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TO THINK ABOUT when quitting birth control pills/hormonal contraceptives

Att tänka på när man slutar med p-piller/hormonella preventivmedel

Are you considering stopping birth control pills or other hormonal contraceptives such as the birth control stick, birth control patch or hormonal coil? Or perhaps you have already quit and want to know more about how the body can react after quitting? Here we go through what you should think about when you stop using hormonal contraceptives, what is common to experience after you stop and what you can do to make the transition as smooth as possible.

How do birth control pills work?

One of the most common hormonal contraceptives that many are introduced to in their teens is the pill. For many it was to avoid getting pregnant, for others to suppress various period-related symptoms and diagnoses such as endometriosis , severe period pain or acne.

Birth control pills consist of the two different synthetic hormones estrogen and progestin. The composition means that your own ovulation is shut down, and that you therefore do not get a "real" period. The body's own hormonal menstrual cycle is blocked and the bleeding that can occur in connection with taking sugar pills or skipping the tablets for a few days is therefore not your natural period, but a so-called withdrawal bleeding.

What can happen after stopping birth control pills or other hormonal contraceptives?

Maybe you are one of those who get their period back right away - great! For others, it can sometimes take several months, up to a year. It can feel frustrating, but it's completely normal not to get your period back right away. Another common symptom can be acne or the appearance of a nutritional deficiency.

Missed period after stopping birth control pills?

Many people who stop using birth control pills or other hormonal contraceptives experience that their periods do not return immediately and this is nothing unusual or dangerous. The menstrual cycle is a complex system that needs time to find its way back to its natural rhythm. If you haven't gotten your period back after 6 months, the guidelines are usually to contact a women's clinic. There are also things you can do to support your body to get your ovulation back and thus a balanced cycle. Give your menstrual cycle the time it needs to recover after using the pill, make sure to give yourself some extra care in the meantime, and seek help if you don't see a change after a while.

Acne after stopping the pill?

Another scenario that can occur after stopping hormonal contraceptives is so-called "post-pill-acne". If you had acne before taking birth control pills, birth control pills can sometimes reduce acne. This is because birth control pills reduce the skin's sebum production while suppressing testosterone (androgens). So when you stop taking birth control pills, the hormones can instead shoot through the roof and a consequence of this can be that sebum production begins to be overproduced, which can lead to acne. Most people experience the most discomfort about 6 months after stopping the pills and then slowly get better. Usually, the menstrual cycle and hormones regulate themselves within 1-2 years. That it takes time can be frustrating, but if you give the body what it needs, it will eventually heal. Be patient and be consistent!

Nutritional deficiencies after stopping birth control pills

It is not uncommon that after stopping hormonal contraceptives, you may experience various menstrual-related symptoms linked to nutritional deficiencies. These nutritional deficiencies often concern vitamins and minerals such as folate, B12, B6, B2, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc and selenium. All of these are important for a healthy and functioning menstrual cycle. Hormonal contraceptives can sometimes feel like a quick solution to a lasting problem such as acne or period-related problems. What this quick fix can often mean is that you suppress the symptoms instead of getting to the bottom of the real cause.

Are hormonal contraceptives good or bad?

When it comes to using hormonal birth control or not, there is no right or wrong , it's all about finding a method that suits you and your body. We want women to have the knowledge and understanding of the body and how the various methods work in order to make an active and informed choice. For some, hormonal birth control works well and the option of not using any form of hormonal birth control can create more stress than not doing it (and we know how stress affects our hormones and menstrual cycle). For others, side effects of various kinds can mean that hormonal contraceptives do not work well at all.

It is important to distinguish between using hormonal contraception to avoid pregnancy and using it as a way to alleviate various symptoms such as acne or menstrual problems. Because when you experience discomfort, it is in most cases symptoms of something not being completely balanced. In those cases, you can instead try to find the fundamental reason why you are experiencing the symptoms, as hormonal contraceptives really only "pause" the symptoms. In many cases, there is a cause that can be cured with the right tools in your lifestyle.

There are several different methods to avoid pregnancy

Something that is also important to highlight is that hormonal contraceptives are not the only way to protect yourself from pregnancy. As we get to know our bodies, we can learn to identify when we are fertile and not. There are several different tools and methods that can be used as aids in the tracking process.

It is not always easy to choose whether to use hormonal contraceptives or not, but through knowledge and information about the different options available and how they work, you can make a conscious choice to find the option that suits you best.

This is how you get your period back after birth control pills

Having a missed period or post-pill acne is not because there is anything wrong with your menstrual cycle or your hormones, but can be seen as a delayed side effect. There are a number of things you can do yourself to promote your ovulation and thus give your body the best conditions to push through a healthy menstrual cycle:

  • In order for the thyroid gland and the menstrual cycle to function as it is meant to, it is important that you do not have nutritional deficiencies, especially regarding vitamin D and magnesium (as well as zinc to combat acne). You can't build a house without wood! If you suspect you have a nutritional deficiency, check it out and try to boost your body with a nutritious and varied diet.
  • Regulate your blood sugar through diet . In order for the body to be able to manufacture your sex hormones, it properly needs the building blocks of protein and fat. One tip is to start the day with a proper breakfast that contains protein and fat. This helps balance your blood sugar and keeps you full longer so your body feels safe to ovulate.
  • Manage stress with adequate sleep, food and rest, also try to find an activity that helps you unwind, for example reading a book, going for a walk in the forest or listening to music.
  • Be patient and consistent while being kind to yourself. The results are coming!

Source list

Basu, BR, Chowdhury, O., & Saha, SK (2018). Possible link between stress-related factors and altered body composition in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome. Journal of human reproductive sciences , 11 (1), 10.

Irani, M., & Merhi, Z. (2014). Role of vitamin D in ovarian physiology and its implication in reproduction: A systematic review. Fertility and sterility , 102 (2), 460-468

Palmery, M., Saraceno, A., Vaiarelli, A., & Carlomagno, G. (2013). Oral contraceptives and changes in nutritional requirements. European review for medical and pharmacological sciences , 17 (13), 1804–1813.

Takaya, J., Higashino, H., & Kobayashi, Y. (2004). Intracellular magnesium and insulin resistance. Magnesium Research , 17 (2), 126–136.

Verma, KC, Saini, AS, & Dhamija, SK (1980). Oral zinc sulphate therapy in acne vulgaris: A double-blind trial. Acta dermato-venereologica , 60 (4), 337-340.


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