Although it is one of the safest contraceptives, more and more women are having doubts about the pill. The list of side effects is long, and recent studies show increasingly clear evidence of links between taking the pill and diseases such as thrombosis or depression.
As a result, the attitude of many women towards hormonal contraceptive methods is changing: According to a recent survey by the Federal Centre for Health Education, 55 percent of German women are aware of the negative effects of the contraceptive pill on the body. A further 38 percent of women who use the pill also agree.
One thing is clear: The pill does more to us than just preventing possible pregnancies. That’s why many women are thinking about giving up their daily dose of hormones and stopping taking the pill. We explain what you need to consider, what changes in your body without the pill and how long the change will take.
What is the pill doing to my body?
It all depends, since not all pills are the same:
The combined pill contains a combination of the two sex hormones estrogen and progestogen and suppresses ovulation.
The minipill, on the other hand, contains only progestin, which alters the uterus so that sperm cannot penetrate and eggs cannot implant.
Side effects of the pill you may notice
Hormones influence the entire body. That's why taking the pill comes with risks. The following side effects can sometimes be traced back to the pill:
One of the great dangers of the contraceptive pill is the increased risk of thrombosis. Combined pills of the 3rd and 4th generation in particular are associated with an increased risk of blood clots in the blood vessels. This is why the pill is an absolute no-go, especially for smokers.
Water retention & weight gain
The estrogen in the pill binds up to 2 liters of water in the body, which is why some women experience weight gain.
Less desire for sex
Women take the pill with one goal: not to get pregnant. For some, this works so well that they lose the desire for sex altogether because the hormones in the pill can also affect the libido.
Only after discontinuation of the pill does the natural hormone balance stabilize and sexual desire return.
Migraine & headache
Do you find menstruation while on the pill always comes hand in hand with unpleasant headaches or migraines? Studies show that the pill can trigger or increase the frequency abnd intensity of migraines due to the sudden drop in estrogen levels during the one-week break in taking the pill.
Depression & a feeling of low well-being
A study by the University of Copenhagen showed that the probability of being diagnosed with depression was 23 percent higher in women who took the combined pill. The negative influence of the pill on the psyche and on general well-being already becomes apparent after just under three months, according to another study. The women reported being less able to control their emotions and having less energy.
The less obvious side effects of the pill include interactions with other hormones. For example, the increased estrogen levels caused by the pill can also affect the thyroid gland and metabolism. The thyroid gland controls important metabolic mechanisms in the body. If the necessary minerals are missing, the gland can no longer produce and release sufficient T3 and T4 hormones. The result: You constantly have cold hands and feet, feel weak and listless, are more forgetful and gain weight faster.
What hormone-free alternatives to the pill are there?
The good news: There are alternatives! These 6 contraceptives work without using hormones:
Copper chains, coils and bead balls are inserted into the uterus and attached in different ways. The copper changes the mucus so that fertilized eggs cannot implant. Disadvantage: The fallopian tubes can become inflamed.
Condoms are the classic among contraceptives and have the unbeatable advantage that they also protect against STIs. Disadvantage: Some find them a mood killer.
Contraceptive computers measure the concentration of estrogen and LH in the urine and thus determine the fertile days.
NFP (natural family planning) is a form of the symptothermal method which involves monitoring basal body temperature and cervical mucus to determine fertile days. You can find out how NFP works in detail here.
What you should bear in mind when stopping the pill
Whether you want to have children or are sceptical about the pill – every woman must decide for herself when the time is right to stop taking it. Don't let yourself be talked into it if you're not really convinced. If you stop taking the pill and then start taking it again after a few months, you will only upset your hormone balance unnecessarily, which is a great strain on the body. However, once you have decided not to take the pill, you can follow the steps below:
Talk to your doctor
Ask your gynecologist for advice in advance. If you are not only taking the pill for contraception, but also for medical reasons – for example, to stop the discomfort of the natural cycle or to bring about regularity – have them explain to you what the consequences of stopping would be for you and introduce you to possible alternatives.
Find a suitable alternative contraceptive method for you
Before you stop taking the pill, you should be familiar with what you can expect to happen afterwards. As we all know, any contraceptive method is only as safe as the way it’s used – and some of them take a bit of practice. If you don't want to use contraception at all, but are planning a pregnancy, then this information might be of interest to you.
Talk to your partner
If you are in a relationship, tell your partner what you want to do. Especially if you are not (yet) planning to have children, they should really understand what your reasons are for stopping the pill. Contraception is not just a woman's business. You might be surprised to find out that your partner is more interested in your cycle than you thought. In that case, you can discreetly give them an insight via the Ovy Partner App.
Finish the blister
Now please do not rush! It makes sense to use up the opened monthly pack. If you simply stop in the middle, you may experience bleeding problems and severe hormonal fluctuations. If you are taking a progestogen-containing mini pill, you can stop at any time.
Try to keep stress levels low after you stop taking the pill
Be prepared for your hormones to go crazy. Your body needs to get used to functioning without the artificial hormones of the pill. If you're going through a particularly stressful period at work or a long-awaited holiday, you might not want to risk a hormonal roller coaster.
How long does it take for the cycle to return to normal?
The first period after stopping the pill is called a cessation bleed. The next bleeding after this first cessation bleeding is the first natural period. Normally, the first natural menstruation will start after about four to seven weeks. However, the first regular menstrual period may also be absent for up to six months, known as post-pill amenorrhea. A doctor should definitely be consulted in this case. But don't worry, cycle disruptions after stopping hormonal contraceptives usually return to normal. Some women simply need a longer recovery time.
Possible side effects after stopping the pill
After stopping the pill, the body has to get used to functioning without it again, to producing the cycle-controlling hormones itself and to inducing ovulation. This varies from woman to woman. For some it takes a few weeks, for others months, until the abortion bleeding occurs after stopping the pill. This change is often accompanied by side effects such as:
Important for you to know: The Ovy App starts the evaluation in post-pill mode, with the first day of the regular period after your abortion bleeding.
Reasons for (severe) side effects after stopping the pill
There are many different factors that influence how your body reacts after you stop taking the pill. Depending on the age at which you started taking the pill, how long you've been taking it, and your state of health, the effects can be very different. And then there are the genetic predispositions that make it almost impossible to predict what will happen in your body without the pill. Your mother's medical history can be a clue, but you shouldn't go crazy there either: Some women have no side effects at all after stopping the pill.
What can I do about side effects?
You can support your body with natural means so that it can face the challenges of the female cycle. However, the prerequisite for this is that you know what it needs in which phase. Period pains can be relieved with warmth and relaxation, while skin problems require the right care and a balanced diet. PMS and irregular cycles can be helped by herbs such as monk's pepper.
How soon can I get pregnant after stopping the pill?
Theoretically, immediately. According to studies, almost 100 percent of all women ovulate as early as the third cycle after stopping. Sometimes it can take a little while for the cycle and ovulation to return to normal. If you are planning to have a baby, you should expect to wait about 3 to 6 months after weaning before getting pregnant.
5 advantages after stopping the pill
Every woman must decide for herself whether the pill is the appropriate means of contraception. However, the jump from the pill to the natural alternative leads to positive side effects in the long term, and women who have gone this way often can no longer imagine going back to hormonal contraception.
Health risks of the pill are eliminated
Like any other medicine, the pill carries risks – for example, the increased risk of thrombosis, ovarian or endometrial cancer. This returns to normal after you stop taking the pill.
Libido increases again
While taking the pill, the synthetic hormones permanently put the body in a state of apparent pregnancy, with the fertile phase suppressed. This affects desire. Without the pill, hormone levels regulate and interest in sex increases again.
You tend to lose weight
Losing weight has never been so easy! Water retention caused by estrogen disappears after you stop taking the pill and your weight returns to normal.
The mood lifts
Many women also report depressive moods and headaches while taking the pill, which can of course have a massive impact on mood. It can take a few months for these side effects to disappear. Hang in there!
The feeling for your own body improves
Once the organism and hormone balance have normalized, many women notice that their body image is completely different without the pill. They go through the different phases of their cycle much more consciously, are better able to understand why they feel listless some days, and bursting with energy on others. Some women even feel their ovulation – a whole new experience of femininity.