As part of my paleo journey, I have decided to take myself off of the pill and use another form of contraception. Things like having only one cycle every 8 months on the pill have been making me take a step back and decide that I want to let my body behave how nature intended instead of altering its behavior hormonally. Having been on hormonal birth control for most of my adult life, I have no idea how my body will react when it stops receiving its daily dose of hormones.
Has anyone else stopped taking the pill for health/paleo/self-experimentation reasons? I would be interested in knowing if you noticed any difference in how you felt, your mood, your body composition, your libido, your complexion, etc. Has it improved your life since you've stopped taking it or has it simply been an inconvenience?
No. I've been on Depo Provera for years, and would not go back to having harsh, horrible, hemorrhagic periods wrought with cramps and depression ever again. I'll take the osteoporosis risk over anemia, misery, and the loss of 5 days of my life every month any day. I don't care if it's not paleo, not natural, etc. Neither are the 280+ chemicals we're born with or the lead I breathed from automobiles as a kid. Birth control and lack of periods, for me, equals freedom.
While I'm not going to argue that the pill is a normal or healthy part of human biology (I'm not qualified to make that call) I will point out that, historically, most women would have spent a decent part of their fertile lives pregnant, altering both hormone levels and the number of cycles they had in a year (or lifetime).
Just one thing out of many to consider.
My biggest regret is taking birth control for about four years. The damage they cause is not worth it. I began them b/c of excruciating cramps/PMS and I wish I had done more to find the root cause of this problem instead of using a drug as a band-aid. You are doing a smart thing to come off of them, it could take your body awhile to come back to normal so the sooner the better! Everyone is different so you may have a great transition.
I went off them about two years ago. My periods have only just become regular in the past three or four months. I also started having pretty severe cystic acne about 4-5 months after I stopped them. I have never had this before in my life and I was already eating paleo/WAPF type diet. I am still struggling with acne now, it's very distressing and if I knew this was such a common problem post-birth control I doubt I would have ever taken those nasty pills.
While I was on them no one ever told me how they cause serious nutrient deficiency esp B-6 and zinc. I had a lot of problems related to these deficiencies a long time after coming off them. I take
On the up side I am no longer having psychotic moods before menstruation. I don't yell/cry at my boyfriend nearly as much ;) My libido is back too. I had terrible mood swings/no libido on the pill, but I ignored them b/c the thought of going back to cramps from hell terrified me.
My advice to you: First off, congrats on making a great decision. Concentrate on you for awhile, really focus on eating the best you can and resting and replenishing your body. The pill is also hell on your gut and adrenals. Lots of mineral rich bone broth really helped me in that arena. Also, if you can do some raw milk kefir for lots of b vitamins. Eat liver! Consider talking to an herbalist or naturopath, they can really help during the transition.
AFter 12 years on the pill, I went off to get pregnant. After my daughter was born I tried going back on after weaning. After 2 weeks of feeling like crap I stopped and haven't been on if for about 8 years. Best thing I ever did for my health. I thought the pill was making my cycle more regular. I discovered that my cycle is just as regular without it. I feel better, less moody and more energetic. My skin isn't bad (besides zits are an intestinal flora issue).
A great book that helped me and that every young girl should read is, "The Garden of Fertility" by Katie Singer.
Similar question asked here.
My answer: Fertility Awareness Method
I've used fertility awareness method (FAM) with my husband for 4 1/2 years and it's been effective thus far! You just have to get used to taking your temp every morning (or just during your fertile phase) and to checking your vaginal fluids. It's super easy! We just avoid sex when I'm fertile (or we use a condom) and we have sex when I'm not fertile. Takes the guess-work out of it!!
Get this book: Taking Charge of Your Fertility
And visit this website: Taking Charge of Your Fertility
The information in the book will blow your mind. I was sooo mad that I hadn't been taught any of the information found therein while I was in biology class or sex ed in high school. We should all know this stuff!!
And yes... GET OFF THE PILL!!
Also, I was horribly hormonal (depressed, pissy, bitchy etc) while on the pill for 6 weeks right before our wedding. So much so that I only lasted 6 weeks on the pill before figuring out FAM and dumping my pills in the trash.
I've probably lost 3 yrs of my life from birth control havoc and trying to get things back under control. A lot of books have helped me to understand what went on b/c no practitioner was knowledgeable enough.
Hormones are basically very powerful and as you and others here have mentioned, they shut down the adrenals, hypothalaum and pituitary glands. That is the point -- to stop ovulation, no? Well. That is what we signed up for without being told all of the ramifications -- stop ovulation, stop being a complete (primal) grrrrl, gain body fat, raise insulin, raise CRP, stop normal responses to stress, etc.
My progesterone has increased with taking chasteberry and some other recommended strategies to balance the hormones and to excrete the toxic metabolites (improving liver P450 enzyme systems). I didn't do any hormone testing because the synthetic hormone (levonorgestrel IUD/Mirena) I was on is not detectable without special lab testing. Initially I had progestin toxicity then it turned to frank progesterone deficiency. All birth control with hormones is toxic. When we're primal/paleo and avoid synthetics like plastics, pesticides and other xenoestrogens, what are we doing when we take it in orally or via an intrauterine device voluntarily?
My take is that many things are reversible unfortunately they take time and patience and a lot of persistence despite what the mainstream docs (and pharmacists) will say that these are so-called 'safe'. They are not safe. (and I'm a pharmacist -- and the literature is heavy with side effects. I just wish I heeded the warnings and didn't want to 'control' fertility so much wink ahaa)
Hope you feel better soon!
Grace (aka dr.bg)
I was on birth control from the age of 17-24, when I decided to stop for similar reasons that you are listing- I had cut out all other chemicals, why not this one? When I stopped, though, I didn't get my period back! Doctors only recommended that I go back on birth control (annoying), so I decided to wait it out and let time and diet heal me. It's been 3 years, and I'm finally starting to cycle hormonally again. It's taking a lot of mental and physical adjusting to monthly weight gain, bigger breasts, and major mood swings that I was without for so long- but it is so worth it. I feel like a woman, my libido is great (which had been quite low), and I feel sexy. There is also nothing better (or more paleo, in my opinion) than being linked up with the moon cycles. Our organs are controlled by stars! Incredible!
I have just started on the nuvaring. I couldn't take the PMS depression any more, I must have tried absolutely everything under the sun. I already have a lower libido and am putting on a little weight but anything is better than feeling like dying twice a month (when ovulating and PMS)
Update: When I say it couldn't get worse I was sooo wrong. Good god. 1 and a half months of feeling like I was losing my mind. Off it now and feel so much better.
Yes I stopped the BC pill a few years ago after about 15 years of steady use. My hormones (adrenals and thyroid) went crazy shortly after - they both tanked and I had awful symptoms like palpitations and severe insomnia, etc. It's only my theory that this was connected to stopping the pill, but knowing what I know now about how hormones work together, I would never have started taking it in the first place. What I like to think is that my body was adjusting to producing and regulating hormones by itself and my difficulties are a testament to what a profound effect the pill had on my system, but I'm no doctor so I can't really say...
I just opened PH to search for this very topic and there it was at the top of the list.
I went off Yasmin a few weeks ago - though admittedly it was because my insurance wanted to start charging me $50/month for the name-brand pill, and I was afraid to try the generic based on what I'd read. (Anyone have experience with Ocella?)
I'm hoping that my whole-foods sugar-free diet might mitigate some of the issues - irregularity, acne, PMS Crazytime - that drove me to the pill five years ago. I'm still two weeks away from what should be my period - we'll see if it shows up on time. But yesterday I did sprout my first zit in five years.
It's been easy to think of myself as low-maintenance and above vanity when I was waking up with a perfect complexion every morning, not needing to shave my legs as often, maintaining some semblance of sanity every fourth week... I'll give it a little more time, but I have to say, that one little threat to my face made me want to run right back to the pill pack. What can I say? I want to be natural, but not at the expense of my looks (or my cycle). Paleo postergirl I am not.
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