Lifestyle

Step by step guide to stopping the contraceptive pill.

 

I get it.  You’ve sat with the idea for what seems like ages, waiting for the ‘right time’ to stop taking the pill.  Something in the pit of your stomach has told you since forever that it isn’t for you yet you don’t really know where to turn, let alone go it alone.  Let me tell you – we are (at least so many of the women who frequent this space) in this together and, sorry to say, there is never a perfect time to overhaul your life.  The time is now.

Perhaps you’ve discovered that the pill isn’t solving your PCOS or Endometriosis.  Maybe you’ve heard that the pill is ruining your gut bacteria as fast as a shot of antibiotics.  Maybe you’re starting to see the link between your not so healthy ways and your hormones.  I’m here to say today, PCOS, Endometriosis, thyroid issues and hormone imbalance are all lifestyle conditions.  They are sure signs your hormones are downright cranky and that, for there to be change, you too need to change.

So, I want to help you transition.  Of course, coming off any medication is best done under the guidance of a practitioner however, it’s equally important that YOU become the doctor in your life as much as possible.  A trip to the doctors office is only momentarily – what you do outside the visit is what actually counts.  Unlike many medications, the pill is one of those you can simply stop at any time.  In doing so you will anticipate a ‘bleed’ (not a period, a period is something that results after ovulation has occurred – something you don’t do whilst on the pill).  So here goes.

1.  We know that the pill robs the gut flora and fauna – it’s supposed to be a micro-jungle in there full of good thriving bacteria.  Because this same bacteria not only shapes your immunity but it also helps you assimilate your food, when it’s absent (or partially so), your body really struggles with digestion.  This is also why so many women report of upset stomachs whilst on the pill.  So begin with either fermented and probiotic foods (see here, here and here) or for those who prefer probiotics of the supplement kind you can get some from your local health food store.  This will help rebuild the gut to aid your transition.

Know this:  The gut can take up to 16 months to fully restore.  It’s a work in progress – we really do need to be eating or supplementing probiotics everyday.

2.  Replenish and restore.  Because now your gut bacteria is possibly rather compromised, your body hasn’t been getting the full benefits of the nutrients from your food.  What’s more, since you’ve not really been doing your best work in absorbing nutrients, your body has dipped into it’s reserves, meaning they are now low too.  Alongside eating the rainbow and being diligent to come back to whole foods, supplementing is generally necessary.  A practitioner grade multivitamin and fish oil are essential.

Micro-nutrients are key. Specifically Vitamin’s A, B’s, C, D, Selenium, Zinc and Magnesium.  Folinic acid is also essential.

3.  Alongside your micro-nutrients and your macro-nutrients – specifically healthy fats and proteins.  Your hormones have been held hostage for as long as you’ve been on the pill, and since they are essentially made of fats and protein, it’s vital we eat enough to rebuild happy hormones.

Include healthy fat and protein at each meal – around a fist size portion of protein alongside an array of unlimited fresh vegetables (and some fruits).

4.  Cleanse your liver.  Your liver plays a huge role in hormone regulation, alongside the gut.  Giving your liver a little overhaul can be the difference between your menstrual cycle returning or it taking its sweet time.  Our Gentle Body Cleanse is perfect (next cleanse round is for the new year – stay tuned).  It’s 5 days of taking it easy on your body, to cleanse your gut and liver and see you thriving.

Pollutants and toxins are everywhere – in a perfect world we wouldn’t need to cleanse, but the load of the pill itself is certainly reason to give the body a good clean out, not to mention other hormone disruptors like chemicals in our body and cleaning products.  Be mindful – they are everywhere.

5.  Think healthy.  It can be daunting when moving into a new regime.  Have clear goals and know where you are going.  It’s important to map out the next year relating to your wellbeing.  For example, I’d like to see a period within 3 months, regular cycles within 6 months and to really understand my body (for contraception) within 12 months.  Those who plan achieve.

If you need specific information of how to map out your menstrual cycle for contraception (and conception), you can head to Debunking Ovulation.  It’s 2 hours of information to have you totally understanding your cycles on a new level.

There are many levels we may need to consider when it comes to hormone health, especially when transitioning off the pill.  Maybe you’ve been taking the pill to manage PCOS or Endometriosis, or perhaps you’ve had bad skin or absent periods so you started taking the pill to support your menstrual cycles.  Sadly, the pill isn’t a treatment for these conditions and so it is important we begin to do what feels best for our bodies.  You might like being on the pill and that’s your choice – no judgement here.  In all cases, collect as much information as you can so you can make a well informed decision about what is best for you.  If you do have a known condition, I’d absolutely recommend you seek support.  In fact – this is what I do best!  We offer this kind of support at The Pagoda Tree (alongside Skype consults too!)

If you’d like to dig deeper into how to fully support your body in transitioning off the pill, I’d love to help.  You might also like to check out Well & Good (my new book) to better understand your body, not to mention make use of the hormone friendly recipes in there too!  (for more info head here)

Leave a Comment

22 Responses to “Step by step guide to stopping the contraceptive pill.”

  1. Abbie

    Ive been told to have a full hysterectomy (due to reoccurring tumours) which would mean I need to take hormone replacement therapy (or the pill)
    Ive been putting it off because of everything you have mentioned.
    Do you have any advice?

    Reply
  2. Anna

    Hi Natalie, I wondered what your thoughts were on the supplement DIM for lowering oestrogen levels? I’ve seen it high recommended by people like Robb Wolf and Chris Kresser, but have also read some bad reviews. I’m 31 lead a healthy lifestyle, am off pill, good weight range, but have started to experience ovulation pain in the last few months. I also hold weight around the thigh area- I understand both are signs of high oestrogen levels. I wondered if DIM might help? Many thanks, Anna

    Reply
  3. Danni

    Nat,

    I’ve been saying ever since I saw you speak at ‘Feed Your Soul’ in Melbourne, that I’ll go off the pill…. my partner and I have decided in the new year, I will. My question is – do you yourself, see patients these days? I want to really understand what I’m doing, understand my body, and I do not want a baby until after we’re married! I need some guidance from the best 😉

    Reply
  4. Taylor

    Loving all of your posts regarding the pill and understanding our body and hormones! So relevant to my life right now, I got off the pill a few months ago then came across an article of yours and have been obsessed with your work ever since!

    Keep up these informative posts please, people like me are really, truly benefiting off them!

    Thank You! X

    Reply
  5. Bea

    Hi Nat, Thank you for this post, it came at such a perfect time for me! 🙂 I am currently considering coming off the pill and have so many questions. I have PCOS and the last time I came off the pill I gained 24 kg and never got my period back so I went back on it… so I am really scared of having that happen to me again. This time I would like to do everything I can to make the transition as smooth as possible and get my body to actually ovulate naturally.
    I was wondering if I should start following these guidelines such as detoxing, taking supplements, etc whilst on the pill (and if so for how long?) or if it’d be better to start the healing process after I’ve had my last bleed /”fake period”? Thank you so much!

    Reply
  6. Tegan

    Is there another alternative to Elevit that doesn’t contain any lactose? I am sensitive and have been taking Elevit but would like to take something similar without the lactose.

    Reply
  7. Laura

    Hi Nat,

    I have been reading and hearing that the pill is harmful for gut health over the past few months, but I don’t understand why. Do you have any source material you can point me to for this?

    Thanks!
    Laura

    Reply
  8. Lauren Harms

    Hi Nat,

    While I certainly agree that the contraceptive pill has side effects and sometimes women need to stop taking it to avoid these side effects, your post neglects to mention the primary advantage of taking the contraceptive pill, which is easy enough to identify: contraception.

    Most women can take the pill while suffering minimal (if any) adverse effects and gain the enormous benefit of being able to carefully and consciously plan for when they have a family. There are alternatives, of course, barrier methods such as condoms, but these have a surprisingly high failure rate, and therefore it’s commonly accepted that a regime involving some use of hormonal contraception is the safest and most efficacious method. Furthermore, the invention of the contraceptive pill arguably laid the foundation for the sexual revolution, giving women the freedom to pursue diverse goals previously only available to men.

    I find it puzzling that you say “Maybe you’ve been taking the pill to manage PCOS or Endometriosis, or perhaps you’ve had bad skin or absent periods so you started taking the pill to support your menstrual cycles.” without acknowledging that contraception is the primary reason women take the pill.

    Regarding your claims about the negative effects of the pill on gut flora, micronutrient balance and liver function, would you please be able to provide some references describing how the pill effects these and how your suggested interventions can address these problems? For example, if the pill does in fact disrupt gut flora, do probiotics treat this disruption, even though they only contain a fraction of the bacteria found in a healthy digestive system?

    Thanks,

    Lauren

    Reply
    • Nat Kringoudis

      Thanks Lauren – there is plenty of info out there and I do encourage you to research to find the evidence you need. You might like to check out the book called “The Pill” By A Pope. It’s a wealth of info I think you’d benefit from.

      Reply
      • Nat

        Hi Nat,
        As you are the one making these claims I believe it is up to you to back them up. What sort of “doctor” would tell their patient “there is plenty of information out there- go do your own research”? Lauren asked an incredibly simple and relevant question- can you provide reliable, scientific information to back up your claims?
        Please do so, or I believe many will simply think you to he a fraud.
        Thanks, Nat

  9. Chelsea

    Hi,

    I would just like to say I came off the pill for every reason you’ve listed.

    I would also like to say that within 4 months I fell pregnant (while doing everything right contraceptive wise) to a relationship that was certainly not willing, ready or able for this scenario.

    Fairly remiss of you to provide these examples and deter people from the pill without noting this reason for taking it.

    –Just a thought.

    Reply
    • Nat Kringoudis

      Hi Chelsea,

      Thanks for your input. This is always why I advocate for watching and understanding your cycles over a period of time before skipping on barrier methods. It always requires us to fully understand our bodies. Sadly 4 months off the pill isn’t a long enough time to know what your body is doing either.

      Nat

      Reply
      • Lisa

        Hi, I’ve been if the pill for two years and feel amazing although my periods seem to be irregular. I’m not sure wat I should go as alternatives for conteaception ? I’ve been using cyclebeads app but because my periods are irregular it’s not very reliable – wat suggestions might you have ? I’ve even thought about getting my tubes tied .

      • Nat Kringoudis

        Hi Lisa – you might like to watch Debunking Ovulation to help really understand what is going on for you x

  10. Hannah

    Hi Nat,
    Your advice with coming off the pill has been super helpful, I was told
    By my naturopath last year to have a break from it (it was causing me a lot
    Of problems biggest one candida)
    Anyway it’s now been over a year and there has been no sight of the monthlys
    Whatsoever! I’ve been doing everything that you have listed and I just don’t know
    What’s going on. My skin is going crazy because of the Hormones and I just want them to be back in balance.
    I went to my gp 7 months in and she told me to start taking the pill again to get them back which I deffinately don’t want to do.
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated
    Thanks
    Hannah

    Reply
  11. Jaana

    Hi Nat,

    I have struggled with health progressively more since starting to take the pill two years ago. Particularly very low B12 levels and severe tiredness as well as stomach pains and cramps.

    I would be very interested in coming off it, but am not sure what other form of contraception to use. We both really dislike the condom, but are not really wanting to have children yet. Most other forms of contraception also contain hormones so I don’t really know what to do.

    Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks,
    Jaana

    Reply
  12. Ema

    Hi Nat,

    I am on birth control, and I REALLY WANT TO STOP. but I am super scared of the acne growth afterwards.. So I purchased Zinc supplement(50 mg, by Good’n’natural) and Maca root(from Gaia) it’s organic!

    I was wondering if I could use them right now?(Im still using birth control) Will the Zinc and Maca affect the birth control effectiveness?
    and also I read that Maca might lead to reproductive issues 🙁 is that true??

    Reply
    • Nat Kringoudis

      Maca is brilliant and has been used for centuries. I in fact find that it supports fertility wonderfully, so you can rest assured you’re fertility won’t be affected. The Zinc and Maca won’t upset your birth control. Start at a low dose with the Maca – about 1/4 – 1/2 tsp at a time. You will find it useful to begin to add it in as of now, before you transition off the pill.

      Reply
  13. Emily

    I have recently come off microgynon and since then have suffered headaches, nausea and at times dizziness. Are these symptoms normal ?

    Reply
    • Nat Kringoudis

      Yes the symptoms when we stop can be wide and varied especially if we haven’t done anything different whilst we have been taking the pill. If we can implement changes whilst on the pill or even now that you’ve stopped taking it, then you can take your body towards health indeed x

      Reply
  14. Alex Wilks

    Huge fan of your website and would definitely come for an appointment if I didn’t live in Europe… I am planning to come off the pill and am aiming to follow your advice, including starting the supplements mentioned above and in other posts. Could you recommend a good brand of supplements? I think you mention “practioner’s grade” somewhere, but I just don’t know what brands are reputable and unfortunately there are no English-speaking TCM doctors, hormone whisperers or naturopaths where I live!

    Reply
    • Nat Kringoudis

      Alex – that can be tricky! Through consultation we try and prescribe and give you access to what we use (most places you can order online) under our care. Otherwise, brands we have here are bioceuticals & blackmores to name a few. We do offer skype consults which might help.x

      Reply