Are you getting off the pill for some reason (there are plenty of them) and wondering what is going to happen? Is your skin going to break out, will you gain weight and what about your hormones? These are all valid questions and I am here to tell you what you can expect and what you need to know about getting off the pill.
Let’s start with why you may want to get off the pill in the first place shall we?
Low sex drive: This is unfortunately a common issue for many women who are on the pill, which kind of defeats the whole purpose of being on the pill, no?! This can happen because the pill can decrease your level of testosterone, a hormone that is strongly associated with optimal sexual function. The result is diminished sexual interest, sexual arousal, initiation of sexual activity, and also sexual enjoyment, yikes! Although this may be fixed by trying different forms of birth control, it is still a factor for many women who choose to go off the pill.
Been on it so long, you want to give your body a break: I hear a lot of women say this as well and while I will always say, you do you, I would urge some caution here. What exactly do you want to give your body a break from and are you planning on going right back on it after? If that is the case, then I don’t see the point. You will most likely end up messing with your body and hormones some more, so it is best to stop taking it and thats that, or if you feel ok taking it, then you do you.
Nutrient deficiencies: When you are on the pill and in order for your body to metabolize the pill, your liver requires extra amounts of the B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc. Of course, you can ensure you are eating a nutrient dense diet and supplementing with these vitamins if you are concerned. However, this can be a contributing reason for some women in wanting to be off the pill and not rely on anything synthetic. This was one of my personal reasons for coming off the pill, as I wanted to be able to feel more in line with my body and not rely on the pill. I also wanted to see how my body would react after being on it for so many years (about 9-10 years).
Candida: Candida is an overgrowth of bad bacteria that is generally home to our digestive tract and can cause a lot of issues for many women. Symptoms include: bloating, brain fog, indigestion, food allergies/intolerances and recurring yeast infections, followed by a course of antibiotics and more infections… this was another issue for me as well. According to the Healthy Women Organization’s website, yeast overgrowth has been closely linked to estrogen dominance in a woman’s body, which is highly influenced by taking the pill. Women who use hormonal birth control (not just the pill but also a patch or ring) may have more yeast infections than those who don’t.
The pill can decrease your level of testosterone, a hormone that is strongly associated with optimal sexual function. The result is diminished sexual interest, sexual arousal, initiation of sexual activity, and also sexual enjoyment… yikes!
Maybe there are other reasons not mentioned here for getting off the pill, but nevertheless you are choosing to forgo the monthly pill and you are wondering what will happen now. I want to lay out for you what may happen and what you can do about it.
Getting off the Pill…what happens next?
1) Breakouts: Sadly this is one of the most common after effects of coming off the pill and one that I experienced myself firsthand. Some people say that your skin goes back to the way it was prior to being on the pill, but mine got worse. My skin prior to being on the pill was overall fairly good, with the occasional pimple here or there, but nothing major. But then after being on the pill for so long and coming off it, my skin broke out in cystic acne for a few months. I remember feeling embarrassed and ugly and not wanting to leave my condo. Luckily, I got through it with the help of a few key supplements and changes. Here is what helped:
ACES + Zn supplement: This is your skins BFF in supplement form in my opinion and it worked very well for me. All of the vitamins A, C, E and minerals selenium and zinc are necessary for your skins health and so upping your dosage of this supplement was extremely helpful. Also note that this works in conjunction with a generally clean and healthy diet.
A well rounded diet: I started upping my dose of healthy fats, focusing on quality protein and also lots of greens around this time. I tried to limit dairy and wheat as both are not great for my skin, I notice a huge difference when I don’t have dairy personally when it comes to my skin. I suggest looking to your diet and seeing how you can clean it up to support your body through this transition as well. Or work with someone (like myself) to make changes to support your skin.
You can download my FREE eBook all about getting great skin with foods as a start prior to and while you are coming off the pill.
Fish Oil: Taking a fish oil is great for your skin and fighting inflammation in the body. I highly suggest taking a good quality fish oil daily to see improvements in your skin. If you are vegan, I suggest taking this brand, otherwise, I like this one as well.
Switching to Green Beauty Products: I am a big believer in switching out your conventional skincare and beauty products for ones that are more natural. If you are just starting out, start by switching one or two things that you use the most often first and then move on to other things. This will make the transition a lot easier. I have posted all about green beauty products for skincare and makeup so be sure to check those out for my favourites and a discount code.
2) No period at all: This is another side effect of getting off the pill which can be alarming for all kinds of reasons. Personally, I didn’t have this issue, but I know that it can happen. Amenorrhea is a real problem for many women who may have gotten off the pill to get pregnant and even if you don’t want to get pregnant, it is still a problem. So how do you get it back?
Focus on some key supplements: As I stated in the beginning of this post, you may be deficient in numerous minerals and vitamins that are needed by your body. Focusing on these ones in your diet is key.
Getting enough sleep: I have discussed the importance of sleep before in regards to your energy levels, but it is also very important for your hormones as well. Your circadian rhythms affect all endocrine hormone secretions, including melatonin, cortisol, thyroid stimulating hormone, growth hormone, prolactin, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), insulin, leptin, and more. What we do know is that prolactin, FSH, and LH are the key hormones regulating the menstrual cycle along with estrogen and progesterone. So if these hormones aren’t being released at the right times, your reproductive system is also not getting the proper signals that is needed to regulate your menstrual cycle. You can address this by ensuring that you are not getting too much blue light at night and getting adequate daylight during the day. Also, look at your stress level and focus on ways to deal with stress in a positive way as much as possible. As stress is another leading cause of amenorrhea.
Ensure you are getting the right amount of carbohydrates: Many women will also tend to restrict the amount of carbs they are eating to lose weight, however this may be doing more harm than good. By restricting your calories and your dietary intake of food more and more, while increasing your exercise activity, you are actually creating the perfect storm for amenorrhea to continue. So if you are having trouble getting your period back, focus on getting some good (complex) carbs into your diet more than just over focusing on protein.
By restricting your calories and your dietary intake of food more and more, while increasing your exercise activity, you are actually creating the perfect storm for amenorrhea to continue.
3) Heavier periods or painful cramps: The pill is helpful for painful cramps, but luckily there are a few natural alternatives that you can try for when you are suffering from painful periods. Ideally, the better your diet, mental health, sleep and overall health and wellness is, the less likely you are to suffer from PMS and painful cramps. However, they can still arise for many women and before you reach for some over the counter options, you can try these instead.
Cramp bark: This herb got its name because it is good for cramps and can be taken in tincture form.
Chaste Tree/Raspberry Leaf: This tea blend from Yogi is perfect for cramps and other symptoms associated with PMS and your menstrual cycle.
Good Old Fashioned Heating Pad: This is something that I used in the past and is really helpful when you are experiencing cramps. Of course this is something you can really only use when you are at home, but it does help.
Maca powder: This doesn’t help with painful periods, but it can help with PMS and balancing your hormones. Maca is considered an adaptogen which is a natural substance that helps the body naturally adapt to stressors. Maca is believed to help balance estrogen in the body plus it provides a boost of energy. You can find maca in health food stores or well stocked grocery stores in the health food section. I like this brand, but I believe you can also order a gelatinized organic version from Costco online, so I’ll probably try that one soon. Check out this recipe below that uses maca and other superfoods, just click on the picture below!4) Weight Gain or Loss: Because your hormones may be imbalanced, you can experience either weight gain or loss as this affects your metabolism. The best thing to do is to eat as much whole, fresh food as possible and ensuring you are moving your body in some way. Try and ensure you are able to manage your stress level and get enough sleep, see point number 2 above. This can also help with mood swings which is another possibility when you are coming off the pill. Overall don’t stress about the number on the scale, you are so much more than that, trust me.
I hope this was helpful for you. Tackling your hormones and getting in sync with your body is not easy, but oh so worth it! If you are unsure of what is going on and you are looking to work one on one with a holistic nutritionist, please book a free 20 minute discovery call with me.
Let me know if you are getting off the pill and what you discovered?