How to Normalize Your Hormones After Coming Off Birth Control

Welcome to The V, our weeklong series devoted to all things sex and reproductive health. This is a safe space free from "taboos" because there's no reason women should feel awkward talking about their bodies. That said, we'll be clearing up any misinformation on the subject, starting with this huge misnomer: The "V" in this case doesn't refer to the vagina but the vulva, which is the anatomically correct term for external female genitalia (including the opening of the vagina). Stay tuned all week for need-to-know guides on birth control, tips for taking your orgasm to the next level, real-life stories about endometriosis, and everything in between.



Sleepy Jones

If I've learned anything in speaking with women about their experiences with hormonal birth control, it's that a very small minority have nothing of consequence to report. Even the "good" stories are often preluded by years of trial and error and debilitating side effects before landing on a method that seemed the least troublesome. That's not to mention the psychological toll, especially for teenage girls who are still made to feel ashamed or humiliated for practicing autonomy over their bodies in our supposedly progressive culture—or even talking or asking about it, for that matter.

But lately, I've found that many women in my circle have started to reject hormonal birth control altogether—in some cases, in the interest of starting a family in the near future, but most are simply done putting their bodies through the ringer after doing so for the entirety of their adult lives. Which begs a shift in the conversation: What happens to our hormones after birth control?

It's something I'm already wary of even as the host to a very low-dose IUD, especially as I've heard more and more anecdotes of post-BC fallout. One former colleague told me that after being on the pill for a decade, it took two years for her body to feel totally normal again, for her period to regularize. "I wish I had just never taken the pill in the first place," she lamented.

But that's the sacrifice—the impossible decision—many of us face in order to have peace of mind, regulate painful PMS symptoms, or any of the other reasons to go on birth control, of which there are many. It's all enough to face without also considering the aftermath. With this in mind, I reached out to a few experts for their advice on recalibrating one's hormones after ditching the synthetic variety—and fortunately, there are a few things that can help facilitate the process. Keep reading for their input.