For once and for all...How to come off The Pill
A hard pill to swallow?
You may remember, some time ago, I put out what ended up being a somewhat controversial blog-post about the ill effects that The Pill has on women’s health.
Since writing this post, I’ve had many women credit it as being the reason why they’ve finally decided to come off this drug. Many others have come to see me so I can guide them off it with as little disruption to their hormones as possible.
Note: There are many reasons (other than preventing pregnancy) that women might be taking The Pill. You will see these reasons later in this post.
While I would estimate that 90% of the responses to this post were positive… the other 10%? Well, they were another thing entirely! These responses were an incredible mix of opposing, and somewhat random, points-of-view.
Try to keep things in context. This is a blog about health. I was only talking about the health risks associated with taking The Pill.
Oh — I'm all about the birth-control.
The uproar started when I provided a shorter version of this blog-post for an entirely different audience to my usual LISA SAID SO crowd. Some of the followers of Organic Mechanic’s blog took great offence at what I had to say about the ‘Younger woman’s HRT’.
The negative comments + accusatory statements came in swiftly. It was proclaimed that:
I was anti-feminist
Apparently, I was denying woman their right NOT to have children.
I was a bible basher
Apparently, I wasn’t just promoting an agenda of ‘no sex before marriage’, I was also stipulating that sex should only be undertaken for the purpose of procreation.
I was a RAGING hippy
Apparently, I was instructing females to have ‘sex by the moon’…
I WAS LACKING ANY PROOF
Apparently I needed to cite references on my blog-post.
Note: Good grief – it was a blog-post not a scientific paper for PubMed! Thankfully, my clients don’t require that I cite references for every piece of advice that I provide them.
I wasn’t actually offended by what these people had ‘commented’, I was just surprised by it all!
I stand behind what I write. I always give careful consideration as to what health information I give out. It takes me hours of critical thinking to bring a blog-post to fruition. My blog-posts are written from a (practicing) natural health professional’s perspective. And my objective is always singular: To help you improve your health in the most entertaining fashion possible 🙂
What I’m basically saying is: I don’t just pull information out of my bottom. But, from what some of these people were ‘commenting’, I knew that this was exactly where they were sourcing theirs from…
They hadn’t actually read what I had written. Not only that, they had read into what I had written. I knew, considering how quickly the responses had flooded in, that they had simply reacted emotionally to what they thought I was saying and were typing their comments without much consideration.
(For those of you who haven’t read it, here it is: The Pill)
Note: I don’t know about you, but when I hear or read something that goes against the norm, I don’t seek to pontificate. Rather, I try to understand what the person is saying, as I assume I may have something to learn from them.
For the record: You got me all wrong.
I’d just like to clarify a few things for those people who made sweeping claims about me based on skim-reading one of my blog-posts:
I don’t have children
Nor do I intend on procreating (for numerous reasons that are really none-of-your-business).
I Am not Religious
I just believe in being nice.
I AM not Married
Nor do I intend on getting ‘hitched’.
I am however in a loving + committed long-term relationship.
I Have sex
With the sole intent of it being for health + recreational purposes.
I’m NO Hippy
I used to work in Advertising before I became a Naturopath.
AND I’M NOT ON THE PILL!
I haven’t taken this drug for 20 odd years.
But enough about me, let's talk about you for a minute
If you want to come off The Pill, then the first thing you need to do is to seek out an alternative form of contraception — assuming this is the reason you were on this medication to begin with.
In most cases, I generally recommend condoms (without spermicide).
Note: This is a very exciting development which is underway at an Australia University: The Hydrogel Condom — it will have a life-like feel for all parties concerned!
However if you’re super-keen, you could look into Natural Family Planning. To this end, I recommend you visit a Natural Fertility clinic to discuss this further. They can also take you through other types of contraception that you may not have even been aware of, such as different types of IUDs (Copper + Mirena) and Cervical Caps.
Once your new form of contraception has been decided, we’ll need to uncover what your periods were like — before your hormones were suppressed by The Pill.
Note: We’ll also need to establish what happened in the past — if you’ve tried to come off this medication previously.
01—If everything was normal
(The Pill was just being used for birth-control)
You can simply come off The Pill straight away.
Note: You can come off at anytime in the pill-pack. But most prefer to come off it when they reach their next sugar-pill.
All going well, you won’t need your Naturopath.
However, if you start to feel anxious, start getting acne, you experience hair loss1, or your period doesn’t return after three-months2, then you will definitely need to see your Naturopath to help you through this process.
We will run (and respond to) specific blood tests. We’ll also help to ease you through the oestrogen withdrawal.
Note: You may experience hair loss to varying degrees while on The Pill. However, more commonly, you may experience hair loss for several weeks or months after stopping The Pill! (Please see the box below.)
02—If you had irregular periods...
It is necessary to do specific blood-testing1, and to start treatment protocols 1—2 months before you come off this medication.
Note: We will explore the possibility of PCOS, and insulin resistance – if you hadn’t already been diagnosed with a specific condition in the past.
03—If you had acne...
It is necessary to do specific blood-testing1, and to start treatment protocols 1—2 months before you come off this medication2.
Note: We’ll explore oestrogen clearance, liver function, and thyroid function.
04—If you had heavy bleeding or period pain...
It is necessary to do specific blood-testing 1, and to start treatment protocols 1—2 months before you come off this medication.
Note: Here it will be necessary for us to explore: Uterine Fibroids, Endometrosis, low iron levels, and poor thyroid function – if you hadn’t already been diagnosed with a specific condition in the past.
This will just make you want to pull your hair out — if you have any left, that is!
Hair loss in women is becoming increasingly common. And… hair loss is also a common side effect of hormonal birth control.
It’s quite common for my female clients to cite hair loss as one of the reasons (if not, the primary reason) that they’re coming to see me. It’s also regularly mentioned as a secondary issue during case-takes.
The American Hair Loss Association believes: that it is imperative for all women especially for those who have a history of hair loss in their family to be made aware of the potentially devastating effects of birth control pills on normal hair growth3.
When you’ve decided to come off The Pill, it is imperative that you work with (and trust) your Naturopath on this, as it can take up to one year to correct this hair-loss issue.
It will be necessary to do blood-testing (primarily for iron + zinc + thyroid function) and to start treatment protocols 2—3 months before you come off this medication2.
Condoms. Condoms. Condoms. Condoms. Condoms. Condoms. Condoms. Condoms.
Man! You'll feel like a woman.
Usually, women will go back on The Pill if they don’t know what to expect during this time. They’ll convince themselves that they were ‘better off’ for taking it — if things don’t go according to plan. (If they experience acne, hair loss, anxiety, or their period doesn’t come back quickly.)
Note: Please be aware, that a pill-bleed is not the same thing as having your own period. The Pill in no way made you ‘regular’. Please watch this video clip: Why Birth Control can never regulate periods.
It is important to be aware that it can take anywhere from 9—12 months to reestablish normal ovulation after taking this medication. This is a process you have to commit to — in order to ensure your future health.
As a Naturopath, I won’t just support your body with nutrients, and modify your diet, I’ll guide you through these post-pill issues.
I’ll manage your expectations — I’ll let you know the symptoms you might experience, how long these symptoms might last, and I’ll be there to reassure + encourage you throughout the process.
Realistically, you may have been on The Pill since you were a young teenager. Therefore you may not remember — or even be aware of how your body actually works ‘down there’! So I’ll explain to you — or remind you — what to expect when your own hormones reboot. I’ll teach you what to look out for when you recommence ovulation such as fertile mucus, and warn you what PMS symptoms you may experience.
It will also be my job to balance your sex hormones, once they’ve reestablished themselves, so that you don’t experience some of these problems. As regardless of what we are told, these are actually symptoms of a hormonal imbalance. They are not simply part + parcel of being a menstruating — bloody — female!
For Naturopathic appointments with Lisa, click through to: the OOMPH website.
AGAIN I SAY, ONLY TAKE THE PILL FOR A VERY SHORT TERM SOLUTION TO PREVENT UNWANTED PREGNANCY
A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO, Lara Briden (Sydney based, Naturopath)
Some of the technical information used in this blog-post was adapted from her practitioner-only webinar I ‘attended’: Coming off Hormonal Birth Control