Skip To Content

    Here's What Actually Happens When You Stop Taking Birth Control

    What is this weird stringy discharge?

    Breaking up with your birth control can be hard to do.

    Wavebreakmedia Ltd / Getty Images / Via

    Whether you're stopping it to have babies or you just don't want to be on it anymore, saying goodbye to hormonal contraception can be a little intimidating. So BuzzFeed Life consulted a few gynecologists to find out what to expect.

    FYI: We're just talking about hormonal birth control here — like the Pill, hormonal IUD, ring, patch, implant, and shot.

    1. It's possible to get pregnant pretty much immediately.

    So, you know, plan accordingly if that's not something you want to happen. "Everyone has this idea that they go off birth control and have this hall pass for a while, and that's not the case," Dr. Lauren Streicher, OB-GYN, tells BuzzFeed Life. It's technically possible to get pregnant within a week of stopping your birth control, so use condoms or another method if you're not ready for kids.

    2. But if you do want to get pregnant, don't stress if it doesn't happen right away.

    Most people go back to ovulating normally within one to two months of stopping their birth control, Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, OB-GYN and clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine, tells BuzzFeed Life. So even if you're hoping to get pregnant ASAP, Minkin suggests her patients wait two months before really trying. It's not that it's unsafe to get pregnant immediately, but it'll be harder to figure out when you're ovulating in those first few months off the Pill. And because of that, it'll be difficult for your doctor to give you an accurate due date if you do get pregnant during this time, says Minkin.

    3. Your period might be a little wonky for a while.

    Instagram: @seilsmith / Via

    It can take a few months for your period to go back to what it used to be, says Minkin. So if you don't get a period the month after you stop taking birth control, or if it's shorter/longer/lighter/weirder than usual, that's fine. "For many people it's two to three months before it gets back to totally normal." Or you might be one of the lucky ones who go right back to bleeding on schedule — you never know.

    4. The best predictor of what your period will be like off birth control is what it was like before birth control.

    andegro4ka / Getty Images / Via BuzzFeed Life

    If your periods were just a brief monthly dream before you went on the Pill, then chances are they'll go back to that after you stop it. But if you faintly remember a time filled with debilitating cramps, serious acne, and raging mood swings, you might want to prepare yourself for that nightmare to come right back when you stop.

    Hormonal birth control can do a lot to manage these symptoms, says Streicher, and those bonuses go away once you stop taking it. That said, if you had bad side effects while taking birth control — like vaginal dryness, headaches, or worse cramps — those will (thankfully) go away when you stop it, too.

    5. But it's also possible that your period might be different now.

    Fox / Via

    Your period can change throughout your lifetime, whether you go on hormonal birth control or not, says Streicher. So if you've been on birth control since you were 15, you may end up finding that your period is different now that you're off it. If these changes are super noticeable — like much heavier bleeding or wildly irregular cycles — and it lasts for more than a few months after stopping birth control, Streicher suggests checking with your doctor to make sure it's not something else.

    6. It doesn't take a while to "flush the hormones" out of your system.

    "The hormones from the Pill will be gone in a matter of days," says Minkin. And the same goes for the ring, the implant, and the IUD.

    So why does it take a while for your period and ovulation to get back to what's normal for you? Your natural hormonal cycle is run by the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, which is suppressed when you're on hormonal birth control, explains Minkin. Once you stop your birth control method, it may take a few weeks to start all those cycles up again. That doesn't mean that the hormones from the birth control are still in your system; it just means that your own hormonal cycle was on hold for a little while and needs some time to wake back up.

    7. If you've been taking the birth control shot, it can take up to six months for your fertility to go back to normal.

    The Depo-Provera shot is a birth control injection you get every three months for pregnancy protection. Even though it's made to stay in your system for three months, it might take up to six months for your ovulation to go back to what it was, says Minkin. So this wouldn't be a good option if you're looking to get pregnant right after you stop birth control.

    8. You may notice that you start to get hornier in the middle of your cycle.

    That's because your natural menstrual cycle includes a spike in testosterone right around ovulation, which can make you want to have sex, says Minkin. Birth control keeps those hormones relatively stable throughout the month, which is one reason why some people report lower sex drive on the Pill.

    9. And you'll probably have some weird, stringy discharge coming out of you each month.

    FOX / Via

    This is another one of those secrets birth control kept from you. During your natural menstrual cycle off birth control, you may notice changes in your cervical mucus (that clearish discharge that comes out of your vagina). Right before ovulation, there's typically more of it and it has a strechy/stringy consistency, says Minkin.

    Some people also notice a little spotting or pain when they ovulate each month (which would happen about two weeks after the first day of your period), and that's totally normal.

    10. You might just be generally more hormonal than usual.

    Loryn Brantz / Via

    As we mentioned, birth control keeps your hormone levels pretty stable throughout the month, which is why it helps with things like breast pain and acne that are tied to your period. Once you stop birth control, you'll go back to experiencing the typical hormonal ups and downs of your cycle, says Minkin. So if you used to experience PMS-related moodiness and achy boobs, there's a good chance those will come back.

    11. If your boobs grew while on birth control, they'll probably shrink back to normal size.

    BuzzFeed Life

    Obviously that's not the case if your breasts just grew with age or weight gain. But birth control can also make your chest a little bigger, especially if you're on a pill with higher estrogen levels, says Minkin. So if you noticed an immediate boob enlargement while on birth control, they'll probably go back down soon. RIP big boobs.

    12. If you don't get your period within three months, check with your doctor.

    First of all, you could be pregnant. But it also might be a sign that your birth control was covering up the symptoms of something else, says Streicher, like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or a thyroid problem — both of which could mess with your periods.

    13. FYI: You don't need to give your body a "break" from birth control.

    Monik Markus / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: 42954113@N00

    Both Minkin and Streicher agree that there is no medical reason to give your body some time off from birth control — unless you want to get pregnant or you have a medical condition that makes hormonal birth control unsafe for you. If you're ever worried about your birth control or if you're experiencing weird symptoms after going off of it, talk to your doctor about your concerns.

    Want expert health tips in your inbox twice a week? Sign up for the BuzzFeed Health & Beauty newsletter!