There is plenty of information circulating the internet which says going off the pill can cause some serious side effects. This leaves women reluctant to ditch the hormones, but trust me when I say that coming off the pill without side effects can be done! This is my experience of how to stop taking birth control pills safely and with no side effects!
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Life on the contraceptive pill
When I was around fourteen I was put on the contraceptive pill for painful cramps and heavy periods.
I jumped for joy at the thought of this tiny little pill making my periods pain-free, and I was too young to think about how this pill worked or what effect it might be having on my body.
Over the years this naturally became my method of birth control, so when I actually became aware of the dangers of these hormones 7 years later I felt like it would be impossible to come off it.
What are the dangers of birth control pills?
Side effects from the pill can be debilitating, and some women may not even realise that the reason they’re feeling so crappy is because of the pill.
Some research has shown that women who take the contraceptive pill are 23% more likely to be prescribed antidepressants than those who don’t.
Other common side effects include mood swings and depression, breast pain/tenderness, migraines/headaches, IBS, acne, hair loss, vaginal dryness, changes in body weight and low libido.
Furthermore, birth control pills can actually destroy the beneficial bacteria in your intestines, making you more susceptible to yeast overgrowth, lower immunity and infection.
If that isn’t enough… the pill has also been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and blood clots.
That’s a whole lot of nasty side effects for one tiny pill… don’t you think?
What happens after you stop taking the pill?
If you’re experiencing any of the aforementioned side effects on birth control it might be in your best interests to consider coming off it. But I know first hand that this can be scary.
When I first searched around for information on what happens post-pill, I came across several “medical” sites that told me any horrible symptoms I had before the pill would return after I stopped taking it.
That meant I would be blessed with the return of heavy bleeding, killer cramps and acne. Yay.
But I was desperate to come off and I wanted to hear from real women with real experiences coming off of birth control.
So I reached out to my lovely lady followers on Twitter and received nothing but positive experiences coming off the pill.
Coming off the pill experiences
“I thought my mood swings and anxiety was just me and who I was… coming off the pill was literally life changing. Pills are just really unnatural, it really can’t be good!! I don’t think anything that can do something inside you to stop you from being fertile is good for the body, no matter what they say.”
“(I) was on it for 2 years and came off it, my skin remained the same all throughout it… I used to get back pain, nausea, cold sweats before the pill (on period) and now off it I just feel a bit tired instead of death by cramps. My moods are a lot better now too, I feel happier and a lot lighter in terms of weight. I’m having the time of my life off the pill!”
“My sister stopped taking the pill because she finds she’s always really low and gains weight (on it). Then as soon as she comes off it she’s happy and the weight goes off… sometimes I wonder if certain moods I have are due to it and it scares me I’ve not had a real period in years and just a withdrawal bleed.”
“I really didn’t realise how much it affected me until I came off it – mood/anxiety wise, I felt like a different person, like a dark cloud had been lifted that I didn’t even know was there. Coming off was fine… I actually can’t remember it, I don’t think anything bad happened at all.”
All the medical sites I was reading just didn’t seem to match up with all the ladies who were reaching out saying they were having a breeze off of it.
I mean, call me a conspiracy theorist if you will, but it seemed to me like these medical sites wanted me to keep consuming this “medicine”.
According to real women’s experiences, nothing bad happens at all post-pill.
With that being said, every woman is different, and it may take a little while for your real hormones to balance out and function as they should after taking hormonal birth control – so at worst your period might take a while to return or you may experience some headaches or an initial breakout while your body works itself out.
How to wean yourself off birth control pills
Now onto the nitty gritty… how do you actually transition off birth control pills?
Well, I wanted to give my body the best chance at returning to normal so I did my research about how to minimise possible side effects/withdrawal effects.
Here are the steps that I took to smooth the transition off birth control.
Finish your last pill pack
Some ladies recommend that you finish your last pill pack before you quit taking them.
I’m not sure what the evidence is behind this, but the idea is that your body recognises this as a start of a new cycle.
I used this method and started my first proper period around 28 days later. However, if you’ve just started a pack and you’re adamant you want the hormones out of your body for good then just bite the bullet.
The worst thing that could happen is you’d have two bleeds in a month!
Decide on an alternative method of birth control
Have a backup plan for which method of birth control you’ll use when you come off the pill. Don’t be that gal that thinks they won’t get pregnant in the first few months coming off the pill – it can and does happen!
Whichever method you choose, I would recommend using condoms as backup for a while just while your body figures itself out and you get used to your new method.
Natural Cycles App
My chosen method of natural birth control is the Natural Cycles app.
I’ve been using this method ever since I came off the pill (2 years as of March 2019) and I cannot praise it enough.
It works based on the fertility awareness method, but takes subtle changes in your basal body temperature to determine when you’re ovulating.
I take my temperature first thing in the morning before I get out of bed, and the app tells me if today is a green day (not fertile) or a red day (fertile).
It may sound a little scary to place your pregnancy prevention in the hands of an app algorithm, but medical studies show that NaturalCycles is equally as effective as the pill (when used properly) with no side effects.
It has been so extensively studied that it’s even recognised as a certified method of birth control. You can read more about them on the NaturalCycles website.
I would recommend NaturalCycles to any ladies out there who want a hormone free method of birth control, or just want to get to know their bodies better.
You can either pay per month or do what I did and pay yearly with their free basal thermometer included.
If you purchase through my link you can get 10% off a year of Natural Cycles making it an even more affordable method of birth control!
Eat healthy fats
Yes, I’m talking ’bout avocados.
Don’t fool for any of the high carb low fat BS that tries to scare you away from these beautiful little things.
Fats are essential for healthy hormone production, particularly sex hormones. Make sure you nourish your body with healthy fats in order to regulate your hormones post-pill.
Take magnesium supplements
Magnesium is essential for healthy hormone production, yet unfortunately so many of us are deficient in it.
Flo Living has a great article explaining the benefits of magnesium for your cycle.
I would recommend this magnesium supplement that I take daily from HealthSpan which also contains the full range of B vitamins, is super affordable and vegan-friendly!
Detox your body of birth control hormones with Milk Thistle
Milk Thistle is the perfect natural supplement to detox your liver.
After years of taking the pill your liver can become built up with all of those nasty hormones!
Milk thistle can aid your liver in cleansing itself of those toxins once you decide to quit taking them.
I used this milk thistle brand because it had the best reviews and seemed like the best value for money. I took it consistently for those first few transitioning months.
Switch to a menstrual cup
This point may seem a little random but hear me out.
If you’re quitting birth control you may be worried about heavy periods or cramps returning, but there are loads of testimonials out there to suggest that using a menstrual cup can reduce cramps AND lighten your flow.
There is no scientific evidence to support this so take it with a pinch of salt, but I too can vouch for the fact that I notice cramps when using a tampon but not with a menstrual cup.
Plus my periods have never exceeded four days since switching to a menstrual cup!
It takes a while to get used to but it is so much healthier for both your body and the environment so I would strongly recommend checking out the different options out there.
When I first started using a menstrual cup I used the MoonCup but I have since found that I get on better with the Lunette menstrual cup. Every body is different and this menstrual cup quiz helped me to determine what was right for my own body.
My experience coming off the pill
Following these guidelines I can honestly say I experienced no negative effects coming off the pill.
The next month my body returned to a regular cycle with no cramps or heaviness. My skin didn’t even break out, which was something I was terrified of, having had acne in the past.
My stomach is happier and I get less bloated. My boobs have decreased in size – but this is no biggy when you practice self luuurve.
I understand and know my body and my cycle more thanks to Natural Cycles, which makes me appreciate it and treat it with more respect.
I am happier and I feel more like me.
So all in all – I would strongly advocate ditching the contraceptive pill and switching to hormone-free methods of birth control. You won’t regret it!
I hope this guide has given you a clearer idea of how to stop taking birth control pills safely and without the nasty side effects!
Comment below letting me know your experiences with or without hormonal birth control. I’d love to hear from you if you feel inspired to make the switch or try any of the steps I mention!