Get off the birth control pill the right way

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I often hear that millions of women take hormonal birth control without incident. That may indeed be the case but it certainly isn’t my experience in my practice. In fact, the most common question I get from women when they first find me is…

“How do I get off the birth control pill?”

I’m continually amazed by the sheer volume of women I encounter who are ready to part ways with their pill (or any hormonal birth control for that matter), either because their sex drive has plummeted or completely disappeared, they are finding that sex has become painful, they are experiencing other side effects like gut problems, chronic yeast or urinary tract infections, hair loss, irregular periods and maybe even amenorrhea (no periods).

All of these symptoms are very clear signals from your body that something is wrong. They might be statistically normal but I promise this is not the way your body was designed to function.

You may not be one of these women who experiences symptoms and instead you’re ready to come off because you want to get pregnant. That’s great too! I do recommend waiting at least six months after coming off the pill before trying to conceive because you want to make sure your body is in prime shape to nourish a baby. Additionally, there is evidence that women who conceive immediately after coming off the pill are more likely to have premature deliveries.

Here’s the first thing you need to know…

You can stop the pill at any time. Luckily, the pill is one of the few drugs that you can stop without having to wean off of it. Some women stop midway through their current pack while others prefer to finish it out. It’s completely up to you. When I was coming off the pill 10 years ago I finished the pack, but I’m a Virgo perfectionist who didn’t want to screw anything up! :-)

Here are my recommendations before coming off the pill…

These suggestions will help to mitigate any of the negative side effects you might experience.

1. Start taking a great B Complex.

One of the key sets of nutrients depleted by oral contraceptives is the B Complex of vitamins, especially B2, B6, B9 and B12. I’ve written many times about how important these vitamins are for our overall AND reproductive health. You can read about that herehere and here. I recommend Thorne Research Basic B Complex, or at least a B Complex that has the Methylated B vitamins in it. This is a good place to start, although if you have an MTHFR gene mutation you might need to further explore what type of B vitamins are right for you.

2. Include these trace minerals in your diet and supplementation.

Zinc, magnesium and selenium can become very depleted while on the pill. Most women are already mineral deficient when they start the pill because of the standard western diet so it’s crucial to start building back up your stores of these minerals. When a woman stops BC and is deficient in these minerals she might develop a series of issues.

For instance, post-pill amenorrhea is fairly common. Or you may have a very irregular cycle, where the cycle length is alternating, you bleed for a very short of period of time, there’s a shortened luteal phase, there’s no ovulation, or ovulation is happening twice in one cycle. It can show up in many different ways.

For a zinc deficiency, try pumpkin seeds, red meat and shellfish. You can also supplement with zinc and I recommend Designs for Health Zinc. For magnesium, include lots of dark leafy greens, avocados, nuts and seeds. I’ve also found supplementing with 300mg a day of magnesium glycinate can be very helpful too. For selenium, try Brazil nuts (they have a very high amount of selenium), organ meats like liver and kidney along with oysters.

3. Start including probiotic-rich fermented foods in your diet.

Another problem I see with women who’ve been on birth control for awhile are gut problems and/or chronic vaginal infections. There is evidence that oral contraceptives alter gut function by messing with your gut flora. I dealt with it myself many years ago and I continually see it in my clients.

The problem is that altered gut flora will in turn affect hormone regulation so it’s extremely important to get your guts back on track. While the solution is nuanced, I recommend including probiotic-rich foods as a starting point – sauerkraut, kim-chi, other fermented vegetables and water kefir. If you’re not down with fermented veggies (it’s an acquired taste for some!) then try taking probiotics like Dr. Ohhira’s or Prescript Assist.

Healing your gut will depend on how long you’ve been on the pill and whether you had gut & digestive problems before going on it. I highly recommend my Fix Your Period: PMS & Painful Periods program because I have a whole section dedicated to gut health along with a gut cleansing and healing protocol.

4. Focus on lots of healthy fats and protein.

You need fat and protein to build hormones. Period. Without the right amounts you will continue to stay stuck in hormonal imbalance land. Make it your goal in life to get good quality fat and protein into each meal or as many meals as you can. I recommend a palm-sized portion of protein, a couple ounces of healthy fats (think avocado, fatty fish, nuts and seeds, coconut oil/coconut butter) and lots of raw and cooked veggies. Are you hungry yet? :-)

Here are my recommendations for when you do come off the pill…

Obviously, numbers 1-4 above continue to apply but there are some more steps you can take.

1. Start tracking your cycle.

I recommend getting an app on your phone asap so you can begin to understand your own unique menstrual cycle. This process will be a lot less scary when you’re armed with the right knowledge. Remember, the pill has hijacked your hormonal function for as long as you’ve been on it so it’s important to develop a relationship with your hormones once they start to kick back in. This may take some time so a little love and patience with your body will go a long way :-)

Check out Kindara, iPeriod, Ovatemp, Groove and Glow to find which one might work for you. You can also see my reviews on apps here.

You’ll want to start by recording your first day of bleeding (your withdrawal bleed) which is also the first day of your cycle. You’ll also want to record any symptoms you experience throughout the month – emotional symptoms and physical ones too. If you’re feeling really motivated, I suggest taking your basal body temperature along with charting your cycle. This will help you pinpoint exactly when you actually ovulate again for the first time.

If you want to learn more, you can check out my 1-hour recorded webinar on how to begin using natural birth control, specifically the Fertility Awareness Method developed by Toni Weschler. I break everything down into easy-to-understand steps and provide lots of visuals and handouts for you to begin practicing FAM. Once you sign up you will receive an email with the recording and the handouts.

2. Liver detoxification. 

The body eliminates toxins through your liver – it’s like your own personal garbage processing and disposal plant :-)

Your liver also plays a massive role in helping your body rid itself of excess or harmful hormone metabolites so it’s crucial that you make sure it’s functioning at it’s best. Many women complain of horrible acne once they come off the pill and it’s likely due to poor phase 1 and/or phase 2 liver detoxification.

There are tons of ways you can detox but you want to make sure you’re doing it the right way. I suggest a food-based cleanse to start – it’s easy and gentle on the body. You can check out my Lovely Liver Cleanse program as a place to start. It includes a shopping list, recipes, 5-day cleanse guide and a menu planner. I also include the different supplements to take to support yourself while cleansing.

One of those supplements is N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC). It helps your body boost production of glutathione, a very powerful antioxidant and detoxifier. You might also want to try Di-Indole Methane (DIM) to help your liver break down harmful estrogens and produce more of the good estrogens.

3. Address your stress. For reals.

This is by far the most daunting of them all isn’t it? Many of us make commitments to address our stressful lifestyles but it’s a hard commitment to keep. It’s certainly something I continue to grapple with, especially as a business owner. While there isn’t any clinical evidence that oral contraceptives impact our adrenal health, there is lots of evidence showing that worn out adrenals are connected to hormonal imbalances.

You simply can’t fulfill your goals and live your purpose if you’re dealing with adrenal fatigue and feeling chronically exhausted. So, you have to make a decision – are you okay with the status quo or do you want to feel good enough to actually live and enjoy your life.

As you can see, there are a number of factors to consider when coming off the birth control pill. You’ve got to nail down the basics like diet, supplementation, detoxification and stress management in order to ease the transition. Hopefully this list is a good starting point for you.

If you’ve come off the pill, let me know what worked or didn’t work for you in the comments below. Or if you’re considering coming off the pill, tell me what else you wanna know :-)

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Surviving The Holidays: My Top 10 Party Tricks

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Guest post by my good friend Allison Vernon of Our Naked Life. 

This time of year is tough! Every event we attend is packed with alcohol and holiday treats. It’s hard to resist all that sugar even though we know it doesn’t make us feel good.

Party Time

These are my practical, healthy holiday party tricks:

1. Sip like a Parisian. While I was in France I was amazed by the small wine glasses at all the bistros and cafés. By American standards these wine glasses were tiny. This got me thinking about how the French drink as a compliment to food and savor their small glasses along with a great meal. The enormous Bordeaux glasses that you often see here, are an American creation, and can contribute to over drinking. When possible, drink from a smaller glass while sipping wine.

Sip like a Parisian.

2. Fix yourself a small plate. Never, ever hover over the hor d’oeuvers table. It is important that you indulge in your favorite holiday treats. I can’t imagine this time of year without a little peppermint bark or gingerbread cookies. The trick is, grab a small plate or napkin, fill it up with all your fav holiday treats and enjoy.  Hovering over the hor d’oeuvers table just opens the opportunity for you to nibble for hours. Better to indulge, fully enjoy it, and feel satisfied than to nibble constantly.

3. Eat dinner before you go. We have all heard this before but it’s true that if you eat a healthy dinner before you go, you will eat less of those mini lobster mac and cheeses than you would if you were really hungry.

4. Sip champagne with strawberries or cranberries. Cocktails are very high in sugar. The combo of sugar and alcohol is not good for us and can leave us feeling less than stellar the next day. Try a festive glass of champagne with muddled cranberries instead.

Champagne is always festive!

5. Drink red wine rather than white. When enjoying a glass of wine, red wine is by far, the better choice. Red wine contains less sugar than white. Additionally, there are some nutrients and antioxidants in red wine that can be beneficial. The caveat is, after one glass the negatives of the alcohol outweigh the positives of the antioxidants.

6. Eliminate sugary cocktails. Replace cocktails with vodka soda,  or the Paleo Margarita recipe below.

7. Bring your own healthy dish to munch on. Even if the hostess doesn’t ask you to bring anything, consider bringing your own dish. I am gluten intolerant. Friends and Co-workers will often try to accommodate, but I have found it is always better to bring my own. I have brought a fun dish to parties making the excuse, “I was dying to try this new recipe and wanted to share it with everyone” Do this graciously as you don’t want to offend anyone.

Sip alcohol with your meal. Not on an empty stomach

8. Drink alcohol with a meal rather than while around snacky food like chips or dessert. For me, alcohol is like a gateway drug for eating everything in site. Drinking often leads to unhealthy snacking. Since alcohol can act as a poison in our system, our body may be triggering us to eat in order to help absorb the alcohol. Keep this in mind and don’t drink on an empty stomach.

9. Dance! Drink and dance rather than drink and stand around. It will help to burn off the alcohol and you will feel better the next day.

10. Don’t over commit. Say No. Even the most fun party can feel like a drag if you are exhausted. Choose just a handful of holiday events to attend. Graciously decline the rest. This one is tough because we often allow ourselves to feel guilty. Decide what will help to alleviate the guilt. For example, send a handwritten note, set a coffee date with the friend after the holiday rush, send them a holiday gift, etc. Make sure that you make time for the holiday activities you most want to do.

Saying no to a few activities may make the difference between a joyful holiday season and a hectic one.

 

Paleo Margarita Recipe

Ingredients:
1 shot tequila
handful of ice
seltzer
1/2 of a lime, fresh squeezed (add more lime juice to taste)
1/8 of an orange, fresh squeezed (Optional ingredient. The orange does add a little extra sugar. Use sparingly. Do not use orange juice from a carton.)

Instructions:
Shake all ingredients together. Garnish with a wedge of lime or orange. Salt is optional.

Allison Vernon Thompson is dedicated to exposing the naked truth about health and wellness. She is the creator of Our Naked Life, an online community dedicated to celebrating, motivating, and educating women on our path to vibrant energetic health. She works one-on-one with clients in Tribeca, New York. Allison holds a BFA in Dance Performance with an emphasis in Kinesiology. She is a board certified Health Coach, certified personal trainer, and Pilates mat instructor.

COMMENT

How to tell if your blood sugar is imbalanced - top warning signs

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Blood Sugar Blues: Where Do You Fit In?

Before we hit a state of blood sugar pathology (diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or latent autoimmune diabetes of adulthood for example), we most likely spend some time, perhaps decades, in a state of functional blood sugar imbalance.

These functional imbalances probably begin due to diet and lifestyle, and the good news is that they can usually be corrected with diet, lifestyle, and natural supplementation, under the care of a trained functional medicine practitioner.

Two most common functional imbalances:

1. Functional reactive hypoglycemia

2. Insulin resistance.

Here’s how Dr. Datis Kharrazian, a leader in the functional medicine community, defined the two states of functional blood sugar imbalance.

“There is an overlap between the two conditions, but functional reactive hypoglycemia is generally a lower than ideal blood glucose physiological state with spikes of deficient glucose, whereas insulin resistance is generally a higher than ideal glucose physiological state with spikes of excessive glucose.”

When I first began to study functional medicine some years ago, I didn’t understand how not managing my own blood sugar was such a stress to my body.

Sure, eating a giant cookie or skipping a meal didn’t make me feel good, but why was it such a big deal?

I now understand how my amazing body works to keep an even stream of glucose to my cells, so they can covert it to energy. When I sabotage that balance with my poor choices, I risk short-term fatigue, anxiety and acne, and long-term diseases such as dementia and cancer.

How can you know if you are upsetting your own blood sugar? Here are some key points:

Your habits include:

A.

• Skipping breakfast or other meals

• Having coffee for breakfast

• Eating breakfast a few hours after waking

• Surviving on sugary snacks

• ‘Grazing’ (eating a bit throughout the day)

• Using caffeine or cigarettes to suppress appetite

• Engaging in lots of exercise without replenishing calories

Or

B.

• Overeating

• Surviving on carbs, sweets and processed foods

• Never exercising

• Ignoring your expanding waistline

You may be experiencing these symptoms:

A.

• Craving sweets

• Irritable if you can’t eat often

• Light-headed

• Anxious, nervous

• Forgetful, absent-minded

Or

B.

• Fatigued after meals

• Eating sweets does not relieve craving for sweets

• Difficulty losing weight

• Tired all the time

The ‘A’ lists correspond more to functional reactive hypoglycemia, and the ‘B’ lists correspond to insulin resistance. But as Dr. Kharrazian stated, there can be some overlap.

As I mentioned earlier, if you have not yet entered an irreversible pathologic state, there is still much hope for treating functional blood sugar disorders. You can resolve everyday symptoms like fatigue and sugar cravings, plus help balance your hormones in conditions of PCOS, infertility and more.

Blood sugar balance is one of the most important balancing acts in your body, and a trained functional medicine practitioner can spot these patterns both in your history and your lab results.

Please contact me at bridgitdanner.com if you are interested in receiving this kind of health screening, and please stay tuned to Nicole’s radio show, the Period Party, where I’ll soon be a guest to talk about lab testing for women’s health.

All the best in your health journey,

Bridgit Danner, LAc

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 8.15.15 PMBridgit Danner is a licensed acupuncturist and a functional medicine practitioner specializing in women’s health and fertility. She sees clients in Portland, Oregon and online worldwide.

http://www.bridgitdanner.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bridgit-Danner-LAc/174242932642572

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COMMENT

Top supplements & herbals for stressed out women!

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So, I posed this question in my client-only Facebook group the other day:

What do you find most challenging about getting your hormonal health back on track?

And these are some of the responses I heard back…

“STRESS! STRESS, STRESS, STRESS! For sure stress & emotional changes! Nutrition/supplements/exercise are all easy for me, but stress just kills me.”

“I find that stressing over diet, supplements, exercise and trying to find balance is the most challenging… and to not stress over it all!!”

“I stress over trying to do all the ‘right’ things but if I don’t see improvements that stresses me further!”

And finally,

Nicole Jardim if you’ve got the fix/solution for stress, sign me up! :)”

As far as I’m concerned, stress and it’s manifestations are the biggest crisis facing women in the 21st century. I just don’t think our bodies are designed to function optimally in our modern, fast-paced world.

Do you know that women are more susceptible to the effects of stress than men because of our hormonal makeup? I know, I hate even admitting it, but it’s true. When you factor in the sheer number of hormones and their monthly ebbs and flows, it’s no surprise that excess stress can wreak havoc on a woman’s reproductive health.

This doesn’t even factor in the added stress of the holiday season. A friend of mine said today that she and her husband are going to visit both their parents for Christmas but their parents live 2 hours away from each other so they’ll spend 2 nights with her folks, then two with his, then they’ll go back to her parents for another night and then back to his for their last night. And then take the train back to where they live. LIKE WHAT?!

But this is what we women do – we over-give, over-provide, over-worry and over-think! Right? We’re actually programmed that way. Unfortunately, all this over-doing is magnified x 1000 during this time of year and seriously, nothing wrecks your hormones faster than this kind of runaway stress.

That’s because the stress hormone cortisol surges when you experience acute stress – hello December! The challenge for many women is this acute stage of stress never actually turns off so we’re constantly flooded with cortisol. This leaves us feeling overwhelmed, anxious, tired but unable to fall asleep or stay asleep, groggy in the mornings, and needing lots of sugar or caffeine to just get through the day.

While I know I can’t change all this with an 1100 word blog post, I can give you a list of my top supplements and herbal remedies to help you bring it down a notch during this crazy-ass time of year!

1. Omega-3 Fish oil

Omega-3 fish oil has been proven to lower cortisol levels [1]. I recommend taking 2000mg of fish oil with a high-fat meal and in the evening, especially if you have a hard time winding down or falling/staying asleep. In addition to that, fish oil has been shown to prevent or help memory loss, depression, bipolar disorder and Alzheimer’s. My favorite fish oil products are, Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega, Carlson Elite Omega-3NutriGold Triple Strength Omega-3 Fish Oil and NutriGold Krill Oil Gold.

2. Phosphatidylserine

Yeah, how the heck do you even pronounce that one right? Good thing you don’t have to be a good speller to reap the benefits of this phospholipid. There is now quite a bit of evidence showing that phosphatidylserine significantly dampens the effect of external stress on the HPA axis (hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis – which determines how you handle stress), and helps you manage stress-related disorders. I recommend about 400-800mg a day of PS but start at 400mg and work your way up if you don’t see improvement in 2 weeks. Try Now Foods Phosphatidylserine or Integrative Therapeutics Phosphatidylserine.

3. B Complex

I think every woman on the planet should be taking a B complex vitamin daily. The first reason I suggest this is because unending high levels of cortisol actually depletes vitamins B1, B5, B6 and B12 and secondly, because each B vitamin plays an important role in the body and almost all of them help us combat stress. For instance, B1 & B2 have recently been shown to help PMS, B5 appears to reduce over-production of cortisol, B6 reduces PMS-related anxiety and both B6 and B12 are involved with serotonin production which controls your mood, appetite and sleep patterns. I love Thorne Research Basic B Complex or Integrative Therapeutics Active B Capsules.

Plant-derived adaptogens are very useful in combating the physical and mental rigors of our modern lifestyle.  Adaptogens work by modulating the levels and activity of hormones and brain neurochemicals that affect almost everything that happens in your body. This in turn helps the body adapt to, and mitigate the potential negative effects of stress. The following two adaptogens have proven to be particularly effective stress relievers:

4. Rhodiola

Rhodiola is a plant that grows primarily in Asia and Eastern Europe. It has been used for fatigue, memory loss and to increase productivity and mitigate the general effects of stress for centuries [2]. What’s even cooler is that rhodiola has been shown to be effective for adrenal fatigue, lack of ovulation and irregular/infrequent periods [3]! I recommend 200mg 1-2 times a day and you might want to try Gaia Herbs Rhodiola Rosea. If you choose another brand, make sure you’re getting Rhodiola Rosea that is standardized to contain rosavins and salidrosides.

5. Ashwagandha

This is the most commonly used herb in Ayurvedic medicine and has been used for thousands of years as a sleep-inducer.  More recently it has been found to be an effective anti-anxiety remedy [4] and can treat a variety of other conditions like fatigue, sleep disorders and endurance[5]. Interestingly, I’ve had a couple of clients with amenorrhea use it and their periods came back within a couple of months. Worth a try right? Check out Seeking Health Ashwagandha or a brand with a similar dosage and take 300mg twice a day.

There’s a whole lot more where this came from by the way! If you want to get even more info on how to tailor your diet and supplement regimen to create healthy and happy hormones, then be one of the first to join my Fix Your Period 28 Day Kickstart Program. If any of these scenarios apply to you…

- You are a ‘newbie’ at this whole hormonal health thing.
- You’ve Googled a lot but you’re still not sure what to actually do.
- You have tried the doctor’s way but want to go au naturale.

Then this program is right up your alley! My easy step-by-step approach will show you how to pinpoint a hormonal imbalance and give you the tools to finally fix it!

Are there any supplements or herbal remedies you’ve used to bust through the negative effects of stress? Let me know what’s worked for you in the comments…

References:

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12909818

2. Lishmanov IuB, Trifonova ZhV, Tsibin AN, Maslova LV, Dement’eva LA. Plasma beta-endorphin and stress hormones in stress and adaptation. Biull Eksp Biol Med. 1987 Apr;103(4):422-4.

3. Brown R, Gerbarg P, Ramazanov Z. Rhodiola rosea: A Phytomedicinal Overview. Herbalgram. 2002;56:40-52.

4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722/

5. http://www.realnatural.org/over-fifty-recent-studies-prove-ashwagandhas-potential-for-treating-a-myriad-of-conditions/

 

COMMENT

Are Birth Control Side Effects Ruining Your Life?

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I have yet to meet a single woman who has taken birth control without experiencing any side effects at all. When I meet women who say they don’t experience any ill effects, I usually ask some specific questions. Things like:

  • How is your digestive health?
  • Do you experience restful nights of sleep on a consistent basis?
  • How is your sex drive?
  • Do you have regular periods? Or do you even have a period?
  • Do you have acne?

I can guarantee these ladies have health issues and likely have no idea they are being caused by their birth control “frienemy”. Now I know that there are women who would swear by their birth control and that’s totally cool (everyone has to make their own decision), but the reality is that not all women are created equal. While the pill might be a good experience for some, it can be equally awful for others because we all have different kinds of hormone receptors. Women with less sensitive hormone receptors tend to have a lot more birth control side effects.

What I do know for sure is that birth control does not allow our beautiful bodies to function optimally. In fact, one study found that 32 percent of 1,657 women who started taking oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) discontinued them within six months; 46 percent of the discontinuations were due to side effects. Yes, almost half! 

You should be concerned if you have experienced any of the following birth control side effects:

My Aching Head!

Some women experience migraines when they first begin taking birth control pills. Basically a drop in estrogen levels can trigger migraines, and if you’re on a low dose pill, your estrogen will likely be lower than what your body is accustomed to making naturally. What is frightening to me is that if you are experiencing migraines while on the pill the majority of doctors will start adjusting your hormone dosages to figure out a way to balance out your hormones chemically, which can only cause additional health issues down the road. If the source of the migraines is the synthetic hormones in birth control, then the only solution is to eliminate the culprit and figure out a healthier alternative to prevent pregnancy.

Spotting is for the Gym Ladies

As if bleeding during “that week” isn’t bad enough for many women, some forms of birth control actually cause spotting or breakthrough bleeding throughout the month. This is usually caused by an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone. Progestin-only methods like the Mirena IUD, Depo-Provera shot, and Nexplanon implant are the most common offenders. Additionally, progestin-only pills need to be taken at the exact same time every day and even a little deviation can cause irregular bleeding.

Sore Breasts are for the Birds

Since most birth control methods are created to make your body feel “as if” it were pregnant it shouldn’t be a big surprise that your body will feel pregnancy-like symptoms. Anything from mild breast tenderness to don’t-touch-me sore boobs may occur as a side effect of birth control.

What’s up with all these stomach problems!

Do you know that the birth control pill actually messes with your gut bacteria? Yup, many women become estrogen dominant while taking hormonal birth control which can lead to an overgrowth of yeast. This overgrowth can cause constipation, diarrhea, gas/bloating – all of which are commonly diagnosed as IBS. I was plagued with horrible digestive problems for the four years I was on the pill and it took me ages to reverse the damage. And I see women on a daily basis whose gut problems all began while on the pill.

Ack, yeast infections too?

I was also plagued by chronic yeast infections when I was on the pill because of the imbalance in my gut bacteria. Unfortunately for women, that bacteria can easily travel from the anus to the vagina, especially if you’re wiping in the wrong direction. No fun! Quitting the BC usually puts an end to these bacterial infections and just FYI, these kinds of infections can mess with your ability to get pregnant.

Nutritional deficiencies…

What is not usually discussed is the fact that in order for the liver to metabolize birth control pills, it requires extra amounts of B-complex vitamins (especially B2, B6 and B12), vitamin C, magnesium and zinc. If you’re taking birth control for years on end, as are most women, you’re creating serious deficiencies of these crucial nutrients. Most women don’t realize this until after they have come off they pill and they’re contending with bouts of cystic acne, mood disorders, weight gain, sporadic periods and infertility.

Why Cant I Fit Into These Jeans?

Ever had a PMS-fueled late night munchies session? Yeah, I know, who hasn’t right? While studies show that hormonal birth control does not cause weight gain, I’ve seen enough women in my practice who say otherwise! I don’t think most women take the pill and suddenly put on 15lbs, but it definitely seems to have a more indirect effect on appetite and weight gain.

Women who use a combination of estrogen and progesterone show lower levels of ghrelin (“I’m hungry” hormone) and higher levels of leptin (“I’m full” hormone) than do women who use estrogen-only birth control. Which means that combination pills might mean less weight gain than estrogen-only pills or progestin-only birth control options. 

It appears the biggest offender of birth control-induced weight gain is the Depo-Provera shot with some women gaining 11 pounds and going up 2 dress sizes!

No Boom Boom in the Bedroom

In most cases you went on the pill to not get pregnant. Well, there’s no better way to not get pregnant than to not have sex. It is widely known that birth control pills can lower your libido but it can also have other unpleasant effects. First, birth control pills thicken and dry up your cervical fluid creating the dreaded “dry down there” issue. This eventually leads to painful sex…And we all know if it’s painful we ain’t gonna’ do it.

Testosterone is almost entirely responsible for our sex drive and vaginal lubrication. And guess what? The pill causes the liver to increase production of a protein called Sex-Hormone Binding Globulin which binds to testosterone and makes it inactive. This is a no-no for your libido my friends. The only solution is to get OFF the pill. And post haste for you and your relationship’s sake. You can read more about this issue here and sign up for my natural birth control webinar here.

My Mood is Swinging 

Nothing drives me more insane than hearing someone suggest that it must be “her time of the month.” Uggggh! I know from my own personal experience – and from my experience with countless clients – that depression and anxiety can be balanced out naturally with diet and lifestyle changes in conjunction with coming off hormonal birth control. This is because estrogen is intricately linked with serotonin (that feel-good brain transmitter) so when estrogen drops (on low dose BC pills for instance) it takes down serotonin and your mood with it.

By using natural birth control methods you will not only ease the dreaded mood swings but you can communicate with your body in a new and exciting way. And I guarantee you will be able to say that you’ve never been happier or more even-keeled.

Adult Acne, Are You Kidding Me?

Aren’t breakouts supposed to be for teenagers? It turns out that even as an adult the hormonal ups and downs over the course of your cycle can cause unwanted zits. Many women go on birth control to reduce acne but the only reason their acne goes away is because the BC has a testosterone-lowering effect. Once they come off, their testosterone and other androgenic hormones begin to rise again and the acne comes back. The best way to help over-production of androgens is through food and supplements. I highly recommend making food and lifestyle changes about 4-8 weeks before going off the pill the ease the transition. Remember, your body can go into a frenzy trying to balance things out so a little patience goes a long way.

My Period Has Gone Missing! (Amenorrhea)

Taking your birth control pills correctly, every day, at the exact time, doesn’t guarantee that everything will go perfectly. In fact, some women on birth control will not get their period at all.

While you might rejoice at the thought of experiencing no period, it is no laughing matter. Amenorrhea is caused by too little estrogen and progesterone and if a doctor just prescribes a different birth control, it will just mask the issue instead of fixing it. The only way to address birth control-related amenorrhea is to come off the birth control and begin beefing up your diet and supplement regimen.

If you want to learn more about how the pill and other hormonal birth control methods damage your amazing body, read this post. Or tune in to my radio show The Period Party for even more information on your hormones and how you can take back control of your health and your menstrual cycle. You can also join my Know Your Flow Facebook group community to get support from other women who are on this journey too!

If you want more more more, I’ve got two options for you! :-)

You can sign up for my next Menstruation Mavens Inner Circle Call where we’re covering natural birth control and how to start using it. It’s $10 and you can participate live or watch the recording at a later date. 

Want to fire up your hormones after being on birth control? Then grab my Fix Your Period Kickstart 28 Day Program and you’ll not only learn why your hormones are hurting but how to actually wake them up so you can feel great again. It’s like a search and rescue team for your period!

Sources:

Mayo Clinic “Headache and Hormones: What’s the Connection?” Nov 13 2012 http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-daily-headaches/in-depth/headaches/art-20046729

http://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/0515/p2073.html#afp20020515p2073-b4

http://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/0515/p2073.html

https://www.womentowomen.com/healthy-weight/hunger-hormones/

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2004/10/27/birth-control-part-two.aspx

 

 

COMMENT
Too much sugar!
PCOS begins in utero!

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