The decision to take birth control is a very private and serious one. Regardless of when or why we started, often times we may be uninformed about the wide range of effects birth control can have on our body. Usually, it’s not until we decide to quit that we become aware of this.
If you have quit or are considering quitting hormonal birth control, you’ll want to know how best to ease the transition and detox so you can return to your body’s natural rhythm.
When I quit birth control (a Nexplanon implant in the arm), I was pretty startled to find myself with cystic acne and no period for nearly 5 months. I told my doctor I was concerned about an irregular cycle and my potential fertility, which she dismissed and offered more synthetic progesterone to ease the symptoms. I knew then I’d have to take this journey into my own hands- naturally.
Now that I’m back to a normal monthly cycle, I want to share what worked for me in my journey of detoxing from birth control. The most important thing to understand is that your body is amazing and is perfectly capable of detoxing on its own. It already knows what to do- it may just need some additional support to heal by nourishing your body. Focus on following these steps below to support the natural healing process you’re already in.
Whether you’re trying to get over discomfort like acne, cramping, and moodswings or looking to get your regular cycle and fertility to return – there are a myriad of natural and non-toxic ways to recover from birth control.
If you are still making the decision of whether or not you’d like to end your journey with synthetic birth control, I’ve included the studied and proven side effects many women experience from birth control. I’m hoping this may validate your experience and give you the go ahead to ditch it when you’re ready!
Here are some of the main birth control side effects researched in clinical studies. Since everybody is different, there are likely even more side effects that you may experience personally that have yet to be studied.
“In two large prospective cohorts of US women, oral contraceptive use was associated with risk of Crohns Disease”PubMed
“[All studies] consistently show elevated plasma insulin levels as a result of OC usage. This occurs because the pill causes a decrease in insulin sensitivity in healthy women. Increases in age and weight, regardless of OC usage, will also cause an increase in glucose tolerance. Oral glucose tolerance deteriorates in all OC user groups, the greatest deterioration being in the high-dose estrogen users.”https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7026112/
“In particular, a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) points out that the influence of OCs on nutrient requirements is a topic of high clinical relevance and should, therefore, receive great attention. It has been shown that the key nutrient depletions concern folic acid, vitamins B2, B6, B12, vitamin C and E and the minerals magnesium, selenium and zinc.”https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23852908/
“Use of hormonal contraception, especially among adolescents, was associated with subsequent use of antidepressants and a first diagnosis of depression, suggesting depression as a potential adverse effect of hormonal contraceptive use.”https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27680324/
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Depending on which hormonal birth control you’ve taken, you’ve stopped producing as much of your own estrogen, progesterone, or both. Your body will have to start making these hormones again to return to a regular cycle. Since sex hormones are fats themselves, dietary fat intake is important in their production.
Get plenty of healthy fats from non-inflammatory sources like omega-3’s in nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and fish.
Fiber is such a vital part of any diet, especially when detoxing. People coming off of birth control often can experience metabolic issues like unstable blood sugar, low energy, or hunger spikes from altered insulin function. You may also struggle with gut dysbiosis like diarrhea, constipation, or indigestion.
Fiber helps with all these things in its own way:
Hormonal birth control can deplete b-vitamins and minerals like magnesium and zinc. Luckily those fiber-packed food staples like leafy greens, brown rice, beans, nuts and whole grains also contain all these missing nutrients!
Along with fiber, these nutrients help strengthen your digestive tract and support your mood and energy levels.
Take some time to research which vitamins are missing in your diet and what foods you could add to make it up. If you’re having trouble counting all these things, try an online nutrition tracker for a day or two to get a better picture of your diet.
A multi-vitamin is also a great way to ensure you’re meeting all your nutritional needs when your schedule is tight.
Hormonal birth control changes the natural populations of the gut biome. You may struggle with some issues like irregular bowel movements or yeast infections.
“Preliminary studies also suggest that progesterone may alter gut permeability and populations of certain bacteria.”https://andytherd.com/2021/01/19/is-birth-control-bad-for-your-gut-health/
Probiotic pills are a great option for helping reestablish bacterial populations. There are also some nutritious and flavorful dietary sources of probiotics too. Try eating some sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, kim chi, or other fermented veggies. If you’re feeling real adventurous, you can even try making your own probiotic drinks like kombucha.
There are plenty of over the counter supplements that can help support your body’s return to a regular menstrual cycle. I’ve included two that I’ve personally used.
Vitex Agnus-Castus (Chasteberry): This herb has been used hormonal balance for a long time. Chasteberry is typically used for increasing blood levels of progesterone, helping regulate periods and also relieve menstrual discomfort.
Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C): This one may seem too simple to be on here, but it’s helped me quite a lot. Vitamin C has been shown to help increase fertility, reduce cortisol and adrenaline levels, and lower inflammation.
While you may assume you get enough vitamin C from your diet, you may not be eating as much fruits and veggies as you might need. Also, vitamin C absorption can be blocked by things like high stress, alcohol usage, and smoking.
This final step is probably the most important thing I did throughout the entire journey. Sure- you need your nutrients to sustain your body. But that only means so much if we aren’t maintaining positive thoughts towards our bodies.
We communicate with our bodies through what we give it (food, medicine) but we also communicate by what we tell ourselves. When we think of our symptoms (acne, yeast infection, headaches, irregular periods, etc.) as something wrong – we tell our body that it’s flawed in some way. When in reality, these symptoms are just the healing phase of our recovery from these drugs. Our body needs as much emotional support as it does nutrition, and you won’t do yourself any favors telling yourself something happening is “bad.”
So instead of getting stressed about our symptoms (trust me- I know how hard this is) we should cheer our body on for detoxing and healing from such a powerful synthetic drug. We should accept the way we look and feel as the most natural and strategic response to taking something like hormonal birth control.
Instead of saying; “What if I don’t have my period again?” or “There’s something wrong with me,” try saying:
“I am safe, secure, and happy with who I am.”
“I am ready to have a regular period once my body is ready.”
“I love my body.”
“My [acne, cramps, fatigue, etc.] is my body’s ancient wisdom helping me to recover.”
I really encourage you to change your mindset from “bad side effects” to “signs of healing” and treat your body with the patience and kindness it deserves. Pay attention to yourself and keep track of your needs in terms of sleep, exercise, and meditation.
Stand by and support your body as it does the work it knows it needs to do. The healing will come.
You may also find Ways To Prevent Miscarriages helpful.