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Going Off Birth Control Has Been Interesting, to Say the Least

side-effects-birth-control-585Since coming off the pill two months ago, a few things have changed. First, I no longer have the help of medication to keep my belly baby-bump-free, so until the hubs and I are really ready to try-try, we’re using the good ol’ rubber hats. It’s like being a teenager again, except less awkward.

Second, I have done a ton more research on this whole conception-planning thing, peppering FBM Erin with tons of pregnancy questions (thanks for imparting your knowledge, my dear!), reading up online on when I’m really going to have to totally give up my beloved French press coffee and red wine (right now I’m down to one serving of each just a few times a week), and even purchasing a basal thermometer to better track my cycle. If learning new things really does create more brain cells like my fifth-grade teacher claimed, my noggin is wicked awesome right about now. Because I have learned a crap-ton.

Despite all of this baby-making education I’ve been getting, there’s still one area that seems a touch unclear—or at least wildly different amongst women and brands: The side effects of coming off of birth control. While some women have a period in just a few weeks, others take months (apparently like me, who has yet to have a period—and, no, is not pregnant. I tested days ago just because I’m neurotic.). Then there’s the whole mood, body, weight thing that seems almost random as to what it does to whom. Even my doctor confided that side effects were a bit of a crapshoot.

Because everything I read said that “it depends,” I wanted to share what’s been true of my two months off the pill. If you’re in the same conception-planning boat as me, I can’t claim to believe your experience will be any more like or unlike mine, but hey, I promise to make it entertaining!

Coming Off Birth Control Side Effects

1. Dr. Jekyll, meet Mr. Hyde. Mr. Hyde, meet Dr. Jekyll. Okay, so I haven’t had regular mood swings, but I have had a few days where my moods were fighting it out Battle Royale style. One day I was filled with pure rage for no apparent reason. A week later, I spent an entire day crying in between writing posts. The next week? Irritation like none other. Most of the days in between though, I’ve been happy as a lark, keeping my husband on his toes.

2. Goodbye belly bloat. I’ve always tended to carry weight in my middle, and since I’m active and at a healthy weight, I’ve just come to accept that my abs will probably never look like Jillian Michaels’ (although my arms or legs might!). But coming off the pill has left me with fewer cravings for unhealthy foods like sugar and salt, and, like magic, my stomach has gotten flatter. Still no crazy eight-pack yet. Pretty sure you have to work out like a banshee for that one.

3. My dreams are better than the best fiction book you’ve ever read. I’m not sure if it’s because of coming off the pill or if taking prenatal vitamins (B6 vitamin has been shown to increase dream recall) is to blame/credit, but my dreams have been off-the-hook crazy. While on birth control, I’d remember a handful of creepy or downright disturbing dreams each month with a few funones thrown in. Now? Almost every night I get a ride into my freaky subconscious. Lately, I’ve been to the most beautiful mountain range you can imagine, survived a tsunami while sitting naked on ice blocks with friends and family (decode that one, folks), gone shopping with Gwen Stefani and had high tea with Jane Fonda. ‘Nuff said.

For those of you going through this or for mamas who have been-there-done-that, please, please share your experience and any advice in the comments! Would love to hear about your off-the-pill randomness! —Jenn

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  1. Betsy says:

    It didn’t seem to make much difference for me but I definitely know people for whom it makes a huge difference!

    Just wanted to recommend Taking Charge of Your Fertility – that book was so helpful when we were trying to get pregnant. In fact I wish I read it back when I was just first getting my period, to understand how it works and what everything means.

    Good luck!

  2. BK says:

    Only side effect I ever experienced were the mood swings and they were gone within a month. My cycle continued like clockwork but after about 3 mos began to go longer than the 3 days to a dreaded 5-6 🙁

  3. Kathy says:

    I was amazed I didn’t have more issues going off birth control–my only problem was the acne that came back. I felt like I was in high school all over!

  4. katrina m says:

    just a word of advice to any of those mama wannabe’s 🙂 my dr told me to give it a good 3 months of being off being trying too hard, as some people say the risk of miscarriage right after coming off the pill is higher. we didn’t “try” per-say, and will never know if it had anything to do with it, but i became pregnant 3 months after going off the pill and then miscarried 6 weeks later. 🙁 however, 3 months after that we got pregnant again and i now have a beautiful 4 month old daughter! you just never know what can happen!

    my periods were a little all over the place after coming off the pill (for the few months that i had them that is) and my moods were a little crazy. however now that i have been off the pill, i feel more like “myself” again and am not planning on going back on them! i have the Taking Charge of Your Fertility book, started to read it just before getting pregnant. may have to dust it off now so we can prolongue baby #2’s arrival just a bit! 🙂

  5. Anne says:

    OMG! I just came off BC for a few reasons and started taking prenatal vitamins at night (because I cant take them with my morning medicine) and some of my dreams have been so real and vivid. The bloating and water retention is gone, hello flat belly, its like a tease, you get a flat belly for a few months then get pregnant. 🙂 Glad to hear that someone else has experienced the same things, I wasn’t sure if the dreams were related or not.

  6. Buddahkitty says:

    Yeah, I know all the things your talking about. I warned my husband for the worst. He’s sitting there waiting for my head to blow up but so far I’ve kept everything under control. As for the no bloating, well, so far it’s not so bad, but there are food that cause that for me, so it’s hard to say. I am in the too much information zone now. I read everything you can get your hands on, and spew out pregnancy information to my husband all the time. It’s def a journey…and one that’s only just begun lol

  7. Kelly says:

    I am just going off bc and my dreams are so crazy! I’m glad it isn’t just me!

  8. Reese says:

    Love that you wrote this. I am not yet taking my prenatal vitamins but I am dealing with all the same issues. The mood stuff I expected but the weight thing came as a real shock. I have always been very slim and now to have lost weight from it puts me at 5’8″ 115 lbs. Like Anne said above, what a tease to go to have a baby belly soon after. My dreams are nuts too, last night I killed an intruded and then my family tried to cover it up like it was a crime. To add to the list I have also noticed my sense of smell being very heightened, especially toward bad smells. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Kelly says:

    I also just want to say that I GAINED WEIGHT going off BC. What kind of unfair twist is that!

  10. Kimberly says:

    Thanks for the info. I’m going of the pill next month and your post was very informative. I had twins 10 years ago, and they were a surprise! So this will be fun to plan this time around. Can’t wait!!!!

  11. Christina says:

    I just came off birth control after my last period and my husband and I are now ttc. I have had so many crazy symptoms that I don’t know what to think–if they are a normal side effect of stopping or if I could be pregnant! Around the time I *should* have ovulated, I was on-my-butt fatigued for a good 3 days and still tired. My nipples are sore, I had some bouts of moodiness, I have had some sinus issues (for some women, that is a preggo symptom), smelly urine at 7 days post ovulation, and also the vivid dreams. Oh and I had crams from 8 dpo – 10 dpo. I am so confused! If my period is coming back on track, I should have gotten it yesterday but it’s not here and the tests are negative. I guess just more waiting. Has anyone else experienced any of the same symptoms?

  12. Jocelyn says:

    Just went off birth control pills 66 days ago, had a withdrawal period, then nothing after that. For three weeks I had the most convincing signs of pregnancy, all of them actually, except a positive test. We are TTC. So i kept testing once per week to make sure. All negative. The symptoms have subsided mostly, but still no period. I also had some period like cramps a couple days apart, but no period. That was about 3 weeks ago. So strange. I keep waiting for a period to show up, but also waiting for ovulation signs. I figure I haven’t ovulated yet, or else I’d be pregnant or having a period. Sigh. Trying to conceive, and am impatient. Going to see the family doctor in 2 weeks, hopefully to get a baseline of blood work to see what’s going on.

  13. Rebecca says:

    I am 38 and a mother of two beautiful kids. My own mother had an awful time with the pill in the 60s, so I never tried it in my 20s. I was somehow very lucky with my husband by getting pregnant when we planned to, but not by mistake. Well, times are stressful with the little ones and I wanted to be SURE we not having any more at the moment, so I went on the pill for the first time for several months. I think I missed the “young women’s window” to adjust to it.

    It just felt very strange from the “get go”. I think knowing my body naturally for so many years, to suddenly feel “not like myself”. I actually became quite depressed and angry at my husband daily. Like constant PMSing! We moved into a beautiful dream home and I just felt sad….Not like me! I agree that I could not remember my dreams. I also had this “tight” feeling in my blood, just like taking a antihistamine. I believe that after having two pregnancies, my body was very confused as to what was going on! Clearly it knew something was up, too many hormones and no real period and no growing baby. After a couple strange emails i sent to my husband sounding more like an angry teenager, I decided to give the pill a break. Within a day or two I started to feel “light” again. My head was not in a fog, I could feel energy in my ovaries. So, I guess it’s not for me! I am just so happy I have stopped. I can enjoy my kids and the new house and just be happy. It must be quite different to take it for 15 years, must be very strange to stop the routine. It’s probably better to start it younger and have less daily pressure while you adjust to it.

  14. Jasmine says:

    I’ve now been off the pill for about 3 months, my husband and I are not trying yet, but thought it was a good idea to start preparing for pregnancy. I have noticed some changes, but nothing drastic. I didn’t get my first period for 6weeks and it slowly seems to be getting on track to a monthly cycle. Have been using a fertility calendar app which has been useful to keep track. On the pill I would get lower back pain and tender breasts when my period was due, so far off the pill these symptoms has disappeared. Good luck to everyone on the same road!

  15. The only side effect I had to going off the pill was PREGNANCY. lol. Who knew that some people ovulate IMMEDIATELY after stopping the pill?? Not me, that’s for sure! I am now quite happily three and a half months pregnant, despite having conceived very quickly after stopping the pill. The mood swings and weird dreams have been present, too, but I’m crediting those to pregnancy! 🙂

    I will be curious to see what my cycle is post-pregnancy with no pill (I have no intention of going back on it again after this baby comes, especially since I’ll be breastfeeding). It’s been several years since I had pill-free periods!

  16. E.W. says:

    Taken off birth control (pill) for medical reasons. It’s been one full month now. I have a super light period that was one week “late”… I Googled “vivid dreams when off birth control” cause I’ve been having more dreams than I’ve ever remembered! Came across your post. I’m not taking prenatal vitamins so I’m thinking it’s the lack of hormones from the pill. I look forward to sleep much more now! Haha

  17. Jillian says:

    I have been off the pill for 2 weeks after being on for 12 years straight. I googled vivid dreams after stopping BC and found your post. The first week off I noticed I was very moody and did indeed de bloat in my stomach too. I had a few blemishes under the skin pop up around day 12 nothing super crazy…thank the lord!! My weight has dropped and having the most vivid dreams of my life. Some good and some very bad. Woke up crying a few times and wondered could this be from BC. My husband has been super supportive of my moods and night terrors. We are hoping to conceive in the next 3-6 months. Thanks for sharing your experience and I hope my experience helps out other fellow googlers looking for answers.

  18. Sofia Duplain says:

    I just googled “I keep having crazy dreams after coming off the pill” and you popped up. I just finished another amazing dream about me living in a glass house and people trying to get in – googling dreams can also be very amusing.

    Anyway great blog! Currently trying for a baby also so will be fun to stay connected.

  19. Moderna says:

    I went from sleeping 7 hours to sleeping 10 hours. I now have the adventurous dreams I’d always had and the pill seemed to suppress. I’m trying to research how it can possibly do this, if the same happened to you please share it!
    I’m sure it’s healthier to let my subconscious create but that was honestly the best thing about the pill, that I could finally sleep less 😭

  20. Capri says:

    I just stopped taking my BC three days ago and I’ve just had the craziest dreams. Usually, my dreams are kinda weird to begin with, but they usually don’t happen every night in a row. But ever since I stopped taking the pills, I’ve woken up in the middle of the night because the dreams are just too intense or just disturbing.

  21. Makayla says:

    I recently stopped taking birth control and been having very vivid dreams, the one i can remember like it was real was my whole family got killed in front of me and the killer told me that he was gonna leave me and left but 5 minutes later came back and i just woke up crying… i’ve also been experiencing being really tired, lack of appetite, and mood swings

  22. Kelly says:

    I thought I was the only one getting the crazy dreams. One month out and the dreams are insane. Some make me jump of the bed of so vivid.

    Other than that, sex drive has increased and so far no changes on body or skin.

    Looking forward for the next deals lol

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

  23. Tyanna lugo says:

    I wouldn’t say my dreams have been very pleasant. Although I have been on birth control for five years and this is my second time taking a month break. However, I don’t remember the first time I took a break and have gotten very vivid dreams. But this time., it’s definitely been a roller coaster, not necessarily my cup of tea. I’ve been having dreams that may occur in fantasies mixed in with real life situations. For instance, I dreamt about buying makeup at target with my boyfriend. The next day after I had waken up, I checked to see if the makeup I bought was in my makeup bag. Not thinking it was a dream but believing in my head that it was real and so I was left confused when I didn’t find those items in my bag. Confused my the situation, I had remembered it was a dream I had the night before. However, for the past month I have been having dreams of my death and the friends around me. I know none of this is brought into reality by the time I wake up but at most times it wakes me from my sleep and I think it’s real. I don’t what has been going on lately but I hope it’s because of me being off my birth control. I’m not frighten by my dreams, I just don’t expect them to be so lively and visual. My boyfriend will make me up before he leaves for work at 6am and then I go back to sleep. Sometimes I will have the same dream, sometimes it’s a different dream. Either way, I don’t know what’s going on in my head nor do I wish to stop it. But I want to know the causes. If there’s anyone that will help me understand I’d like to know. I’ve come a long way from asking but I’m asking now.

  24. EB says:

    Oh my goodness yes! I quit birth control a mere 3 days ago and EVERY SINGLE NIGHT has been filled with the most vivid dreams that I’ve never had before. It’s very very cool 💁🏽‍♀️

    1. Jenn says:

      It’s crazy, right?!


  25. Sara says:

    I wasn’t expecting to have such crazy dreams. i’ve been on the pill for as long as i can remember. i’m only 18 but i got put on it pretty young due to acne. i used to have dreams that i could only remember for a few minutes after i woke up and weren’t very eventful. now my dreams are absolutely CRAZY. i’m not sure how i feel about it. i have several different dreams every night. they’re mostly bad though.

    1. Jenn says:

      Ugh, it’s just nuts, right?!


  26. Hagit says:

    I really feel the same about dreaming! In the recent years I felt like I rarely remember any dream (Unless it was a really bad one..), but since I went off the pills last month, I have tons of dreams, and not a bad ones, but just silly dreams 🙂

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