Choices. We all have choices to make every minute of every day. Whether or not to take birth control is one choice all women are faced with, and the reasons not to take it are not as cut and dry as you might think.
While choosing to start a family is admittedly the most obvious reason to go off the birth control pill, women are finding plenty of others that don’t necessarily involve bringing a small human into the world.
Many seasoned users of birth control pills cite a variety of reasons to back their desire to go off the pill, including experiencing things like weird bleeding, low sex drive, or being tired of remembering to take a pill every day. There is also the more natural or holistic mindset that leads women to carefully consider everything they put into their body.
What to expect when you go off the birth control pill
Regardless of the reason behind the choice, the outcomes will be similar. There is a chance that if you stop taking the pill that you can get pregnant immediately after because there is no telling when you will start ovulating (aka releasing eggs from your ovaries) again.
With that being said, going off birth control pills can cause an irregular and harder to track cycle, at least at the beginning, so it’s important to be careful if your intention is not to get pregnant. Other positive and negative things that could occur, include (courtesy of Women’s Health):
- You may experience heavier periods and worse cramps
- Your breasts may deflate a bit
- You may have a change in the amount or quality of your vaginal discharge
- Your sex drive may improve
- Your PMS symptoms may get better or worse
- You may actually see (by changes in your vaginal discharge) or feel (by a little bit of pain in the middle of your menstrual cycle) yourself ovulating
- That dreaded acne may come back
Aside from preventing pregnancy, many women go on the birth control pill to help control painful periods, thanks to the work the pill does to elevate your progesterone and estrogen levels to stop ovulation. These hormone changes are also the driving force for the possible changes to your breasts, discharge, sex drive, pre-menstral symptoms, ovulation, and skin when you stop taking the pill.
What other birth control options are there?
To review, hormone-based contraceptives are available in many forms, including the birth control pill.
Other options that also release estrogen and progesterone into the body include the patch (which is placed on the skin and needs to be replaced weekly), the ring (which is worn inside the vagina and needs to be replaced monthly).
The birth control shot, known as Depo-Provera contains progestin, a type of progesterone,and should be administered every 12 weeks at the doctor’s office.
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are available with or without hormones and are inserted into your uterus by your doctor. Depending on the brand and type, they must be changed every 3 to 10 years.
There is also an implant, that goes by the name Nexplanon, that lasts up to three years, contains progestin, and is placed under the skin on the inside upper arm by your doctor.
One of the most common options is barrier contraceptives, which function exactly as their name suggests. Condoms, cervical caps, and sponges are used to prevent sperm from entering the uterus.
Spermicides, which are inserted in the vagina before sex to kill sperm, can be used in conjunction with other forms of contraception. A new non-hormonal prescription vaginal gel called Phexxi is another option that can be used immediately before having sex.
Monitoring your menstrual cycle isn’t necessarily the most reliable form of birth control, but the rhythm method is another option to consider. Also known as the calendar method or fertility awareness, the rhythm method involves keeping a close eye on when you’re ovulating and avoiding sexual intercourse during those days of the month.
Taking it one step farther, abstinence from all sexual activity is obviously the most effective way to avoid getting pregnant.
What precautions can you take when switching birth control methods?
Despite anyone’s best intentions, the possibility of getting pregnant after going off birth control is real. It may take your cycle time to stabilize so there are certain precautions you can take along the way. If your intention is not to get pregnant, as you can see, there are lots of ways that can help you avoid that.
Over-the-counter products include spermicides, condoms, diaphragms, and sponges, but please know that none of which are 100 percent effective.
One of the best and most important precautions you can take, whether you want to go off the pill or already have, is to have a conversation with your doctor. She or he can answer any more specific questions you have based on your unique background and sexual history and help you plan out your next steps.
Because there are enough choices to make in life – don’t make this one alone. If you have any other questions about going off the birth control pill, please contact me – I’m here to help!