1. Your moods are all over the place.
It's difficult for science to conclusively prove the correlation between the pill and mood, because there are tons of external factors that can affect how you're feeling. However, if you're taking the pill and finding yourself feeling significantly more dramatic, mean, teary or downright depressed, there's a definite possibility that you could be on the wrong one, and the easiest way to stop feeling like shit is to switch. Levels of estrogen and progesterone, which can have this influence, vary from pill to pill, so you might find another brand works better for you, but these swings in mood can strike even if you've been taking the same pill for years, so don't rule out the possibility of its influence even if it's not your first couple of months of usage.
2. You're breaking out badly.
You've heard so many stories of the Pill "curing" everyone else's skin problems—then you start taking it, and it has the total opposite effect, leaving you feeling sore, spotty, and like the world has deliberately screwed you over. Developing acne could be another case of needing to switch the type of pill you're taking rather than coming off it altogether, but most pills tend to improve the condition of your skin, so one that's having the opposite effect probably isn't striking the right balance. Talk to your doctor about the right pill for you, something with skin-clearing abilities while retaining its contraceptive perks.
3. Your sex drive is ruined (and you want it back).
One of the most common negative side effects of the pill is lack of libido, something which 1 in 6 women are said to experience on hormonal contraception. Research has linked the oral contraceptive in particular to decreased levels of androgens—hormones, including testosterone, which are thought to drive your sexuality. If you're happy with the amount of sex in your relationship (or lack thereof) it's not a particular concern. It's when you're feeling like something is missing that you need to take action. Barrier methods like condoms are the only foolproof way (as of now) to stop hormones affecting your sex drive altogether, but you could find that other hormonal contraception that affects you less than the Pill.
4. You always forget to take it anyway.
The Pill is only 99 percent effective like it says on the packet when you take it consistently, at the same time of day, every day—even on weekends, even on holidays, even when you're so hungover you think you might die. If you're one of those gals you just can't remember to pop a pill with any kind of regularity, it's not protecting you like you want it to, and it might be time to admit defeat and choose a contraceptive you don't need to set a reminder alarm for. More long-term options include the implant, which lasts for 3 years, or the IUD (coil), which can last anywhere from 5 to 10.
5. You're getting migraines.
Migraines that are induced by taking the Pill are a whole different kind of beast. If you're having the kind of headache with flashing lights, visual disturbances or a sensitivity to light so bad you can barely lift your head from the pillow on a regular basis, it's possible that birth control is to blame. They can indicate that you have a higher risk of thrombosis, something the Pill increases risk factor for anyway. Even if the pain turns out to not be contraceptive-related, this kind of headache needs checking out, so book an appointment to see your doctor asap.
6. You're having digestive problems.
This year, Harvard researchers looked at the health records of over 230,000 women and found that taking the birth control for five years or more tripled a woman's chance of developing Crohn's disease—symptoms of which include severe abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhoea, and fatigue. Obviously, this won't affect everyone who takes oral contraceptives, but it's definitely worth being aware of if you have these issues, especially if they seem to be getting more and more severe with prolonged usage.
7. You want to have a baby!
Of course, the most common reason for coming off the Pill is that you're ready to conceive—although loads of women are still confused about when they should stop taking the Pill, how the change will affect them, and when they can start trying for a baby. If you're in that boat, or planning to stop taking the pill for any other reason, find out exactly what to expect when you come off the contraceptive pill.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.