Wellness·5 min read

Why Does It Seem Like Everyone Is Ditching Hormonal Birth Control?

Woman examining bc pills
October 11, 2023

A few years ago, if someone told you they were getting off birth control, you might expect them to also say they’re trying to get pregnant. Lately, it’s not uncommon to hear that your friend’s friend, her sister, and someone else you saw on TikTok have decided to go off birth control — with no plans to have a kid anytime soon.

Why the shift? In 2023, no less, when abortion rights and childcare funding are being stripped? The answer is complicated and varies by individual, which is why we first wanted to talk to you.

Back in April, we polled @theSkimm’s followers on IG and heard their mixed reviews of the pill. Since then, birth control skepticism only seems to have grown. A few weeks ago, we checked in with a new IG poll to see if or how perceptions of the pill have changed, and why. Among those who said they’re currently taking birth control, 13% said they’re considering going off of it. Of those who responded that they weren’t on birth control, a full 32% said they ditched it within the last year. Talk about a hard pivot. One respondent admitted it was “fear from things I started hearing, honestly” that solidified her choice to say goodbye to birth control.

So, where is the fear coming from?

One contributing trend may be the ongoing celebration in the wellness space of what’s considered “natural.” A drug that impacts your hormonal pattern often doesn’t make that list, as Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, OB-GYN, MD, told theSkimm last spring. At least that’s what Gilberg-Lenz says she’s hearing from patients and her take from what’s swirling online. One Skimm’r responded to our poll saying she quit the pill “to let my body adjust back to its natural rhythm.” 

But Lucky Sekhon, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist, infertility specialist, and OB-GYN at RMA of New York, says that “natural rhythm” historically included periods of halted ovulation (which hormonal birth control causes) due to the multiple pregnancies that were common before the pill. “Our ancestors weren't ovulating because they were pregnant, non-stop.” In fact, some research suggests that birth control may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer because it reduces the frequency of ovulation, according to the American Cancer Society. 

Sekhon attributes rising skepticism of the pill to “a general distrust of the medical establishment,” particularly among women and minority groups. "People want to feel in control,” she says. Some women may reject birth control to push back against how powerless the healthcare system makes them feel. 

And then, there are the side effects. 

What side effects? 

Women report real, very frustrating, and sometimes even painful birth control side effects. Skimm respondents described symptoms ranging from mood swings (“I was a monster on the pill”) and low sex drive to melasma and weight gain. Others said birth control caused blood clots, headaches, acne, bloating, and even emotional blunting (“It made me feel flat and apathetic”). 

Still, there are plenty of people who don’t have any negative side effects from birth control, or who decide that specific pros outweigh the cons, says Sekhon. In addition to being 99% effective at preventing pregnancy when taken as directed, the pill can help alleviate heavy or painful periods, fight acne, manage conditions like PCOS, and even lower your risk for some cancers

Many Skimm’rs spoke positively about the pill, with one saying she has “no issues whatsoever” while another called birth control a “a true lifesaver.” Others applauded birth control for eliminating “crippling cramps” and stopping hormonal migraines.

So, what should you do if you’re considering going off birth control?

The decision is ultimately yours. Getting information you can trust is key. Consider muting creators who aren’t physicians or experts in this field to avoid misinformation. Speak to your doctor about any questions, concerns, or side effects you have and whether you should consider taking a different pill. You have options. 

Different formulations of the pill contain different types or doses of hormones, and each has pros and cons, says Sekhon. “Just because the pill that you're taking doesn't work [for you] doesn't mean there aren't other formulations worth trying,” she adds. And remember, there are many other methods of birth control — hormonal and otherwise — to choose from (we skimm’d them for you here). 

Whatever form of birth control you use, ask your doctor how effectively it prevents pregnancy. Whether you entertain a new contraceptive medication or ultimately decide to go off birth control entirely, ask yourself if you’re comfortable with all potential outcomes. If you got pregnant today, how would that make you feel? 


Women are having a moment of reckoning with the pill, including some who have been on birth control for many, many years – and not being shy about voicing their concerns. While everyone’s experience is different, and side effects should be taken seriously, the key is to listen to your body and your doctor.

This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not constitute a medical opinion, medical advice, or diagnosis or treatment of any particular condition. 

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