While we’re all for a women’s right to her own fertility status, there are many women put on birth control methods for things like heavy periods, PMS, acne, and other hormonal related issues—not just pregnancy prevention. Oftentimes, the long-term side effects of being on hormonal birth control are not discussed with the patient (YOU) and you’re just assured it will solve your “issue.” And what may be worse is that you aren’t informed of the struggle that many women go through when they’re attempting to get OFF of hormonal birth control.
It would be wrong of me to say everyone has a difficult time coming off hormonal birth control—some women can transition back to physiologic hormone balance without intervention. However, my clinical experience has been that most women get withdrawal side effects that they don’t even realize are symptoms that their bodies are trying to transition back to balance.
So, if you’re one of the many women wondering if coming off the pill is right for you, here are five things to consider when you’re ready to take the leap.
5 Things to Consider When Coming Off Hormonal Birth Control
Your journey off of hormonal birth control will differ based on many factors. It’s important to think through these as you’re considering your move, as they’ll impact the plan you can make to right your cycle and experience the least number of symptoms as your body starts to regulate itself.
Here are a few things to consider before you go cold-turkey off hormonal birth control:
- The length of time you were on hormones. This can impact how long it takes your body to regulate itself—the longer you’ve been using synthetic hormones, the longer it could take for your body to find its own homeostasis.
- The form of hormonal birth control you were on—the combined estrogen/progestin pill (commonly known as “this pill”) seems to be the worst in terms of withdrawal symptoms.
- The symptoms that prompted you to get on the pill. What you experienced before will generally come back because utilizing hormonal birth control to put a band-aid on those symptoms is not a long-term solution. You’ll want to search for the root of those symptoms instead of using birth control as a quick fix.
- Lifestyle factors like eating inflammatory foods, not moving your body, and high stress levels tend to make the withdrawal a bit worse.
- Other dysfunctions that might have popped up while you’ve been on the pill—having a poor microbiome, thyroid disorders, autoimmune conditions, iron (and other nutrient) deficiencies that can result from being on hormonal birth control can add another layer of complexity to your journey. ⠀
Where Do You Start If You Want to Come Off Birth Control? Make a Plan ⠀
Coming off hormonal birth control can be the best thing for your health, but we suggest making a plan before you just cut it out entirely.
Start by recalling what your cycles and symptoms were like before you started the birth control. What prompted you to get on the pill will likely come back, so understanding the root causes of those symptoms can help you determine your next best steps to dealing with them. Better yet, find a functional doctor to help you get a holistic diagnosis.
Start tracking your cycles and symptoms. Get an app to help you and consider a basal body thermometer to help track your ovulation and your temperature changes throughout the month.
Know that this will be a journey (it can take up to 18 months for your body to regulate after going off of hormonal birth control). But also know that you don’t have to do it alone. We’re here to help.
Periods can be corrected. PMS can be lessened or eliminated. But it’s time to start digging for the root cause rather than preventing your ovulation, depleting your nutrients, and possibly masking larger issues that can have longer term health effects.
Dr. Cassie Wilder is a registered Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) and founder of MIMC. Her passion is empowering her patients through education, understanding, and support through their healing journey. After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Health, Dr. Wilder earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ. During her clinical training, she received extensive hands-on training with many leading experts in the field of functional medicine and developed a passion for treating hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular concerns, and adrenal fatigue.