I want to preface this post by saying that I am NOT an expert. The information I am providing is what I have experienced through my own journey and what I have learned through my own research. When making decisions about your health you should always consult a doctor or naturopath first.
If you are reading this it means you feel empowered to learn about your body and what happens to it when you take synthetic birth control… and thats pretty bad ass!
My decision to get off of hormonal birth control was not an easy one. Like so many others I was afraid of the unknown and I stayed on it to regulate my periods, avoid getting blemishes and ultimately to prevent pregnancy.
I think a lot of people choose to go on or stay on birth control due to misinformation. We go to the doctor when we are teenagers, we describe our periods as being painful, irregular or causing acne and BOOM they recommend birth control. Ten years later here I am!
But this year I took a deep dive into wellness and changed a lot about the way I ate, the products I used, and my overall health. I was doing all of this while taking a little pill every single day that was actively messing with key parts of my body and how they function. Finally, I got the intuitive hit to stop my birth control and so I did cold turkey.
There are many things we experience so regularly that we have no idea could be caused by our birth control. Here’s what I’ve learned despite what doctors will tell you (this is no shade to doctors it has just been my experience that as women our menstrual health is vastly lacking in attention to detail and care):
- It depletes micro nutrients in your body that are crucial for healthy hormones and healthy brain chemistry.
- It is heavily linked to depression.
- Anxiety that would otherwise be mild and manageable can become worsened and spiral because you are so depleted.
- It can cause gut de-stabilization. Seeing as how 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut our emotional wellbeing is dependant on a healthy gut!
- Brain fog
- Depletes your sex drive
- Can hinder your bodies ability to naturally create hormones
- It disrupts the four natural phases in a monthly cycle that a woman’s body goes through and limits you to simply ‘bleeding or not bleeding’. This is big because as women our phases are our super power… our phases are how we can optimize the way we function.
- It has also been linked to other major issues such as heart disease, liver disease, blood clots, stroke, cancer, Crohn’s disease and other gut problems.
Life After the Pill:
I went off the pill on a whim with zero pre-planning but if you are thinking of going off I would highly recommend giving yourself 2-3 months to prepare your body. Getting your body ready will prevent symptoms such as acne, cramps, etc. Here are a few things for better or for worse that I’ve been experiencing:
Firstly, can we all just stop thinking its normal to breakout before our periods. It may be common but it isn’t normal. Right before my period I’ve gotten 1-3 angry pimples. There are lots of ways to treat them at the surface but truthfully hormonal breakouts are a sign of a deeper issue going on inside. So what do we do?
- The first thing you should do to combat this is to detox inside and out. Switch to all natural products, and eat cleaner. This takes time and research but its well worth it.
- Start restoring the micronutrients that the pill has been depleting in your body. A big one is magnesium and zinc which are important to your liver. Obviously your liver is a vital part of the “detox” plan since it filters crap out of your body. You can rebuild your micronutrients by taking supplements, and through food such as nuts and oatmeal.
- Regularly drink lemon water which helps to detox your system
- Drink dandelion root tea which further supports your liver
- In the meantime some surface level fixes that I like are:
Yep, I have noticed that in the week leading up to my period my PMS is strong at times. I’ve had some truly ‘snippy’ days, and emotional “I’m going to cry in the bath” days as well. The longer you are off the pill and supporting your body and balancing your hormones the less you will experience PMS. In the meantime what helps me:
- Warn your partner – Of course your mood and how you voice your feelings that come up can affect your relationship. Full disclosure with Andrew on whats going on in my body is key. When you have open communication there is a lot more patience and support.
- Regular meditation practice – I preach this all the time but seriously meditating is my number one way to relax and be more in control of my emotions.
- Journaling – PMS makes you sad or mad without even knowing why. When I can do a mind dump onto a piece of paper it makes me feel better and helps me release rather then store those emotions.
My cramps have been worse than normal but still very manageable. There is an explainable reason for everything you experience in your body, cramping could be a sign that your body is low in essential fatty acids. However, if your cramps are unbearable then you may want to consult a doctor as there could be something wrong.
Some remedies that have helped my mild cramping are:
- Heating pad
- Clary sage essential oil – rub it on your stomache
- Drink peppermint tea
- Yoga – specifically gentle yoga that targets the abdomen
I’ve done a lot this year to try and eliminate what we commonly know as brain fog and lots of things have helped but nothing compares to what getting off the pill has done. I feel more alert and productive then ever. I’ve been more creative, more task oriented and more motivated. Its hard to explain but its almost like my senses are stronger and my reflexes are faster and I’m more …awake! Call me crazy but thats whats up!
Increased sex drive
A woman’s body goes through four unique phases every month but birth control essentially takes those phases away. This means that you don’t get to experience the changes in hormones throughout the month that lead to libido. Almost instantly after getting off the pill I saw a spike in my sex drive.
Getting to know my body
One of my favourite things about being off birth control is its forced me to learn so much about my body, its phases, and the beauty and strength that comes from our biology as women. To be honest I didn’t even realize there was four distinct phases to a woman’s cycle. I have never felt so in tune with myself. I know what my body is doing, what its asking for, what it wants and doesn’t want. It allows me to be more patient and loving towards myself. Previously the depth of my body was limited to bleeding or not bleeding and I resented it.
Alternatives and Information:
- IUD: I thought about doing an IUD but ultimately decided I did not want a foreign object in my body. If you do go this route be sure to do your research because there are certainly side affects with this as well.
- Non-toxic condoms: we love the LOLA brand – you can have a monthly subscription delivered to your house!
- The book “Woman Code” by Alisa Vitti – the information I have given you in this blog post doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. Read this book if you want to dive deep and truly tap into your cycle.
- The MyFLO app: this app is a god sent and has allowed me to get to know and appreciate my body more than ever before. Here are a few reasons every woman needs this app:
- You can track your cycle. See when you are ovulating (important if you are trying to avoid getting pregnant), know when to expect your period, etc.
- It tells you all about the four phases your body goes through right down to what types of food, exercise, and productivity is best to optimize in each phase.
- It allows you to type in your symptoms DAILY and gives you recommendations based on those symptoms (e.g. bloating, cramping, cravings, etc.)
- You can “couple sync” so your spouse always knows what phase your in and what to expect – so important especially if you are experiencing PMS, are trying to avoid conceiving, or even so they know what foods you should be eating and can support you in that way.
- The app offers programs you can purchase (that are reasonably priced) that teach you more about your specific symptoms and how to combat them.
Exercise, meditating, eating right… its all good… but I’ve learnt that you have to look at the whole picture. Nothing ever happens to your body on the inside or the outside for ‘no reason’ they happen because something isn’t working properly. Your body is not random and irrantional. To often we chalk up our acne, bloating, stomach aches, fatigue to being normal parts of our female existence but its not. Our bodies were designed to feel amazing.
At the end of the day everyone needs to do what is best for THEIR body. Its important to decide what it is you value in your wellness and ask yourself if this is something you want to be taking in order to do things you could achieve through safer means. Overall I feel amazing and am extremely happy with my choice to get off the pill.
If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy How to Reduce your Exposure to chemicals and Live a Less Toxic Life.