Getting Off Birth Control Pills? Now What?
First off, I want to tell you that I have received and overwhelming response from all you readers in regards to my birth control pill post (if you haven’t read it go HERE). It is amazing how many of you out there are searching for explanations and answers. I commend you all for sharing your story with us, and for having the guts to come out and express what your experience has been like. I have received on average 10 emails weekly from women all over the world, inquiring about what to do once they have made the big decision, so I think it is time for me to share with all of you the advice I have been sharing with them.
Now, to make this very clear, this advice is based on MY personal experience, and my experience working with others. I am not a doctor specializing in the endocrine system, and I am not saying that this is a full proof plan. This is simply what I found has worked best. Secondly, getting off the birth control pill is a choice, and it was my personal choice. I am not here to tell you what is right for you and your body.
If you have read my previous post about the Birth Control Pill, then you may have been waiting for this follow up for quite a long time. And the reason it has taken be so long to write it is because frankly it has taken me awhile to figure what in the world to do, because this most certainly has been a journey. Coming off the pill puts your body into a swing where you can experience a host of symptoms, some of which seem as though you are going backwards, but a ton that solidify that you are in fact making process. But I can say that after 3 years of being off the pill, I have never felt better. Yay!!
In a nut shell, here is are the negative, yet TEMPORARY things I experienced:
- Rapid weight gain, and then weight loss
- Acne, especially on the upper back
- Dry skin
And here are the positive things I experienced:
- Full hair regrowth – I literally have 50% more hair then before
- A return of a sex drive
- Clearance of foggy brain
- Sound sleep – goodbye insomnia
- Regular periods – only after the absence of for a few months
- NO PMS – especially cramps *this was a tough one to figure out
- HAPPY mood
The reason I am giving you this list is because so many women will get off the pill, experience some negative side effects, get scared, and go back on. You have to realize, that after years of natural hormone production sedation, your body has to re-learn how to make and balance your hormones. This is not an easy task, and it does take time for your body to adjust. Therefore, MANAGE your expectations. EXPECT that things are not going to be perfect, and IT IS going to take TIME. I cannot tell you how long it is going to take, because every body is different, and the duration of your time on the pill is different. But I can tell you, that you CAN normalize your hormones, you can make them yourself, but you have to plan, be diligent and invest in the process. This does not happen over night, but the benefits are so great it is worth the challenge.
Now, I am going to give you a run-down of the strategy that I took to balance my hormones. Each person may have to adjust this program to her body type, weight, and hormone issues. Therefore, use this as a guide, but do realize that in some cases, this may not be the end-all be-all for you. You may have to get your hormones tested (I like the salivary hormone test), and you may have to work with an alternative practitioner. People who are dealing with more complicated cases such as PCOS, endometriosis, etc. may find that this program helps greatly, but may need extra assistance. Finally, if you have or are dealing with any diseases, conditions or cancers, make sure to check with your practitioner before taking any supplements.
Diet – diet is going to be really important in getting the hormones back on track because you need to provide the body with the necessary tools, or nutrients, to make hormones. Secondly, you cannot consume foods that are going to interfere with hormone production and balance. Diet is essential, and you cannot expect changes without a change in diet. Check out my Hormone Balancing Food & Herb Diet for more details.
Xenoestrogens – these guys are a big player in getting your hormones back into balance. Xenoestrogens are estrogen mimickers that act as or imitate estrogen in the body. They can either be synthetic or natural chemical compounds and they interrupt your normal hormone balance. It is necessary to eliminate these guys from your diet because they will BLOCK your natural production. Not good.
Main culprits of xenoestrogen exposure:
- Conventional meat: red meat, chicken, pork, turkey
- Conventional dairy: cheese, milk, butter, ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese
- Conventional produce
- Beer and conventional wine
- Plastics: water bottles, Tupperware
- Conventional personal care products
- Aluminum canned goods: Look for BPA-free
Saturated Fats – saturated fat is what the body uses to actually make hormones by the liver. Consuming healthy saturated fats daily is going to be very important for getting your hormones back on track. I always suggest consuming coconut oil or butter, because it is also very stimulating to they thyroid, a key player in hormone balance. 1-2 tbs daily of coconut oil/butter is a great way to begin.
Bioflavonoids – these guys are going to act as little building blocks for hormone production. My favorite way to get these in the body is through the use of pollens. Bee pollen and flower pollen. My personal favorite product for flower pollens is Ultra Pollen by Premier Research Labs -Taking 6 daily is a great start. I then make a separate product using raw bee pollen using raw honey. I eat this mixture daily. The benefit of bioflavonoids is that they help normalize your period, and may even help you to get your period back if you are not getting it regularly. Secondly, the honey and pollen mixture is an excellent LIVER tonic. The liver performs hormone synthesis, and without proper liver function, your hormones cannot balance. Therefore, this honey and pollen mixture has a two-fold benefit. You can try using both the Ultra Pollen with the honey mixture for a stronger effect, or you can take one or the other. The honey mixture is a great one to start with to see if it is therapeutic enough.
* To make the honey pollen mixture: get a large glass jar and mix 2/3 RAW, unheated honey and 1/3 raw bee pollen . Both must be truly raw otherwise the benefits are not going to be there. Take 2 tbs daily. **Start with 1/2 tsp and work you way up because this can cause detoxification of the liver. Secondly, if you are allergic to pollens, consult your doctor first. If you are not sure you have a good local option of the pollen and honey, go to the previous links to see my favorites.
If you had read my first post on birth control pills, then you probably remember me mentioning that birth control pills cause a vitamin B6 deficiency. B6 deficiency leads to poor gallbladder function. As a result you may experience symptoms such as poor sleep, inability to digest fatty foods, bumps on the back of your arms, dry skin and overall toxicity since the gallbladder’s job is to be an exit route, via the bile, for toxins coming from the liver. Therefore it is imperative that you supplement with LIVE-SOURCE B6 and the complex of B vitamins. I personally use 1 tsp of Gallbladder ND by Premier Research Labs daily. I also like to pair it with a general B vitamin product called Max B ND by Premier Research Labs, so that my B vitamins stay in balance. In some cases, depending on how long you have been on the pill, you may need to take B6 indefinitely.
* Note, not all B6 and B vitamins are crated equally, and this specific product is what I have found to work the best. Do not be surprised if you do not get results from other products.
One of the key things that needs to be done is to detoxify xenoestrogens from the body. We will be detoxifying and converting xenoestrogens from both the birth control pill and from other exposures. This will be imperative to hormone balance. I personally like DIM Detox by Pure Encapsulations since it not only contains DIM, which promotes healthy estrogen conversion in the body, but it also contains other ingredients such as milk thistle that promote liver detoxification. I personally used 2 capsules daily.
The birth control pill influences the body in such a way that you most likely have experienced some sort of side effect. Therefore, the following are a few supplements that I used to offset those side effects and to support the normalization of my hormones.
Hair Loss – this was a big one for me personally and the ONLY thing that I found to work was Hair and Nails by Dragon Herbs. I swear by this supplement and take 4-6 daily without fail.
Energy, Mood and PMS Elimination – these took me awhile to figure out, as I had terrible period cramps before going on the pill. The combination that really helped me to eliminate completely all my problems with cramps and PMS was Eternal Jing and Adaptogen Energizer by Dragon Herbs. A LIFE SAFER. I take 2-4 Eternal Jing and 6 Adaptogen Energizer daily.
*Note: Tonic herbs like Eternal Jing, Adaptogen Energizer and Hair and Nails have a cumulative effect. This means that they can take up to 2- 3 months to show results since they work on the root issues of the body. Therefore, do not stop taking them if you do not see results right away. This does not mean that they are not working. This is the same with all tonic herbs. The good news is that they work on the body as a whole, mentally, spiritually and physically, so there is a good chance you will notice a benefit beyond just hormone balance.
Acne – I actually never had to take anything in addition to the previous suggestions to get rid of my acne. The thing about acne is that it is influenced by hormones, especially high testosterone, but it is also influenced greatly by the digestive tract. Therefore, making sure that you are properly digesting your food and having at least 1 bowel movement daily is going to be imperative. This is also where the CLEAN diet comes into play. You cannot eat white flour, white sugar, processed foods and foods loaded with xenoestrogens (especially dairy) and expect to have great skin. Period. Check out my Hormone Balancing Food & Herb Diet for more details about what to eat and not eat.
Another aspect of acne is high testosterone levels. This typically manifests as acne on the chin, chest and upper back. This is common when you are dealing with PCOS. If you have issues with high testosterone (can be verified by getting your hormone levels tested), it is imperative to keep your intake of sugar and carbohydrates low. This will help to keep your insulin levels balanced. If you need extra help with balancing blood sugar, I would suggest taking GlucoFunction by Pure Encapsulations. To lower testosterone, try taking Saw Palmetto by Pure Encapsulations. Although this is commonly taken for the prostate, saw palmetto has been shown in research to lower testosterone and therefore can be taken by women.
Now not all of these supplements are just for normalizing hormones but are also amazing for the body in many other ways. The eternal jing, hair and nails, and adaptogen energizer are adaptogens, meaning they help the body overcome stress and physical weakness, and they also build the strength of the body. For me personally I have decided to stay on them because I have never felt so great. As for the DIM detox, this is great as a preventative since our xenoestrogen exposure is so inevitable. As for the foundation of bioflavonoids and coconut oil, these are overall essential to good health.
Keeping your hormones balanced, and the liver open are two keys elements for true anti-aging, so just keep that in mind when you start down this path. As for finding out the dosages that are right for you, I suggest contacting the companies directly.
If you find that you are seeming to do everything right, and you are still having trouble with hormone balance, then you may have to look into liver/gallbladder cleansing. A congested liver/gallbladder is often an underlying cause of stubborn hormone imbalance, and it may take deep cleansing to get back online. Check my Liver Gallbladder Cleansing post for more details.
Feel free to share with us your experiences and any other therapies that you have tried to help with getting off birth control pills and good luck!!