When You Stop Taking Birth Control, This Is What Happens To Your Sex Life

Birth control pills are an effective form of contraception women have turned to for a long time now. In addition to helping prevent pregnancy, hormonal pills are also recommended for people who want to have their periods regulated, decrease PMS symptoms, treat endometriosis, prevent acne, and improve symptoms caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). 

But sometimes, people want to come off the pill. Maybe they want to have kids or they're uncomfortable with the side effects, like weight changes, mood swings, nausea, and headaches. Or maybe they want to start using another form of contraception. Whatever the reason, stopping the birth control pill comes with both pleasant and unpleasant side effects, some of which have to do with your sex life. 

Some women report experiencing more pleasure during sex when they stop taking birth control pills, as explained by Dr. Nicole Noyes, chief of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Northwell Health (per Women's Health). This has to do with what happens to your vagina when you take birth control. Vaginal dryness is a side effect for some women. Not being lubricated enough can cause pain and discomfort during intimacy; stopping the pill can reverse this problem and make way for a more enjoyable sexual experience. However, this is not all that happens when you stop taking birth control. 

You might experience a change in your libido

The topic of how your libido changes once you stop taking birth control is a little nuanced, with experience pointing toward an uptick and a decline in sex drive. 

Before getting into this, it's important to understand what happens inside your system when you take a hormonal birth control pill. Most birth control pills have estrogen and progestin in them, both of which can decrease testosterone levels in your body. Although we may think of testosterone as a male hormone, everyone has it, and this hormone is what fuels your sex drive. Additionally, pills also increase the levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which binds to whatever testosterone you make, rendering them inactive. Both of these mess with your libido. 

Some experts think that the sex-drive-lowering effect of taking birth control can last long after you come off the pill, while others seem to think that your libido will bounce back once you stop. While popular knowledge seems to insist on a boost in sex drive after coming off the pill, there is also the idea that it is not necessarily a boost that you're seeing but a return to your usual sexual appetite. Either way, you may experience a change in how often you want to get frisky with your significant other.

Stopping birth control can kill the mood in the bedroom too

One of the joys of sex is not having to worry about getting pregnant (if that isn't on your agenda), and stopping birth control can mess with that. While being on the pill can make you feel confident (and therefore want to initiate sex more with your partner), coming off it can bring some level of anxiety and mess with your sex drive. 

What affects your sex life is a complex thing. No two people are alike, and it is important to take the mental and emotional aspects of it all into consideration, too. Discussing your contraceptive methods, the reasons behind why you want to pick one over the other, and their side effects is an important conversation you should be having with your healthcare provider. If your sex life is important to you, there are ways to work around birth control methods — the pill isn't the only option out there — so you can prevent pregnancy and still have fun in the bedroom. 

However, if you're already on the pill and thinking of stopping it because you've lost your sex drive, run your concerns by your healthcare provider. While a change in libido or sexual pleasure can work in your favor, there are other more unpleasant side effects to be aware of too, like acne flare-ups, mood fluctuations, weight changes, and painful and irregular periods.