Contraceptive pills disrupt the normal menstrual cycle, as a result of which true menstrual periods do not occur. Women on the pill experience regular "menstrual periods" only because its initial developers reached the conclusion that women would find a lack of monthly periods difficult to deal with, among other reasons because they rely on periods as a sign that they are not pregnant. The artificial bleeding induced by the contraceptive pill happens due to a sudden withdrawal from the hormones contained within the pill. One of the main side effects is a very regular, predictable, monthly bleeding.
Women who decide to come off the birth control pill will notice several bodily processes:
- Their body adjusts to a pill-free state. As the pill regulated their hormonal cocktail for a period of time, this is a gradual process — it will take time before the body returns to the rhythm it had before you began taking the pill.
- Once the body finds its "groove" again, you'll be back to natural menstrual cycles, the timing of which will differ from what you were used to while taking the pill.
When After Quitting The Pill Will My Menstrual Cycles Return To Normal?
The very first "period" you'll notice after quitting the birth control pill is just another withdrawal bleeding. Following that first "period", you can expect your first natural menstruation within around two to four weeks, though this varies from woman to woman. Your first few menstrual cycles are likely to be somewhat irregular, since your body is still adjusting to a state without artificial hormones, and you can expect to be back to your pre-pill menstrual rhythm within three or four menstrual cycles.
Despite the menstrual irregularities you will experience in the months after you have quit using the pill, be aware that you're likely to be fertile again very soon.
Should you not want to get pregnant, arrange for another form of birth control right away. Should you be hoping to get pregnant, it's best to wait until you've experienced a natural menstrual period first. You can use this time to start taking folic acid, quit drinking alcohol, and focus on a healthy diet.
Women who still haven't had a menstrual period three months after coming off the pill could be suffering from a condition known as post-pill amenorrhea ("no periods after the pill"), and should consider seeking medical attention if they're hoping to get pregnant. Several medications, including bromocriptine and clomiphene, are very effective at treating this condition.
Were Your Periods Irregular Prior To Starting The Pill?
If your periods were irregular before going on the pill — either because of a known medical condition like PCOS or for unknown reasons — they're likely to be so again after you stop taking this contraceptive. Women who have been on the pill for a really long time may even have forgotten just how irregular their menstruation was before they opted to use birth control!
Those women who have come off the pill in order to try to get pregnant will benefit from discussing their irregular periods, and their possible effect on their chances of conceiving, with their healthcare providers as soon as possible.
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