important to remember how the pill works: it suppresses ovulation (depending on the pill) and replaces the body’s own natural hormone production with a steady supply of synthetic hormones. As part of this process, the pill also suppresses testosterone production and increases the production of SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin). The ‘free testosterone’ in the body is bound and testosterone levels drop. But what’s essential for a healthy sex drive? That’s right: free, unbound testosterone. Here, too, it can help to support the body with a diet synced with the cycle and specific lifestyle changes, as well as to prepare well in advance for coming off the pill.
I have stopped taking the pill. Should I expect to gain weight?
After stopping the pill, it is not surprising that you will also notice some physical changes. Many women complain that they have gained a few kilos by taking the pill. Since the body tries to restore a natural balance after coming off the pill, it is possible that your weight will fluctuate a little at first. After all, the sex hormones influence our body on all levels. For example, water retention can occur. Here, too, you can support your body by following a diet that is adapted to your cycle and by exercising regularly and gently. If you haven’t had a natural cycle for a long time, it takes some getting used to for many women to experience the natural high and low phases of the cycle again. After all, the cycle influences our performance and energy levels, our mood, our digestion and so much more.
Mood swings after stopping the pill?
Mood swings are also something many women have never experienced, because they have used hormonal contraception for most of their lives and are not familiar with the natural hormonal fluctuations in the cycle. Again, we can only emphasise that the body simply needs a little time to re-establish a natural balance. Of course, severe mood swings are a burden, but they are usually only temporary after coming off the pill and we therefore recommend that you simply treat yourself and your own body with love and patience. From our own experience we can say that a lifestyle that is attuned to the cycle can support this process.
Hormonal changes after the pill
For most women, it takes time for the body to re-establish hormonal balance and break down synthetic hormones after stopping the pill or any other hormonal contraceptive. The only exception to this is the contraceptive injection, which provides protection for three months with a single injection. In that case it can take longer for the body to completely break down the synthetic hormones.
Does stopping the pill have an effect on your breast size?
We are all familiar with the stories: The misconception that taking the pill affects breast size persists. We just want to say: please don’t start taking the pill if your primary goal is to increase your breast size.
The fact is: Very few women experience changes in breast size. In addition, changes that do occur are usually temporary and not permanent, and they definitely do not outweigh the numerous risks and side effects.
Will I get acne if I stop taking the pill?
Well, let’s be honest: it’s impossible to give a simple yes or no answer to this question. The blemishes that many women report after stopping the pill are basically just hormonal acne with a twist. The synthetic hormones contained in the pill bring the natural system and production of sex hormones to a halt. After stopping the pill, there can be a rebound effect where there can be an overproduction of, among other things, androgens. Of course, this varies from case to case, and not every woman struggles with acne after the pill. Some women only get a few blemishes, while others have to deal with very severe inflammation & cystic acne on their face and body.
I want to stop taking the pill, but I'm afraid of hair loss.
Women with a family history of hormone-related hair loss may suffer from hair loss while taking the pill or after stopping the pill. Some women lose only a little bit of hair. Other women lose large amounts of hair. Hair loss during pregnancy is also hormonal.
Stop taking the pill to have children?
If you are planning to get pregnant in the near future, but are still using hormonal contraceptives such as the pill, you should take care to stop using them sooner rather than later to give your body enough time to adjust and prepare for pregnancy. For many women, it takes time after stopping the pill for their menstrual cycle to return to normal. Some women ovulate again in the next cycle, others may go a few months without ovulating. It always depends on the woman, her body and, of course, the preparation. That’s why it’s not really true to say that with pill XY it will take exactly this many cycles for everything to return to normal. It is also important not to worry too much if it doesn’t work right after you stop taking the pill. The body has a lot of work to do in preparation for pregnancy. You should give it the time it needs to do this.
Stopping the pill if you want to have children. What should I bear in mind?
You want to stop taking the pill because you want to get pregnant? Well, then you should allow enough time for your body to recover and find its balance again. Most modern birth control pills are combination pills that not only suppress ovulation by inhibiting follicle maturation, but also keep the consistency of the cervical mucus tough and reduce the mobility of the fallopian tube to make pregnancy unlikely. The hormones supplied daily are the main players in this process. Especially when taking the pill for a longer period of time, the natural hormonal system might need some time to re-start. Therefore, we advise you to plan a certain period of time as a buffer to avoid disappointment and keep stress levels low.
Stopped the pill and pregnant in the first cycle?
It’s definitely possible to get pregnant immediately after coming off the pill. Protection is basically gone immediately after stopping. Depending on how quickly the body finds its way back into (hormonal) balance, it is possible to ovulate immediately after stopping and, if you have sex at the right time, get pregnant in the first cycle after stopping.
You stopped taking the pill because you want to get pregnant?
Conversely, it is also possible that it takes a few months to get pregnant after stopping the pill. This varies from woman to woman and unfortunately it is impossible to know exactly how your body will react after you stop taking the pill. For women who want to get pregnant, it may well be that they have to wait a few months before ovulation occurs again.