You may have decided it’s time to stop your birth control because you and your partner are ready to start a family. You may have other reasons for quitting your birth control, such as cost, convenience, or side effects. No matter your reason, keep this information in mind before you stop taking the pack altogether.

What Birth Control Does

Birth control pills contain synthetic hormones similar to the ones a woman’s body produces naturally. Some pills contain just one type of hormone called progestin. Progestin-only pills are often called minipills.

Other types of birth control pills contain two hormones, progestin and estrogen. This type of birth control pill is often called a combination birth control pill. Both types of pills are very safe. Some people just prefer the progestin-only minipill because they can’t estrogen or prefer not to take it.

Birth control pills work to prevent pregnancy in a few ways:

  • The hormones in the combination birth control pills can stop your ovaries from producing a mature egg. This production of a mature egg is called ovulation. You can’t become pregnant if you don’t ovulate because sperm doesn’t have an egg to fertilize.
  • The hormones in both the combination and minipills create a buildup of mucus on the lining of your cervix. This mucus is sticky and can prevent sperm from entering your cervix.
  • The hormones in both pills thin the lining of your uterus. Without sufficient uterine lining, a fertilized egg can’t attach and develop into a fetus.

Reasons for Stopping Mid Pack

There are many reasons why you may want to stop your birth control pills when you’re midway through the pack or even altogether. These may include:

  • being ready to try to get pregnant
  • prohibitive costs
  • the inconvenience of taking a pill every day
  • transitioning to another type of birth control
  • severe or bothersome side effects
  • health concerns

What Side Effects Should I Expect?

Most medical experts and doctors suggest that you don’t stop your birth control mid pack. Instead, you should finish your pack and not begin a new one. This helps your body fall back into its regular cycle more easily. If you stop mid pack, which is before you’d have your period normally, your body may take longer to reach its normal cycle.

Also, if you stop taking your birth control pills in the middle of your cycle, you may begin experiencing cramping and spotting as soon as two days after your last pill. The hormones in birth control will leave your body within two days. Once they’re gone, your cycle will attempt to begin again.

Thankfully, most symptoms that begin after you stop your birth control mid pack are only temporary. After a few menstrual cycles, your body should regain its normal rhythm and your periods will return to normal. If your periods weren’t regular before you started the pill, you might still experience irregular periods. You should speak with your doctor if you don’t have a period within four to six months after stopping the pill.

In the first few weeks and months after stopping birth control, you may also experience:

Cramping

Birth control pills often reduce cramps. Once those hormones are out of your body, you may experience cramping even when you aren’t bleeding.

Weight Gain

Some women experience a slight weight increase in the weeks following the end of their last pack. This is often the result of an increased appetite. Exercise and eating a balanced diet can often help prevent weight gain.

Mood Swings

Hormonal birth control helps many women regulate their mood changes. Without the hormones, your mood changes may seem more dramatic and unpredictable.

How to Treat These Symptoms

If you have these symptoms, you should give your body time to deal with changing hormone levels. When you began birth control, it’s likely there was a period of several months in which you were experiencing the side effects of birth control. These side effects might have included headaches, water retention, and breakthrough bleeding. Now that you’re not taking the pill, you may have another brief period of dealing with fluctuating side effects.

Give your body three to four months to return to normal after you stop your birth control. If the side effects you’re experiencing haven’t stopped, make an appointment to see your doctor. Let them know what you’re experiencing and how long you’ve experienced it. In rare cases, quitting birth control can uncover a problem that your birth control was temporarily hiding.

When to Talk to Your Doctor

Before you quit, you need to have a plan in place. Your plan should include your doctor’s input and suggestions. Talking to your doctor may also help alleviate concerns that may be pushing you to quit in the first place.

If you’re quitting because you’re having issues with your birth control, your doctor may be able to suggest a different birth control pill. If you’re ready to begin trying to get pregnant, your doctor will want to help you prepare for any upcoming pregnancies by talking about a prenatal care plan.

Additionally, you need to think about your next steps for addressing the issues that drove you to begin taking birth control in the first place. If you’re stopping the pill but still want to avoid pregnancy, you should talk to your doctor about other contraceptive choices. If you’re using birth control to treat acne or another medical condition, you’ll need a new plan for treatment in place before you stop the pills.