What Is Post-Birth Control Syndrome?

Physical and emotional changes from coming off of hormonal birth control

Post-birth control syndrome (PBCS) is a term some alternative medicine providers use for symptoms that can occur after stopping hormonal birth control. These often last weeks, sometimes months, and include acne, no menstrual periods, hair loss, and anxiety.

Post-birth control syndrome is not a formal medical diagnosis. In fact, it is controversial among healthcare providers who say having some symptoms after stopping birth control can be normal as your body adjusts to the change in hormone levels.

This article delves into whether there is any evidence that post-birth control syndrome is real, the symptoms associated with it, and how it is treated.

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Post-Birth Control Syndrome: Definition

Aviva Romm, MD, introduced the concept of post-birth control syndrome in the first edition of her book "Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health," published in 2008.

According to Romm, post-birth control syndrome refers to the irregular periods and other symptoms that some people get in the months after they stop using hormonal contraceptives. This includes birth control pills, the mini-pill, intrauterine devices (IUDs), injections, patches, and implants.

Hormonal contraceptives have human-made progesterone and/or estrogen (synthetic hormones) in them to prevent pregnancy. Depending on the type, they can prevent ovulation, make cervical mucus thicker to stop sperm from entering the uterus, or thin the lining of the uterus to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting.

But with that, hormonal contraceptives also stop the body’s natural production of these hormones. It can take some time for the body to rebalance hormone levels after someone stops taking birth control.

The change in hormone levels can cause temporary side effects as the body readjusts to not having am outside source of estrogen and/or progesterone.

Why Is There Controversy?

While some people say that they have symptoms after stopping birth control, no scientific studies have confirmed that post-birth control syndrome is a diagnosable medical condition that needs treatment. As such, some medical experts debate whether the condition is “real."

Signs of Post-Birth Control Syndrome

Some people find their bodies easily transition after they stop using hormonal birth control, while others may experience side effects. Signs and symptoms of post-birth control syndrome may include:

When Will I Feel Back to Normal After Taking Birth Control?

Most people feel like their bodies are mostly "back to normal" within just a few days after they stop taking birth control. However, it takes time for the menstrual cycle to readjust and get back on a regular schedule again.

Most people can expect their period to come back within four weeks of stopping the pill, but this can take up to three months. It's normal to have irregular cycles for a while after stopping birth control.

New and Returning Symptoms

Many people use birth control for reasons other than preventing pregnancy. For example, a person may take oral contraceptives to help with painful menstrual cramps or heavy periods.

If they stop using hormonal birth control, these symptoms are likely to become a problem again. This, however, does not mean that a person is experiencing a syndrome. It just means that the pill is no longer controlling the symptoms it was treating.

What Is Post-Pill PCOS?

Post-pill PCOS refers to the discovery of polycystic ovary syndrome after hormonal birth control is stopped. This type of contraception can cover up the symptoms of PCOS, so you may have no indication that you have it until birth control is no longer in your system. This is not the same as post-birth control syndrome.

Ways to Manage Post-Birth Control Syndrome Symptoms

Rather than thinking of your symptoms as a syndrome, it's more effective to treat each symptom that you're having while your body readjusts after you stop taking birth control.

For example, you can consider:

If weight gain is a concern after stopping hormonal birth control, making lifestyle choices to support your healthiest weight. Eating a balanced, nutritious diet, and getting regular physical activity are helpful steps to take.

Should You Take Vitamins?

Some research suggests that oral contraceptives—the “pill” or “mini-pill”—may lower levels of some key nutrients in the body, including:

If you do not get enough nutrition from the foods you eat, taking supplements can boost nutrient levels and may help reduce symptoms of post-birth control syndrome. 

However, more research is needed to find out if there are benefits of taking nutritional supplements while you’re taking hormonal birth control. Always ask your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement.

Should You Talk to a Provider About Post-Birth Control Syndrome?

Since post-birth control syndrome is not recognized as an official medical diagnosis, a naturopathic doctor or functional medicine provider is more likely to acknowledge your symptoms as a syndrome and diagnose give you a PBCS diagnosis.

However, a conventional healthcare provider can still help you with any long-term symptoms you may be experiencing.

Talk with a provider if your symptoms do not seem to be going away on their own. If your period has not returned in three to six months and you know you are not pregnant, you may need treatment to help restore your regular menstrual cycle.


It can take a few weeks or months for your body to adjust after stopping hormonal birth control. Symptoms like acne, weight gain, headaches, heavy periods, a lack of periods, and mood swings are also common during this time.

Some call this post-birth control syndrome. This is not an official medical diagnosis, but that does not mean the symptoms you’re having are not real.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you safely stop birth control without developing post-birth control syndrome?

    Many people with a uterus do not have any symptoms after quitting hormonal birth control. Other people have some side effects as their body adjusts to the changing hormone levels (for example, headaches), but these symptoms are usually mild and don't last long.

  • What will my menstrual cycle be like post-birth control?

    Your period is likely to return to normal a few weeks after stopping birth control. If you had irregular cycles before you started on birth control, it is likely your cycle will be that way again once you stop taking it.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Hormonal contraception.

  3. UPMC. What is post-birth control syndrome?.

  4. National Health Service. When will my periods come back after I stop taking the pill?

  5. El Hayek S, Bitar L, Hamdar LH, Mirza FG, Daoud G. Poly cystic ovarian syndrome: An updated overviewFrontiers in Physiology. 2016;7. doi:10.3389/fphys.2016.00124

  6. Palmery M, Saraceno A, Vaiarelli A, Carlomagno G. Oral contraceptives and changes in nutritional requirements. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2013;17(13):1804-1813.

  7. Hwang JH. Treatment of postpill amenorrhea with abdominal obesity by traditional Korean medicine treatment focused on pharmacopuncture and moxibustion: a case report. Medicine (Baltimore). 2019;98(35):e16996. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000016996