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What Is Post-Birth-Control Syndrome?

Going Off Hormonal Birth Control Can Cause Post-Birth-Control Syndrome — Here's What You Need to Know

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Birth control is any type of medicine, method, or device used to prevent pregnancy, but sometimes, birth control is also used to regulate the menstrual cycle, reduce hormonal acne, treat PCOS or premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and increase bone density. But when some people decide to discontinue their use of hormonal birth control, they experience what's called post-birth-control syndrome (PBCS).

What Is Post-Birth-Control Syndrome?

"Post-birth-control syndrome is a term that refers to the collection of signs and symptoms that arise after discontinuing hormonal birth control," Jolene Brighten, ND, author of Beyond the Pill, told POPSUGAR. This area is lacking in research but has become more popular within the naturopathic medicine community, according to Healthline. Typically, the symptoms are the ones people try to alleviate with birth control, or they can be "the result of having used birth control and your body's response to coming off [of it]," Dr. Brighten said.

Symptoms of Post-Birth-Control Syndrome

Specific symptoms of post-birth-control syndrome include headaches, hair loss, mood swings, anxiety and depression, acne, blood sugar dysregulation, digestive upset, and irregular or missed periods, according to Dr. Brighten. "These symptoms usually appear within the first four to six months after discontinuing hormonal birth control," she explained.

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The symptoms of PBCS are most closely associated with hormonal birth control, according to Dr. Brighten, and she said, "We do not see the same issues with the copper IUD or barrier methods like condoms or cervical caps." These effects are "widely recognized by doctors," but there is debate over using the term post-birth-control syndrome to describe them, according to Healthline.

How to Prevent or Recover From Post-Birth-Control Syndrome

If you are considering starting hormonal birth control or recently stopped taking it, you may be wondering how to prevent or how to reverse post-birth-control syndrome. If you decide to take or took hormonal birth control for symptom management, Dr. Brighten said to consider implementing dietary and lifestyle shifts at least three months before discontinuing the use of birth control.

Taking supplements to replenish nutrients depleted by the pill and to aid in reproductive health, if pregnancy is a goal, is also recommended by Dr. Brighten. Before making any changes to your diet and to find out which supplements you should take, if any, we recommend consulting your primary-care doctor or a specialist such as an ob-gyn.

How Long Does It Take For Your Hormones to Regulate After Taking Birth Control?

How long it will take for your hormones to regulate after you stop taking the pill will vary from person to person. Some people will see a return to their regular menstrual cycles immediately after discontinuing birth control, according to Dr. Brighten, but they may experience other hormonal issues.

"If you had no history of irregular cycles before beginning [birth control], we expect it can take at least three months to resume a normal cycle," she said. But if you took the pill to regulate the cycle, it can take up to six months for your cycle to regulate. "Of course, for some, it can take much longer, which is why it is important to talk with your doctor if you're experiencing unexpected symptoms," Dr. Brighten said.

More research and studies are needed on post-birth-control syndrome, but if you are experiencing any abnormal symptoms you believe are related to birth control or you have questions about birth control, we advise speaking with a doctor who can provide you with more insight and individual guidance.

Image Source: Getty / Ridofranz
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