Here are 4 ways to tell you're ovulating after stopping the pill

What to expect when you stop birth control.
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Sarah Stivens
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Last updated on
September 14, 2023
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If you've been thinking about ditching your contraceptive pill, you've probably spent a bit of time weighing up the pros and cons.

There are many reasons someone might want to stop taking the pill — medical conditions, to try a different birth control method, or maybe the newborn section at Target is the culprit (those onesies!).

Whatever your reason for going off the pill, there can be a lot of myths and misinformation about what actually happens when you stop birth control. We're here to sort the fibs from the facts. And if you are wanting to become pregnant, we've got some tips that might help.

How does the pill affect fertility?

We've all heard rumours about how staying on birth control for too long can muck up a person's chances of becoming pregnant. It's totally normal if you're feeling concerned about your fertility after stopping the pill [1].

But according to the research, there's no evidence to suggest the pill has a negative impact on your fertility after you've stopped taking it. In fact, one study found that 83% of women became pregnant within a year of stopping birth control [1].

Another common misconception about the pill is that the longer you're on it, the more it'll mess with your fertility. Again, research shows this isn't the case.

If you've been on hormonal birth control for a long time, it could be that there are some age-related factors or other underlying problems preventing pregnancy — the pill might just have been masking them [1].

How long does it take for your period to come back after stopping the pill?

Most women can expect to have their period within around four weeks of stopping birth control pills, depending on what their cycle is usually like [2].

Sometimes though, things can take a little longer to settle — the experts usually recommend waiting around 3 months for your normal cycle to return [2].

If you already had irregular periods before taking the pill, or you were taking it to manage conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), it could take several months for your period to show up again [3].

Fun fact: the first period you have after you stop taking the pill is called a withdrawal bleed. It might be a bit different to your usual periods, but by the second cycle, things should feel more like they normally do [2].

What happens if your period doesn't come back?

If after 3 months you're still waiting for your period, or you're feeling a bit worried about how your menstrual cycles have been after stopping your pill, it's time to chat to your GP.

You might be experiencing something called post-pill amenorrhea a condition where the body takes longer to restart making its ovulation hormones [3].

And we probably don't need to say it, but if you've been having unprotected sex after stopping the pill and your period is still AWOL... definitely take a pregnancy test to be sure.

What can you experience after stopping the pill?

Have you seen that movie, Gremlins...?

Just kidding! While everyone's reaction to coming off the pill is going to be different, it shouldn't cause you a lot of discomfort. Here are some of the more common symptoms you might experience.

Changes to your period

As we mentioned earlier, if you're someone whose menstrual cycle was irregular before taking the pill — you might find things are a bit random again after you stop.

When you stop birth control, your body will start trying to get back to its "baseline". This could look like heavy periods if you had them previously, or different PMS symptoms from when you were on the pill. You might also experience some breakthrough bleeding or spotting [4].

Age can also factor into how your body responds when you stop the pill [1]. For example, your periods may become more irregular if you're approaching menopause.

If you had nasty period-related symptoms as a teenager but have been on birth control since, you might actually find you've outgrown some of them [5].

But, if you've come off the pill and are worried about how your body is reacting, it's a good idea to get advice from a health professional — they can help you rule out underlying conditions like PCOS, fibroids or endometriosis [5].

Libido increases

Yep, your bedroom might feel a little... steamier all of a sudden. It's pretty well known that the pill can affect your sex drive, so it's common to find this ramping up after a break from it [6].

Your sex hormones are figuring themselves out again, so your libido might be up and down for a little while before they balance out.

Acne breakouts

If you went on birth control pills to treat your acne, you might have to deal with a few more breakouts than usual. Your skin will be adapting to your new hormone levels, can get oilier as a result, and then bam... more acne [5].

On the flip side, some women have reported having clearer skin after coming off the pill! [7]. Whichever boat you end up in, the changes should be temporary. Most post-pill side effects resolve themselves after a couple of months.

Mood changes

This one is a bit of a mixed bag too. Some people report having mood swings after they stop taking birth control, others say their mood actually improved [7].

Your hormones can really influence your mood, so it makes sense that it might fluctuate as things reset. But if you're really not feeling like yourself, or are struggling with your mood/mental health, make sure you reach out to someone you trust.

What if you decide to go back on the pill?

If at any point you change your mind and decide to go back on the pill, or try a new type (if you're not planning on getting pregnant), it doesn't have to be a big saga.

You can skip the waitlist for a GP appointment and head straight to Kin's pill subscription — it will literally appear on your doorstep! You can also get quick access to an online GP consult, who can answer any questions you have about contraception.

How long after stopping the pill will you ovulate?

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it depends! It could take a month or two for you to start ovulating again, or for some people, it might happen really quickly [8].

So if you're breaking up with your birth control but don't want to get pregnant, it's a good idea to use a backup method of contraception.

It's possible to ovulate in your first cycle off the pill — if you're wanting to avoid pregnancy, you should chat to your GP about different birth control methods [2].

They'll probably recommend using barrier methods (e.g. condom or internal condom) to prevent pregnancy, but might have other advice. Barrier methods are always a good idea for people not wanting to get pregnant, as they protect against sexually transmitted infections.

What are the signs of ovulation after stopping the pill?

If you've been on the pill for a while, you probably haven't needed to track your cycle. The Pill's main job is preventing ovulation — we don't blame you if you're feeling a bit out of touch with how to recognise it's happening!

Here are some of the main ovulation symptoms you can look out for:

Breast tenderness

If you've had to bust out a different bra size before your period comes, we feel you. During ovulation, your breasts can feel sore or swollen, or you might notice other temporary breast changes [9].

Changes to cervical mucus

When you're ovulating, your cervical mucus changes to give you the best chance of getting pregnant. So clever!

You might notice discharge that's more slippery than usual and it may have an egg-white consistency [9].

Abdominal pain

Ovulation can sometimes involve some cramping too, though not usually as intense as menstrual cramps. You might get abdominal pain on one side, and bloating is pretty common too [9].

Changes to your basal body temperature

This one's a little more technical— basal body temperature (BBT) refers to your lowest natural body temperature after you've been resting [10].

During ovulation, many women experience a spike in their BBT of about 0.5-1 degrees. People who use natural methods of contraception (sometimes called the natural family planning method) chart their temperatures throughout their cycle to check when things change and use this information to track ovulation [10].

Medical reviewers are still debating how accurate this method is [10]. If you want a way to really double-check whether you're ovulating, you could try an ovulation test kit.

What are the chances of getting pregnant after stopping birth control?

As soon as you can ovulate again, you can get pregnant [3]. Using oral contraceptives in the past shouldn't affect your chances of getting pregnant, but it could temporarily delay things as your body adjusts.

How long it will take to get pregnant can depend on your age, overall health and any underlying conditions.

While there's no evidence that getting pregnant straight after you've stopped birth control is harmful to the baby, some health professionals recommend waiting a little while before planning a pregnancy [11]. Contrary to popular belief though, you don't have to stop the Pill for months or years before trying for a baby.

Some health professionals advise letting your body have 3 natural menstrual cycles before getting pregnant, to give your body a chance to reset [11].

Realistically, it could take some women 6-12 months to conceive — not because of being on the Pill, but because your body is waiting for the optimal conditions to make a baby [8].

It's important to note here that things might not always work out as planned — 15% of couples will experience infertility or trouble conceiving [1].

Age and overall health can play a big role in fertility. If you're under 35 and have been trying for more than a year, it could be time to seek some advice. The same goes if you're over 35 and have been trying for more than six months — having a chat with your healthcare provider could help [8].

Tips for coming off the pill

You can stop taking the pill at any time, and there's no harm in going "cold turkey" [2]. To make it easier to track things, you could wait until you're at the end of your current pill cycle before stopping, but there shouldn't be any negative side effects if you stop mid-cycle [3].

Our top tips for coming off the pill are:

Be prepared

If you don't want to get pregnant right away, think about using a condom or other birth control methods. Also, be prepared for some of the changes we mentioned above, and be extra kind to yourself as you adjust to your new normal.

Look after your nutrition

After birth control use, your metabolism and the way you absorb nutrients can take a while to settle [11]. If you're planning a pregnancy, it can be a good idea to make sure you're getting the right nutrients.

Chat to your GP about how a good prenatal vitamin can help get you ready to conceive — Kin's Prenatal Vitamins are formulated with 12 highly bioavailable ingredients to meet your nutritional needs during this period and give your baby the best start possible.

Get enough exercise, and rest!

Getting enough quality sleep will help your fertility, and doing exercise that's right for you can also help get the body ready to become pregnant. Looking after your health will give you and the baby the best start to your pregnancy [11].

All of the tools you need to take your reproductive health into your own hands.