Journal of Nursing

7 Things You Should Know Before You Decide To Stop Using Birth Control


By Ni'Kesia Pannell 

There are both good and bad effects of discontinuing your form of birth control.

Being on birth control and then getting off will continue to keep your risk of ovarian cancer low.

On the other hand, no longer using birth control can make your endometriosis symptoms worse.

Your cycle can go back to being irregular.

Whether you've just started birth control or have been on it for years, you probably have your own very specific reason why you started it. Though the reasons for using it can range from preventing pregnancy to making your cycle more consistent, every person's choice for using it will vary.

What happens though, when you decide that you no longer want to use birth control? You may wonder if there are benefits to returning back to a life without birth control or if maybe you'll be worse off than you were before you started using it? According to Dr. Alan B. Copperman, medical director of Progyny, the answer to both of those questions is yes.

So if you've recently been considering no longer using birth control, here are a few good, bad, and ugly things you should know about it beforehand.

You could potentially keep the weight you’ve gained.

It's no secret that when you get on the pill, there's a chance that you could gain a pound or two.

"Some women gain two to three pounds when starting the pill," said Copperman. "Not everyone loses that weight when stopping."

Depending on the person though, retaining that weight could either be a good or bad thing.

Your risk of ovarian cancer remains low.

Taking birth control may add a few extra pounds, but a super positive thing about it is its ability to keep ovarian cancer at bay.

"The pill decreases the risk of ovarian cancer," said Copperman. "The risk reduction remains years after stopping the pill."

If you’re looking to get pregnant, you may not have to wait too long.

It's often said that if you're looking to get pregnant, you should stop taking your form of birth control well in advance. According to Copperman though, this isn't necessarily true because your fertility will quickly return to baseline after stopping the pill. He also said that there are a few steps you should take before stopping the pill if planning to conceive.

"A few steps you should be taking before stopping usage would be to maximize your health and wellness. You should also be taking prenatal vitamins and seeing a doctor for a pre-conceptual counseling — which might include checking hormone levels and genetic testing."

Of course everyone's fertility chances are different, and you won't know for sure unless you start trying.

It can make some of your health issues worse.

Though there are many benefits of ending your birth control usage, there are a few bad things that can happen too.

"For some women with endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome, going off birth control can make the symptoms worse," said Copperman.

Of course this varies for every woman, but this is something to keep in mind when deciding to either use or discontinue usage of birth control.

Your acne could possibly return.

Surprised to hear that women use birth control to help with their acne? You shouldn't be, it's more common than you think.

"If you use birth control to help control acne and then stop taking the pill, it is not uncommon for the acne to return to how it was before the pill," said Copperman.

So though you may have success with your skin while on the pill, keep in mind that there is a very high chance it could come back in the same manner it was before or even worse when you stop usage.

Your cycle could go back to being painful.

While on birth control, you may notice that normally painful symptoms of your period will become more bearable. According to Copperman though, that could all change once you discontinue using.

"For most women, the pill makes periods lighter and cramping less painful," he said. "When stopping the pill though, cycles may once again be heavy and painful."

Copperman also went on to note that while your PMS symptoms are made better by the pill, stopping its usage will usually return your symptoms to baseline.

Likewise, your cycle can be irregular.

Reverting back to a life without birth control can create or revive an irregular period, Copperman said.

"If a woman's cycles are long and irregular and made better by the pill, they usually revert to their baseline after stopping."

Although there are plenty of benefits to getting off of birth control, going back to an irregular cycle may warrant you to consider staying on.


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