What to expect when coming off hormonal contraceptives and how to speed up your return to healthy cycles
There are many reasons to be interested in coming off hormonal contraceptives, but I bet, regardless of your reasons for stopping hormonal contraceptives, you want to resume healthy cycles as quickly as possible.
It’s certainly beneficial to have the healthy cycles back if you want to use the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness as natural birth control. It’s also beneficial for getting back into a general state of health, especially if one of your reasons for getting off the hormonal contraceptives was because of health issues. You may be interested in getting pregnant soon, or maybe even far off in the future, and want to make sure everything is working well.
What it takes to get healthy cycles back
Right after you quit, your body is still going to be teeming with the hormones that it’s been fed. Because of this, you are going to want to work on getting those hormones out of your system. You can accomplish this by supporting your body’s natural detoxification systems.
You also are going to need to nourish your body with what it needs so that it can get back to making a healthy amount of hormones naturally.
What to expect when coming off hormonal contraceptives
When you are coming off the pill, you may be in for a wild ride. The whole time that you were on hormonal contraceptives your own hormones were put into a state of suspension. Your body let the other hormones take over for the most part.
So what does this mean for you? For one thing, if you had any hormonal imbalances you are still likely to have them. Meaning, if you went on the pill because of cramps, excessive bleeding, acne, or to “regulate” irregular periods, he most likely scenario is that these issues will return. Often with a vengeance.
The good news is that these issues are often not so hard to fix.
Implementing a healthy diet and lifestyle to support your endocrine system will help any imbalances you may have. More info on this below.
Some of the withdrawal symptoms you may have, regardless of whether you had a hormonal imbalance before getting on the hormones, are:
a change in sex drive
a lack of cervical fluid
continuous cervical fluid
heavier or lighter periods
more intense cramps
The good news is, if you were having issues with these before stopping, they may also be alleviated by coming off hormonal contraceptives. Regardless, with time they will get better if attention is paid to your hormonal health.
Why wait? Why your body needs to get back to a healthy hormonal pattern
How important is it to wait before trying to use the sympto-thermal method as birth control? I would say very. It’s a good idea to see healthy cycles to use sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness as natural birth control.
Some lucky people will resume healthy cycles quickly while for others it may take time. This will depend on many factors including:
If you have had a child before using hormonal contraception
How long you had been taking hormonal contraceptives
Age you began taking hormonal contraceptives
Whether you had any irregularities/imbalances before using hormonal contraceptives
How good your overall health is
What type of hormonal contraceptive you were on
It is best to wait to use the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness as natural birth control because your hormones are likely to be imbalanced at first. You may have less days that you are actually fertile, due to longer cycles, but you may have continuous, or no, cervical fluid.
The synthetic hormones can take some time to get out of your system, which is part of what will allow your cycles to get back to normal.
What to do to help your body return to normal
So how do you get a healthy menstrual cycle back? Definitely try to follow my tips for a healthy balanced endocrine system and, in addition, take extra care in a few areas listed below.
Nutrients to focus on:
B Vitamins. The liver uses B vitamins to process hormones. This means that since you have been adding excess hormones to your body your body is using up B vitamins like crazy. The B vitamins are a group of vitamins and come in many different foods, but good sources of most of them are: Leafy greens, whole grains, and animal products (B12).
Vitamin C. It’s important for liver health, so it’s going to help get those excess hormones cleared. Good sources include all fruits (especially citrus, kiwi, peppers, and berries) and vegetables.
Zinc. It’s critical for the production and utilization of many hormones. When it is in balance with copper, iron, and manganese it helps prevent ovarian cysts. Good foods include oysters, fish, red meat, and pumpkin seeds (Though the seeds should be soaked in order for proper utilization of nutrients).
Magnesium. Required for the production of ovarian hormones. Good sources are kelp, leafy greens, nettle, cocoa powder, and many nuts and seeds.
Vitamin A. Critical for good reproductive health on many levels. Good sources are cod liver oil, liver, fish, kidney, butter, and whole milk.
Fats. Avoid the “yellow” fats that are commonly used such as soybean (aka vegetable oil), corn, canola, safflower, etc. Instead favor organic/naturally raised animal fats, extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, and organic/naturally raised butter. Ensure good intake of omega 3s by avoiding grain fed animals/animal fats and eating fish and/or fish oil regularly. Do not use trans fats; anything hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated is not your friend.
Sleep in darkness (general hormonal health)
Exercise vigorously a few times a week (hormone clearance)
avoid endocrine disruptors (free up your liver to process the hormones you want out)
Get lots of water and rest (hormone clearance)
Consider a cleanse (hormone clearance)
Support your liver:
Consider herbs that are good for your liver
Drink lemon water in the morning
Avoid sugar, trans-fats
What does a healthy cycle look like?
This advice refers to what a healthy cycle will look like for you if you are charting your cycles. If you are not charting your cycles, you may believe that you have healthy cycles even though they haven’t normalized yet. You may also be able to tell that they are still off, anyway (for instance, if you are not getting a period at all).
In a healthy cycle a chart will show:
A temperature shift indicating ovulation, followed by at least 10 high temperatures indicating a healthy luteal phase.
You will see a healthy cervical fluid pattern that lines up with your temperature shift.
Eggwhite cervical fluid will generally be seen as your peak fluid.
Ideally, you will not have split peaks of cervical fluid regularly before ovulation. It is best to wait for these signs before using the the method as birth control.
If you haven’t started charting your cycles yet and don’t know where to start, I’ve got you covered with a complete fertility awareness program.
Coming off the Pill, the Patch, the Shot, and Other Hormonal Contraceptives – Megan LaLonde and Geraldine Matus
The Pill: Are you sure it’s for you? – Alexandra Pope and Jane Bennett
Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition – Marilyn Shannon
Much information adapted from Coming off the Pill, the Patch, the Shot, and Other Hormonal Contraceptives.