So, it’s time to go off the pill, now what?
Regardless of your reasons for going off, supporting your body as you make the transition can make all the difference! Here are three things you can do to regain a healthy, fertile cycle with ease:
Beginning to replenish nutrient stores even before you stop taking your hormonal contraceptive can help to set your body up for success. Since the birth control pill and other forms of hormonal contraception deplete the body of essential nutrients such as folate, B6 and B12 and minerals such as magnesium, zinc and selenium, it can be difficult to replenish these nutrient stores through food alone. Without enough of these vitamins and minerals in our system, it can be difficult for our bodies to rebalance and begin making our own hormones in sufficient amounts.
For example, Magnesium is used in over 300 essential biological processes and is required for the synthesis of DNA, RNA and the antioxidant glutathione. Glutathione, in turn, is essential for many other processes, including the efficient removal of toxins from the body. Effective detoxification is important for the metabolism of hormones like estrogen and for maintaining clear skin.
In addition to eating a balanced diet full of whole foods, you may want to begin taking a whole foods-based prenatal or multivitamin. Checking to make sure the label lists folate, and not the synthetic variant folic acid, will help to ensure that you are purchasing a quality vitamin.
HEAL YOUR DIGESTION
You can eat all the healthy foods you want, but if your digestion is impaired, your body will have a hard time assimilating nutrients.
Additionally, long-term birth control pill use can compromise the microbiome by helping to feed bad gut bacteria and fungi like candida. This compromises our digestion and can even affect our mood. I recommend taking a good probiotic daily when coming off of the birth control pill—and it doesn’t hurt to keep it up afterwards.
Good digestion not only ensures that you’re getting the nutrients that you need, but helps to clear out toxins and estrogen through regular bowel movements. In order to support good digestion and motility, be sure to chew your food well, take probiotics and eat fermented foods, consume enough fiber and remove any potential allergens like gluten from your diet if you feel that you may have a food sensitivity.
SUPPORT YOUR HORMONES WITH FOOD
Women, particularly women who are watching their weight, can often make the mistake of consuming too little fat or too few carbohydrates. Both of these things can have a serious impact on our hormone levels.
Our bodies actually require cholesterol, found in fat, in order to build our reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone. When coming off of the pill it can often help to give our bodies quite a lot of fat, provided that you digest fat well. Healthy sources are coconut oil, avocadoes, grass fed ghee or butter and extra virgin olive oil. I recommend adding a tablespoon of coconut oil or ghee (or both!) to your morning coffee or matcha tea. When combined in a high-speed blender, it produced a delicious creamy beverage.
Women who’s periods tend to disappear or become very light off of hormonal birth control often benefit from the addition of healthy carbohydrates into their diet. These can be in the form of fibrous veggies such as jicama and kohlrabi, or carb-dense veggies such as sweet potatoes. You might also find gluten-free grain-like seeds such as quinoa and millet to be beneficial to your cycle.
LOVE YOUR LIVER
Our livers can be especially taxed by the birth control pill because it is the liver’s job to break down the incredibly high amounts of synthetic estrogen it contains. When our detoxification system does not work properly, we often experience hormonal imbalances like estrogen-dominance.
Post-pill, estrogen-dominance can come with a whole host of symptoms such as PMS, heavy bleeding and acne. Furthermore, an over-taxed liver is more likely to dump partially broken down compounds back into the blood stream, which can cause inflammation that can present as acne or other skin issues.
In order to help out your liver, you may want to try a three to five-day cleanse. You will also want to reduce your consumption of processed foods that contain synthetic compounds that tax the liver as well as caffeine and alcohol.
Eating bitter foods and drinking warm water with lemon in the mornings is also a nice way to show your liver some love.
There you have it folks! Don't be afraid to seek out help from a hormonal health coach during this time. They can help the transition be as seamless as possible.