Many people find natural birth control methods to be effective but chemical birth control methods that contain hormones (what I’ll call CBCMs in this blog) save the day for many women. This includes birth control pills, IUDs with hormones, the ring, and the Depo Provera shot, which afford women and their partners many benefits and freedoms. That said, women’s bodies change because of CBCMs and we become dependent on them. When we go off of CBCMs, our bodies experience a kind of withdrawal and it can take up to about a year for the body to figure out its natural cycle again. The effect of this transition varies for each person but common negative symptoms include weight gain, bloating, acne, erratic emotions, missed periods, and spotting. On the upside, many women say their sex drive increases and they have more energy.
Here are a few tips to help ease your transition but above all, be gentle with yourself and your body:
1. Let people close to you know what’s up so they can be understanding and compassionate if they end up on the receiving end of your rant or cry-fest.
2. Increase dark leafy greens like turnip greens and spinach, asparagus, beets, citrus, ground flax seeds, and beans and legumes such as lentils and pinto beans. Many studies show that CBCMs can deplete some nutrients, particularly B vitamins, folic acid, Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin C, and zinc so you may be going into your transition with a deficit already. This makes you more vulnerable to emotional spikes and inflammation. You may experience more energy after going off of CBCMs because your body is better absorbing these nutrients so focus on foods with these particular minerals and vitamins and take advantage of the opportunity to replenish your supply.
3. Be kind to your liver. Hormones are processed through the liver which acts like a traffic cop for hormones—it directs hormones to different places. Drinking alcohol, taking drugs, and experiencing a lot of stress can cause kerfuffle in this vital organ, slow down your transition or increase the severity of symptoms.
4. Reduce or cut out sugars. Sugar produces hormones, such as insulin, that can mess with your other hormones. Give your sex hormones extra space to figure themselves out by staying away from sweets including fruits, processed flours (i.e. anything that is not a whole grain), yeast-products including beer, and all other alcohol. In addition, the pH in your vagina changes when you go off of CBCMs and you may be susceptible to yeast infections which thrive on sugars. Especially if your sex drive increases, cut out those cookies and keep your honeypot free and clear for more fun things than yeasties. 😉 (If you do fall prey to a yeast infection, check out Curing That Not-So-Fresh Feeling for all natural remedies. )
5. Tone your uterus with herbs such as red raspberry leaf and dong quai. Your reproductive system may be really confused but red raspberry and dong quai contain properties that particularly support your womb, enrich the lining, and blood flow. They are particularly great if you are not getting your period. If you don’t have an acupuncturist, herbalist, or naturopath who can advise you, Yogi Tea company makes a Women’s Moon Cycle tea as well as a Women’s Energy tea that are great and have each helped me bring on my period many times.