The 3 Step Process To Resetting Your Hormones Post Birth Control

The 3 Step Process To Resetting Your Hormones

Post Birth Control

Are you recently off the pill (oral contraceptive) and now suffering from uncontrollable acne, mood swings, low energy, an absentee period, sleep disturbances and weight gain? These are all signs that your hormones are out of whack! Hormones control how you think, how you feel, and how you look - all very important things to us, women. When hormones are balanced you feel energetic, upbeat, have glowing skin and weight is stable. However, when hormones are not balanced, you feel stressed, emotional, fatigued and so much more! 
Most people will start birth control at a younger age to “fix” their acne and decide to come off the pill later in life. However, coming off the pill can be a challenge for a lot of women. Whether you are coming off the pill to start a family or you are just tired of all the side effects, it requires work to re-balance your hormones. 
Let’s first learn a few basics about the pill…...

How does the pill work?

The pill stops your natural menstrual cycle. It is a combination of synthetic estrogen and progestin. It stops the production of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) in the brain which prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg every month.  The lack of LH causes the cervical mucus to thicken and changes the lining of the uterus, which keeps the sperm from joining the egg. The hormones in the pill (estrogen and progestin) suppress androgens, like testosterone and ultimately sebum, which reduces acne (main reason why women chose to go on the pill in the first place). 

How does your body respond after coming off the pill?

Years of oral contraception depletes the body of key nutrients. Research shows that the pill depletes vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium and zinc! As you can imagine, these are pretty important nutrients. They play a large role in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, hormone balance (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, thyroid hormones) and also support liver detoxification. 
Many women will experience unwanted side effects after coming off the pill like delayed fertility, worsened acne, heavy periods, absence of periods, stronger cramping, breakouts, bloating, nutrient deficiencies and much more. As well, not everyone will get their period right away after stopping the pill. It’s very common for women to have about a 3-month delay before actually getting their period. Generally, the cycles will be longer and lighter. This is because while on the pill, the ovaries are not functioning well, so work needs to be done to help the ovaries. 

How to naturally rebalance your hormones?

The good news is, you CAN rebalance your hormones after coming off the pill, NATURALLY. Statistically speaking, roughly 80% of women will regain hormonal balance within three months of stopping the pill. For some women, it could longer, up to 6 months after stopping the pill to attain hormone balance. 
So, if you are newly off the pill and you are having trouble with your cycle and many of the side effects mentioned earlier, you may just need to rebalance your hormones. First and foremost, the sex hormones (Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone) need to be tested for. This helps to get a baseline of where your hormones are at the present moment, and takes out the guesswork. Hormone testing can be done through a simple blood test. Once you have this, there are 3 steps to follow in order to get those hormones back where they should be.

Step 1: Dietary Strategies

It is possible to restore hormonal balance by eating the right foods at the right times and limiting the unwanted ones. In fact, the foundation of hormone balance is digestion!
  • Drink lemon juice upon waking - Start your day off with some lemon water! Dilute the juice of half a squeezed lemon in 8 oz of water. This will help to increase stomach acid, which is necessary for the breakdown of vital nutrients, like the B vitamins, magnesium, zinc and calcium. Sufficient stomach acid will help maximize absorption of these nutrients that are so often low post birth-control pill.
  • Balance blood sugar through eating smaller meals throughout the day - For as long as I can remember, eating 3 meals a day was always emphasized. New research is suggesting that this may not be the best approach when it comes to hormones and even weight loss! Eating larger meals and waiting too long before your next meal can cause blood sugar to drop which really throws off the hormones, causing high levels of testosterone and estrogen. The best way to avoid this is to eat small meals every 3-4 hours that consists of a source of healthy fat, protein and fiber. These 3 components can slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream which will prevent those insulin spikes.
  • Increase cruciferous veggies - Include, broccoli, broccoli sprouts, kale, collard greens, bok choy, arugula, cauliflower and cabbage in your daily routine. These veggies contain DIM (Di-indolyl-methane) which helps the liver to detoxify hormones so they are not building up in the body.
  • Increase Healthy Fats - Remember, hormones are made from healthy fats. Focus on plant-based healthy fats to safely balance your hormones. Aim for 5-6 servings of healthy fats a day. Here are some great sources: avocado, coconut, coconut oil, olive oil, whole eggs, nuts (hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, walnuts, almonds), chia seeds, ground flax seeds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Remove dairy & refined sugars - Dairy and refined sugars are extremely inflammatory and can lead to insulin spikes in the body. Increased insulin can increase androgens, like testosterone, which can worsen acne.
  • Eat flax seeds - Aim for 2 tbsp of ground flax seeds a day. Flax seeds are high in lignans, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Flax seeds can help to improve the estrogen/progesterone ratio - which is key after coming off the birth control pill!

Step 2: Replace nutrients that are depleted from the pill

Supplements can be a great way to start the healing process, especially because the pill depletes some very important nutrients. So work to replace the missing nutrients. 
  • B vitamins- The birth control pill really depletes your body of B vitamins. The body needs these vitamins for daily detoxification, energy, mood support and so much more!
    • Vitamin B1 - 30 mg daily
    • Vitamin B2 -10 mg daily
    • Vitamin B3 - 15 mg daily
    • Vitamin B6 - 75-150 mg daily
    • Vitamin B9 (methylfolate) - 1-2 mg daily
    • Vitamin B12 - 1000 mcg daily
  • Magnesium  - Magnesium is used for over 300 biochemical reactions happening in the body. It is the key to optimal hormone balance and insulin regulation. Magnesium + Vitamin B6 helps with Phase II liver detoxification. This phase of liver detox is important for clearing the body of hormones, like estrogen. Since magnesium is depleted by the pill, it is super important to replenish the body’s stores. Opt to take it before bedtime.
  • Vitamin C, Zinc & Vitamin D - Vitamin C and Zinc are important for healing tissues, which can be helpful if trying to control acne after coming off the pill.  Vitamin C also helps to improve ovulation and progesterone production. Vitamin D levels are often 20% lower after coming off the pill.

Step 3: Clear out excess estrogen

As mentioned earlier the pill can really cause an imbalance in hormones produced by the body, mainly increased estrogen and low progesterone levels. It is very important to regain the natural balance of both estrogen and progesterone once discontinuing the pill through helping the body clear out all that excess estrogen! 
  • Support estrogen metabolism through liver support - The liver is in charge of processing and clearing out hormones so they can be eliminated from the body. It is important to help the liver clear out excess estrogen. This can be done firstly by avoiding all environmental hormone exposure by reducing plastic food containers, BPA cans, steering clear of the dirty dozen cosmetic and toxic household cleaners. Second, supplements that can help to support the liver detoxification include, curcumin, NAC and green tea extract.
  • Restore friendly gut bacteria - The birth control pill can deplete the “good” bacteria in the gut. Probiotics (Lactobacillus acidophilus & Bifidobacterium spp.) are known to play an important role in the maintenance of normal flora in the gastrointestinal tract by acting as "good bacteria". Probiotics help with detoxification by binding to harmful estrogens in the digestive tract and eliminating them from the body.  So supplementing with probiotics can help to achieve balance in the gut which can then lead to balanced hormones.
  • Vitex - Vitex, also known as Chaste Berry Extract helps to support hormone balance by regulating ovulation, increasing fertility and stabilizing both estrogen and progesterone. 
As great as the pill is for preventing unwanted pregnancies, it can have significant and long-term consequences on women’s health. The pill can impose hormonal changes in the body, leading to mood swings, low energy, insomnia and an absentee period once off the pill. These symptoms are caused by an imbalance in hormones and can take time to reset once coming off the pill. 
After coming off the pill it is so important to help your body and replace what was lost from the birth control pill through proper diet and nutritional supplementation. Remember, be patient with yourselves as the body finds its hormonal equilibrium, again! 
The advice in this article is for informational purposes only. It does not replace the care of a Naturopathic physician.