In May of 2017 I decided, on a whim, to go off of hormonal birth control. After listening to this interview something just clicked. The woman being interviewed didn’t even speak much about the Pill but it sparked something in me to question something I never had before.
Without much research, I decided that this last pack of pills would be my last. I didn’t get my next refill and the month of June was the first month I was off of birth control in quite a while.
I had been given a prescription for the pill like many other young women, to combat heavy, painful periods and to manage acne. No one ever discussed side effects or long term consequences the pill presents. I was actually excited for my prescription. I thought I’d finally get some boobs! (Sadly, I did not.)
Fast forward to being an adult woman in her mid twenties, I was increasingly interested in my “woman’s health”. I knew I wanted babies in the not-so-distant future and the horror stories I would hear of women having the most difficult time getting pregnant definitely freaked me out a bit.
So I consider June of 2017 the month I became a real woman.
There’s alot were not taught. Not by society, not by our doctors and definitely not in health class. I found myself at 26 years old googling what “ovulation” meant. True story.
...And that’s pretty much how I learned about my body. I googled. I read. I enrolled in a nutrition course that taught me even more about hormonal health. Slowly but surely I realized many of the things I thought we “broken” about me: low libido, moments of massive depression (the littlest thing would send me spiraling), panic attacks and brain fog. I always thought this was just the way I am, never once questioning this little pill I took every night.
After this year long experiment of self-correcting my hormones, I think I’ve finally figured out what works + what didn’t. Through hours of studying, reading, listening to expert holistic doctors on podcasts, to talking with doulas + midwives, to my nutrition curriculum I now want to shout this information from the rooftops!
...But since I don’t have a rooftop, a blog post will do.
If you are considering going off the pill sometime soon, following the steps below will help the adjustment be much smoother.
5 Ways to Heal Your Hormones
Get your gut right.
Healing your gut + filling it with good bacteria is your #1 concern. Your microbiome (that’s the collection of good bacteria in your gut) controls the production of hormones. It’s directly connected to your endocrine system. Get yourself a good quality probiotic and fill up on fermented foods like full fat greek yogurt, sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar etc.
Eat an anti-inflammatory diet.
I know we wanna eat all the things and still feel and look amazing but the thing is you are what you eat. You eat low quality foods, you’re gonna feel like a low quality person. It’s just that simple. Clean out your pantry of any processed foods, conventional meats, gluten, soy and conventional dairy. Restock your pantry with organic, non processed foods, high quality meats + eggs and sheep’s milk products. The inflammation the other foods cause is what’s keeping you from living your best life.
Most of the time I suggest getting your vitamins from whole foods, but I don’t believe our food has enough nutrients (nor do we eat properly enough to get everything we need), so supplementing in this case I feel is totally fine. You will need to add good quality fatty acids. A fish oil for omega-3 and evening primrose oil for omega-6. Vitamin D3 if your aren’t getting direct, non-sunscreened sun light, you’ll need to take vitamin D. This vitamin is fat soluble so you’ll want to make sure you take it with some sort of fat to help make it available in your body!
If you do all the other things on this list you will still not be able to regulate your hormones without proper sleep. Your body uses sleep as a time to restore. It’s literally like your car being in the body shop. Proper sleep helps regulate the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system and parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system in your body. Our goal is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system most of the time.
Reduce or eliminate stress.
In order to active this parasympathetic nervous system, we must reduce our cortisol (the stress hormone that creates excess estrogen in our system when we’re producing too much). In order to do that we have to take a very practical look at our lives. What is causing the most stress? How can we reroute? How can we do to avoid it completely? What can we take off our plate?
For example, I followed this protocol for a year straight. My periods came back with a vengence and were just as painful and unbearable as I remembered them in high school after going off the pill. I was watching what I was eating, I was limiting my caffeine and making sure I was taking care of my gut…
But with my previous job, I taught upwards of 10 spin classes a week, keeping my cortisol levels unaturally high and prohibiting me from gaining any control of my hormones.
At the time I didn’t know it, so I pressed on.
Fast forward, I started teaching classes earlier in the morning, my sleep patterns started to change and I was averaging 6 hours of sleep per night. I got sick with the flu twice in two months but I still didn’t get the message.
Three months later I started experiencing massive migraines that lasted 26, twentyyyyy sixxxx, days in a row. Debilitating pain that put me in the hospital.
After all my studying and training I knew in my gut what was causing it. My job required me to be in overdrive at all times and made a steady sleep schedule nearly impossible.
To make a really long story short, the day I quit my job my headaches decreased by half and a week after the last class I taught I was sleeping through the night. The following month I experienced absolutely zero pre-menstrual pain and didn’t even realize I had gotten my period. This might not make much sense to you depending on where you are in your hormonal journey but this to me was the greatest gift in learning about my body. When given half the chance, the body will heal itself.
If you are experiencing severe PMS, suffer from PCOS, are struggling with infertility or are thinking of coming off hormonal birth control, I would suggest starting with these simple steps. It doesn’t have to involve fancy pills and potions, it’s just about coming back into your body. Trust your gut, you know yourself better than anyone else. Don’t let anyone make you feel like they know your body better than you.
And if you want some more steps on activating your parasympathetic nervous system, I wrote a 25-page eBook with detailed information on how to add balance back into your life. You can grab your copy here!
If you have any questions regarding the pill, hormones or are interested in working together one on one to help you regulate, send me an email at email@example.com.
Happy hormone healing!