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Stopping the pill? Cycle answers the most common questions.

4 min read
Cycle Care

Approved by

Ingeborg van Dijk - trainee gynecologist
Do you want to stop taking the pill? You may just have a lot of questions. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. That’s why we’re here to answer the most frequently asked questions about stopping taking the pill.

More and more people stop taking the pill for a variety of reasons. They each have different experiences with this. We’ve gathered the most frequently asked questions and their answers.

What’s the best way to stop taking the pill?

You can stop taking the pill at any time. It’s often advised to finish your strip, but that’s not necessary.

When will I first get my period after I’ve stopped taking the pill?

This can vary from person to person. Some get their period after a few days, while it can take a few months or even half a year for others. The blood loss that occurs while taking the pill is not an actual period, but a withdrawal bleeding. This bleeding is artificially induced because you don’t get the hormones from the pill during your pill-free week. After you’ve stopped taking the pill, your menstruation has to get back into gear, which can take some time. The first period will often be somewhat heavier, though it will correct itself in time. Be aware! When you stop taking the pill, it will make it possible for you to get pregnant. Would you rather avoid that? In that case, it’s smart to use a different contraceptive, such as condoms.

For how long after stopping taking the pill will I experience the pill’s side effects?

The birth control pill causes your body to expect a dose of ‘replacement’ hormones. When you stop taking these hormones, your body has to take care of the natural hormone balance itself. This can make it take a while before the symptoms you experience as a result of taking the pill disappear. Do you feel mentally ‘depleted’, have you stopped having an interest in sex, or do you have headaches as a result of taking the pill? These complaints should fade away quickly after you’ve stopped taking the pill. By the way, it’s normal for your cycle to be irregular for the first few months. Your body has to readjust itself.

Will I get back the same symptoms that I had before I started taking the pill?

If you began taking the pill because you suffered from things such as irregular, painful, and/or heavy menstrual bleeding, there’s a big likelihood that this will return. But it’s not a guarantee. Especially for people who’ve been taking the pill for a long time, other factors are of importance. Consider age, diet, amount of exercise, and stress. These are all factors that have an influence on the menstruation cycle. So, it could be that your cycle and menstruation have changed after you quit taking the pill, but that usually has nothing to do with the pill itself! It’s often the case that the first period after having stopped taking the pill (or any other hormonal birth control) is more intense than usual. Keep that in mind.

Did you start taking the pill because of acne, undesired hair growth, hormonal headaches, or hormonal migraines? Then there is a chance that these complaints will return. Take note of what your body is telling you, and go to your doctor if you start having complaints that impede your daily life. There might be a suitable alternative for you.

How far ahead should I stop taking the pill if I want to become pregnant?

You can stop once you’ve finished a strip, though this isn’t necessary. If you do so, you will have a withdrawal bleeding, but you won’t be fertile yet. If you’re in luck, your cycle will go right back to normal, and your period will soon return. You can get pregnant in the month after stopping taking the pill, but it often takes a while for your body to recover its regular hormonal balance. Once you get your period again after quitting the pill there’s a big chance that you’ve had an ovulation. This means that you’re fertile.

Recent research from the academic hospital RadboudMC in the Netherlands has shown that - after having stopped taking the pill - it’s best to wait a few months before getting pregnant. Try to wait for about three months. Getting pregnant any earlier could increase the risk of complications such as preeclampsia. Only 3% of all pregnant people suffer from preeclampsia. This can be a serious condition. As it turns out, the risk of it increases by 30 to 40% if it is an individual who has just stopped taking the pill. Still, we’re only speaking about give or take 4% of all pregnancies but, though it’s a small percentage, why would you take the risk if it can be avoided!?

How to calculate your fertile days

read more

Can I just stop taking the pill after taking it for 20 to 30 years?

You certainly can. Lots of people began taking the pill in their teenage years, and aren’t really sure what it’s like to have a natural cycle. If you stop taking the pill after using it for a long time, the hormonal fluctuations of a natural cycle can take some getting used to. You might suddenly have to deal with unfamiliar mood swings surrounding your ovulation. Or you might experience PMS (premenstrual) symptoms that you didn’t have while you took the pill. 

Will I lose weight if I stop taking the pill?

It’s unlikely that you’ll lose any weight when you stop taking the pill. There is close to no research that shows that you actually gain weight from taking the pill, though it might make you retain more water. So, if you want to lose weight, stopping taking the pill isn’t the most logical course of action.

Should I take supplements after ‘de-pilling’?

Some scientific research has suggested that (prolonged) use of the pill can cause deficits in certain nutrients. This pertains to folic acid, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamins C and E, zinc, selenium, and magnesium. It may be the case that your pill use has caused a disbalance. This may correct itself once you stop taking the pill.

Omega 3 fatty acids are important for having a healthy hormonal balance. They are found in fatty fish, unroasted nuts, flaxseed, avocados, and hempseed. By adding these foods to your diet, you’ll help restore the hormonal balance.

A healthy and varied diet provides your body with plenty of nutrients. Supplements can support this, but we advise you to always consult an expert before using them.

When you should see your GP

Last but not least. Have you stopped taking the pill over six months ago, and have you still not had a period? In that case, we advise you to make a visit to your doctor. 


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Cycle is a community where all aspects of the female body are discussed freely. From menstruation to menopause: we'll help you understand your body, mind, cycle and sexuality better, with the help of our Cycle Experts.