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

There’s no “right way” to go off birth control — you can stop taking your pills 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. If you’re using the ring or the patch, it’s the same thing - you can stop whenever you want, but when you time it will affect when your next period happens.

After you stop taking birth control, 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 irregular for a few months. But this is temporary, and your cycle will return to how it was before you started your birth control pretty quickly.

Remember that as soon as you stop your birth control, you’re not protected from pregnancy anymore. So if you’re planning to stop taking the pill (or patch or ring) 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 backup method, like a condom, for up to a week. Your doctor or nurse can tell you how long you need to do this for, depending on which method you’re switching from and to.

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