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Effects of Quitting Birth Control Suddenly

written by: Suzanne Florin • edited by: BStone • updated: 2/24/2011

Birth control methods are used to prevent pregnancy, obtain protection from STDs, regulate menstruation and treat menstrual disorders. But what happens after quitting birth control? Learn more the effects of quitting birth control and how these may be dealt with.

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    Birth control prevents pregnancy by blocking the sperm from reaching the egg, altering the endometrium and cervical mucus, and preventing release of eggs that are necessary for fertilization. There are several birth control methods that a couple may use, such as barrier methods (condoms, spermicide, cervical cap, diaphragm), hormonal method (birth control pills, skin patch, vaginal ring, IUDs) and fertility awareness. Barrier methods not only prevent pregnancy; thiey can also give protection from sexually-transmitted diseases (STD). Although hormonal methods of birth control do not protect a person from STDs, they provide several benefits such as treatment of menstrual disorders, regulation of menstruation, and normalization of hormone levels. These benefits are only found in birth control pills because of the hormones that they supply to the body.

    Upon quitting birth control methods, pregnancy is likely to occur because of the lack of protection from fertilization. There are several effects of quitting birth control pills, as compared to quitting barrier methods. The body takes a period of time to adjust to the hormone supply that is used to obtain while on the pill. Learn more about the effects of quitting birth control and how they may be dealt with.

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    What Happens After Quitting Birth Control?

    Pregnancy

    Since birth control protects a woman from getting pregnant, quitting birth control makes pregnancy likely to happen. Ovulation begins within two weeks after quitting birth control pills. Some women can become pregnant immediately after sexual intercourse, particularly for those with irregular period. That is why it is important for women to do menstrual charting or take medication to regulate menstruation prescribed by a doctor. Women who do not want to get pregnant may resort to natural birth control methods if they decide to stop using the barrier or hormonal methods of birth control.

    Bleeding

    Women who quit taking birth control pills while they are still in the middle of the pack may experience bleeding before the actual period begins. After stopping birth control pills, the first menstrual period will begin four to six weeks after taking the last pill. This condition occurs because the body is readjusting to the hormone levels that were altered by the pill. Quitting can also affect the length and the blood flow during menstruation. Once the body has adjusted, blood flow will resume to how it was prior taking the pills.

    Post-Pill Amenorrhea

    Since birth control pills work by manipulating the hormones and preventing ovulation, the hormones that regulate menstruation are also affected. After quitting birth control, some women may experience the absence of menstruation up to three months, due to the prevention of ovulation while on the pill. The body will take some time to return to the normal production of hormones, and this causes the temporary cessation of menstruation. If menstruation does not resume after six months, however, and pregnancy is not the cause of such condition, a doctor should be consulted.

    Acne

    Some oral contraceptives such Diane-35 are prescribed to treat or prevent acne. After quitting on pills, some women may experience an influx of acne on the face or in other parts of the body. But once the levels of hormones have regulated again, acne will eventually subside.

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    Quitting birth control brings about a number of effects that may not be serious, however mildly uncomfortable to some. These effects occur as the body readjusts to the hormone levels after taking the pill. Usually, the physical changes associated with quitting birth control pills do not require medical attention. But in cases where menstruation does not resume after six months or more, a doctor should be consulted.

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    Resources

    The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, "Birth Control," http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/ab020.cfm

    Mayo Clinic, "Birth Control Pills FAQ," http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/birth-control-pill/WO00098

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