Heads up: it doesn't go quite like that. It's a big decision to make and can often prove to be rather intimidating to follow through with. Here's what you should know about saying goodbye to your hormonal BC.
1. You can get pregnant right away.
“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 explains. You can get pregnant within a week, so use another method if you're not prepared to have kids.
2. If you do want to get pregnant, however, it might not happen right away.
Many women will get back to ovulating regularly within a couple months according to Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, OB-GYN and clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine, so don't stress if it's not happening right away. Wait it out.
3. Your period might be inconsistent for a little bit.
Minkin says it takes a minute for your period to get back to normal. It might be lighter one day and heavier the next, or shorter one month and longer the other. “For many people it’s two to three months before it gets back to totally normal.” You could get lucky and have yours go back to normal right away, however.
4. Your period will often return to how it was prior to going on birth control.
If you were on hormonal birth control and noticed your cramping, headaches and other symptoms lessened, be prepared for them to come back. However, if your cramps, headaches and vaginal dryness were worse while on birth control, expect them to go away.
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5. Your period might also be different now.
Your period might not stay the same throughout your lifestyle explains Streicher. And if you were on BC since you were 15 and are now 25, don't be surprised if things are different than you had anticipated. You might have a heavier flow or irregular cycles. Check with your doctor to make sure nothing else is going on, however.
6. It doesn’t take forever for the hormones to be "flushed" from your system.
“The hormones from the Pill will be gone in a matter of days,” explains Minkin. This also rings true for the ring, the implant, and the IUD.
The reason it takes a while for your period and ovulation to return to normal is because your natural hormonal cycle is run by the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, which Minkin says is suppressed when you are taking hormonal birth control. When you stop, it can take a few weeks for your cycles to start up again. This doesn't mean that the hormones from your birth control are still in your system, though. All it means is that your hormonal cycle wasn't working for a bit and needs time to get back into its natural groove.
7. It can take six months for you to become fertile again if you have been taking the birth control shot.
Minkin says that if you took the Depo-Provera shot, which is a birth control injection you get every three months to avoid pregnancy, you might not experience regular ovulation for up to six months.
8. You might find yourself hornier in the middle of your cycle.
This is due to the fact that your natural menstrual cycle experiences an increase in testosterone around ovulation, making you crave some sexual action explains Minkin. Birth control keeps those hormones regulated the entire month.
9. You might experience weird, stringy discharge coming out of you every month.
Don't fret if you notice that, right before ovulation, there are changes in your cervical mucus due to being off of birth control explains Minkin. This is what happens during your natural menstrual cycle off of birth control.
10. You might notice you are more hormonal than usual.
When you're on birth control, hormone levels are pretty stable. Once you're off, you might notice you are back to experiencing breast pain and acne like before, explains Minkin.
11. If your boobs got bigger on birth control, they'll probably go back down once you're off of it.
If you're on a pill with higher estrogen levels and haven't gained weight or are still dealing with growing breasts due to your age, then you're probably just getting bigger boobs because of the BC you're on explains Minkin. Don't be surprised if they shrink back down once your'e off of it.
12. If it's been three months and you still haven't gotten your period, talk with your doctor.
If you're not pregnant, then your birth control might have been covering up other symptoms like a thyroid problem says Streicher.
13. You don't need to take time off of birth control.
Minkin and Streicher say that medically speaking, there's no reason to give your body a break, unless pregnancy is your goal. If you're experiencing strange symptoms, talk to your doctor.
Have you recently gone off of birth control?