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Home > Learn > FYI > >How Long Does it Take for Hormones to Balance Post Birth Control?

How Long Does it Take for Hormones to Balance Post Birth Control?

Apr 04, 23 7 min

By Dr. Kenosha Gleaton, OBGYN and fertility expert

Hormonal birth control can be a great tool for many people trying to regulate menstrual cycles or prevent pregnancy. Taking some forms of birth control does have an impact on your natural hormone cycle, which can raise some questions about when exactly your hormone levels will go back to normal or what you can do to support hormonal balance after getting off of birth control. Let’s take a look at how hormonal birth control works and how it relates to your natural hormone cycle. 

How hormonal birth control works

Hormonal birth control comes in a few different forms, including the pill, a dermal patch, IUDs, and more. These methods work to prevent pregnancy by either altering the natural hormone cycle or altering conditions of the uterus and cervical fluid. [1] Most hormonal birth control methods are combination methods, meaning they release both progestins and estrogen into the body. 

Progestins inhibit luteinizing hormone (LH) surge, which is the hormone responsible for ovulation. Progestins also thicken cervical mucus, lower fallopian tube motility, and impact uterine conditions in order to prevent sperm from reaching an egg or an embryo from implanting. [1] Estrogens suppress follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) production, which is the hormone responsible for growing a mature egg. Estrogen also helps prevent irregular or unscheduled bleeding while on birth control. [1]

What hormones does birth control affect?

Depending on the kind of hormonal contraceptive you’re taking, there are four to five specific hormones that are directly impacted by your birth control. In combination methods such as the combination pill, patch, ring, etc. you will be taking in synthetic estrogen and progestin. [1] This increases the levels of these hormones in your body and in turn, decreases the amounts of luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. [1] The injectable form of birth control known as the DMPA injection or Depo Provera® works by suppressing gonadotropin-releasing hormone and preventing ovulation. [1]. 

What else affects hormone levels?

Aside from birth control, there are many things that may impact your hormone levels before, during, or after birth control use. It’s natural for hormones to shift throughout our lives, especially during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Other reasons your hormone levels may be off include: [2,3]

Hormonal levels outside of the normal range can be temporary or chronic. If the cause of hormonal changes is an underlying disorder, some treatments or surgeries may be helpful. Speak with your healthcare provider directly for their advice on treating or identifying abnormal hormonal levels. 

Measure your hormone levels at home → 

Symptoms of a hormonal imbalance

If you are concerned about your hormone levels, it’s important that you know what signs to look out for. Some potential symptoms of abnormal hormonal levels include: [2]

Many of these symptoms can be attributed to other conditions and don’t necessarily mean you have abnormal hormone levels. The best way to know for sure if your hormone levels are outside of the normal range is by testing your hormone levels. 

How long does it take for hormones to balance after birth control?

Because there are so many factors that play into hormone levels, it’s hard to say for sure how long it may take someone to have “balanced” hormones after stopping birth control. We do know that some people may take longer than others to get back to a regular menstrual cycle, and that for most people, earliest ovulation after birth control may occur as soon as 48 hours after discontinued use, with the exception of DMPA [1]. Data shows that DMPA stays in the system much longer and may prevent ovulation for up to 49 weeks after the final injection [1]. 

If you did have irregular periods or signs of abnormal hormone levels prior to getting on birth control, it’s likely that your levels will return to their pre-contraception levels when you discontinue birth control. Birth control doesn’t “fix” or correct hormone levels in the long term, although it can be used to treat irregular menstrual cycles or symptoms of irregular hormonal levels [1]. If you’re having symptoms of abnormal hormone levels or you’re concerned about your health, speak with your healthcare provider about getting hormone testing done.

The short answer is that hormone levels are likely to revert back to how they were pre birth control within a few weeks for most methods, although it may take up to a several months for those on the birth control shot. Underlying conditions may have an impact on hormone levels, so talk with your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing abnormal signs or symptoms. 

What can I do to help balance hormones?

Having balanced hormones may help with uncomfortable or upsetting symptoms such as weight fluctuations, acne, hair growth, and irregular menstrual cycles or infertility. [2] Hormonal birth control is actually often prescribed to treat some symptoms of abnormal hormone levels, but if you’re hoping to stay off of birth control, there are a few other things you can try. 

Lifestyle changes

Prioritizing sleep, stress reduction, and reducing use of tobacco and alcohol may be beneficial for overall health and hormone levels. [4-6] 

Diet and exercise

A balanced diet and comprehensive vitamin routine can benefit your health in many ways. Studies show that some nutrients play a large role in hormone signaling and cycle regularity. [4-6] Exercise is also vital for overall health, and staying within a healthy weight for your height can support hormonal balance. [7]

Read more about balancing hormones after stopping birth control. If you’re curious about your hormone levels, try an at-home testing kit or schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. 

Key takeaways

  • Birth control methods that are hormonal may contain estrogen, progestin, or a combination of the two. 

  • Hormonal birth control works by preventing ovulation or changing conditions in the uterus, fallopian tubes, and cervix. 

  • Hormonal contraceptives may impact luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, or gonadotropin-releasing hormone. 

  • Stress, sleep, medications, diet, exercise, and more can all play a role in hormone levels. 

  • Most birth control methods are out of your system within a few days and hormone levels are likely to revert back to how they were pre birth control relatively quickly. 

  • The birth control shot commonly known as Depo Provera® is more likely to disrupt the natural hormone cycle for a longer period of time and may inhibit ovulation for a few months. 

  • Eating healthy, taking a comprehensive vitamin, getting plenty of sleep, and reducing stress are just a few ways you can support overall health and hormone balance. 

 

References:

  1. Britton LE, Alspaugh A, Greene MZ, McLemore MR. CE: An Evidence-Based Update on Contraception. Am J Nurs. 2020;120(2):22-33. doi:10.1097/01.NAJ.0000654304.29632.a7

  2. Hormonal Imbalance. Cleveland Clinic. Last Reviewed April 2022. URL. Accessed March 2023.

  3. Kim TW, Jeong JH, Hong SC. The impact of sleep and circadian disturbance on hormones and metabolism. Int J Endocrinol. 2015;2015:591729. doi:10.1155/2015/591729

  4. Layman DK, Anthony TG, Rasmussen BB, et al. Defining meal requirements for protein to optimize metabolic roles of amino acids. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;101(6):1330S-1338S. doi:10.3945/ajcn.114.084053

  5.  Mullur R, Liu YY, Brent GA. Thyroid hormone regulation of metabolism. Physiol Rev. 2014;94(2):355-382. doi:10.1152/physrev.00030.2013

  6. Dinu M, Colombini B, Pagliai G, et al. Effects of a dietary intervention with Mediterranean and vegetarian diets on hormones that influence energy balance: results from the CARDIVEG study. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2020;71(3):362-369. doi:10.1080/09637486.2019.1658723

  7. Schwarz NA, Rigby BR, La Bounty P, Shelmadine B, Bowden RG. A review of weight control strategies and their effects on the regulation of hormonal balance. J Nutr Metab. 2011;2011:237932. doi:10.1155/2011/237932

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