The majority of women often don’t realize the impact hormonal birth control can have on their physical and emotional health. When they decide to stop using hormonal contraceptives in favor of a more natural approach, they may experience some unwanted physical and emotional symptoms including irregular periods, acne, hair loss, anxiety, depression, and fatigue, to name a few.
What if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way? That’s right! I found that by taking the right steps before coming off hormonal birth control, and adding in the recommendations below, that my body came into balance much quicker, meaning my cycle regulated faster and the side effects of discontinuing the pill were minimized.
1. First, address your stress
Stress can have a negative effect on your body, including your cycle.
Just as there are many ways to get stressed out, there are myriad ways to help your body relax. Deep breathing exercises, a yoga class, meditation practice, prayer, reading a book, having a grounding morning routine, quality time with girlfriends, journaling, taking an epsom salt bath, and walking barefoot on the earth or beach, are some of my favorites. Find the things that most resonate with you and start to implement them into your daily routine. Trust me, your ovaries will thank you!
2. Next, track your cycle
When you decide to stop hormonal birth control, there are a lot of unknowns. And these can be downright scary.
Will I get pregnant?
Will my period be regular?
Am I going to break out in horrific acne?
Are my moods going to be crazy?
Tracking your cycle is not only a great way to begin understanding your individual menstrual cycle and hormonal health again, but it will help you figure out the answers to all of those BIG questions.
Be as loving and patient with your body as you can throughout this process. The synthetic hormones in hormonal birth control overrode your endogenous hormones, potentially for years, depending on how long hormonal BC was used. You’ll be able to tell when your natural hormones are functioning again by cycle tracking.
To start tracking, I recommend downloading an app like Kindara!
Day 1 of your cycle begins on your first day of bleeding, whether it’s a natural period or spotting, as you’re coming off your birth control. In addition to logging how many days you bleed or spot, note how you are feeling emotionally and physically.
The more information you track, the better understanding of your menstrual cycle you can achieve. By taking your basal body temperature, observing your cervical fluid, and checking your cervical positioning daily, it's easier to see patterns in your cycles.
When you’re thinking about tracking your cycle, you might have a few questions.
Does my period come back right away?
It may or may not (satisfying answer, I know). You may experience irregular cycles after coming off hormonal birth control for up to a year, meaning you may not have a period, or you may have a bleed without ovulating, called an anovulatory cycle.
When might I start ovulating again?
It depends. It may happen your first cycle, or may take 3-4 months to occur or even longer. But by charting your basal body temperature, you will be able to tell when you’ve ovulated by observing a temperature shift in your chart (lower temperatures in the first phase, and higher temperatures in the second). If you see this, it’s likely your period will come 12-14 days later.
What about cervical fluid?
If you aren’t ovulating yet, your temperatures might jump all over the place on your chart. Observing for eggwhite, wet cervical fluid in your underwear is also a good indicator that your body is preparing for ovulation, but not a sure sign that you are going to ovulate. Right after coming off hormonal birth control, know that you may not see any cervical fluid in your underwear. Hormonal changes induce cervical fluid changes, so with time, as your natural hormones kick in, you will observe a cervical fluid pattern.
So, what’s the takeaway?
Addressing your stress will greatly ease your body’s transition back to natural hormone production, and tracking your cycle will help you learn the signs and symptoms of healthy hormones, and will provide a great deal of insight into your fertility and your overall health.
For more short and long-term recommendations for a healthy period, check out my step-by-step program, The Birth Control Protocol, to transition off hormonal contraceptives and take back control of your hormones and your body.
Nicole Jardimis a Certified Women's Health Coach and creator ofFix Your Period, a series of programs that empower young women to reclaim their hormonal health in a fun and sassy way. She runs a successful group coaching business and has helped thousands of women around the world effectively address their period problems, PMS, PCOS, infertility, amenorrhea, and much more.