Last month I had a rant about the many downsides of hormonal birth control. Rant over. I rest my case.
This month I’d like to talk about how to come off the Pill or implant, re-balance your hormones and prevent any post-pill symptoms, such as acne, irregular periods or problems conceiving.
Coming off hormonal birth control will mean different things to different people. Let’s consider some of the most likely scenarios.
1. You had normal periods before you started the Pill
You went on the Pill simply for contraception, and last time you tried to come off it your period returned as normal. This is the easiest scenario – just stop taking it.
You may experience some mild acne or anxiety, but it shouldn’t last longer than three months.
Eat a well-balanced diet with healthy fats, plenty of protein and fresh veggies, take B vitamins and magnesium, and get out in the sun whenever possible.
If after three months your period has not returned, you may need to take an ovulation stimulant herb such as Vitex agnus-castus.
Vitex promotes ovulation by encouraging the secretion of dopamine from the pituitary gland (in the brain) and reducing the secretion of prolactin.
Never take Vitex too soon after stopping the Pill, and don’t take it for longer than 3-6 consecutive months.
2. You went on the Pill as a treatment for irregular periods
You were put on the Pill to help ‘balance’ your hormones – and last time you stopped, your periods came back as irregular as before, or not at all.
In this case, you’ll need to ask yourself: “What is the problem with my periods?”
Reach out to your doctor or natural health practitioner to reach a diagnosis. Is it PCOS and insulin resistance? Are you undereating and over-exercising? Are you deficient in a particular nutrient that is preventing ovulation?
A good place to start is with some blood tests. Check your insulin levels, thyroid function, vitamin D status and for gluten sensitivity – all these can affect ovulation.
If you’re insulin resistant, eliminate sugar and simple carbohydrates from your diet, take magnesium and chromium, minimise stress and get some good quality sleep.
If your thyroid is functioning sub-optimally, remove gluten from your diet and see a natural health practitioner for further tests and advice.
If you’ve been given a PCOS diagnosis but you’re not insulin resistant, you’ll need to explore this further. There are many sub-types and the condition is often wrongly diagnosed. My next article will be all about PCOS, so stay tuned for that.
Once you’ve made the necessary changes, you’re ready to stop the Pill.
3. You went on the Pill as a treatment for acne
Synthetic hormones block the production of skin oils and are therefore effective at clearing the skin – however, the skin compensates by making more oil, so when you stop the Pill the acne may come back even worse than before.
Start natural treatment at least one month before coming off the Pill – take zinc, berberine (or the herb Barberry) and follow a sugar and dairy-free diet with limited refined carbs.
Post-pill acne is a condition that can happen even in women who haven’t suffered from acne in the past. All the above treatments will help – but persevere! These withdrawal symptoms can last up to 12 months after stopping the Pill.
4. You had very heavy and/or painful periods before the Pill
If this is you, you may be understandably worried about coming off the Pill.
Firstly, you’ll need to check whether you have any underlying gynaecological conditions like fibroids or endometriosis. If you do, you’ll need to seek proper treatment before coming off the Pill.
If you don’t have any gynaecological issues, your heavy bleeding will be due to oestrogen excess. To detoxify from oestrogen, cut out alcohol and processed foods, go organic, avoid plastic, use natural skin care products and take diindolylmethane or DIM.
For period pain, start by reducing inflammation – go dairy-free and take 2-3 teaspoons of turmeric per day during your period, with your food or mixed into a drink like golden milk. These two simple strategies can yield dramatic results.
Heavy bleeding can also be a sign of iron deficiency – test your iron and ferritin levels and supplement accordingly.
By Poppy Burr
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Poppy is a degree-qualified medical herbalist practicing from Aljezur and Praia da Luz. She offers holistic consultations and personalised treatment plans using plant-based medicine.
More info at poppytheherbalist.com,
or call on 969 091 683.