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Baby Making, Part 1: Going Off Birth Control

It's a new year and for many that might mean opening up a new chapter in your life by trying to have a baby. Prior to now, you may have been on a birth control that used estrogen and/or progesterone to help you maintain your cycle and prevent pregnancies. Upon going off birth control, your body now has the job of producing and balancing your estrogen levels. But do you know what all that entails?

A woman’s body produces three different types of estrogen and each type is in charge of various bodily functions. Estradiol is the primary estrogen produced for women of “childbearing” age. The other types are primarily produced during pregnancy or during menopause. Depending on how long you have been on birth control, your body may no longer be accustomed to producing the “right” levels in estrogen, as such you may experience a variety of symptoms as your body starts to adjust to. Some of those symptoms are as follows:

1. Mood swings. Mood swings can occur within the first couple of weeks of being off the pill and according to some research, it can take up to six months for your body to adjust to no longer being on birth control. It is not uncommon to find yourself crying readily over nothing or easily irritated.

2. Immediate fertility. Although it may take your body up to six months to adjust its estrogen levels, this does not mean that you can or will not get pregnant within that time frame. Expect to be able to potentially conceive immediately upon cessation of the birth control. However, many obstetricians recommend not actively trying for at least 1-3 months to allow your body a little bit of an adjustment.

3. Anxiety. Not only can trying to have a baby be an anxiety producing on its own, but guess what? Estrogen helps maintain anxiety level, as well.

4. Forgetfulness. Many people talk about pregnancy brain, but it can actually start before that. This is because estrogen helps regulate cortisol levels, which effects the functioning of neurotransmitters that are used in maintaining memory and communications. By this same reasoning, it is also not uncommon to have difficulties in communicating.

5. Weight changes. Often the rule of thumb when it comes to how estrogen effects your weight is if birth control caused you to gain weight, you might lose a little weight going off and vice versa if you found that birth control caused you to gain weight. The same can be said for breast size.

6. Increased arousal. Although not due to estrogen levels changing, birth control medication can cause testosterone levels to decrease. So upon cessation of birth control, it is not uncommon to experience increased arousal during times of ovulation and shortly before you start your period, as well as, increase is vaginal lubrication.

7. Changes in period. Although, most women experience periods similar to their pre-birth control periods, it is not uncommon for changes to occur. For example, the texture, stringiness or thickness of the blood can change; the number of days you are on your period can change, decreased or increased; cramping and breast pain/sensitivity; and the time between periods might change.

All of the symptoms above are completely normal, and I am sure there are others that I failed to mention. The thing to remember is to try to relax, enjoy your love making sessions and recognize that your body may take some time to readjust. It is often recommended that if you haven’t conceived within six months of trying, then go to the doctor to get checked out. Good luck and happy baby making!!

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