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Family & Relationships This is what happens to your body when you stop taking the pill

07:10  08 february  2018
07:10  08 february  2018 Source:   netdoctor.co.uk

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Whether you ’re severing ties for good or just taking a break, your body ’s going to go through some changes when you part ways with the Pill . Your cycle shouldn't get worse just because you stop the Pill , even if you 've been on it for years.

Firstly, what happens when you stop taking the pill and don't want to fall pregnant? Great news if you 're looking to conceive, but not so great if you 've just forgotten to take your pill . What's happening to the body at this point?

This is what happens to your body when you stop taking the pill © B. Boissonnet / Getty This is what happens to your body when you stop taking the pill It's estimated to be the most popular method of contraceptive in the world, but a quick Google search suggests that there is still a lot we don't know about the pill - especially when it comes to coming off it.

Firstly, what happens when you stop taking the pill and don't want to fall pregnant? Or what happens if you come off the pill and do want to start trying to have a baby? Either way, it's good to know what happens when you stop taking your pill, so you can manage your contraception effectively.

Here, we speak to the experts to find out a little bit more about how oral contraceptive works, and hopefully answer some of your questions.

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How quickly do you become fertile again if you stop taking the pill?

"After a week of stopping the pill, the ovaries become active again, leading to ovulation and the possibility of pregnancy," says Dr Clare Morrison. Which means you could be fertile even after just seven days. Dr Daniel Fenton, Medical Director at London Doctors Clinic warns:

"In theory, once a woman stops taking her pill or misses several pills, there is no real restriction on how soon she may get pregnant, as fertility can return immediately."

Great news if you're looking to conceive, but not so great if you've just forgotten to take your pill.

What's happening to the body at this point?

Essentially, your hormones are returning to normal. Dr Fenton says:

"When stopping the combined oral contraceptive pill the hormones return to their usual pattern and [the woman] starts ovulating again (releasing an egg), the changes to the womb and mucous return to normal."

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The Pill is like the Swiss Army knife of birth control: it does so much more than you ’d think. Oral contraceptives prevent unplanned pregnancy, regulate your cycle, tone down menstrual cramps, clear up your skin and sometimes even make your boobs bigger.

He adds that the 'mini pill' (which doesn't contain any oestrogen) is slightly different.

"The mini pill prevents pregnancy by thickening the mucus in the neck of the womb (cervix) to stop sperm reaching an egg. Some of the newer progestogen-only pills can also stop ovulation... When the mini pill is stopped, there are changes to the mucus in the neck of the womb are reversed making it easier for the sperm to reach the egg."

a hand holding an object © Provided by National magazine company ltd (Hearst UK)

What other changes can you expect?

The pill can be a good leveller, so you should expect to see some changes in your moods and hormones.

"The pill tends to even out hormonal fluctuations, so stopping it can lead to more ups and downs, with premenstrual mood swings, bloating and acne, and heavier more painful periods," says Dr Morrison, "But, on a more positive note, ovulation will restart leading to increased libido, especially when mid-cycle." 

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Before you stop taking birth control cold turkey, read these important bodily changes. According to Shepherd, when you go off the pill , your body and mind return to their natural state.

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What happens if you miss a pill, but want to stay protected?

If you miss a pill or forget to take it for a few days, you may still be protected, but you should still be careful as "It takes seven days for the pill to wear off, which is why the gap between packets is seven days and no longer," according to Dr Morrison.

"Missing a pill at the beginning or end of the packet is therefore much more risky than missing one in the middle, when it comes to the combined pill... With the progesterone-only pill (mini-pill) missing even one tablet at any time could pose a risk."

You should also consider additional forms of protection if this happens. Dr Fenton adds:

"If the pill is missed beyond the recommended window, then you may be unsafe, and can potentially fall pregnant if you have had unprotected sex. You should take your missed pill as soon as you remember and should use condoms for at least the next seven days."

In terms of knowing when your pill has started to offer you protection again, the time varies depending on what sort of pill you're using. It's best to speak to your doctor if you are unsure on this.

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What’s happening in your body when you miss one, two, or more? Once you stop taking the pill , the extra hormones leave your body , and you can start ovulating again—meaning you can pregnant right away, Dweck explains.

How can you tell if you're pregnant?

The most obvious sign of pregnancy is a missed period. Dr Morrison adds:

"Around this time there may be breast discomfort and swelling, nausea and feeling more emotional than usual. There may be some pelvic discomfort, a bit like period pains, but without any bleeding."

Taking a test is the easiest way to confirm either way. If you're worried about doing a test on your own or at home, ask a friend or family member to keep you company or book an appointment to see your GP. 

Are there better forms of contraception?

The pill, if taken correctly, is up to 99.9% effective, but problems can occur if pills are missed or if taken with certain medications. If you're not sure the pill is working for you, there are other contraceptive options available.

"The contraceptive implant is a very good option for those who find it difficult to remember to take a pill at the same time each day," says Dr Fenton. Dr Morrison agrees, and recommends the IUD (the coil): "The most reliable methods are the implant and the IUD. These both have to be inserted by a professional, but don't need to be replaced for several years."

There's also the contraceptive injection, which again has "excellent effectiveness," but only lasts for three months at a time.

  This is what happens to your body when you stop taking the pill © Provided by National magazine company ltd (Hearst UK)

If you want to conceive, when should you stop taking the pill?

It's often said that if you want to conceive you need to stop taking the pill several months before you try, but Dr Fenton says that this is not necessarily the case.

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What to Expect When You Come Off the Pill . The reason behind this is that your body maintains a stable level of daily hormones—estrogen and progesterone— when you 're on the pill , she says, and starts to cycle again when you stop taking them.

"We often talk about the need to stop in advance to 'get the hormones out of the system' - this is not entirely true. While it does sometimes take a little time for periods to return to a normal 'pre -pill' pattern, this does not mean you are not fertile. So, if you are planning on conceiving, stop the pill when you are ready and start trying. If periods remain very irregular after a couple of months, do get advice from your GP."

Many factors can contribute to the length of time it takes a woman to fall pregnant after taking the pill.

For example, Dr Morrison points out that women with a history of polycystic ovarian disease (a condition associated with reduced fertility) can be more fertile during the first few months after stopping the pill. Conversely, some women suffer from 'post pill amenorrhoea', which means it can take several months for fertility to return to normal.

For more information, visit our sexual health section.

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