What was your experience getting off the pill after many years on it?
February 28, 2013 11:19 AM   Subscribe

A lot of people experience intense moods and emotions while their body transitions off the hormones. After that, some people notice that their personality has changed one way or the other for good. I've real some studies that show hormonal birth control also has an effect on the kind of person you are attracted to when you are on it. Does this mean you might not be as attracted to the person you're already with? What was your experience?
posted by Feel the beat of the rhythm of the night to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I went for my annual visit to my GYN and discovered that my blood pressure was 220/180. He ordered me off of the pill instantly and forever. Boo!

I had no adverse reaction whatsoever. I was dealing with some weirdness with my new Blood Pressure meds, (I had a lovely reaction to a diuretic that left me grumpy with the hives.) But nothing from going off of the pill.

I had been on the pill for 20 years.

Everyone is different.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:22 AM on February 28, 2013

I was on some form of hormonal contraception for 15 years. When I went off it, I did notice differences: irregular periods, minimal hair growth, acne - but it turned out that these were the symptoms of PCOS that I had been covering up/treating with the hormones all that time. No personality changes and I was still plenty attracted to my husband.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:28 AM on February 28, 2013

I went off the pill after 15 or so years on it in order to try and get pregnant.

No symptoms at all.
posted by gaspode at 11:32 AM on February 28, 2013

I decided to go off the pill after about 10+ years on it, just because I wanted to see what my typical physical response to things was (I'd started on it at 17). I never had any bad reactions while on the pill, whether a standard tri-cyclic or a low dose version. My period came right at 28 days, so no delay in that. My face broke out a little more, and I experienced worse pms/cramping and heavier periods. I didn't have any changes in libido nor in who I found attractive (thankfully, for my husband's sake). After about 6 months I got annoyed with alternate methods of contraception and the pms symptoms, and went back on the pill.

If I'm not mistaken, most of those attraction studies are based on initial feelings of attraction. If one is already in a relationship I think there would be so many other intervening factors. For instance, we tend to see people as more attractive when we love them ("love sees loveliness").
posted by bizzyb at 11:33 AM on February 28, 2013

I had no symptoms other than that it took me a couple of months to start ovulating again.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:34 AM on February 28, 2013

I took the pill for years then stopped. There was really no change in my personality, emotions, or level of physical attraction to people.
posted by steinwald at 11:38 AM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I went off the pill after 14 years of use, promptly went into a hypomanic phase (I'm bipolar), which contributed to my divorce! awesome.

I briefly went back on it a few years later, after I was diagnosed with endometriosis, and I promptly went into a hypomanic phase again. I realized what was happening, and stopped taking it. I finally feel semi-normal, a few months after stopping. My pill-induced back acne went away, and I lost about 7 lbs.

The pill is really really bad for me. My psych said that hormonal changes are really bad for bipolar.
posted by hotelechozulu at 11:40 AM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Went off the pill after 8 years because of pre-hypertension. I had a few months of moodiness and cysts in my breasts around menstruation. That eventually evened out. I now have more severe PMS, cramps, and a longer period, but feel more centered and emotionally healthy generally (whereas on the pill I always felt mildly depressed and moody, now I feel pretty good except for the week before my period). Oh yeah, and zits, too. I get those now, particularly when I'm PMSing.

I am with the same partner I was throughout my years on the pill. I am actually more physically attracted to him, more libidinous generally, and sex is better because I am much, much wetter than I used to be on the pill.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:41 AM on February 28, 2013

Like many other respondents, I was on it for about 10 years. Stopped taking it. It took about four months for my periods to get back on a regular schedule, but no other issues at all. Still as attracted to my partner as ever.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:52 AM on February 28, 2013

Went off the pill after many years of hormonal contraceptives (pill, nuva ring) with the only clear side effect being an onset of rather persistent acne (which I hadn't really had even in adolescence), this lasted several years. I developed endometriosis and went back on the pill (nearly continuously) for a year. That helped clear the acne up. Stopped to try and get pregnant and the acne didn't return (yay!) though I did experience temporary hair loss from the hormonal shift, my doc said it was something like what is experienced after pregnancy. It freaked me out a bit at first, so much hair coming out!, but it truly was temporary and my hair was back to normal after a while (3months maybe? can't remember really).

And I noticed no change in my attraction to my partner :)
posted by pennypiper at 11:57 AM on February 28, 2013

I went off the pill after ten years.

Only symptom was a period the likes of which I hadn't had since going on the pill. My pill periods were so much easier to deal with and I had forgotten what my regular periods were like.

But it didn't last long because I was pregnant two months later!
posted by zizzle at 12:03 PM on February 28, 2013

I took the pill for almost a decade. After stopping, I found PMS more pronounced (bloating, breakouts, irritability), and my periods became much heavier and longer. I noticed nothing different in terms of personality/outlook/compatibility with another.
posted by little mouth at 12:10 PM on February 28, 2013

I used Implanon and stopped using it because it made my hair fall out.

My hair has stopped falling out as much, but I can't say it's growing back. The biggest side effect is really distracting nausea in the luteal phase, for at least 10 days before my period. The nausea is the worst. Haven't really noticed any personality changes.
posted by nerdfish at 12:11 PM on February 28, 2013

I was on the pill for around 6 years, experienced lots of temporary side effects when I started on it, and then went off for a while due to moving countries. I really didn't notice any effects when I went off, other than my periods were very irregular (which was the case pre-pill, so not remarkable). Definitely no major personality changes/changes in attraction.
posted by SoftRain at 12:18 PM on February 28, 2013

Went off the pill after 12 years to try and get pregnant. I had originally gone on the pill to make my periods more regular/try to lesson the hellacious PMS symptoms (I had vertigo and nausea in addition to cramps and breakouts, woo!) So I was worried but symptoms were mild - my PMS and menstrual cramps were slightly more noticeable, a little more PMS bloating, a little bit more PMS acne and tender breasts which I had never experienced before. But my cycle went right back to the 28/30 day range it had been before the pill. Got pregnant after 4 months but miscarried 11 weeks in (about a month ago) - I've had some mild vertigo this week, which makes sense, since my period is due Monday or Tuesday. Hopefully this is not an indicator of future horribleness. All this being said, I am still madly in love with and crazy attracted to my husband.
posted by hungrybruno at 12:22 PM on February 28, 2013

posted by Safiya at 12:26 PM on February 28, 2013

I took the pill for over ten years with no problems, then suddenly I began to get shooting pain in one breast. The pain was so bad it doubled me over, it felt like someone was stubbing out a cigarette on my chest! I had a lot of breast tenderness before my period while on the pill and I correctly guessed that the pain was related to the pill in some way. I stopped taking the pill and the pain went away. I never got a period while on the pill. As soon as I went off I got regular (but very short and light periods). The breast pain vanished. I experienced no other effects from stopping and am still just as attracted to my husband as I ever was. Sucks to have to have a period though!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 12:44 PM on February 28, 2013

I took the pill for over a decade. After giving birth to a baby boy, I was put on a different pill, because it's not good for boys to be breastfed estrogen. After about a year of that, I switched to a copper IUD.

I couldn't love it more. In fact, I was/am pretty upset that the non-hormonal IUD doesn't get more mention by OBGYNs. (From what I understand, in the US it's customary to not mention/recommend it to childless women, for rather stupid reasons).

Here is what happened when I got off: my sex drive shot up, my hair got much, much better, my nails stopped breaking, and I just generally felt better and more like myself.

The pill sucks.

(To be fair, there are some downsides of not being on one: the periods are somewhat heavier and less regular, the pms is a bit worse, and if you were prone to pimples as a teenager, you may start getting one or two here and there.)
posted by rada at 12:47 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Regarding the partner-choosing/attraction aspect:

I have been on hormonal birth control (pill, then NuvaRing) since age 17. I went off it twice. While I was off it, I chose partners with whom I had much more intense physical attraction, but these were not good partners emotionally for me, or were ridiculous choices for my life-stage. On HBC, I seemed to select partners who were more nurturing and friend-like, though sex was good (though perhaps less intense) with them. A sexologist friend told me this might be because on HBC, the body is in a sense "pregnant" rather than seeking mate. She too had noticed the differences I had in the choosing of partners.

I don't think this effect would be as pronounced in a long-term relationship where things were stable and good, but if you were single, you might notice this difference.
posted by Riverine at 12:58 PM on February 28, 2013

Much, much higher sex drive off the pill. I wish I had done it sooner, I feel like I missed a decade+ of sexytimes with my husband.
posted by snowymorninblues at 1:00 PM on February 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

When I went off the pill, my anxiety & depression improved, and my sex drive came back. No negative side effects.
posted by linettasky at 1:06 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

My prescription ran out and I haven't bothered to get it refilled yet. Maybe my periods are heavier, but I don't notice any other side effects. I'm one of those people who doesn't have bc pill side effects, I think. I was on for 5 or 6 years consecutively, only missing a month here or there, and I've been off for maybe 3 months.
posted by sarae at 1:26 PM on February 28, 2013

I went off the pill in January after switching to the copper IUD because of terrible migraines (I had been on the pill for almost 4 years). The first few weeks after I stopped, I had a mild increase in acne, had some pretty significant mood swings, and my libido came back in a big way. I was also blindsided by PMS just because the pill had eliminated that for me and I had kind forgotten what it was like. I think I was kind of an unusual case because my period went right back to the regular 28-day that month and I haven't had any problems with regularity since then. Periods have been heavier, but having the copper IUD does that.

I would compare the experience to basically being like a hormonal teenager again for at least a few weeks. Greasy skin, strong emotions, sex on the brain, etc. etc. Everything evened out for me after a few weeks and now I feel normal, if maybe a bit more emotional. On the plus side, I haven't had a migraine in weeks!

As for partners, I will say that I think it was a factor in the break-up of my long term relationship. The pill kept my mood so even and "mellow" that I was better able to put up with a lot of bad behavior in our relationship that I shouldn't have. Once I was off the pill I just didn't have the patience for it and had more of a backbone about his behavior. Don't worry too much though, if this had been a good strong relationship I don't think the pill would have done anything. Also for what it's worth, I met him before I started taking birth control (he was the reason why I did actually).
posted by Kimmalah at 3:04 PM on February 28, 2013

Went off the pill about 14 months ago. It took about 6 months for my cycle to get back to normal, and I discovered that my bad migraines were due in part to the pill. I still get them, but nowhere near as badly as I used to. I haven't noticed any change in symptoms other than that. Still married and attracted to my husband! (I met him pre-pill, and sensed no differences in attraction to him pre, on, and post.)
posted by telophase at 4:15 PM on February 28, 2013

I am back on the pill, but I went off it after a several years three-ish years ago. I remember losing that annoying, bloated water weight feeling, but the difference on the scale was very slight. I remember feeling like my breasts were less full. I'm not sure that the moodiness was nearly as bad as starting the pill, but I remember feeling a little off for a few months.

But most annoying of all, my skin went fucking haywire, and that is why I went back on the pill less than a year later. I originally started taking birth control pills in an effort to control my skin, though, so it wasn't a big surprise.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 6:16 PM on February 28, 2013

I had this exact question before I quit last year. My period went back to normal almost immediately and I think I remember feeling like my emotions were more intense and accessible to me. Then I got pregnant like 2 months later.
posted by town of cats at 9:44 PM on February 28, 2013

I just went off a month and a half ago, after being put on it due to endometriosis 13 years ago. Somewhat tangential, but while the Pill can help with endo, it is indeed different for everyone, and doesn't always affect it. I was very lucky in that it reduced the intense pain and hemorrhaging of my periods by a great, great deal.

A few months ago, however, a regular checkup showed my chronically-low blood pressure had suddenly gone slightly above normal. In anyone else, my doctor mentioned that she wouldn't have said a thing, but since she's known me for 13 years now, she cocked her head to one side and said, "hm, this is kind of high given your history. We'll keep an eye on it." I also noticed my periods getting more intense (though still nothing near the debilitating cramps I'd had off the Pill before), and an inexplicable size gain that resembled bloating more than actual, y'know, weight. Just to explain myself here: I don't have scales to weigh myself since it's never meant much to me, while having grown up surrounded by seamstresses, I do notice changes in my actual size. My bathroom thus has a measuring tape rather than scales, heh. In just half a year, I had gone from 40-41" hips to 44", which was like, whoa. I watched calories more carefully, and they got down to 43", but kept going back up to 44" and occasionally above. This is really not normal. So, all those elements considered, I went off the Pill.

First thing I noticed, in just one month off, were my hips going back to 41" even though I was eating the same way. Second thing I noticed was OH HAI EMOTIONS. Like when you turn the volume up a touch too high? You can tell it's too high, even though it's still listenable, but irksome. That lasted until my next period; I've felt more "normal" since, but I use quotes because my emotions do feel less dampened than before, when on the Pill. Then there was breast pain. Egads the pain. Lasted for three weeks, better now. Had a perfectly normal period, no cramps at all, which did also contribute to a bit of overwrought ecstatic emotion. That's what happens when you've been incapacitated by pain and hemorrhaging in your adolescence and young adulthood, then had to deal with taking a stinking pill 3 weeks out of 4 for 13 years to make it livable, and then all of a sudden at age 37... normalcy. Holy CRAP awesomesauce. At my next doctor checkup, we'll see how the blood pressure is doing.
posted by fraula at 2:59 AM on March 1, 2013

After that, some people notice that their personality has changed one way or the other for good.

This has NOT been my experience, thank God. Not the pill, but the shot made me severely anxious and depressed. I am happy to say that by six months after my last dose--three months after the efficacy wore off--I was starting to come out of the depressed fog. There doesn't seem to be any lasting personality effects, other than a lot more compassion for those who are struggling with depression.
posted by peacrow at 5:04 AM on March 1, 2013

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