Know Your Body

Science-backed articles about women's health, fertility, sex, periods, and more.
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Birth controlSo You Want To Safely Stop Birth Control? Side Effects and Benefits Most women and young girls use birth control for a variety of reasons, including avoiding pregnancies, regulating periods, or controlling acne. They often stay on that birth control for quite some time. Aside from trying to get pregnant when one notices signs of high fertility, some women stop taking birth control because of how it makes them feel. Here are some common reasons why women stop using their birth control: You experience side effectsYou want to have a babyYou don't have sex a lotYou have health concerns Whatever your reason for stopping birth control, it's your choice, and you must always do what's best for you and your body. Possible Side Effects of Stopping Birth Control Stopping birth control can have different effects on different people. There may be a delay in the ability to conceive for the first few months; however, it does not negatively affect fertility. Here are the most common side effects that may arise once you stop birth control: Changes in your menstrual cycle Heavier periodsCramping during ovulationPremenstrual syndrome (PMS)Changes in moodWeight gainAcneUnwanted hair growthHeadachesTender breastsChanges in sex drive Some women may also experience "post-pill amenorrhea" - missing their period right after going off the birth control pill. It may take a few months for the natural menstrual cycle to return. Women who stop using an IUD may experience bleeding, bloody discharge, or painful cramps after the removal. Usually, you’ll have no serious side effects from stopping birth control, but if your period doesn’t resume after about 4-8 weeks, go to your doctor to check for possible problems. Benefits of Getting Off Birth Control Here are some common reasons women stop using birth control: Mood Many women feel that once they start birth control, they stop functioning at their optimal mental status or often feel not quite like themselves. But once birth control was stopped, they began to feel more themselves and had more elevated moods.Improved sex drive It can be quite common for your sex drive to diminish once on birth control, so once you stop taking it, you may find yourself more interested in having sex.Weight loss You may have gained a bit of weight when starting birth control, so the scale might go down when you stop using them.Fewer headaches If headaches were something you experienced more frequently after starting birth control, stopping it may provide you with relief. Less anxiety No more stressing about taking that birth control at the right time! How To Safely Stop Birth Control No matter what type of birth control you’re on, it may be a good idea to talk to your doctor first. You can get advice, learn about possible side effects, understand how quickly you might be able to get pregnant, and your options if you don't want to conceive. Here is a basic breakdown for stopping each type of birth control: The pill This is the most popular choice among women who currently use contraception. You can stop the pill on your own any time - no need to finish your pack. The mini pill can also be stopped this way. Implants You can have it removed by a doctor or a nurse anytime. Patches You can simply peel off these adhesive squares yourself at any time.Intrauterine device (IUD) A doctor or a nurse can remove it in a few minutes.Vaginal ring You can stop using the ring at any point in your menstrual cycle.Birth control injection To stop this kind of birth control, you can simply quit taking the injection. You may still be safe from pregnancy for a few months while the hormones balance out, so if you're wanting to fall pregnant and this is your form of contraception, maybe stop taking the shot earlier. If you don't want to fall pregnant, make sure you still use a method of birth control such as condoms, tempdrop, or the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). You can also opt for Tri-Sprintec, but there are side effects for this medication. How Long It Takes for Hormones to Balance For most women, your period may return normally when it's your next cycle. For others, it may take longer. It is best to give your body at least three months to allow your hormonal system to stabilize. However, the birth control shot can take eight months to a year to wash out of your system if you've had at least three shots. The most important thing to remember is that everyone's body is different, and there is no "one-size-fits-all" answer here. Give your body time and speak to your doctor should you have any questions or concerns.
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Birth controlSigns of High Fertility in WomenWhether you're trying to fall pregnant or avoid pregnancy, it's useful to know what your chances of conception are. Our team of experts has compiled this guide to help you navigate this issue through the signs of fertility, factors influencing fertility, tips to increase it, and more. General Signs That You May Be Highly Fertile You might fall pregnant quite easily if you experience most of the following at the same time: You're between your late teens and late twentiesYou feel very well in general You have a regular cycle You have clear and consistent signs of ovulation every month (such as the same type of discharge) You don't smoke You have a healthy, balanced dietYour periods are not very heavy, and your PMS is manageable You haven't had any pelvic infections, or they have been cleared When Is Your Fertile Period? Women are most fertile during ovulation, which occurs every 28 days or so. A mature egg is released from the ovary, moves down the fallopian tube, and stays there for 12 to 24 hours. Ovulation usually takes place about 14 days before the next period. Understanding your menstrual cycle is key to understanding ovulation, and it is a good idea to track your cycle to predict when ovulation will take place if you want to conceive. Factors That Affect Fertility Some of the factors that influence whether a woman can conceive or not include the following: AgeSmokingAlcohol consumptionWeight (being clinically underweight or overweight)CaffeineLifestyle factors (such as stress)Diseases and disorders GeneticsNutrition and exerciseEnvironmental factors (smog, pollution, secondhand smoke, etc.)Over-the-counter and recreational drugsDuration of subfertility (how long a couple has been trying)Previous pregnancies (if a couple has conceived before, they are likely to conceive again)Ovarian cysts Please note that most cysts don't cause infertility. The only exception is if a cyst gets infected (a rare occurrence). How to Increase Fertility There are numerous ways to boost your chances of pregnancy. These include vitamin supplements for fertility, frequent sex during ovulation, inducing ovulation, pre-seed lubricant, and IVF treatments. Vitamin Supplements Recent studies have shown that a range of vitamins and supplements can increase fertility in men and women. These include Vitamins B, E, and D, as well as fish oil, Co-Enzyme Q10, and Selenium. Frequent Sex During Ovulation Having sex often without contraception is one of the simplest, cheapest, least invasive, and most low-risk ways to improve your chances of conception. Having lots of sex during ovulation especially can be effective in creating a pregnancy. Inducing Ovulation A few treatments are available that can induce ovulation so that a couple knows exactly when it will occur, has potentially more opportunities for conception, and creates space in their schedules to have lots of sex within an effective, fertile period. Pre-Seed Lubricant Pre-Seed Lubricant creates a more slippery passage up the vagina for sperm in case of vaginal dryness. IVF Treatments IVF treatments can be costly and difficult but are often an effective way to fall pregnant. Read more about the egg retrieval process of IVF here. IUI Treatments Simpler and cheaper than IVF, IUI is another option to look into when trying to conceive. However, it should be noted that it does carry more risks. Is It Possible to Induce Ovulation? Yes, ovulation induction is possible for many women. However, it should be noted that there are some side effects and risks with this kind of treatment. There are several different medications on the market that induce ovulation. They work in different ways and have different side effects. You'll need to consider the options carefully with your gynecologist. When to Take an Ovulation Test Taking an ovulation test can be helpful in the process of conception. They help give you an idea of when you're ovulating to make time for more sex during this high-fertility window. Wondering when the best time is to take a pregnancy test? Take a look at our expert guide on this issue.
Birth Control: Does it Really Help with PMS and PMDD Symptoms
Birth controlBirth Control: Does it Really Help with PMS and PMDD SymptomsPremenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to a group of physical and behavioral symptoms that occur in a cyclic pattern during the second half of the menstrual cycle. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is the more severe form of PMS. At first glance, PMS and PMDD may seem to be the same because they have many of the same symptoms but PMDD is different in that the symptoms are many degrees more extreme. Studies have shown various hormonal contraceptives have the ability to diminish PMDD symptoms, as well as provide some PMS relief. Can PMS and PMDD Be Treated With Birth Control? PMS There's no way to know for sure if treating PMS with birth control pills will work for you. But hormonal birth control is considered to be more likely to help PMS symptoms than to worsen them. Mood symptoms (irritability, moodiness, anxiety) in people with PMS are thought to be caused by changes in hormone levels. Studies have shown that the steady release of hormones by birth control pills can lessen the emotional symptoms of PMS in some women. Someone taking a hormonal medication that keeps estrogen and progesterone levels stable is far less likely to experience the natural yet massive hormone shifts that cause PMS. PMDD PMDD is a negative response to the normal fluctuations in female reproductive hormone levels. There are instances where an individual with PMDD is also suffering from a hormone imbalance, but for most, hormone imbalance is not the cause of PMDD symptoms. Oral contraceptives may reduce PMDD symptoms by controlling or stopping your periods, but the evidence for the pill as a treatment for PMDD is mixed. Some people find it helps to reduce their symptoms, but others find it makes the symptoms worse. Evidence suggests that triphasic (Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Tri Sprintec) or biphasic pills (Mircette, Azurette) may be more likely to affect mood symptoms than monophasic pills (Ortho-Cyclen, Sprintec). This is due to the hormonal fluctuations that occur with the tri- and biphasic preparations. Which Birth Control Pill Is Best for PMS and PMDD? Studies show that the benefits of hormonal birth control on mood in PMS or PMDD are complex and may vary considerably from one person to another. However, there is only one birth control pill that has been FDA approved to treat both, and that is Yaz. It has been proven to work better than placebos in improving symptoms such as negative moods, increased appetite, insomnia, etc. Can Birth Control Help With Period Symptoms? Because the pill delivers everything in steady doses, it can even out your hormone levels and make them more predictable. In summary, taking the birth control pill can get rid of many unpleasant period symptoms.