So you want to break up with your pill but you’re scared of your hormones becoming a hot mess? You’ve landed in the right place.
It can be daunting ditching the safety net that has kept your natural hormonal fluctuations at bay for the months, or even years, that you’ve been taking it. It can be hard to know how your body will respond, and what your natural hormone balance will be like when your body starts making its own hormones again.
Fear not, there are ways to smooth the transition and support your body in finding its own natural hormone balance again. Here is your guide to coming off the pill, based on what your hormones were like before you went on it.
You can totally follow all recommendations in each section below (in fact we would absolutely recommend it), but to make it easier for you, and a little less daunting, we’ve broken them down to help you prioritise your plan of attack.
But first things first: make sure you chat to your GP and consider another method of contraception (if necessary) before making any rash decisions about birth control.
YOU HAD EASY BREEZY PERIODS AND LITTLE TO NO HORMONAL CONCERNS PRE-PILL:
The envy of many, you may experience some breakouts or mild anxiety as your body weans off its daily dose of synthetic oestrogen, but you’ll likely be fine to stop taking the pill and see how you go.
Supporting your body to start ovulating and producing its own natural progesterone again will help to soothe any low moods or anxiety, and promote regular, symptom-free cycles.
To help your body ovulate ASAP, make sure to:
- Get plenty of sleep and manage your stress levels. Easier said than done, we know. Try cutting back on additional stressors such as over exercising, caffeine and alcohol.
- Make sure to eat plenty of nutrient-dense wholefoods, and include a good balance of healthy fats, quality proteins and the right kind of carbs in your diet.
- Keep your nutrient stores tip-top, particularly zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6. These key nutrients nourish the ovaries and support ovulation.
YOU HAD ACNE PRE-PILL:
The pill suppresses sebum (skin oils) and can help to keep acne at bay while you are on it—a common reason it is prescribed beyond the purpose of contraception.
However, in many cases your skin will respond to this suppression by upregulating its production of sebum even more, which is often why acne can become even worse in the 3-6 months after quitting the pill.
If this is you, you’ll want to do a little more preparation in the months before you come off the pill, including:
- Increasing your zinc intake. Zinc helps to balance testosterone levels and protect your skin from the post-pill androgen-surge that can happen as your ovaries come back online. Make sure to take a high-strength, bioavailable form of zinc, such as BePure Zinc Restore.
- Reducing or eliminating dairy and refined sugars from your diet, both of which spike a hormone called IGF-1, increased levels of which has been shown to worsen acne in women.
YOU STARTED THE PILL AT A YOUNG AGE:
When we first hit puberty our periods can be a bit whack. But over time, the communication between your brain and ovaries strengthens, and your cycles become more regular, and resilient to the factors that can throw it out of balance.
If you started the pill before this pathway had a chance to develop into regular, ovulatory cycles, it may take some time for this to happen post-pill as well.
The best ways to support your body through this are:
- Replenishing your nutrient stores. The pill is known to deplete a whole heap of essential nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamin E, zinc, selenium, magnesium and vitamin C.
- Eating a balanced diet with plenty of healthy fats and quality proteins. Cholesterol and amino acids are the building blocks of our sex hormones.
- Being kind to yourself, a little self care can go a long way.
YOU DREADED YOUR PERIOD PRE-PILL:
If your periods before starting the pill were heavy, crampy or otherwise a total pain to deal with, you’ll want to support your oestrogen levels and oestrogen metabolism in transitioning off of it.
Oestrogen we no longer need is metabolised through the liver and excreted through the gut, which is why it's super important that each of these detox pathways are functioning well for balanced hormones.
Make sure to:
- Eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables, (i.e. broccoli sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, collard greens, radish, bok choy, brussel sprouts and watercress). These vegetables are especially rich in a compound called Diindolylmethane (DIM), which supports the liver in metabolising and detoxifying oestrogen.
- Eat fibre-rich foods and probiotic foods to support good gut health and regular bowel movements.
- Drink enough water, an essential aspect of all detoxification pathways in the body.
YOU HAD IRREGULAR/ABSENT PERIODS PRE-PILL:
The pill doesn’t regulate your cycle, it shuts it down. If you had irregular periods, or no periods at all before going on the pill, chances are the same issue will persist after quitting the pill.
In this case, we’d recommend checking out this blog to learn about why this may have been happening for you in the first instance.
To support your body in establishing regular cycles:
- Make sure to eat enough food, and include a good balance of healthy fats, quality proteins and the right kind of carbs in your diet.
- Chill out on HIIT, intense exercise can send your stress levels through the roof and make your period MIA.
- Supplement with zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6, three key nutrients that nourish the ovaries and support ovulation each month.
THE BOTTOM LINE IS THIS:
When you stop taking the pill, your brain and ovaries haven’t communicated with each other in months, if not years—expect it to be a little awkward at first!
There may be a few bumps along the way, but remember, the transition is temporary and somewhat inevitable (unless you plan on staying on birth control forever).
As a rule of thumb, we recommend giving your body around three months off the pill before testing your hormones. From here we can guide you with personalised advice tailored to exactly what your hormones are doing.
There are ways to support every hormone imbalance through diet, lifestyle and nutritional changes - you just have to know what you’re dealing with.