As a functional nutritionist who specializes in hormonal health (find more about me here), I’m often asked how women can recover their hormonal balance after birth control.
It has been well understood by women for decades that hormonal birth control changes both mood and personality and can also lower libido. In contrast to some of the more positive side effects like clearer skin, birth control also often causes weight gain, can sometimes promote blood clots, and decreases fertility for many women in the months following.
Because of these risks, more and more women have been choosing to forego the pill and take control of their fertility in more natural ways. If you have stopped birth control, here are my tips for as quick a recovery as possible.
Recovering from birth control is primarily a process of detoxification. When we ingest synthetic hormones they suppress proper functioning of some hormones in the body and occupy receptor sites. The balance of the hormones takes time. That process becomes more difficult when the natural detox systems of the body (the liver and bowels) aren’t functioning properly.
Detox is a complicated chain of events that must be approached with care. A professional nutritionist like me (find out how to contact me here) can help you find a detoxifying diet that is right for your situation. However, some general principles can help detox along.
A detox doesn’t have to be a juice (here’s my thoughts on juicing) cleanse or a complete fast, but it does require consuming only whole foods. Packaged and processed foods will have to be left behind because of the chemicals and preservatives they contain.
Its important to focus on cooking and planning your own meals during a detox and not eating out. This prevents potential cross-contamination and rancid oils which can impact the effectiveness of the detox. I’ve written extensively about detoxing and diet. You can find my thoughts here and here.
Fructose found in sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and even fruit behaves similar to alcohol in the body. It taxes and slows liver functioning and prevents the body from doing as much detoxing work as its capable of. Removal of fructose containing foods and alcohol, along with other foods that tax the liver is one of the keys to a beneficial detox.
Detoxes are hard work but they take a certain amount of time to truly be successful. A minimum of 21 days is required to see any real benefit and when detoxing from birth control, the time needed could be longer, especially if you’ve been on birth control for many years. Sticking with it is an important part of seeing results. You won’t see the kinds of benefits you want if you don’t stay committed to your program!
When detoxing from birth control women often experience headaches due to the changes in hormone levels. Additionally, many women feel sick, tired, irritable, and even a little nauseous as they begin a detox. These symptoms are normal and are part of the process of ridding the body of excess hormones and toxins stored in the fat cells.
We remove old and excess hormones through the bowels in feces, but those hormones can be re-absorbed if we are having issues with constipation and diarrhea. We must have properly functioning livers but also properly functioning bowels in order to complete the full chain of detox events in the body. If you aren’t having a bowel movement everyday, you may need to consider adding more fiber or water to your diet. I often suggest this supplement which helps keep the bowels moving safely and naturally.
Speaking of supplementation, there are many important vitamins, minerals, and herbs that help keep the bodies hormonal balance intact and can help with recovering from birth control.
While there are tons to choose from and a qualified professional can help you figure out exactly what YOU need, many of my birth control recovery clients benefit from Bioliv (a methylated B vitamin supplement with liver detox herbs) and DIM detox (a high quality DIM and detox supplement). Find Bioliv here and DIM detox here .
This can’t be overstated. The tendency when trying to recover health is always a do-it-yourself approach first. This is probably how you found this article! However, when working with hormonal balance, quicker results and more powerful advice for your unique situation can be found when working with a professional.
Functional nutritionists like myself have access to some great testing and other innovative therapies that go above and beyond what you could potentially do for yourself. If you’re in a hurry or have another condition that makes going off birth control concerning (such as PCOS), please check in regularly with a doctor and see a professional nutritionist.
I work with distance clients and those in the San Antonio area, contact me if you’d like a personalized plan for recovering from hormonal birth control!