Birth control is so commonly given that we now have a generation of women with huge hormonal imbalances. It is given for everything… from acne to headaches, to too much bleeding to no period at all. They give it for PCOS, endometriosis, literally everything that has anything to do with a woman’s cycle. But how does that make sense? None of these issues are the same. The reason birth control works so “well” for so many things is because it shuts everything down. It slaps a really bad band-aid on the issues so they “go away”… but the body will find a way to express itself.
PROVEN ISSUES WITH BIRTH CONTROL:
DEPLETES KEY NUTRIENTS (Learn more HERE.) like folate, Vitamin B2, B6, and B12, Vitamin C and E, Magnesium, Selenium, Zinc. These are nutrients important for brain, thyroid, adrenal health, and METHYLATION. It’s no wonder women feel brain fog and exhausted on and after the pill.
INCREAESS INFLAMMATION by increasing oxidative stress levels in the body. (Learn more HERE.) This can cause wide ranging effects and won’t look the same in every woman.
INCREASES RISK FOR BLOOD CLOTTING (Learn more HERE), HEART ATTACKS (Learn more HERE) and STROKES . While healthy hormones are linked to decreased rates of these things are PROTECTIVE, synthetic hormones are quite harmful. Synthetic hormones also increase rate of cancer. It’s not just that estrogen is bad for you. NO! You need estrogen! But synthetic estrogen isn’t estrogen, the body knows the difference. It clogs the receptors and the liver doesn’t break it down as well and then we have more and more estrogen build up and increases rate of cancer and other post pill issues.
CAUSES LIVER CYSTS (Learn more HERE). Doctors say they are benign. But why in the world is it so common for the body to develop cysts on the liver with birth control? Red flag.
SHUTS DOWN OVULATION. Doctors don’t care about ovulation unless you are trying to get pregnant but for a woman, ovulation is the star of the show. You NEED to ovulate. This not only protects you against certain types of cancer, but you need to ovulate to produce progesterone. Progesterone is protective of cancer and other things but it also is our calming hormone, it has the same action in the brain as Xanax. “…women benefit from 35-40 years of ovulatory cycles, not just for fertility, but also to prevent osteoporosis, stroke, dementia, heart disease, and breast cancer,” - Dr. Jerrilynn Prior, MD, professor of endocrinology.
CHANGES THE WAY A WOMAN IS ATTRACTED TO HER SIGNIFICANT OTHER. It can change personality, can change how attracted you are to your significant other when you go off birth control. It also affects how your brain thinks about and desires sex. Overall, it changes a lot and can affect many many relationships.
LOWERS THYROID HORMONE CONVERSION IN THE LIVER so there is less active thyroid hormone in the body.
There is more to unpack here. But ultimately this blog post is about post birth control and steps to heal the body.
Birth control is classified as a Group 1 Carcinogen by the IARC. It adversely affected my own health after being prescribed it at 15 (for too frequent periods) till getting off of it at 27 (after several failed attempts previously to get off and “have a regular cycle”) I have spent years recovering my body after birth control. It no doubt played a role in me developing terrible acid reflux (clean scope, no H.Pylori), chronic constipation and yeast in gut. The important thing to remember is THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE!
Q. What does a woman do if she wants to stop taking birth control?
A. Before going off, consider replenishing nutrients that have been depleted.
It may be best to start with whole food supplements, although I would combine with further methylation support if tolerated. What do I mean by if tolerated? How do you feel when you add that on? Do you feel energized, mental clarity? You shouldn’t feel more anxious, have a headache, etc. If it knocks you out and makes you sleepy, most likely overmethylating then.
Multi-organs. Well rounded. Tons of nutrients needed for methylation, supportive of the liver and individual organs. I use this one.
Zinc. Birth control depletes zinc. I don’t care for most zinc supplements, they are hard on the stomach, can cause nausea, and don’t have the necessary cofactors for proper absorption and utilization in the body. Oysters offer a wonderful source of zinc and the necessary cofactors, but it is hard to eat that many oysters and many don’t love the texture. Oysterzinc is really the best way to replenish these stores.
Vitamin C. Camu Supreme is my favorite whole food Vitamin C supplement.
B vitamins. So you will get some B vitamins from the multi organ supplement but typically more support is needed. I do like Inspiracell as it has B vitamins + amino acids which are the building blocks of protein. Birth control wrecks the gut and the ability to absorb and break down protein. Inspiracell is wonderful methylation (including B vitamin) support. It is not too high in methylated B vitamins so it is better tolerated than most methylation supplements which have the methylated Bs sky high. Inspiracell is the most well-rounded methylation supplement on the market from what I have seen and researched myself. Add in Cir-Q-Tonic for added support for the liver.
Magnesium. Birth control depletes this crucial calming mineral. Other things that deplete magnesium include stress, processed and refined foods, too many Vitamin D supplements, alcohol, calcium supplements, certain medications, digestive tract disorders, etc. Most people living the modern-day stressed-out lifestyle and at one point or another unless supplementing or being intentional with diet most are deficient in magnesium. I like Jigsaw Magnesium Malate in the morning as it is energizing, magnesium glycinate is wonderful especially for those with anxiety, Magnesium threonate is the brain magnesium helpful for brain fog, Magnesium citrate can be helpful for constipation but is not the best for systemic absorption. Jigsaw Magnesium Glycinate or Malate can be found through my Fullscript or Doctor’s Supplement Store. Read more at my blog on Magnesium HERE.
Consider digestive enzymes and bitters. Improving stomach acid production will help you break down food and absorb it’s nutrients much better. Bitters work by stimulating your vagus nerve and then the rest of your digestive system to produce stomach bile. This will help with bloating, acid reflux, blood sugar response, and more. I typically use Urban Moonshine digestive bitters. Digestive enzymes with Hcl are wonderful to help you break down and absorb food. If you don’t have enough stomach acid, you are at risk for food borne pathogens, might have more bloating, heartburn, constipation, etc. I use Vervita Gastrodigest II and it works wonderfully.
Herbal infusions and teas are a great way to introduce liver supporting herbs in the diet. Milk thistle and dandelion are two great ones. You can use the looseleaf tea in 8oz of water or try herbal infusions by adding 1-2 tablespoons of the loose dried herb in a 32 oz mason jar then add boiling water and close the lid and let sit for 4-12 hours. Strain and add ice or leave room temperature, can dilute more and sip throughout day or however you want!
Start paying attention to your nervous system. How do you respond when your schedule changes? Do you get stressed easily? Do you lose your temper or find yourself just frustrated with everyone? While there is always more than one thing at play, working on your nervous system is a crucial step. Prioritize sleep, morning sunlight (even just for 5 minutes), deep breathing exercises, yoga or stretching, prayer/worship is one of the best things I can do to reset me on a crazy day, humming, gargling and singing all stimulate the vagus nerve and will increase the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest system) to help get you out of fight or flight (which is the sympathetic nervous system). Nervous system support after birth control is so needed because of mineral depletion and gut dysbiosis that will further make things out of balance.
NOTE: all of these things can be done while a woman stays on birth control and can help with long- term damage but is still putting the body out of balance. I will personally never encourage a woman to stay on birth control because of the many risks associated and my own experience but we have to all make the decision that is best for each of us.
SUPPORTS AFTER BIRTH CONTROL DISCONTINUATION
Castor oil packs over the liver. This is one of my favorite ways to support the liver. This alone can help with constipation, gallbladder and liver function, help your body clear toxic estrogen, upregulates the parasympathetic nervous system, great for PMS/menstrual cramps. I do start quite slow because when you start using them you don’t want to move things too fast, can be too detoxifying too quickly. I start with 20 minutes or so a few times a week then can move to daily and then eventually to overnight if tolerating well (no new skin issues, fatigue, headache, diarrhea, etc). The easiest and less messy way to do a castor oil pack is using the Queen of the Thrones pack (use promo code nursemomma for 10% off), it’s washable and reusable and makes the cleanup so much easier than DIY versions. No castor oil packs during pregnancy. While breastfeeding I would personally use but not in the initial postpartum period and starting very slowly but check with your provider.
Goldenthread Supreme. This is the herb of choice for many gut infections but also for yeast. Goldenthread can be strong so I do start with 1 cap per day and will move to 1 capsule three times per day slowly over 1-2 weeks. If noticing diarrhea, headache, fatigue, this may not be the herb for you or may be too fast. Another option for yeast issues that are so common after birth control use is Skutelleria Supreme (which is also safe while pregnant and breastfeeding) and is much gentler. I would stick 1 capsule per day for a while if pregnant/breastfeeding but need to check with your provider first.
Artichoke. I discuss this supplement on my hormones podcast and do find it quite helpful for estrogen dominance which is often the case after birth control and many times beforehand too (one of the big factors in heavy menstrual bleeding that might cause a woman to seek support and be given birth control as a “solution”)… artichoke stimulate bile flow. This is helpful for the gallbladder which is often congested after years of synthetic hormones and yeast build up which further increases estrogen in the system. Artichoke will also help with blood sugar dysregulation that is common after birth control as well. This is one factor for why we see so many women getting their gallbladder removed. This is the artichoke supplement I use. It needs to be a specific supplement as the 2.5% artichoke mimics a natural substance much better with increased glucoronides diversity which are needed to make xenoestrogen substrates water-soluble. Let’s get the xenoestrogens OUT of the body.
Chaste Tree Supreme can be another support to increase progesterone production. I wouldn’t say this would be my first line but can be a helpful addition. Chaste tree has been used to centuries for hormone balance in a woman and is helpful for increasing progesterone production (remember, your calming hormone) and NEEDED for ALL WOMEN.
Last but most definitely not least., MINERALS. This deserves a category all on it’s own because after years of birth control use we are depleted. Our minerals are tapped, adrenals exhausted and just that alone can cause nervous system dysregulation. Replenishing mineral stores can be a HUGE help for so many things. My favorite mineral supplements include Quinton minerals (isotonic and hypertonic), quality salt in food and a pinch in water (I use Redmond or Crucial Four), Jigsaw Pickleball, BodyBio Liquid Minerals and Elyte, Seeking Health Trace Mineral Complex, Pure Encapsulations Mineral 650, etc. All can be found in my Fullscript or Doctors Supplement Store (provider code LJ3698). These are both wholesale online dispensaries that get supplements directly from the manufacturer without the risk of third party tampering that you have with Amazon. I rotate products I use, not necessarily everything in one day. Do they energize you or make you tired? Pay attention to how you feel, it should be much better with more minerals on board. One note to go slow with mineral replenishment. When we start to replenish those stores your body will start doing what it needs to do, it will pull heavy metals (GOOD) but if too much can make you feel crummy. Why going slow is always a good thing!
If I had to say a few products that I would start with…. It would be first. - Methylation, minerals/ magnesium, and Goldenthread Supreme. Do not discount how important the foundations are. Not stressing about the harm birth control has done, but embracing the fact that when you learn more THEN you do better!
Also, if you are looking for a natural way to predict fertility and thus have pregnancy protection, I use the LadyComp. You take your temperature every morning and the device stores it and then after a couple months of learning your cycle will flash green when not fertile, red when fertile, and yellow when you should be cautious. Red=abstinence or use backup method.