5 Things That Could Happen to Your Period When You Go Off the Pill
It might take a sec for it to come back.
If you're on the Pill, you likely don’t give your period all that much thought. Steady doses of hormones (often both progesterone and estrogen) in oral contraceptives help regulate your cycle, meaning you know just when to expect from your period every single month.
But when you go off the Pill? You might start to wonder not only when you’re actually going to get your “real” period back, but also what it’ll be like after being controlled for all of those years. Wonder no more. Here, ob-gyns outline what you can expect from your period when you stop taking birth control pills.
You may bleed a few days after stopping
When you stop taking a combination hormonal birth control pill—which has both estrogen, which builds up tissue in the lining of the uterus, and another hormone called progesterone—some tissue sheds off, which can cause a light bleed, explains Alyssa Dweck, MD, an ob-gyn and author of The Complete A to Z for Your V. This is also why you get a "fake" period on the Pill during the week you take the placebo pills, she explains. “A withdrawal bleed, by definition, is progesterone is being withdrawn and the bleeding that occurs,” says Dr. Dweck. “A withdrawal bleed is not technically, by definition, a period because it is not a result of ovulation.” So basically: After your withdrawal bleed, you still have to wait for your real period to come.
...and it could take a few months for that to happen
Think that because you’ve been on the Pill for 10 years it’s going to take *forever* to get your period back? That might not be the case: “Generally, the side effects of the pill and the impact on suppressing the hormone pathways are rapidly reversible,” says Samantha Kempner, MD, an ob-gyn and an assistant professor at the University of Michigan Medical School. “Even with long-term use of the combination birth control pill, most women can expect to resume ‘normal periods’ quickly.”
Still no period after three months? See your doc—they may want to check for issues like a thyroid condition or hormonal imbalances that could be keeping your period MIA.
Once you do get your period, it will likely go back to what it was like before you were taking the pill
Think back: Why’d you go on the Pill in the first place? Maybe it was because you were starting to have sex. But many women start taking oral contraceptives to help regulate an otherwise irregular period or control a condition like Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which causes infrequent ovulation and an erratic cycle.
When coming off the Pill, Dr. Dweck says, your period will usually return to what it was pre-hormones. Did it come like clockwork every 28 days? Was it super irregular? You can likely expect that to return off the Pill, she tells us.
But there’s also a chance your period could be totally different
The other side of that: If you’ve been on the Pill for years, your age, medical issues, stress levels, diet patterns, or exercise habits—all of which can impact your period—may have changed over time and could impact what your period looks like when you come off the Pill, says Dr. Dweck.
Say, for example, that you developed a thyroid abnormality while you were on the Pill. You might notice your period is more irregular than you remember because of that. “Your period may be different when you come off the Pill than it was before you went on, but that’s completely unrelated to the Pill itself,” she says.
You can get pregnant before you even get your period again
When your body realizes you’ve stopped taking the Pill (which Dr. Dweck says is basically immediately after you finish your pack), sometimes your brain thinks it’s time to ovulate, which means you can get pregnant right away, she says.
No period in sight? Says Dr. Dweck: “Number one, two, and three on the list of why someone isn’t getting their period after coming off the Pill for a while is pregnancy, pregnancy, pregnancy."