A 5-Step Guide to Quitting the Birth Control Pill

Going off the Pill can feel as intimidating as breaking up with someone, regardless of how confident you are about transitioning to a new birth control option. Particularly considering that quitting your current contraception frequently means giving up tons of benefits like lighter periods, scarcely noticeable cramps, and a complexion that appears to have been Photoshopped.

According to Sara Twogood, MD, an assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at the Keck School of Medicine in California, “What a woman feels once she goes off the Pill varies greatly.” It depends on how long she has been taking the Pill and her initial motivations. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make the transition as drama-free as possible if you decide it’s time to stop using your BC.

Step 1: Consult your doctor

According to Twogood, the ideal way to begin your post-pill adventure is with a brief trip to the doctor, especially if you have any concerns about the side effects or require an alternative method of contraception. According to Kelly M. Kasper, M.D., an ob-gyn at Indiana University Health, you probably won’t notice many changes if you took the Pill just to avoid pregnancy and your periods weren’t too irregular. However, follow the advice of the Girl Scouts and be ready if your typical cycle involved your ovaries torturing your body or popping out whenever they felt like it.

Step Two: Prepare

If your visits from Aunt Flo before taking Birth Control Pill hurt like a b*tch, Twogood advises having ibuprofen, heating pads, and plenty of relaxation techniques on standby. Women who have had irregular periods or uncomfortable PMS symptoms might benefit from having an app or calendar on hand to record their symptoms and the timing of their menstrual cycle, according to the expert. In addition, Kasper advises that if you started taking the Pill for dermatological conditions, you should have a solid skin-care routine in place to help prevent flare-ups.

Step Three: Actually Go Off the Pill

According to Sherry Ross, M.D., an ob-gyn at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in California, stopping taking the Pill is rather simple: just stop, preferably after finishing the pill pack you’re currently on. Stopping in the middle of a pack can result in erratic bleeding, upsetting the positive rhythm that the pill adds to your menstrual cycle.

Step 4: Allow your body to function naturally

Heavy periods, excruciating cramps, mood swings, and acne enough for a high school yearbook photo can all be signs that a woman is transitioning off the Pill, according to Twogood. On the other hand, if you have breast discomfort, headaches, nausea, or breakthrough bleeding while using the Pill, these adverse effects ought to go away very quickly after stopping. (Phew.) After stopping the Pill, your regular period will usually return in one to two months. Many experts agree that if you’re TTC, you can become pregnant right away if you stop.

Step Five: Keep an Eye on Things

Ross advises waiting two to three months after stopping the Pill to observe any changes in your menstrual cycle. Your body ought to have returned to its default settings by this point. However, consult your doctor to make sure your hormones are in balance if three months have passed and you haven’t had a regular period. The same is true for pain that can’t be relieved by over-the-counter medications and irregular or frequent bleeding (such as soaking a pad or tampon every hour), according to Kasper. Always follow your gut instinct if something seems odd.

Also Read About Here’s What Gynecologists Think About ‘Over-the-Counter’ Birth Control Pills