I Want Off Hormonal Birth Control – Now What?

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Interested in transitioning off your hormonal birth control?

Remember that it’s a prescription drug – so make sure to get in touch with your doctor before making any changes to your prescription or supplementation routine. 

Hormonal birth control is doctor-prescribed hormonal imbalance via synthetic steroid drugs. These steroid drugs override our natural hormone function and stop our brain and ovaries from talking. One of the ways that hormonal birth control prevents pregnancy is by preventing ovulation.

If we do not ovulate each month (detectable by change in waking basal body temperature, changes to cervical mucus, and changes in cervex positioning), we do not produce progesterone – a crucial piece to the puzzle for a females vitality and well-being.

We need all sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, etc – and suppresses our natural hormone function. Which is why hormonal birth control is essentisally doctor-prescribed hormonal imbalance.

We have teenage daughters popping the pill, it’s basically part of the “going away to college” care package, and hormonal birth control is handed out like Halloween candy from the doctors office to teenages and women everywhere, regardless of age. We can do better.

It’s not that hormonal birth control is wrong.. we all deserve to live life on terms that work best for us. Most women (myself included) have taken some form of hormonal birth control at some point –  it’s certainly no contest that hormonal birth control effectively prevents pregnancy and may temporarily relieve particular symptoms.

But hormonal birth control can’t and doesn’t address the root cause of WHY we’re struggling with symptoms. Women aren’t being informed of what may occur from long term use, or what may happen when they decide to stop utilizing hormonal birth control either.

The conversation simply goes: Struggling with heavy periods or painful cramps? Hormonal birth control. Cystic acne or PMS? Hormonal birth control. Don’t want babies or done having babies? Hormonal birth control.

Our menstrual cycle is our best indicator of health. It’s monthly feedback on how we’re doing “under the hood.” Contrary to belief, periods should not be painful, miserable, or accompanied by a laundry list of symptoms. We can also prevent pregnancy in much safer and healthier ways than the pill or IUD.

Potential Symptoms After Transitioning off HBC:
– Lack of period (amenorrhea)
– Acne
– Heavy and painful periods
– Anxiety, depression, or mood disorders
– Mood swings
– Depressed thyroid function
– Changes in gut health
– Headaches, migraines
– Hair loss
– Insulin resistance or issues with blood sugar

Supplements to Consider:
– Zinc
– B Vitamin Complex
– Vitamin C
– Vitamin D
– Magnesium
– Selenium

Supplements Worth Researching:

*Please consult with doctor before changing your supplement routine.
– DIM: Helps promote healthy estrogen metabolism and may relieve estrogen dominance symptoms.
– Calcium D Glucarate: Improves clearance and elimination of excess estrogens. May be helpful for estrogen dominance, PMS, fibroids, and more.
– Vitex: May boost progesterone. May also help provide relief of PMS, hirsutism, breast pain, and amenorrhea.
– NAC: May boost glutathione production and help with detoxification in the body.

Educational Resources: Books Regarding Hormones & Health
The Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden
The Hormone Cure by Sara Gottfried
Hashimoto’s Protocol by Izabella Wentz
30 Day Thyroid Reset Plan by Becky Campbell

Healthy Gut Healthy You by Michael Ruscio

Educational Accounts to Follow on Social Media:
@LaurieChristineKing
@DrJoleneBrighten
@LaraBriden
@SaraGottfriedMD
@DrBeckyCampbell
@DrCarrieJones
@DrRuscio
@NicoleMJardim
@LauraSchoenfeldRD

Lab Work Considerations:
– Lab work cannot be done while on hormonal birth control as hormones are suppressed.
– We need at least 3 months free of hormonal birth control before we can test lab work, as levels will still be altered and hormones may be shifting.
– Consider a full hormone panel. Dutch Test is the most comprehensive as it runs hormones and their metabolites via dried urinalysis.
– If Dutch is unavailable, keep in mind that hormones vary over the course of the month, so we can’t just draw labs ‘spur of the moment’. We need labwork pulled during both follicular AND luteal phase.
– Try to get a full picture: test DHEA, LH, FSH, SHBG, TSH, Free T3, and Free T4,  Estradiol, Progesterone, Testosterone, Iron, CRP, B12, ALT, and AST at minimum. 

Naturally Improving Hormones Via Nutrition:
– Work with an experienced coach to pull out of a caloric deficit and resume maintenance calories
– Load up on healthy fats and ample carbs for lifestyle & activity (anecdotally, 60-70f & 150-250c minimum for happy hormones)
– Keep blood sugar balanced by consuming a protein, carb, fat, fiber, & veggies at every meal and eating at regular intervals during the day
– Consider minimizing dairy and gluten consumption
– Minimize sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and processed food consumption
– Minimize pesticide exposure – buy organic produce and quality meat as much as possible
– Consume cruciferous veggies and sprouts (great for gut health/liver detox)
– Consume red meat daily
– Consume 30-40g fiber and plenty of water daily
– Address gut health via quality probiotics, fermented foods, bone broth, and collagen
– Consider researching and implementing seed cycling
 
Naturally Improving Hormones Via Lifestyle Changes:
– Minimize paraben exposure (use natural body care products, skin care products, deodorants, and household cleaners)
– Minimize plastic exposure (Tupperware, water bottles, meal prep containers)
– Reduce training volume and intensity (consider temporarily switching exercise modalities to something like bodybuilding or lifting as high-intensity modalities like CrossFit, Orange Theory, etc may be stressful to the body. Check out Paragon Training Methods)
– Take more rest days from the gym
– Consume 30-40 grams of fiber + plenty of water daily
– Non-negotiable 8-10 hours in bed
– Minimize and address stress 

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