Stopping the pill

What you should know if you're thinking about coming off the pill

The pill can be used for as long as you need it. You may wish to stop taking it if you want to get pregnant or if it's causing side effects. If you are planning to switch from one type of pill to another then make sure you read the instructions carefully to make sure your protection is not affected. 

What is the pill?

There are two types of contraceptive pill, both are taken by women to prevent pregnancy and are very effective. The combined pill contains two types of female hormones: oestrogen and progesterone. It works by stopping ovulation so that the ovaries don't release an egg each month. It also alters the womb lining and thickens the mucus surrounding the cervix. The mini pill just contains progesterone and works in a similar way. 

The pill is taken either every day for 21 days with a 7 day break until your next pack or every day of the month depending on the type. It can also cause the following side effects: 

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Breast tenderness
  • Altered mood 
  • Depression 
  • Breakthrough bleeding 
  • Spotting 
  • Heightened blood pressure 
  • Blood clots

Can the pill cause health problems?

Taking the combined pill increases your risk of experiencing a blood clot. While this is still rare, if you have any existing medical or health conditions which means you are at risk of high blood pressure then you should not take the pill. It's also not recommended if you are a smoker over the age of 35. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure or a heart condition while you are taking the pill then you should stop taking it.  

What should I do if I want to come off the pill? 

If you want to come off the pill, what you should do next depends on your situation. This may be because you want to get pregnant. In this case, you can stop taking the pill at any time. However, if you do stop taking it midway through a pack this might disrupt your cycle so it can be hard to predict when your next period might be. 

If you want to change to a different type of contraception then make sure you have something in place before stopping the pill. You will need an appointment to get the implant, IUD or contraceptive injection so you should keep taking the pill until then. 

There is no medical reason why you need to stop the pill at a specific time. Once you stop taking it your period can take several months to return as your menstrual cycle gets back to normal, so don't be concerned if you don't get a period right away. You will also be at risk of pregnancy right away so if you are not planning to have a baby then you'll need to use another type of contraception. 

Sources: 

NHS > The Combined Pill


 

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