Anna Maria Locke


What to expect when you quit birth control

2019Anna Locke
what to expect when you quit birth control

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So, I quit birth control. Surprise!! Kinda obvious now that I’m sporting a baby bump, but I didn’t originally quit the pill to get pregnant.

I shared why I decided to ditch the pill in this blog post, but wanted to write a follow up post to fill you in on what happened AFTER I quit the pill, what I wished I knew, everything I’ve learned since then about hormone health and fertility (spoiler: it’s not just for when you wanna get pregnant).

It seems like every other girlfriend I talk with these days is either considering ditching her birth control, or has recently quit or switched to a non-hormonal option like the IUD and is trying to make sense of her new body as her cycle slowly heals.

Everyone’s body is different. Some women adjust immediately and get their period back immediately. For others, it can take a little longer. Either way, I want you to know that you aren’t alone and most likely nothing is actually “wrong,” no matter what crazy stuff is happening to your body!

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My story

I was on the pill for 9 years in my 20’s, and for most of that time it was fantastic choice in that season of life and I have no regrets. Eventually, after my initial pill Yaz was discontinued by my doctor due to the high risk of blood clots (good times) I went through a variety of generic versions which are not the same thing. My body reacted differently to each generic formula and eventually I started experiencing some pretty major anxiety (read: panic attacks and heart palpitations) and overall felt off and disconnected from my body. Read the long story here!

I knew that the pill wasn’t working for me, my body, and my lifestyle anymore, plus I knew Ben and I would want to start our family in the next couple of years and I wanted to give myself plenty of time before wanting to get pregnant, so it was an easy decision to stop taking it. I told my gynecologist, finished my last pill pack at the end of January 2016.

I didn’t get my first real period until April 9th, almost three months later.

I used the app Kindara to track my periods so I could tell how long my cycles were lasting, which was really useful to know and also to share with my doctor.

My first full cycle post-pill lasted 77 days.

My second cycle lasted 62 days.

At this point, it had been about 7 months so I went back to the gyno to make sure nothing was wrong, but blood work and my first internal ultrasound (joys of being a woman!) all came back normal so at least I knew I didn’t have PCOS or a thyroid imbalance.

My next cycles lasted 61 days, 43 days, 36 days, and this brought me up to one year post-pill.

I continued to have a period every 34-36 days, which is a little on the longer side but not abnormal.

It took me a full year after quitting the pill to get a regular cycle back.

From what I read, this is apparently common.

Side effects I experienced

I was worried I’d suffer from really bad mood swings again since I had been diagnosed with PMDD before originally going on the pill. I definitely felt my emotions and energy shifting and had heavier periods and cramps again, but didn’t have any other major symptoms. I started to journal through my mood swings and that helped me notice patterns and feel less crazy.

The worst part of the whole re-balancing process for me was my yeast infection from hell.

I came down with that dreaded itchy feeling in April, and it didn’t die FOR EIGHT MONTHS.

Yup, it sucked.

Eventually after trying literally every medical and homeopathic remedy under the sun, it disappeared after I started using boric acid suppositories and around the same time my cycles finally started to regulate, so I’m not sure if it was the boric acid or hormones, but if you deal with a medication-resistant yeast infection I definitely recommend checking these out! Shoving acid up my vajay felt like a last resort but hey, desperate times.

Ultimately, I am so grateful I quit the pill when I did even though weren’t ready to get pregnant, because it did take my body so long to figure things out.

Give yourself time, patience, and space.

Once we were ready to try to conceive by the fall of 2017, I had regular cycles and had learned so much about my body which took a lot of stress out of the process.

Making a change is always a little scary, especially when it’s something that could have major ramifications on our health.

If you’ve been on birth control for some time, going off cold turkey can feel a little bit like throwing yourself off a cliff into the great unknown.

Will I get pregnant?

Will my crazy mood swings return?

Will my face break out?

Will I gain weight?

Will I lose control over my body?

Will I have super bad cramps or heavy periods again?

Our culture doesn’t teach us how to honor and appreciate our menstrual cycle.

We’re told it’s a curse, something to keep hush hush, to pop some Motrin and push through when we feel weak or tired around our bleed. We’re taught that it’s not ok to be emotional or sensitive, and we are so disconnected from our own bodies that we usually don’t even recognize that our mood swings, breakdowns, existential crises, relationship issues can 90% of the time be traced back to our hormones and where we’re at in our cycle. But you can learn how to shift your self care practice or give yourself a little extra grace when you need it, to literally go with the flow.

Knowledge is power.

Knowing your body is the most powerful power of all.

The birth control pill was a wonderful invention that has created a lot of freedom for women and I am in no way anti-pill, but once we enter a season of life where we’re ready to get to know our own bodies again, transitioning off birth control can be one of the most empowering experiences of your life.

I believe that educating yourself as far in advance of going off hormonal BC as possible is the best thing you can do to prepare your body and mind.

7 things to know before quitting birth control

1. When you are on hormonal birth control, your body does not ovulate or have a true period.

This is women’s health 101 yet I had never really thought about it. Birth control is like overriding your cycle on autopilot. The synthetic hormones suppress your body’s natural hormones and basically trick your body into thinking it’s already pregnant, so it doesn’t release an egg and if it does by chance release an egg, your uterine lining won’t be thick enough for it to implant.

2. It might take several months for your period to come back.

This doesn’t mean anything is wrong.

Going off hormonal birth control is a transition, not an on/off switch. Just like you won’t lose 20 pounds after working out for one week, your body isn’t going to immediately bounce back.

This can be stressful and discouraging if you aren’t prepared, or if you want to become pregnant right away, but I encourage you to give yourself time and have patience instead of jumping right back into a medication or trying to fix yourself ASAP.

3.  You might experience some crazy hormone side effects, or you might feel fine.

Either end of the spectrum is “normal.” Don’t suffer alone! Talk to your girlfriends, your sisters, your mom, journal it out, and above all remember that you aren’t crazy.

4. Getting your cycle and fertility back is more about ovulation than about bleeding.

Female fertility is defined as a woman’s ability to conceive a biological child. Conception depends on an egg being released from your ovary, then fertilized by a sperm, and then implanted into your uterine lining. If your egg isn’t fertilized, your hormones trigger your uterus to shed its lining and the egg, which causes you to have a period. Unlike menstruation, ovulation is invisible but you don’t technically have your cycle back until you’re ovulating again.

How to know if you’re ovulating? You can track your basal body temperature, your cervical mucus, test your hormones with pee strips, basically turn your body into a science lab. Unless you are actively trying to conceive, are using fertility awareness method as your primary form of birth control (I wouldn’t recommend this until you have a regular predictable cycle again) or are super curious, I wouldn’t worry about it right away. Waiting for your period is a lot easier and less work.

5. Your body is wiser than your brain. Give it patience, time, and love.

Know yourself before embarking on a detox program or 30 day plan, or getting back on medication.

If you are triggered into obsessing over your body or have a history of eating disorders, going off BC can be a wonderful opportunity to practice letting go of your need for control and adopting a more intuitive approach.

6. Your hormones and body are not broken or diseased.

You don’t need to fix or heal them. No matter what the books or diets or experts say. Our bodies are constantly in a state of ebb and flux, and there is no such thing as perfectly balanced hormones. Just like it’s not realistic to expect to weigh the same day in and day out. There are many factors at play - what you eat, stress levels, environment.

I prefer using terms like optimizing your fertility, versus “healing” or “balancing.”

7. You will most likely NOT get pregnant right away.

With a healthy cycle, women are only fertile (aka capable of getting pregnant) 6 days every month. (Whereas men are fertile 24/7!!)

However, your fertile window will be a bit unpredictable unless you ovulate regularly. The best way to gauge your fertility if you’re trying to get pregnant or avoid it is to confirm ovulation.

Even so, “Intercourse during the fertile window is not sufficient to produce pregnancy. Pregnancy depends on the viability of the sperm and egg, the receptivity of the uterus, and other factors that vary widely among couples.” (source)

Basically, getting pregnant is a miracle and is way more complicated than we think, so if that is one of your fears about going off BC, stock up on condoms and don’t stress too much about it.

What to do after you quit birth control

Continue educating yourself, but not to the point of overwhelm. Follow your curiosity.

Start tracking your cycle!

Going off birth control is as much an emotional/mental/spiritual process as it is physical.

There’s no way to predict how your body will respond, but the more self care you practice before you quit, the better chances you’ll have at avoiding the craziest side effects you’re worried about.

Overall, view it as an opportunity to practice letting go of your need to control everything, and trusting that your body will support you and heal itself with enough time and care. Practice self love, self compassion, self care, and give your body incredible respect for all the work it does.

You’re going to uncover so much about yourself along the way!

xo Anna

Recommended Resources:

Join my FREE resource vault, including cycle tracking and journaling guides!

Wild Synchronicity - my signature program on learning about your cycle, and applying it to your life and business as a self care and productivity tool.


  • Taking Charge of Your Fertility

  • Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom

  • Period Repair Manual

  • The 5th Vital Sign

  • Beyond the Pill

  • WomanCode


Claire Baker - menstrual cycle awareness and self care, great blog posts and Adore Your Cycle e-book

Amanda Montalvord - fantabulous educational resources, hormone healing programs

Nicole Jardim - hormonal health programs

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what is clean eating?

November 2014AnnaComment
Clean Eating Basics
Clean Eating Basics

What kinds of food did you eat growing up?

I was raised on the "standard American diet" of the 90's. If you asked 12-year-old Anna what her favorite foods were, the answers would include:

fudge pop tarts (the Kroger generic brand!), toaster strudels, Pillsbury orange rolls, frozen Salisbury steak, Oreos and peanut butter, macaroni and cheese from a box, Ego toaster waffles, chocolate Teddy Grahams, crescent rolls, Kentucky Fried Chicken, oatmeal creme pies, Hamburger Helper, 100 Grand bars

oh, and Grey Poupon mustard. There were definitely a couple years when I received Grey Poupon in my Christmas stocking and was really excited about it.

Aside from the mustard (and the occasional Teddy Graham...), my diet has turned a complete 180 over the past 10-15 years.

It all started around junior year of college, when I finally had my own tiny apartment kitchen and was officially responsible for cooking some of my own meals. Hamburger Helper and Easy Mac were still staples, but as I grew into independence I began to discover food blogs like Carrots 'n' CakeKath Eats Real Food, and Healthy Tipping Point. I immediately became somewhat obsessed with stalking the virtual lives of these these random women who promoted healthy, active lifestyles, and I slowly started to really think more about the food I was putting in my body.

In the winter of 2008 I spent two months at Holden Village, a retreat center which is known for its delicious, made-from-scratch food. My oatmeal and veggie addictions were sparked there, and I never really looked back! (This was the same time period I started running and working out on a regular basis as well, so the healthy living thing kind of clicked all at once.)

I ended up losing around 20 pounds between sophomore year of college and grad school, although it was a very slow up and down process. I don't even own a scale anymore because I'm happy with how I feel in my own skin and I don't want to let a number control my happiness and sense of worth, but that's a topic for a different post. Today I want to talk about FOOD!

Clean Eating Basics
Clean Eating Basics

My diet these days is MAINLY comprised of the types of food you see in that picture. These are what I call "clean" or "whole" foods.

Obviously I am not going to say no to pizza, pasta, burgers, froyo, and cake when the occasion or weekly date night calls for it, but I try to stick to clean foods as much as possible!

What is clean eating?

There are so many definitions and diets out there these days. Vegan, raw, Paleo, If It Fits Your Macros, gluten-free, Weight Watchers, it's enough to make your head spin. Which one is really the "best?" That's something I've been trying to figure out, and here's what I've concluded after reading a lot of books.

In my personal opinion. the BEST diet is one that hits these three criteria:

1. It focuses on whole foods

2. It makes YOUR body feel amazing

3. It is non-restrictive and intuitive enough that you can maintain it for the rest of your life without obsessing

This article on the art of eating sensibly pretty much sums up my views!

What are whole foods?

I personally define whole foods as literally whole foods. One ingredient things. Fruit, vegetables, meat, nuts, whole grains. Anything that hasn't been processed!

I also consider things that have less than 4-5 ingredients to be "clean" too, like Greek yogurt, unsweetened almond milk, a sprinkle of cheese, the occasional whole grain wrap or splash of cow's milk in my coffee. 

Note: I don't have any allergies or sensitivities and go by the "everything in moderation (including moderation)" approach.

When in doubt, don't eat it. If it makes you feel like crap, don't eat it.

Read labels!

If there are weird chemicals in the ingredients list or anything you can't pronounce, then try to avoid or limit that food in your diet. I looooove cereal, but I don't eat it for breakfast because it is basically sugar with vitamins sprayed on, aka empty calories! I might have a handful of Ben's Golden Grahams after dinner if I'm craving something sweet...but I understand that it's a slippery slope to standing in the dark kitchen shoving handfuls in my mouth straight out of the box because those chemicals and all that sugar? They are DESIGNED to trigger addictive tendencies! When was the last time you started eating chips or crackers or cereal or fries and couldn't stop? Yeah, probably the last time you ate chips, crackers, cereal, or fries. 

I don't restrict myself from eating things that make me happy...I just try to make a mindful, intentional CHOICE that I am going to eat it because it makes my brain happy and accept the fact that it's going to make my body feel a little crappy afterwards!

Grocery Shopping Tips

Clean Eating Basics
Clean Eating Basics

Here is a basic go-to grocery list that I share with my clean eating accountability groups I host on Facebook! You can download a copy by clicking on the image or click here.

-Only go grocery shopping with a plan, and a list!

-Never shop on an empty stomach. You will have zero willpower when it comes to impulse buys.

-Stick to the perimeter of the store as much as possible, this is where the fresh whole foods are found.

Clean Eating Resources

If you're interested in learning more about cleaning up your diet and breaking your dependence on processed convenience foods, these are just a few of my favorite books and websites for more information and delicious recipe inspiration!


It Starts With Food

The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged

In Defense of Food


101 Cookbooks

Oh She Glows


Move Nourish Believe

Tone It Up

Against All Grain


What do you think? Are you inspired to clean up your diet a little bit?

If you have any questions or want more information on my 1:1 and group wellness coaching services, feel free to contact me. I'd love to chat!

xo Anna