This blog post is quite personal, but since I started this little journey, I came across a lot of women who are in the same boat, so it is my duty to share!
Since the beginning of the year, I have been feeling the urge to stop taking the contraceptive pill. I cannot tell you why all of a sudden after years of being used to it, I felt compelled to just stop! My body was literally screaming in its own little ways to “stop”
I assume it was all related to my healthy lifestyle, vegan diet and choice to live as naturally as I can, and as I was creating an holistic approach to everything else (food, skincare etc..) it seemed hypocritical to take the contraceptive pill, which is just a man-made chemical
It was not an easy choice to make. I was on the contraceptive pill for 18 years and the one time I tried stopping it, my skin went crazy and I was feeling like a teenager, at 23 years old.
Needless to say, after 4 months from stopping it, I decided to start taking it again, and my gynecologist gave me another pill, called “Androcur”, which was to be taken with my contraceptive pill to balance out the androgens. Androgens are male hormones, which stimulate sebaceous glands (oil glands) and can cause acne, so that was the fastest way to clear my skin, according to my MD.
I didn’t know better and I honestly felt pretty good on the pill, so taking it was never an issue. But this year, when I decided to stop for good, I still held the trauma of having a bad skin at 23 and wondered how my body would react now that I am older.
Although I had been thinking about stopping oral contraception since January, it took almost eight months to give it up. At the end of July, I decide that I was going to try it out and after doing some reading, writing down everything I could think of, about hormones and how to balance estrogen and testosterone, I just stopped!
I downloaded two apps on my phone: Clue and My Calendar (both available on Apple and Androids) to track my period, as I have not counted days, for years. This also helped to see how my body is adjusting to going back its natural rhythm. I was all setup to start and with some hope, knowledge and fear, I was ready to try this!
Feeling relieved: The moment I stopped the pill, I already felt better. It was obviously only a mental relief at first, but having made the decision to stop, lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. The thought of it was scarier than taking action, but once you do it, it’s done.
Feeling my body again: Just as my body was begging me to stop the pill, I was now feeling it being grateful for taking the step. After only one week I started feeling better, which was proof that although I always thought I was feeling great on it, I actually wasn’t! I had just gotten used to feeling that way.
Weight loss: I will admit that I was hoping for a sudden ten kilos drop in weight, which of course did not happen (haha) but I started feeling lighter anyway. The first thing I noticed was that I was retaining a lot less water, so my legs are not as puffy as they were and they look leaner. This applied to my abdomen as well. Obviously, nutrition and lifestyle play an important role, and eating junk will destroy your body whether you are on the pill or not, but stopping the contraceptive pill can help lose weight. It has been reported that some people temporarily gain weight when stopping the pill, as the hormones need to adjust, and for this there are great natural supplements and superfoods one can take.
Nature’s aid: hormones fluctuation is a natural side effect of stopping the pill. For as long as we are on it, our body is used to receiving a certain amount of estrogen daily, not having to work on making any on its own anymore. When we stop, we can cause a reaction in the body that can show up as an imbalance. Nature, however, can help! When I stopped the pill I started religiously taking:
- Maca each day in smoothies. Maca is an adaptogenic root from Peru; same family as beets and it is amazing for balancing estrogen. The term “adaptogen” refers to its ability to see if the body has too much of or lacks certain compounds and helps it regulate.
- Angus Castus to help regulate my cycle. It is already helping me with small signs of menstruation every 28 days, although my full cycle has not yet returned. This supplement should not be taken long-term but it can help for short periods.
- Probiotics: this is not a new addition for me as I take probiotics already; but if you are new to them, I suggest getting onboard whether you stopped the pill or not. A healthy gut regulates digestion, which helps expelling toxins, and the pill holds a lot of those, as well as helping regulate hormones by helping the pituitary gland function well. (the gut – brain connection is real peeps). Of course supplementation is not the only way to take probiotics, focus on probiotics rich foods like fermented foods, for example!
- B- complex: as a vegan I take B12, but when you stop the pill taking a good B complex for a while, as those vitamins are essential for reproductive health, can really help. The reason why I say, take this for a little while is that the pill can impact the absorption of micronutrients so you are helping the body by supplementing those initially, but you should have a comprehensive diet that can give you those anyway. If you are vegan too, B12 is one you can never stop taking. The quality of your vitamins is also important so check out brands that are backed by good research and are not compromised or belong to massive companies.
- Zinc: The pill has been proven to interact with the body’s ability to absorb zinc, and this can lead to a weaker immune system and bad skin. But a good supplement once you stop the pill can help get you back on track and this is particularly helpful for the skin, if you are afraid of having acne.
Nutrition: it goes without saying: what you put in your body will show up on your body! My number one rule for balancing your body after the pill (and always) is to have a wonderful and comprehensive plant based diet (plus B12 supplements) and stay away from junk food! But if you have not made the step towards vegan or vegetarian yet, please at least drop the dairy! Dairy has been proven time and time again to be terrible for the skin! For one, it interacts badly with your digestive system and as mentioned above, that is key to staying healthy! Dairy is very inflammatory and acne is another sign of inflammation and because of the growth hormones in it, we are also stimulating the sebaceous glands to create more sebum (oil) which can infect the follicle in the skin where the hair-bed is and you find yourself with cysts or painful breakouts! When I stopped my pill at 23, I was eating dairy and my skin was reacting badly. At the moment, two months after stopping the pill, I am experiencing some breakouts (which is a side effect of stopping the pill) but nothing like it was years ago and with natural skin care and looking after my nutritional intake I can manage the breakouts and eventually I am positive they will disappear
Deworming: You do not read about this ever, but linked to a healthy gut, the concept of deworming is key! We naturally have parasites in the gut and if they steal our nutrients we just cannot expect to be healthy or allow the body to eliminate residues of the pill and get back to work! But by drinking Bentonite clay one week a month you can help this process! I personally do that also because I have a puppy who loves to give me kisses, and I don’t even want to imagine what I am getting from him, but I keep the detox going and I notice my skin getting better when I am drinking clay. Bentonite is also amazing as a skin mask.
Water: This seems logical but a lot of people don’t drink enough water and therefore don’t expel toxins fast enough! Your kidneys are your body’s purification system (with the liver) and so you need to keep them going! Drinking caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea does not help. Water also hydrates and cleanses the skin so get on the H2O. Obviously, it is important to not just drink any water! Plastic bottles are a NO NO as BPA interferes with your hormones and comes with its own array of problems. Also most tap water is full of heavy metals and so you are putting more toxins in your body! A carbon water purifier is a great way to do it; I like to use activated charcoal, which helps and is cheaper than installed filters. Obviously a big installed filter is better but you need to consider your financials too.
Skin Care: This is a very important one! Just like everything else, skin care products need to be vetted properly. most commercial products are full of toxins and they disrupt our hormones and ability of the body to detoxify with frequent use. Since before stopping the pill i started scaling back on products i was using. i only use natural and chemicals free shampoos and soaps (nothing antibacterial anymore) and for my skin, i will use oils such as (almond or wheatgerm, avocado, organ etc… whatever you can find) and essential oils! if i use creams, i am lucky because i have a personal aromatherapist that makes the most amazing creams and oil blends for me. Her name is Debora and her last creation helped with some breakouts i was having on my chin and forehead. Amazing! You can email Dobora here for a personal consultation with her. One advise i can really stress on is to keep your skin hydrated and use good oils ; those will not cause breakouts!
Exercise and Yoga: Needless to say, the best way to expel toxins and regulate hormones is to get moving! Cardio is amazing as you allow your body to sweat and let go of toxins through the skin. Then you have Yoga, which is an overall balancing practice. I called Yoga an adaptogenic practice as it helps the body find what it needs and will give you what you need. Depending on the class and movement, you can cater to different organs and their needs, but overall, the practice will balance off your hormones by calming the brain, stimulating the pituitary gland and adrenal gland and get your hormones in synch with your body.
Don’t medicate but Meditate: your body will go through many changes and you might feel in pain, nausea, sick, might have a bad skin, a bad tummy etc.. you name it! When those things happen we get frustrated and it is easy to reach out to medication for fast relief but hang in there! Find your inner strength and remember to stay calm! Meditating each day for 10 minutes will allow you to calm your adrenal glands, create less cortisol and you will see a lot of improvement in your body, including your skin. This is helpful even if you are not on the pill; everyone should get onboard as we live in stressful times, but as you are consciously trying to bring your body back to its natural rhythm here, this is a good one to take seriously! A lot of guided meditation records are available online, even for free so you don’t have to be a pro, travel to another dimension or leave your body; you just need to breathe and listen!
Those are all the things that I am currently doing myself and they really help! Another thing I am doing when I feel awful, mostly when my skin is having a bad day, is that I am grateful I have the knowledge and the tools to make this work! I think about my attempt to stop 12 years ago and how my ignorance failed me, and now I can manage this better and see a difference! Also, I came to realize that when I feel that I look terrible, I see it more than anyone else does, and that the ego gets in the way! I know I am doing the right thing for myself and I surrender to the knowledge that all will be ok!
One thing to really appreciate is that it takes time for the body to adjust, but eventually this perfect and complex being will make it work and you will find that you will lose weight, have a beautiful skin and be happier with time! The pill has also been linked to depression, so I am positive your mood will be different once you stop. Give the body all the tools you can and then enjoy the ride to a chemicals free life!