Stopped Birth Control Pills and Not Getting Your Period?

09 Jul

It’s a misconception that after stopping the birth control pill, a woman’s body needs time to start cycling naturally again. Whether a woman has been on the pill for a few months or a few years the body should go right back into its natural cycle once the pill is stopped. Many of my patients are surprised to hear this. Everyone seems to believe that it’s normal for it to take months to get a period – they chalk it up to the body needing to clear the hormones from the system or giving the body time to remember what to do.

A woman’s body is very smart and does not need a refresher course… the minute the brain senses that the body’s estrogen and progesterone (the components of birth controls pills) are low, it prompts the ovary to grow an egg and begin a menstrual cycle. So bottom line, when you stop taking a birth control pill you should expect a period about 1 month later. If you don’t get a period, you are either pregnant or the body isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do. The one caveat – this only applies to women who had regular monthly menstrual cycles before starting the birth control pill. If you started taking the pill to regulate your cycles, upon stopping you will likely go back to having irregular periods.

Now, if the body has not gone back to cycling it is not necessarily dangerous or a sign that something bad is going on. But if you’re trying to get pregnant, this will make it very difficult. Not having a period with regular frequency means you are either not ovulating or ovulation is occurring without a predictable pattern. If a woman is not ovulating, there is no egg available to be fertilized. If ovulation occurs but can’t be predicted, it is very difficult to time intercourse properly in order to conceive.

Please don’t wait months after stopping the birth control pill to seek help from your gynecologist or a fertility specialist if you are not getting a period. You warrant evaluation. There may be a hormonal or a physical reason (like scar tissue in the uterus) why you are not get a normal period. Time does not help when it comes to trying to conceive.

Cary L. Dicken, MD is a board certified Reproductive Endocrinologist at Sher Fertility New York.

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