For many women, taking the pill has been a daily routine since their teenage years. But when the time comes to try for a baby or switch to another method of birth control, you may want to be aware of the weird things that can happen when you go off birth control. Of course your periods will return in full force, but there are other bodily changes that may surprise you.
According to a 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 62 percent of women of reproductive age utilize birth control, and the pill is the most common method — 28 percent use it, which accounts for about 10.6 million women in the United States alone. That’s a ton of pill packs! And while most all of these women are likely familiar with the side effects of taking the birth control pill, such as spotting, mood changes, and lighter periods, the ways your body reacts to stopping birth control are perhaps less understood. This is not to say that the side effects of stopping are all negative (your libido might increase, after all!), but they are just things to be aware of before you ditch that blister pack for good.
1. Breasts Might Decrease In Size
Don't panic: it won't be like a full-blown deflategate on your chest. As explained in Women's Health, your breasts could have increased in size due to the progesterone and estrogen components of the pill, so stopping your usage may lead to a slight decrease in your bustline. But this is not true for all women, so you probably won't need to buy all new bras.
2. Pregnancy May Happen Right Away
Basically, you can get insta-pregnant as soon as you stop taking hormonal birth control. "Everyone has this idea that they go off birth control and have this hall pass for a while, and that’s not the case,” OB-GYN Lauren Streicher told Buzzfeed. If you're not ready for a baby yet, then you may want to default to condoms or other methods of birth control for a while.
3. Taste In Men Could Change
Now here's a weird possibility for hetero women. According to a study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, contraceptive pill use could disrupt disassortative mate preferences. To (over)simplify, the research found that women who are not on the pill are more attracted to men who are genetically dissimilar, whereas women who were on the pill found men with similar genetics attractive. If this is the case, you may find yourself attracted to men who did not seem like your "type" beforehand.
4. Weight May Decrease
Well, the jury's out on this one. Although some people think women gain weight while taking hormonal birth control (and would therefore lose a few pounds when they stop the pill), not every medical professional agrees with this conclusion. As Dr. Elena Kamel said in Marie Claire, "there is very little data to show that women gain weight [when taking or discontinuing the pill]." She noted that it is an individualized issue, so c your weight may remain steady or it might decrease a small amount.
5. Cycle Might Have A Different Rhythm
Regulating your cycle on the pill makes everything run like clockwork, but when you return to nature, you may not expect to receive your period on the same day every 28 days. According to the Mayo Clinic, "when you finally do stop the pill, you can expect some bleeding, which may change the rhythm of your menstrual cycle." But chances are you'll adapt to the new normal after a few months.
6. Acne Could Return
If you had blemishes prior to starting the pill, chances are they will return as soon as you stop taking birth control. As Dr. Helen Kennedy explained in Cosmopolitan, "problem skin is often improved on the pill particularly if you take Dianette, Yasmin, Marvelon or Cilest, so stopping can therefore make acne return or worsen." But you won't suddenly develop skin problems if you had no problems before starting hormonal birth control.
7. Libido Might Increase
So the intensity of your libido is one of those things that difficult to quantify. But as noted in the Daily Mail, "the pill also lowers testosterone - the hormone responsible for sex drive" it may lead to a lower libido in many women. On the flip side, going off the pill may boost your sex drive. This is one of those cases where your mileage may vary.
8. Depression May Decrease
Could the pill make you feel depressed? According to a 2005 study at Monash University, "women taking the oral contraceptive pill are almost twice as likely to be depressed than those not on the pill." If you've struggled with depression, then going off hormonal birth control may help improve your mood.
9. Withdrawal Bleeding Occurs
Just a heads' up: the first bleeding you experience after stopping the pill may not be a real period. The National Health Services explains that the first period after stopping the pill is known as a 'withdrawal bleed,' and the following experience of bleeding is your first natural period. After that first one, you're probably back to your natural cycle.