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If you’ve ever taken birth control pills and discontinued them, you may have experienced something known as post-birth control syndrome. It generally arises within the first 6 months of discontinuation, affects women of all ages, and has a wide array of symptoms. The severity is based on several factors, including how long you took the pill, the type of pill (dosage and hormone combination), your age, liver health, bowel regularity, and overall well-being.

Some of the more common symptoms one might experience after stopping the pill include acne, weight fluctuations, and hair loss, and for some women, it results in an absence of menses returning known as amenorrhea. Other less common symptoms women may experience include:

  • Migraines

  • Painful/Heavy Periods

  • Headaches

  • Bloating/Gas

  • Anxiety/Depression

  • Imbalances to Immune System

  • Inflammation

  • Hypothyroidism

  • Changes in Bowel Movements

  • Infertility

  • Blood Sugar Dysregulation

Do some of these symptoms sound familiar? If you have recently stopped the pill or are considering discontinuing it soon, speak to your Naturopath, as you need to understand the impacts the pill had on your reproductive system, and the ways you can support the restoration of proper bodily function to prevent the onset of these unwanted symptoms. Why Are You On the Pill? Some women start the pill to prevent unwanted pregnancies, which is what it was originally designed to do. However, for other women, doctors might prescribe the pill to help manage their acne, to control hair loss, or to mitigate heavy, irregular, or painful periods. Now don't get me wrong – in some cases, the birth control pill may be your best option. However, one must recognize that managing imbalances with hormonal replacement fails to address the underlying root of the issue, for which conventional medicine has few alternative options. Instead, birth control pills“band-aide” the problem, leaving women to once again deal with the issues should they decide to discontinue the pill or become pregnant. The pill has not resolved the imbalances. Rather, it has merely suppressed the symptoms, while the underlying issues remain unmanaged. Instead, consider natural options to manage things like acne, heavy or painful periods, or hair loss. If you’re on, or considering using, the birth control pill for sole contraceptive purposes, weigh your options first. If you reference this chart released by the CDC, you’ll note that oral contraceptives, which contain combination hormones, have a 9% failure rate, meaning 9 in 100 women using the pill will become pregnant during use. However, intrauterine devices have been used globally with great success, have a less than 1% failure rate, and contain a low dose of the single hormone progesterone, or no hormones at all (if you choose the copper IUD). Side effects include cramping, heavier periods, expulsion, and a slightly increased risk of ectopic pregnancies should the IUD fail.

Post-Birth Control Syndrome Detox Focusing on key body areas is essential for an effective post-birth control syndrome detox. The first step is to support the body’s ability to rid of the synthetic hormones that are suppressing its natural ovulatory rhythm. Both synthetic and natural hormones are processed through the liver in phase I and II conjugations, which require many cofactors to convert steroid hormones into water-soluble metabolites for excretion. I place my patients on a comprehensive micro/macronutrient and a botanical regime that provide phase I and II conjugation inducers to speed the removal of residual synthetic hormones that may be creating symptoms in post-birth control syndrome. This involves a revamp of the diet to ensure the nutrient-rich foods we desire for healthy liver detox is the center of every meal, as well as gentle lifestyle adjustments to upregulate the liver enzymes of desire. Aggressive liver detoxes are unnecessary and sometimes harmful. Secondly, rebalancing your own hormones is essential. Years of exogenous, or synthetic hormonal exposure lead to low levels of endogenous, or natural estrogen production, and as a result, when the synthetic hormones are removed, the body sometimes struggles to catch back up. I’ll sometimes use ingredients like Vitex and Inositol that help support healthy ovulation, as well as a diet high in healthy fatty acids to get patients' cycles back on track. Because your body depends on your gut to remove excess hormones, gut health should also be assessed and supported to ensure excretion and balancing of the return of your own hormones are maintained. IBS, bacterial imbalances, and delayed transit times can be some of the primary reasons women experience some of the unwanted symptoms of hormonal imbalances. Lastly, castor oil packs are a must! Castor oil applied to the liver and lower abdomen helps draw circulation and restore organ function in an incredible way! If after a few months of support, my patient's periods are not returning, or symptoms of discontinuation syndrome are still present, further assessments for underlying conditions like PCOS are conducted, and comprehensive hormone testing may be necessary to aid in the proper diagnosis of underlying conditions. To learn more about post-birth control syndrome and how to detox hormones naturally, contact Dr. Courtney Holmberg, ND at 647-351-7282 today!

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