AFTER THE PILL: What happens after taking the birth control pill
What happens after taking oral birth control pills? Though ‘the pill’ has been great in many ways and provides a form of contraception, it has also been used for reasons other than contraception. Birth control pills are often used to treat acne, to treat hormonal issues that cause irregular menstrual cycles and more. The problem is not so much in using a pill to treat these concerns and conditions, but rather that the underlying issues are not addressed.
When it comes to underlying hormonal issues, it is important to address why these hormonal issues exist, as they are generally the cause of irregular menstrual cycles, acne and other conditions commonly treated with the pill. When we use the pill to treat these issues, we are merely putting a bandaid on an issue that will go unchecked, and it creates more challenging symptoms as time progresses.
With that, it is essential to understand all the facts and how to support your body if you are choosing to use the birth control pill.
- The oral birth control pill has been shown to decrease and deplete specific nutrients. These include vitamin c, magnesium, zinc, selenium and the B vitamins-B6, B12, riboflavin and folic acid. It is crucial to supplement to combat these losses as these nutrients are vital to our health. These nutrients act as cofactors in many chemical pathways in the body; they stabilize our mood and energy and provide antioxidant support for the immune system as well as tissue strength and aid in healing the skin.
- It can take months for your real menstrual cycle to regulate itself after stopping the birth control pill. This means that you may not get your period back immediately; this can take 3 to 6 months to return and sometimes over a year. A regular period and menstrual cycle are healthy and vital for proper body function.
- If the pill was prescribed for non-contraceptive purposes such as acne or an irregular cycle, the problem for why those symptoms are happening has not been addressed. An irregular cycle gives us clues into what’s happening in the body. Hormones are the body’s way of communicating. Depending on the presenting symptoms (amenorrhea – the absence of your period, dysmenorrhea – painful periods, menorrhagia – heavy periods, acne, etc.) we can diagnose better and therefore treat that specific imbalance. Some of these imbalances that are important to understand could be amenorrhea due to polycystic ovarian syndrome PCOS, or heavy, painful periods due to endometriosis, or even estrogen dominance.
- Taking the pill gives women a false sense of a menstrual cycle, preventing ovulation and ultimately “tricking” the body into thinking that it’s pregnant until you have 7 days of pill relief or 7 placebo pills in a 28-day pack. After these 7 days, the body experiences a withdrawal bleed when it sheds the endometrial lining, and we assume this is a proper period, but instead, it is pill withdrawal.
- The pill suppresses ovulation. Ovulation is necessary in healthy menstrual cycles, hormonal balances, fertility and more.
Birth control pills can be the right choice when used for the correct reasons, but it is also essential that women of all ages are well informed and are not using the pill to treat a condition rather than address it.
To reset and rebalance your hormones after the pill, try the following:
- Incorporate plenty of cruciferous and dark leafy greens daily. Nuts and seeds, primarily ground flax, sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, support hormone production and refilling certain nutrients that have been lost due to taking the pill. Add small amounts of cold-water fish and healthy fats like avocados and extra virgin olive oil.
- Depending on the root cause of your concerns, your doctor may prescribe several different herbs that support anything from balancing your sex hormones like Vitex agnus cactus or Dioscorea villosa. They may prescribe liver detoxes like Silybum marianum or Taraxicum officinale, or work on supporting your adrenals and stress response with herbs like Glycyrrhiza glabra.
- Depending on your fertility goals and how soon she wants her cycle to return, sometimes supplements are necessary above the food and lifestyle adjustments to support the process. Try starting with a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin and incorporate Vitamin D3, probiotics and Omega 3’s to your daily regime.
When you’re looking for hormone regulation support or understanding your menstrual cycle, the birth control pill, consult a Naturopathic Doctor who will guide you through your individual needs, addressing concerns and providing solutions for overall health and well-being. For more information or to book a consult with Dr. Kaylee Driedger, call the IV health centre at 604-974-8999 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
–Dr. Kaylee Driedger, ND