Going off the Pill
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Once you go off the pill, you may experience changes in the way you feel, function, and even act. These "changes" are really just a return to the natural state of your body and mind. Often women who started taking the pill when they were still teenagers are surprised about the positives of discontinuation as they had accepted symptoms caused by their birth control as a normal part of growing up. Depending of the woman, the following improvements are usually noticed within the first 3 months of discontinuation.
Better overall mood
No more hot flashes
Increased sex drive
Easier time achieving arousal and orgasim
Decreased or eliminated PMS
The severity of these symptoms significantly varies from woman to woman. They can last anywhere from a week to a year, or not occur at all. Generally your hormones will balance out within six months after going off the pill, eliivating most negative symptoms.
Lack of Period
Your body may take several months to begin normal hormone production. This can result in amenorrhea (absence of a menstrual period).
Irregular, Heavier, or Very Light Periods
During the time your body is trying to restore normal hormone production, your periods may become very different to what you experienced before. Eventually you will begin having your normal cycle, and unless it was irregular before going on the pill, it should normalize within the year.
A breakout is a typical symptom when going off the pill. Unless you had bad skin before going on the pill, acne symptoms tend to be temporary.
Weight Gain or Loss
The imbalance of hormone levels can disrupt metabolism, causing slight weight loss or gain.
Some women can take several years to begin ovulating. This is due to the residual storage of synthetic hormones in your system, delaying your body normalizing and functioning naturally.
Erratic Patterns of Cervical Fluid
When you begin to once again produce fertile quality cerivical fluid, it may be out of synch with ovulation, reducing possibility of conception. This is due to cervical erosion, caused by long term pill usage. You may also begin producing excess cervical fluid due to the build up of estrogen stored in your fatty tissues, too caused by the pill.
Many women report feeling very emotionally unstable when they first discontinue the pill. This is due to the sudden change in hormonal levels.
Easing the Transition
Every female body is different. The following suggestions can help reduce or eliminate the withdrawal symptoms of transitioning off the pill. Please use your own discretion, and consult a registered doctor if you have any significant health concerns.
For Women Who Went on the Pill for Reasons Other Than Birth Control:
If you went on the pill to correct irregular cycles, cramps, acne, or heavy periods, discontinuing may be a difficult choice for you because it may mean a return of these menstrual ailments. Keep in mind that these symptoms are often caused by a hormonal imbalance in your body, so as long as the imbalance can be corrected through other means, you shouldn't have to worry about dealing with it in the long term. Many women naturally suffer from deficient progesterone production during their luteal phase, which can result in elevated estrogen and prolatic levels, causing things such as irregular cycles, cramps, heavy periods, anxiety, mood swings, depression, and breast tenderness. The following suggestions can help correct this condition, allowing for a safer way to balance your hormones.
Having the right nutritional intake is probably the best preventative action you can take to help your coming off the pill transition. The right diet can help your body both restore and balance hormones, which will lessen the length and severity of withdrawal symptoms.
Eat the Right Fats
Consume fats such as egg yolks, cod liver oil or flaxseed oil, butter and raw whole milk from grass fed cows. Try to primarily cook with non-hydrogenated products such as lard, coconut oil and olive oil. These good fats stimulate the thyroid and create cholesterol which is the building block of all steroid hormones. Without cholesterol, your body cannot produce estrogen, testosterone, or progesterone. Avoid margarine, shortening, vegetable oil, canola oil, and soybean oil.
Avoid Estrogen Mimickers
Xenoestrogens and phytoestrogens are chemical and organic mimickers of estrogen. They can be responsible for an estrogen dominance in your body, causing problems far beyond bad skin. Avoiding the following will help keep your natural hormones in balance: soy (a 100 grams of soy can have the estrogen dose of a single birth control pill), plastics and cans containing BPA (especially paired with heat), pesticides, dairy and meat from animals exposed to growth hormones, and conventional beauty products.
Get Enough Magnesium
Magnesium deficiency has become common in the modern western world; it alone can trigger many health problems. Getting enough in your diet can not only reduce going off the pill withdrawal symptoms, but improve overall health. In regards to balancing hormones, magnesium is necessary for your body to metabolize fats and therefore make cholesterol, which is the building block of hormones manufactured by your body. Try to include magnesium rich foods in your diet, such as: seeds, spinach, swiss chard, beans and lentils, halibut, quinoa, avocados, bananas and raw cocoa. Use a supplement on days where you can't eat the right foods. When supplementing, reduce white sugar and alcohol as they can interfere with absorption. It is also suggested to take it along with your other vitamins to help absorption. Check out the top user reviewed magnesium supplement on Amazon. It comes in several sizes (great for people just trying it, or wanting to save money on a larger order) and includes a balanced amount of calcium, potassium, boron and vitamin D for optimal absorption and so you don't have to worry about dosage.
Maca is native to Peru. It belongs to the same family as the radish and can yellow, white, green, purple, red or back. It has been part of the diet of Peruvian men and women for close to 3,000 years, but it's become popular in western culture only recently, earning nicknames such as "Peruvian ginseng" and "nature's Viagra." It's fabled that Maca would be used in ceremonies before a war to help energize the warriors, and then banned from consumption immediately after the battle to help reduce rape. Maca has numerous of health and life benefits, but here are the ones that can help you have a smoother transition off the pill.
Naturally Balances Hormones
Maca aids in normalizing hormone production which helps reduce/improve breakouts, mood swings, menstrual irregularity, and any other withdrawal symptoms caused by a hormonal imbalance. If you are looking to conceive (which can be difficult after the pill), Maca has been documented to be responsible for improving sperm count and egg follicle development. Peruvians even give it to their livestock to improve their energy and fertility. The nice thing about Maca is that it doesn't introduce hormones into your system, but simply helps balance them naturally. If your body is producing too much or too little of an individual hormone, Maca will help curve the production to a normal level.
The way Maca achieves this is by improving hypothalamus and pituitary gland function. When these glands are running smoothly, all your other glands benefit, such as the adrenal, thyroid, pancreas, ovarian and testicular glands. It also contains over 50 phytochemicals which also aids in naturally balancing the hormones produced by your body. Many women also take it at the time of menopause to decrease symptoms.
Start with a slightly less than the recommended dose of the manufacturer, and slowly work up to a full dose. Don't take too much as Maca has been known to have negative hormonal side effects when taken in excess for some women. To attain best results, begin taking Maca a few months before discontinuing the pill.
What to buy
There are many Maca products, in both pill and powder form. If your lifestyle includes making a daily smoothie, we suggest the powder, if not, the pill form is a time saving option. Here are some links to a handful of well-reviewed brands within an affordable price range. We do not support or promote any single company, so have a look at the Amazon reviews and see which one feels right for you.
Vitex (also known as Chaste berry) comes from the Mediterranean region and has been used for 2,500 years as a long-term treatment for hormone regulation. Some other of its effects include improving milk production, improved fertility, and miscarriage reduction. Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.) wrote, "If blood flows from the womb, let the woman drink dark wine in which the leaves of the Vitex have been steeped." Vitex is approved and widely prescribed in German medicine for the treatment of numerous conditions caused by hormonal imbalance, and has been used in American medicine since the 1800s.
Naturally Balances Hormones
Vitex been widely documented to be effective for regulation of the menstrual cycle, acne, and all PMS symptoms (cramps, moodiness, nausea, bloating, headaches, breast tenderness). One study found that Vitex was able to reduce acne by 70% after 3 months of use. Another study gave a normal dose of Vitex to 2447 women who suffered from different menstrual disorders and found that 90% of them had satisfactory to significant improvement only after a month's use. Many birth control pill risks are associated with elevated levels of estrogen; even after coming off the pill, estrogen levels can stay high in your system. Vitex is perfect for restoring balance, and correcting estrogen dominance.
Vitex does not mimic any hormones, but works with your natural chemistry to restore balance. Vitex increases luteinizing hormone production and mildly inhibits the follicle stimulating hormone. This results in the stimulation of the pituitary gland and hypothalamus (the main players in cycle control), increasing progesterone production and balancing your prolactin levels. The overall result is a shift in favor of progesterone, eliminating any symptoms caused by estrogen dominance or progesterone deficiency .
Warnings and Dosage
Vitex effects accumulate over time, so it's important to consider it as a long term commitment that includes breaks. Some women stop taking it over the course of every period, but most just take a break after 18 months of continuous use. Having said that, women have been documented taking Vitex non-stop for up to 9 years with no known side-effects. Regarding dosage, it depends on what symptoms you wish to treat. Start with a lower dose of what is recommended by the manufacturer, and work your way up slowly. Consulting a doctor is recommended. It's not advised to take Vitex while you are pregnant, on hormone replacement or hormonal contraceptives. Therefore wait until you are off the pill to begin your dosage. It's recommended to take Vitex on an empty stomach, half an hour before breakfast. Rare side effects include nausea and diareahh. Keep in mind that Vitex is used to increase chances of pregnancy, so be sure to use responsible methods of contraception if that is not something you are ready for.
What to buy
You can buy Vitex in the form of tea, tincture/drops, or a pill. Pill form is not absorbed by your system as well as liquid form, and tends to be more pricey. The problem is that many find Vitex drops to have an adverse taste. Find a brand that has no alcohol, which will make the flavor less harsh. There are also a few brands doing liquid capsules which are perfect! Here are a few well reviewed options for alchohol free drops and capsules:
Improving Liver Function
The liver breaks down hormones. If it does a poor job or if the levels are too much for your liver to handle, hormones may accumulate in your body, throwing off your balance and causing many issues such as weight gain, water retention, acne, and any other side effects associated with excess and unbalanced hormone levels. After taking the birth control pill for a prolonged period of time, it is very likely that your liver could not cope and there is an excess build up of hormones in your system.
Milk Thistle is one of the best plants for liver health and function. It helps detoxify the liver by improving levels of glutatione. It's an antioxidant, helping protect the liver, and has powerful healing effects. This goes as far as preventing liver damage after the ingestion of the death cap mushroom (one of the most poisonous mushrooms in the world). The silymarin (extracted from the seeds) in Milk Thistle has the capasity to regenerate damaged liver cells and stimulate new cell growth, improving functionality and health.
What to buy
Because the main active ingredient in Milk Thistle is silymarin, make sure the brand you buy has at least 420mg of it. The following brands have the appropriate amount of silymarin:
Turmeric has been used in Asian medicines primarily for its anti-inflamaory effects, but it also has the ability to repair and regenerate liver tissue. Strengthening you liver will help it break down hormones. Turmeric has also been known to alleviate menstrual cramps and reduce acne.
Do not take turmeric if you have gallbladder disease or if you are on taking blood-sugar-lowering medications. Too much Turmeric can also prevent efficient blood coagulation.
What to buy
Try to get fresh, whole turmeric root from your grocery store and cut off and eat a little piece a daily. You'll know you're having too much if you feel nauseous so start off with tiny pieces. If you can't find the fresh stuff, the next best bet is a liquid extract. The third option would be a high quality powder, but you'd have to incorporate it into your cooking. Below are our two recomended alternatives to whole Turmeric from top quality sources:
If you were on the pill for a long time, a liver cleanse may be very beneficial. This can range from simply eating liver cleansing foods for a specific amount of time, or doing an intense flush, such as the famous Dr. Clark liver cleanse. We would suggest doing both. Prep your liver with a cleansing diet (you can follow a specific, recommended diet, but simply eating raw vegan for 2-3 days will suffice). Then follow with the cleanse.
What to buy
Dr. Clark's cleanse calls for ingestible grade Epsom salts and Black Walnut Hull Drops (which are actually optional). Help support the free information given on this website and purchase these items by clicking on the images below, or get them at your local health foods store or vitamin supplier. Warning: Make sure the Epsom salt you get is ingestible grade. Most stores only sell Epsom salts for bath soaking. Dr. Clark's store offerers Epsom salts in lose and pill form. We would recommend paying a little more for the pill form as the salts taste horrible.
If you eat all the right foods and supplement with the best vitamins and minerals money can buy, but you neglect your everyday lifestyle, you will not get the results you're looking for. The following are some easy but crucial things to work on in your day-to-day.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is an integral key to your overall well being. If you don't get enough sleep, your body may not have enough energy to properly regulate your hormones.
The release of stress hormones disrupts your hormones, worsening withdrawal symptoms. Even in someone who was never on the pill, stress can cause similar side effects seen in women that are pre-menopausal or have low testosterone.
The Right Exercise
Working out reduces stress, helps you sleep, and improves nutrient absorption. The right type of exercise can be a significant player in balancing hormones. Don't do lengthy exercise. A recent study showed that large amounts of cortisol reduce testosterone levels. Cortisone release is most significant past the 30 minute mark of an exercise routine. By keeping your workouts short and intense, you can keep cotrisol level low. We suggest an intense circuit training routine using heavy weights and good form, 3 times a week. If that's not your cup of tea, yoga is a fantastic exercise alternative for hormone balance.
Reduce Product Use
If you're particularly worried about breakouts after discontinuing the pill, don't panic and overload your skin with acne products. Most of them (particularly Proactiv) may work in the short term, but can have a horrendous long-term dependence effect on your skin. Try washing your face only twice a day with just water. Use an oil like jojoba, castor, or a high quality olive for make-up removal. These are also excellent for moisturizing your skin and eyelashes. A small bottle will last you months, making it much more cost effective than chemical beauty products which can contain xenoestrogens. Remember that less is more when it comes to your skin.