You may be wondering if taking a break from birth control is something you should consider to help you reset your body and improve your fertility. But that’s not really how it works and there are risks associated with this decision – risks that you may not realize you’re taking until it’s too late. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the most important reasons you should not take a break from your birth control.

Disproving the Pill Break or “need to stop birth control for my health” Myth

The pill break myth is a popular belief that taking a short break from birth control pills will reset your body and make it more fertile. This is not true. There is no scientific evidence to support the pill-break myth. In fact, fertility experts sometimes put women with PCOS on the pill to help make their hormones regular and then stop the pill and tell the patient to get pregnant immediately after stopping because that is when the PCOS patient will be most “normal” and more fertile.

If you want to get pregnant, just stop your birth control pills/patch/ring. You’ll probably have a withdrawal bleed and in 2 weeks you can get pregnant! If you don’t have a withdrawal bleed, then see your doctor.

It is also important to remember that it can take up to a year to get pregnant (regardless of whether you were on birth control or not in the past) and even then 15% won’t get pregnant after a year. If you are part of that 15%, see your doctor for a fertility workup of you and your partner.

Birth control pills in their packaging held by a woman with red nail polish

Hormonal Contraception Isn’t “Unhealthy”

Hormonal contraception is a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy and is used to treat acne, anemia, painful periods, heavy periods, endometriosis, PCOS, and more. It is also one of the most widely used methods of birth control. In the United States, more than 88% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 use some form of contraception. So, you’re in good company!

The 2 most common types of hormonal contraceptives are birth control pills and hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs). Birth control pills contain synthetic versions of the hormones progesterone and estrogen. Hormonal IUDs (Liletta, Mirena, Skyla) release small amounts of levonorgestrel into the uterus.

Hormonal contraception is highly effective at preventing pregnancy. In typical use, birth control pills are 91-93% effective at preventing pregnancy. Hormonal IUDs are even more effective than the birth control pill, patch, or ring.

Hormonal contraception is also safe for most women. The risk of serious side effects is very low if you are under 35 years old and a nonsmoker. The most common side effects are minor and include breakthrough bleeding, nausea, sore breasts, and headaches. Most of which go away or improve within 3 months of starting the medication.

Some women worry that hormonal contraception is unhealthy. However, there is no evidence that hormonal contraception is harmful to healthy young women. In fact, birth control pills have some health benefits, such as a reduced risk of ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, colorectal cancer, anemia, and acne.

If you are a healthy young woman and you are concerned about the safety of hormonal contraception, talk to your doctor. Pandia Health’s expert doctors can help you choose the birth control pill with the least amount of side effects or no side effects customized for you.

So, what’s the verdict? Are hormonal contraceptives unhealthy? The answer is a definite no. For more than 70 years, hormonal contraceptives have been studied extensively and found to be safe for most women. However, like any medication or health choice, it’s important to weigh the risks and benefits for you specifically and make an informed decision about which method of birth control is right for you.

If you’re looking for expert care by expert birth control doctors or to automate your birth control (get it delivered!), Pandia Health is the perfect fit for you! Our online platform makes it easy to get started with our service. 

FAQs

How much is birth control?

Birth control is an important part of family planning for couples who want to prevent unintended pregnancies. There are >40 different types of oral contraceptive pills, and the price varies depending on the brand, the dosage, and whether you have insurance. Without insurance, birth control pills can cost anywhere from $0.25 to $10 per day. With insurance, you may be able to get your preferred birth control method for “free” = no copay, no deductible (thanks to the Affordable Care Act) or for a reduced price. There are many ways to save money on birth control pills. You can ask your doctor about generic brands, get birth control from a title X family planning health center that has free or sliding scale for low-income people or look for coupons online.

What happens if you take birth control while pregnant?

If you take the birth control pill, patch, ring, or shot while pregnant, nothing will happen to the developing embryo. Women have taken the birth control pill throughout their pregnancy with no effect on the baby. If you are on the birth control pill, patch, or ring and become pregnant, STOP your birth control and talk to your doctor.

How long does birth control stay in your system?

TLDR: 10 days maximum. There are many different types of birth control pills. The amount of time they stay in your system may vary depending on the type you are taking. One of the active ingredients in most birth control pills is ethinyl estradiol, which is a synthetic form of the hormone estrogen. The other ingredient is usually a progestin (synthetic progesterone) and the longest half-life is about 38 hrs and it takes 4-5 half lives for the drug to clear your system. So 10 days maximum for the longest progestin to clear your body. Most birth control pills must be taken every day to be effective. If you miss a pill, there is a chance that you could become pregnant. The hormones in birth control pills can stay in your body for up to one week after you stop taking them.

What happens if you miss a day of birth control?

If you're on the pill and you miss a day, don't worry! You're still protected against pregnancy. Just take the pill as soon as you remember it. If you miss 2 pills, take 2 today, and take 2 tomorrow. However, if you forget to take your pill, patch, or ring for 3 days in a row, you should use a backup method of contraception, like condoms, or abstain from sex for the next 7 days. And if you had sex in the past 5 days, you should consider emergency contraception. Missing pills can also cause breakthrough bleeding, which is when you bleed while you're on the pill. This is usually nothing to worry about and will go away on its own. However, if the bleeding is heavy or lasts for more than a few days, you should speak to your doctor. In general, it's best to try and take your pill at the same time every day. This will help you get into a routine and make it less likely that you'll forget.

How late can a period be on birth control?

If you are taking the pill correctly and consistently, your period should arrive during the week that you are off the pill or you are taking the sugar pills or iron pills (basically the 4th week of pills in a 4 wk pack). However, if you have just started taking the pill, the first 3 months are a time of adjustment and the pill, patch, or ring, will move your period to the week off, sugar/iron/bleeding week. Many factors can affect the timing of your period while you are on birth control pills. These include the type of pill you are taking (low dose estrogen can have more breakthrough bleeding but can also have no bleeding), how well you follow the instructions, and whether you have any underlying medical conditions. Most birth control pills are designed to be taken for 21 days, followed by a 7-day break during which you will have your period. However, you can take any of the pills continuously, without a break. If your withdrawal bleed on the pill, patch, or ring is more than 2 weeks late, you should take a pregnancy test to rule out the possibility of pregnancy. If the test is negative and you continue to miss your periods, contact your healthcare provider to discuss other possible causes of lack of a withdrawal bleed.