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Should I Take Occasional Breaks From Birth Control Pills?

Are Occasional Breaks From the Pill Necessary?

Almost every woman I know has been on the pill at some point in her life, and many of us started when we were under 20 years old. It has many health benefits, such as preventing unwanted pregnancies, decreasing the risk of ovarian cancer, and alleviating PMS symptoms. The one big negative about the pill is that statistics show being on it for longer than 10 years puts you at a higher risk for breast cancer. Women may also be worried that taking hormones for so long may affect their chances of having a baby in the future. So does it make sense to take regular vacations from the pill to give your body some hormone-free time?

To find out if this is a good idea, read more.

While it's common to think that taking occasional breaks from the pill is beneficial for your body, it's actually not necessary. It's a myth that may have started a while back, since the very first birth control pills contained high doses of hormones. Today's pills contain a much lower amount so they're completely safe to take for years at a time. Doctors actually think it's healthier for your body to remain on the pill. The fluctuations in hormones can have a negative effect on your body, both physically and emotionally. Plus, all the symptoms you experienced when you first started the pill such as moodiness, sore breasts, or yeast infections may show up again.

What about your fertility? You may be worried that staying on the pill continuously for many years will make it harder to get pregnant when you decide to start a family. There's no evidence that being on the pill has any effect on a woman's future ability to conceive — it merely prevents pregnancy while a woman is on it. In fact, regularly going on and off the pill may increase your chances of having an unplanned pregnancy since your protection isn't consistent.

Most importantly, if you've been on the pill forever, you'll be happy to know that as soon as you go off it your risk for developing breast cancer begins to go back to normal over time. If you're worried about your risk, or the whole idea of putting hormones in your body doesn't sit well with you, talk to your doctor about hormone-free alternatives such as the ParaGard IUC. A permanent vacation from the pill might be the better option, as opposed to a break.

Source: Getty
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