I’ve shared my story many times before about my experience with the pill.
As a quick recap, I was on it for about 8 years, suffered terrible migraines, tons of digestive issues and at the time, never really understood what it was I was doing to my body.
I didn’t realize I was taking synthetic hormones, stopping myself from ovulating and actually not getting a ‘real’ period the whole time while on the pill.
I work with many women in my private practice that are looking to get off the pill because they want to conceive in the future, and I’m happy they come to me to help them reclaim their hormonal health.
Getting off the pill isn’t so easy breezy. It definitely has it’s downfalls, which is why I want to share with you how you can come off of it. Because, bottom line, you need a plan. Deciding to just stop the pill one day and get right in the sack with you partner to conceive is no-good in my books.
Maybe having babies isn’t even something your considering but have decided it’s time to come off the pill because you’re done with taking synthetic hormones, or you’re experiencing many negative side effects.
Either way, it’s important to have a plan, work with someone who can effectively guide you through a customized program and take the appropriate supplements. Today, I wanted to share with you a few key guidelines to keep in mind if you’re deciding on coming off the pill and share with you what I do with my clients.
IF YOU’RE CURRENTLY ON THE PILL:
Whether you’ve been on the pill for 2 years, 5 years, 10 years or 20 years, it’s important to start supplementing with these key nutrients:
- Zinc – get’s depleted while on the pill and is essential for estrogen metabolism.
- B Vitamins – also get depleted while on the pill. B vitamins are involved in every neurological process in the body. Plus, they are essential for hormonal balance, energy production, mental health and stress.
- Vitamin C – another important nutrient that get’s depleted while taking the pill. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that supports collagen production (hello gorgeous skin!), heart health, prenatal health and immunity.
- Probiotics – the pill can effect your gut flora which can lead to a weaker immune system, digestive issues, gas and bloating. Your gut is like your second brain so it’s essential to keep it healthy.
THINKING OF COMING OFF?:
Before you decide one day to just stop taking the pill, I recommend you start first by taking the suggested supplements above AND work on cleaning up your diet. You see, your liver is your main detoxifying organ. It detoxifies everything that comes in your body, the pill being one of those things. Aside from detoxification, the liver also works to metabolize your hormones. So, when it comes to balancing hormones, your liver plays a very important role. You want to make sure you are eating clean, real, whole foods that supports the liver, such as:
- Asparagus: Rich source of folate, important for healthy cells, and high in glutathione, a vital antioxidant for detoxification.
- Dandelion: Stimulates the digestive juices. Helps to digest fats and supports the body’s natural detoxification processes.
- Garlic: Antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, and anti-cancer. Garlic supports detoxification and is one of nature’s best antioxidants.
- Nettle: Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, including natural iron, nettle is fabulous for strengthening the liver, adrenals, and kidneys.
- Sea Vegetables: Dulse, nori, kelp, arame, and kombu all supply minerals and iodine to help support the thyroid and immune system.
- Leafy Greens: Kale, Swiss chard, spinach, bok choy, mustard greens, and watercress. Are all rich in magnesium, which is an important detoxifying mineral.
- Fresh Herbs: Parsley, cilantro, and basil are amazing chelators. They help bind to heavy metals and flush them from your system.
- Super Foods: Chlorella, spirulina, wheatgrass, chlorophyll, barley grass, and wild blue algae are incredibly supportive of the liver, gut, immune system and supply your body with vital nutrients.
If you’ve been a regular follower of mine, you know I’m all about Qualitarian Food. That is, choosing food in it’s natural form that are free from antibiotics, chemicals, hormones and pesticides. Load up on healthy fats, quality pasture raised protein, beans and legumes, a variety of leafy greens and vegetables, antioxidant rich fruit and starchy and non-starchy veggies. THIS is what your hormone balancing diet needs to look like, whether you are on the pill or not!
Once you’ve got the supplements and diet part down for at least 2-3 months, then I would advice coming off the pill. At this point, you can speak with you doctor about coming off and make the decision to stop taking it.
From here, diet and supplementation are key, but from this point forward, every women will experience something different. If you had normal cycles before going on the pill, there’s a good chance your period will return with ease and you’ll be fairly regular.
If you went on the pill when you were fairly young, roughly 14 or 15 years old, then your cycle may not return so easily. The reason being that if you go on the pill when you are very young, you actually haven’t given your body enough time to fully mature or your ovaries to develop. Then, if you’ve been on the pill for 10+ years and decide to come off, your ovaries and hormones are going to need a lot of time before getting regular and working ‘on their own’ again.
The truth is, it varies for every women and each women’s experience will be different.
ONCE OFF THE PILL:
At the end of the day, once you are off the pill, the ultimate goal is to get your body ovulating again. Ovulation is how you produce your estrogen and progesterone. Don’t just assume it’s about having babies. Ovulation has everything to do with being hormonally balanced and fertile, regardless of wanting to have babies or not.
*A few important things to note – when you come off the pill, many symptoms can arise, such as acne, heavy periods, no periods, migraines, irregular periods, spotting and hair loss. This is due to your body no longer being supplied with synthetic hormones. You might think to go back on the pill or stay on it forever to avoid these symptoms, but trust me, give your body time and the right support and it will return to normal. You can minimize or avoid these symptoms all together.
PERIODS RETURN WITH EASE:
Great! Continue to supplement with the suggestions above, eat healthy and considering taking some turmeric to support liver detoxification. If you’re wanting to get pregnant, I would support your hormones and detoxify for a few months before trying to conceive.
NO PERIOD OR IRREGULAR PERIODS:
If you come off the pill and 6-8 months down the road your period hasn’t returned, you can try supplementing with vitex (also known as chaste berry). This herb helps to increase progesterone production, which in turn can help with ovulation. Vitex should be taken on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning. You will know within 3-4 months if this herb is working for you. Do not supplement with it longer than 6 months. At this point, I would also suggest asking your doctor for some hormone blood tests, such as FSH, LH, androgens, prolactin and progesterone. If you do not have a period, I suggest taking vitex for 25 days on and 5 days off.
*If your periods were irregular before going on the pill, there’s a good chance they will be irregular after the pill. What’s important is to understand why they were irregular in the first place. Typically, this is due to insulin resistance or even PCOS. The pill can actually increase your chances for developing PCOS and it effects how your body utilizes insulin. I do not recommend the pill as a solution for PCOS. As much as supplements, vitex and a healthy diet can be beneficial, if you are not addressing insulin resistance, your chances of getting your period back and regular again will be low. I work with women who struggle with PCOS and balance their hormones with the right meal plan which stabilizes their blood sugar effectively. For more details about this and working together, click here.
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POST PILL ACNE:
This is very common. In fact, I went through it myself for a few months and it sucked. The reason acne develops is because you’ve taken the synthetic estrogen away, which gives you clear, glowing skin. Your own estrogen will do the same thing for you, you just need to support your body with the right diet and supplements, zinc being one of them, to help clear up the acne. Trust me, it will go away, you just need to be patient. Eliminating sugar and supporting your liver are crucial for clear skin. Also, you can try supplementing with I3C or DIM, which helps to support estrogen detoxification.
HEAVY BLEEDING AFTER THE PILL:
If you suffered with heavy bleeding during your teens and are now in your late 30’s or 40’s, there’s a good chance you’ve outgrown this, however, that is not always the case.
Heavy bleeding is typically due to estrogen dominance or inflammation, or both. First, I would check with your doctor to rule out any fibroids or endometriosis (both of which are caused by estrogen dominance). If you have endometriosis I would advise speaking with your doctor about your options for coming off the pill. It is absolutely do-able, it just may be a little more complicated. Speak with an ND to discuss your options and get the right support.
I’ll say it again, the right supplements and meal plan in this case are essential. Turmeric, DIM and magnesium are also important in this case to support estrogen detoxification and support the liver in general. Iron is especially important for heavy bleeding and blood loss. It might also be wise to eliminate dairy, sugar and gluten as they tend to be inflammatory and can make heavy bleeding/estrogen dominance worse.
At the end of the day, I don’t recommend the pill or hormonal contraceptives as they can seriously wreak havoc on our delicate hormones and cycle. I see it all too often in my practice from women who are struggling to get pregnant, have PCOS, irregular periods, weight gain and are just so seriously fed up. I don’t blame them. And I can completely understand being that I’ve been in those same shoes.
I used to think that in order to balance my hormones, the pill was the solution. Unfortunately, it does not do that. It shuts down ovulation, disrupts our regular cycle, stops us from having a period, impairs liver detoxification, shuts down our own production of beneficial estrogen and progesterone and impairs insulin and blood sugar levels.
The best contraceptive options would be the Fertility Awareness Method (when used correctly is MORE effective than the pill!!), the copper IUD (not for everyone, but something to research) or barrier methods such as condoms or a cervical cap.
If you have any comments or questions, please post them below and don’t hesitate to fill out my online application if you’re looking to work together and FINALLY get to the root of your hormonal issues. Click here to fill out my application.
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