Quitting Birth Control

Stopping Birth Control - What to consider (3)

Have you been considering getting off your birth control? The reason for birth control use can be complicated and often multi-faceted. Many women begin using oral contraceptives (OCC) as early as their mid-teens, rarely to prevent a pregnancy. It's commonly prescribed or even requested by the patient, due to abnormal periods, cramping, and acne, to name a few. Also diagnoses like PCOS and endometriosis are reasons why a female may be prescribed an OCC.

I know, I was one of those teenagers. I had maybe 3 or 4 periods a year, and what I thought was terrible acne. So, from the ages of 15-22 I took a variety of OCCs -- not to prevent a pregnancy, but to manage these symptoms. Well, this isn't about me, so I'll just say it didn't help much. So, I quit taking it. Through many lifestyle changes involving diet, exercise, detox and liver support, and even better stress-management practices, my periods normalized and skin cleared up surprisingly fast.

When deciding to stop birth control, there are a few things to consider:

  • Do I want to get pregnant now/soon?
  • What other forms of contraception will I be utilizing in the interim?
  • Were there certain symptoms/health issues I experienced that started me on OCC? And what have I done to address those during this time of taking OCC?

First of all, if you had some of the symptoms listed above that were handled nicely by your OCC, that doesn't mean it was necessarily fixed. Realize that once getting off birth control, those issues may come back, and sometimes with a vengeance. That means your temporary fix gave you some reprieve during a time you could be healing the deeper issue. If you hadn't been focusing on those deeper-seeded issues during your time with hormonal therapy, that's ok! Now is a great time to start.

Here are a few steps you can take to get off birth control:

-I always recommend speaking with your prescribing doctor to let them know you'd like to stop the medication. While it's 100% your decision, if they are on your team, it's nice to keep them informed on what your desires are.

-Track your menstrual cycles and symptoms from the beginning. Things may take time to normalize, and if timing or other factors are super irregular, realize that it can take months for your body to adapt.

-Replenish what has been lost. Birth control depletes several nutrients, including ones vital to healthy conception and pregnancy. Start by eating whole, unprocessed foods - varied cuts of animal meats, beef and chicken liver, pastured eggs, and organic produce in a rainbow of colors. This will get you started in building back your stores of things like:

  • B-vitamins (so important for energy pathways, liver/nerve/brain function, and a newly-conceived baby's development)
  • Magnesium Glycinate (nerve and muscle function)
  • Zinc (helps normalize and restore menstrual cycle, reduces PCOS symptoms).
  • (You may consider supplementing with these while you get into the routine of nourishing with food, the most effective way to get nutrients)

-Begin to investigate the reasons you started on OCC. Remember, many things can be drivers of those original symptoms, and if they have yet to be addressed, chances are they are still there lurking under the surface. This is useful to do with a health practitioner who understands female cycles and hormones, as well as one who takes a more "root-cause" approach. Often these are your functional or foundational medicine doctors, naturopaths, or even some of the more holistic nutrition and health coaches. Find someone who you feel comfortable working with and who seems to understand your concerns and wants to go along the journey with you, not commandeer it.

So, what may be driving those original symptoms?

  • Poor hormone processing and elimination (usually to do with the liver and gall bladder)
  • Reduced detoxification capabilities (the liver is a big player here, too)
  • Blood sugar dysregulation (could be a dietary issue, can also be related to inflammation levels)
  • Undetected infections (like low-grade bacterial or viral, mold exposure, and parasites)
  • Toxic burden (chemical exposure and heavy metal toxicity to name a few - changing your environment and products you put on your skin and use in your home is a great place to start)

If wanting to conceive, you will be getting off birth control. I recommend quitting a minimum of 6 months before you want to start trying. This allows time for the body to replenish, and have time to work on those original symptoms before introducing a very new and big shock to the system – a growing baby!

Please don't take this as a substitution for medical advice or recommendations from a healthcare professional you are working with. These are suggestions that you should discuss with someone who knows you and your case history!


There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!