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how do you stop taking birth control? just cold- turkey?

There’s no prescribed method for going off birth control — you can stop taking them in the middle of the pack, or finish the pack you’re on without starting a new one. Medically, there’s no difference, although finishing your current pill pack means you’ll know when you’re going to get your period, whereas stopping in the middle will make it harder to predict when you’ll get your period. If it’s important to you to know when your period is coming, it might make more sense to finish the pack.

After you stop taking birth control pills, your body and menstrual cycle will need some time to adjust, just like they did when you started the pill. You might notice some spotting or bleeding between your periods, and your periods may be slightly irregular for a few months. But this is temporary, and your cycle will return to how it was before you started the pill pretty quickly.

Remember that as soon as you stop taking the pill, you’re no longer protected from pregnancy. So if you’re planning to stop taking the pill and keep having vaginal sex, but you don’t want to get pregnant, you’ll need to use another birth control method.

If you’re switching to a new birth control method, you may need to overlap methods or use a back-up method, like a condom, for a few days. This handy fact sheet from the Reproductive Health Access Project can help you figure out how to switch from any birth control method to any other method.

Tags: the pill, menstrual cycle, birth control pills, birth control