What happens when I stop the pill?

You should not experience too many side effects from stopping the pill. Of course, everyone is different. But generally, the level of hormones in the pill are so small that your body quickly returns to normal when you stop taking it.

The pill does not damage or have any long-term effects on your fertility. Your fertility can return as soon as you come off the pill and you can get pregnant straight away. If you do not want to get pregnant, you should start another form of contraception immediately or use condoms.

Changes you might notice:

  • any side effects like bloating, skin issues, or headaches will stop when you stop taking the pill

  • any benefits you got from the pill, like lighter periods or improved skin, will also go away in a few weeks

  • your periods will likely start again within 4 weeks of stopping, but they might be irregular for a few months while your cycle gets re-established

  • your period might change, if you had lighter bleeds on the pill, your usual period might be heavier, longer or more painful

  • PMS and other period-related symptoms could come back, including bloating, ovulation pain and changes to your skin

  • your discharge could look different. You’re starting to ovulate again so you might notice your vaginal discharge changes its consistency through the month. This is a totally normal part of your cycle.

If you do not have a period within 3 weeks of stopping the pill, do a pregnancy test. Talk to your GP or visit a sexual health clinic if your period does not return or if when it comes back, the bleeding feels excessive or lasts longer than usual.

Written by Helen Burkitt. Senior Sexual Health and Contraception Nurse
Last updated at: 02 February 2024
Published on: 11 July 2023