How To Transition Off Hormonal Birth Control

If you’ve read my other posts on how hormonal birth control (HBC) works in the body and the side effects of it and you’re feeling like you want to transition, then you’re in the right place!

You might be freaked out about getting off the pill or getting your IUD out, but once you reconnect with your body’s natural cycles and regain your sanity it will be SO worth it.

I was definitely nervous to get off HBC and even to get my copper IUD out, but I’m so happy I made the decision to do so. Read more about my journey with birth control here.

What You Need To Know Before Getting Off HBC

In order to transition off of hormonal birth control with minimal side effects and to regain your menstrual cycle there are some things that I think you need to understand. The hormonal birth control like the pill and hormonal IUDs impact the body in specific ways. I’m going to go through those below as well as the solution to help bring all of these areas back into balance. 

 

1. Hormonal birth control (HBC) depletes the body of important nutrients.

Prior to getting off (or really any time after you have gotten off) you want to replenish the nutrients that are depleted by the pill. These include:

  • Antioxidants
  • B vitamins
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E

Increasing your intake of all vegetables, but especially leafy greens will help with B vitamins, vitamin C and Magnesium. Grass fed beef is great for minerals like zinc. Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, and eggs are excellent sources of selenium and vitamin E. Considering a whole food based vitamin C supplement, like Essential C is also a great option to help boost antioxidant levels in the body and can help skin issues. 

 

2. Hormonal birth control disrupts a healthy gut microbiome, meaning it can cause an imbalance in your gut bacteria. 

Honestly, all prescription and many over the counter medications can do this, but this is definitely one area of health that is overlooked while on hormonal birth control. Taking a quality probiotic while on hormonal birth control and off is an important piece of reestablishing balance within the body. I love Megaspore Probiotic, but you have to get it from a practitioner. I also love Just Thrive. They are actually made by the same company but you can buy Just Thrive online. 

Unfortunately, taking a probiotic isn’t enough. You also want to make sure you are feeding those good bacteria with prebiotics.

Foods high in prebiotics:

  • chicory root
  • dandelion greens
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • garlic 
  • onions
  • leeks
  • asparagus 
  • bananas
  • oats
  • oats
  • apples
  • burdock root
  • flaxseeds
  • chia seeds
  • jicama
  • seaweed

You can also include fermented foods in your diet such as sauerkraut, kimchi, any fermented veggies, organic apple cider vinegar (with the mother), and beet kvass. Be careful with Kombucha–it can cause more harm than good for some people and can be high in sugar. 

A healthy gut is essential for hormone balance. It helps us remove excess estrogen. 

 

3. Hormonal birth control is an increased burden on the liver. 

Think about this–when you are taking the pill or have a hormonal IUD you are putting hormones into the body. This means you have extra hormones that your body has to process. Guess what organ does this–your liver! This means our livers not only need extra support while taking hormonal birth control, but they definitely need it during the transition and after. 

Liver detox is actually a huge part of how I help women transition off of hormonal birth control and reset their bodies after. I use two specific supplements that are part of my Mind Body Liver Detox program. One is a liver sauce that stimulates the liver to produce enzymes and do the work of both phases of detox. The other is a binder to help remove those toxins from the body. There’s also a big focus on digestion since if you aren’t eliminating properly, you won’t be able to get rid of the toxins and excess hormones. 

You will also want to include liver-loving foods:

  • artichokes
  • beets
  • broccoli
  • broccoli sprouts
  • brussels sprouts
  • burdock root
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • garlic
  • grapefruit
  • kale
  • onions
  • turmeric root
  • eggs
  • grass fed beef 
  • wild salmon

If you are traveling or worried about being able to always get cruciferous veggies in, I highly recommend getting a high quality broccoli sprout powder. You can take this long term (minus pregnancy). 

 

4. Hormonal birth control causes your body to be less resilient to stress. 

HBC is hard on the body. As you’ve learned from this post, it depletes nutrients, causes leaky gut and messes with your gut bacteria, increases your toxic load, increases inflammation, and overall stresses out the body. No wonder so many women experience fatigue after getting off the pill. 

What happens when the body is inflamed and stressed?⁣ Our adrenal glands release a hormone called cortisol in an attempt to reduce that inflammation. ⁣The problem is that daily dose of the pill is a little too much for the adrenal glands to deal with over time. ⁣

The other issue is that there is an impact on how the brain and adrenal glands talk while a woman is on the pill. ⁣Another downside of the pill (and most types of hormonal birth control) is that it disrupts communication between your brain and adrenal glands, AND it also increases a cortisol binding protein that makes the cortisol released ineffective. ⁣

Here’s how this looks in the body:⁣

You take the pill and the brain tells the adrenal glands we have inflammation–please release cortisol. ⁣
⁣⁣⬇️
Your adrenal glands release the cortisol to help reduce inflammation. ⁣
⁣⁣⬇️
The cortisol binding protein grabs that cortisol so it cannot do its job. ⁣
⁣⁣⬇️
The inflammation goes even more and continues this process daily with each dose of hormones. ⁣
⁣⁣⬇️
Overtime, the brain and adrenal glands no longer speak in a functional way. This then leads to feelings of fatigue even after getting plenty of sleep and other hormone imbalances like hypothyroid. Learn more about how the pill impacts your thyroid here. 

This why you have to support healthy stress levels and reduce as much stress as possible when transitioning off if you want your body to rebalance properly after. I love this HPA Axis support supplement from Gaia. You also want to make sure you’re getting enough B vitamins, vitamin C, and Magnesium in order to support your adrenals (around 400-600mg per day). I also really love this Organ Complex as a way to cover your bases for many minerals and fat soluble vitamins. I use this as a whole food based multivitamin. It’s also great if you have low iron (just take with Essential C). 

5. Periods while taking the pill aren’t real periods–they are pill bleeds. 

If you read my post on how hormonal birth control impacts the body, then you know that it shuts off communication from your brain to your ovaries. This means the bleeding you are experiencing while taking the pill isn’t a real period. It’s a withdrawal bleed. Many women do not know this. Then when they get off of the pill and don’t get their periods back right away they are freaked out. This was happened to me at least. 

I thought my period was gone forever, but don’t worry. You can get your period back it just takes a bit. Remember, your brain hasn’t communicated with your ovaries and you haven’t been producing your own hormones. Your body needs some time to reconnect. It’s common for it to take 3-9 months on after to start ovulating again and get your period after coming off of HBC. 

 

Helpful Resources

If you want to learn more about how hormonal birth control like the pill impacts the body and what you can do about it, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Beyond the Pill by Dr. Jolene Brighten. She’s amazing, the book is packed with information, and if you need a practitioner to help walk you through it, test your hormones and gut health, and support you, I’m here! 

I also believe that every woman should own a copy of The Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden. Not only is there helpful information about all of the different types of birth control, but there’s also troubleshooting for different hormonal imbalances and period problems. 

Last thing! I highly recommend starting seed cycling as soon as you get off hormonal birth control. This allows you to naturally support the different hormone fluctuations. Follow it for at least 3 cycles and this can help you regain a healthy period. I have a detailed blog post and free guide to help you here

 

FAQ

Q: What other options/methods are there for birth control?

A: Here’s a great article that highlights 5 alternative methods to hormonal birth control. I prefer the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) paired with condom or diaphragm use during your fertile days (which there actually aren’t that many of). Want to learn more about FAM? Fertility Friday is my favorite resource and she has an awesome podcast that is free and packed with helpful information. 

Q: What’s a natural form of birth control?

A: The Fertility Awareness Method or FAM is the most natural form of birth control and it allows you to get in tune with your body. I use a daysy to track my fertility without the stress of charting. It takes a few cycles in order for it to get to know your body, but the longer you use it the more accurate it gets. It can tell you your average cycle length, ovulation day, and syncs right to your phone. I love it! 

Q: Any advise for pill-induced PCOS?

A: Pill-induced PCOS is typically temporary. With this specific type of PCOS, you typically have a higher ratio of luteinizing hormone (LH) to follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which is why you want to avoid supplements like Vitex (can make things worse). First, I recommend getting your FSH and LH tested. If your ratio is high, you can take a combination or peony and licorice to help rebalance your pituitary. Make sure you take them first thing in the morning more breakfast since this is when your pituitary is most receptive. ***You want to make sure you these. Stop taking them for the first 5 days of each cycle. If you aren’t getting a period then every 25 days take 5 days off. 

Q: Why is my period so heavy since stopping hormonal birth control?

A: In this situation, I would want to think about if your period was heavy prior to starting the pill. If so, you have to remember that the pill doesn’t balance your hormones or fix your period problems. It is a bandaid that masks them, which means when you get off they will likely be present and often exacerbated. Another consideration is estrogen dominance. Often when we get off HBC we will have an increase in estrogen. Check out this blog post for how to heal estrogen dominance. Heavy periods are often common in pill-induced PCOS (see above). I also have a video on getting to the root cause of heavy periods here. 

Q: How long will it take to get my period back? Since getting off the pill, it’s gone!

A: It can take on average 3-9 months, but for some women up to a year. I discussed this a bit in number 5 above, but you also want to think about if your cycle were normal prior to starting the pill. If not, then you likely still have some dysfunction occurring post pill. If they were regular, then your body may need some more time. Regardless, make sure you follow the recommendations I outlined above for nutrient replenishment, gut health, liver detox, and stress. And definitely consider seed cycling!

Q: What are the side effects of hormonal birth control?

A: I wrote a whole blog post on this that you can read here

Q: What’s the best way to supplement while taking hormonal birth control?

A: You can follow the same nutrition and supplement recommendations I went through above. I also love OC Companion by Vitanica

 

 

Need Help?

That was a lot of information on how to transition off HBC, but I truly hope you found it helpful. If you are struggling with symptoms after getting off the pill or have been thinking about getting off HBC, but want support fill out this form. Once that is filled out you will get an email to schedule a free, 30 minute discovery call with me. I am happy to chat with you about your main concerns, what has worked/not worked, and where you need the most help. Hormone imbalances can have cause a lot of unwanted symptoms and make life more difficult that it has to be. Let me help you balance your hormones, BOOST your energy, and feel good for LIFE. 

 

 

You can also join my free Facebook community here to continue learning more about hormone balancing and supporting detox. 

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