So You Want To Safely Stop Birth Control? Side Effects and Benefits

Nicole Day
By Nicole Day
Head and Shoulders Photo of Michelle Meyer
Edited by Michelle Meyer

Published August 3, 2022.

Pink tablets on white surface

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 effects
  • You want to have a baby
  • You don't have sex a lot
  • You 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 periods
  • Cramping during ovulation
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Changes in mood
  • Weight gain
  • Acne
  • Unwanted hair growth
  • Headaches
  • Tender breasts
  • Changes 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.