One concern for women on contraceptive treatment is how they will feel about the treatment but also what happens when the contraceptive pills are stopped.
The changes that women notice when they stop taking contraceptive pills vary greatly from one to another, depending on the constitution of each one, the individual tolerance to the medication, the indication for which the treatment was started and the reason why the one that ends the same.
Can they be left without more?
The first question that some have about birth control pills is whether it can be stopped without further ado and when treatment can be stopped. Ideally, finish it at the end of a blister for better cycle control. But really the period with contraceptives is a rule caused by the suspension of the intake of the hormones (estrogens and progesterone) that the contraceptives have, so the treatment can be terminated at any time, always keeping in mind that the period will appear after a few days. This is the same for pill, vaginal ring and patch contraceptives, since they all have the same hormones, but the route of administration varies.
What symptoms can we notice if we stop taking birth control pills
- Some women notice weight gain with treatment due to increased hunger and increased fluid retention and the appearance of cellulite. At the end of the pills in a few months these symptoms usually disappear and some weight is usually lost.
- On the other hand, if treatment has been started due to irregular periods, these usually reappear after stopping the taking of pills since they produced regular periods when leaving the ovaries at rest and causing the appearance of menstrual bleeding when taking the placebo pills or take the break by decreasing the intake of hormones. Being a constant taking of 21 or 24 days of treatment and four to seven days off, the rule appeared regularly every 28 days.
- Current contraceptives tend to be of very low doses and therefore they stimulate very little the endometrium which is the innermost layer of the womb and the one that peels off with the rule. As the endometrium is very little stimulated, the amount of flow and therefore menstrual pain tend to decrease a lot and when treatment is interrupted, women report an increase in menstrual bleeding and pain with periods.
- Oral contraceptives are also called anovulatory because they inhibit ovulation to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. But when you stop the treatment, ovulations appear again and, therefore, in the middle of the menstrual cycle, you usually notice more abdominal pain and a more mucous discharge (such as egg white), which occurs with ovulation. After natural ovulation, the ovaries produce an increase in progesterone which is responsible for premenstrual syndrome. As the ovaries are not inhibited by the action of the contraceptive treatment, progesterone increases its level in the blood two weeks before the rule, producing an increase in breast pain, mood swings, fluid retention, that is, the whole picture of premenstrual syndrome.
In case of polycystic ovary…
The ovaries that are not inhibited by the action of contraceptive treatments, in some cases such as those of polycystic ovary syndrome, produce a greater quantity of male hormones, that is, testosterone. This hormone increases the oiliness of the skin and therefore the most oily and more prone to acne. In addition, testosterone stimulates the growth of body hair and especially facial hair, so that when the treatment is interrupted, an increase in skin fat, acne and hair can occur, with unpleasant aesthetic consequences.
And what about libido?
The libido or sexual desire has a strong hormonal component so it is usually more important in the middle of the cycle coinciding with ovulation and decreases in menopause as a result of the decrease in estrogens. With birth control pills, estrogen pulses are not produced and therefore sexual desire tends to decrease. But when the medication is stopped, these pulses resume and libido increases.
Another side effect that can occur with contraceptives and that women usually report improvement when stopping them is vaginal dryness. It is common that with anovulatory patients, women report progressive vaginal dryness, especially with sexual intercourse. When the treatment is stopped, the vaginal mucosa returns to produce more mucus and therefore improves the possible lack of lubrication.
Finally, women often wonder when they will be fertile again after stopping birth control pills. It is highly variable and depends a lot on the basic fertility of each patient rather than on treatment with anovulatory drugs, although it is true that some women take a few months to have regular periods and normal ovulations in the middle of the cycle.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW…
- The changes that women notice when they stop taking oral contraceptives vary greatly from one to another.
- When stopping treatment, women report increased menstrual bleeding and pain with their period.
- The issue of when they will be fertile again worries many women, and it is true that some take a few months to have regular periods and with normal ovulations in the middle of the cycle.
- Before taking contraceptives it is best to consult with your gynecologist.