Our guide to come off the birth control pill
So many (and especially young) women have the argument that they can’t stop taking the birth control pill because they are so scared of getting pregnant. Considering how sex, fertility and reproduction are explained to us in school, this fear is completely understandable. After all, young girls are taught that as soon as they get their period, they are constantly ‘at risk’ of getting pregnant. In addition to this scaremongering, menstruation is also portrayed as something very negative. Young girls are told that their periods are ‘dirty’ and taboo, and then they are taught to live with the constant fear of possible pregnancy. No wonder so many women choose to ‘medicate’ their cycle away. Young women are unfortunately rarely educated about the fact that very specific conditions have to be present to make pregnancy possible. For example, the fact that fertilization is only possible during a window of about 6 days per cycle (in the fertile phase). All these factors mean that many women today have no connection to their natural cycle and prefer to ‘control’ it with medication. Fortunately, more and more women want to live without taking synthetic hormones and get to know their natural cycle again. Before you take the plunge and stop taking the pill, be sure to consult your doctor and inform him or her that you want to stop taking the pill. A good doctor will help you find an alternative, natural contraceptive method and support you in the transition.
Of course, there are also a few things you can do yourself to support your body in this process.
Living in harmony with your cycle
Many women are not aware that they need to create a good foundation for good hormone health, even before they stop taking the pill. Adjusting your diet and exercise programme to your cycle while still on the pill can make the transition much gentler on your endocrine system and alleviate common post-pill side effects such as acne, insomnia, mood swings and irregular cycles. Switching to a cycle-synced lifestyle allows your body to begin the process of detoxification and recalibration, preparing it for life without the pill.
Identify and address nutrient deficiencies
Synthetic hormones deplete your body of vitamins and minerals, especially B vitamins, vitamins C and E, and the minerals magnesium, selenium and zinc. If you are considering going off the pill, be sure to get your nutritional levels checked and take supplements if needed to ease the transition and give your body the best possible support.
Start tracking your cycle
If your periods return quickly and are regular again after you stop taking the pill, that’s great! If it doesn’t, there may be an underlying health issue. Many women wait months for their periods to return and even if it does, their cycles are often very irregular. If you start switching to a cyclical lifestyle before you stop taking the pill, you may be able to avoid this. If it takes longer than six months for your period to come back, it makes sense to talk to your doctor about possible causes. Insulin resistance, PCOS, thyroid problems, vitamin D deficiency (and other nutrient deficiencies) and severe food intolerances (such as coeliac disease) should be ruled out. Incidentally, if you haven’t ovulated after stopping the pill, the breathe ilo app also makes it easy to keep track of any symptoms.
Rebuild & strengthen your gut health
Research shows: The pill has been proven to have a negative effect on your gut health. The longer you take it, the worse the effects on your body. When you’re on the pill, it is best to eat high quality & wholesome foods to support the healing process. A high-quality probiotic is also recommended to help rebuild your gut flora. Our gut expert recommends a powdered probiotic with a variety of different strains. This can help support mood, improve digestive function and nutrient absorption, and reduce the risk of fungal infections and bacterial vaginosis.
Produce more of your body's own hormones again
Vitamin B6 is important for the production of progesterone. Include foods rich in vitamin B6 in your diet. Think of: Bananas, spinach, sweet potatoes, garlic, as well as high-quality animal protein sources in small amounts. Think of: Organically raised chicken, pasture-raised beef and fish (ideally from local waters). High-quality supplements can also be a good support here, such as a high-quality complex of B vitamins. Getting plenty of high-quality fats and amino acids is also essential – they are needed to make hormones and therefore the body needs enough of them to produce more hormones quickly. If you can and want to eat animal protein, you should eat fish (ideally from local waters) and organic poultry, as well as pasture-raised eggs, olive oil and avocados. It is especially important to get enough high-quality omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are less abundant in our western diet than other types of fats, so supplementation is often necessary. This is a great way to support your body’s hormone production and healthy ovulation.
Support natural estrogen detoxification
Many women suffer from so-called estrogen dominance after stopping the pill, which is the most common cause of all hormonal imbalances. Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables offer a great way to combat this problem.
Think of: Kale, chard, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. Try to eat some dark green and/or cruciferous veg with every meal! With various herbs in tea form (for example dandelion, sage and milk thistle) you can also support your liver in its function, which additionally supports the process of estrogen detoxification.