Written by Gabby Borgerink
Coming off the pill is a big deal. First off, congratulations if you have made the decision to come off! Second, I am so glad you stumbled across this article because this is a helpful resource to get you started in the right direction.
Hormonal contraception is something that a lot of women are on at one point or another in their life. It is commonly prescribed for a lot of hormonal issues such as painful, irregular periods, and acne; however after long term use, it's common to experience some side effects. Whether you're looking to come off and get your natural cycle back, want to conceive soon, or are simply trying to avoid any side effects, this blog is for you.
My niche in my nutrition consulting practice is helping women come off hormonal contraception. It came from my personal experience with intense mood issues, gut issues, and chronic yeast infections while on the pill. I decided to come off and realized there were not many resources at the time, then came the passion project that was my coming off the pill course. I started working with lots of women who were planning on coming off or had already come off, and I realized there was a huge need for this. After years of my own personal and client experience, I have a good idea of the must-haves for anyone coming off hormonal contraception. So I wanted to write an in-depth blog with exactly what you should start doing to prepare your body.
These are the basics steps I like to cover with clients:
- Reduce/manage stressors
- Replenish nutrients
- Support detox and elimination of estrogen
It's important to understand the birth control pill's job is shutting down natural hormonal production and cycle. The bleed we experience is a 'withdrawal' bleed and not a true period - (a real period happens after ovulation and ovulation is suppressed by hormonal contraception as one way of preventing pregnancy). Since we are suppressing ovulation and in turn progesterone production, it is super common to be in a state of estrogen dominance post-pill. It is super important that we ensure our liver and gut are functioning optimally to eliminate everything and it's not recirculating through the body.
Another important thing to note is the pill causes many nutrient depletions such as
- B vitamins,
- Vitamin C,
- Vitamin E, and
These nutrients are all crucial for ovarian health, brain health, adrenal health, thyroid health, and overall metabolism. The pill also disrupts our gut microbiome and vaginal microbiome which is why you may experience constipation, loose stools, bloating, gas or general symptoms that may be labeled as IBS by your doctor. As well as chronic yeast infections.
Here are my top ways to support your body prior to and after you come off hormonal birth control.
- Beef liver or liver capsules. Liver is one of the most nutrient dense foods you can consume! Our grandparents used to have a more nose-to-tail focus and we have slowly drifted away from that. Synthetic B vitamins, and isolated minerals in supplement form can actually suppress our production or utilization of the natural sources of vitamins and minerals.
Oysters. Oysters are extremely nutrient dense - specifically in copper and bioavailable zinc. Zinc is the fertility mineral and super important for thyroid health and metabolism. It is super important for both women and men. You can find smoked oysters in cans for easy consumption (try to make sure they do not have inflammatory oil such as sunflower or canola in the ingredients). Fresh oysters, canned oysters or even an oyster supplement similar to the beef liver capsules can be super helpful. I try to get oysters in some form, once a week.
- Orange juice elixir. This is rich in vitamin C and minerals, specifically potassium which are crucial in hormone production, insulin sensitivity, adrenal health and overall health. Recipe: glass of fresh squeezed orange juice, spoonful of collagen, good sprinkle of sea salt and scoop of coconut cream or milk. Blend it all together and enjoy.
- Magnesium glycinate. Magnesium is another nutrient that is not only depleted by the pill, but it is also depleted from our soil and our body burns through it much faster during times of stress! My favourite form is magnesium glycinate and I also love having magnesium bath salts.
- Protein, fat and carbohydrates at each meal and snack and enough food. A lot of us are unintentionally under-eating, also like I mentioned previously, under times of stress our body's needs more nutrients and calories. It's important to manually balance our blood sugar and also reduce our stress by eating regular meals and snacks every few hours. Avoid intermittent fasting as that is extremely energy intensive and an added stressor to the body.
- Raw carrot salad. The raw carrot salad is an amazing way to get carrot fibres in. They work by binding to toxins that need to leave the body and supporting gut health. Recipe: you simply need a medium size carrot peeled, and shredded. Drizzle MCT oil or extra-virgin olive oil on top and season with sea salt and any other herbs you’d like to add.
- Digestive bitters. Bitters are so important to have before meals as they stimulate stomach acid production, enzyme production and the release of bile, which is all important for optimal digestion and absorption of nutrients. Bitter foods used to be a traditional part of meals but in our modern world it is rare that we experience bitter tasting foods. But why spend the time and money to eat all the nutrient-dense foods if we aren't actually absorbing it all? I recommend taking bitters 5-10 minutes before meals.
By incorporating all of some of these foods and nutrients, you can improve your experience coming off hormonal contraception and balance your hormones naturally alongside other lifestyle changes.
Gabby Borgerink is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner who works with women to educate about hormones and how they can support their body through nutrition and lifestyle. After her experience coming off hormonal contraception and trying both conventional and alternative health care, Gabby believes in the power of listening to your body and getting to the root cause of your health problems through a holistic approach. Her goal is for women to take back the power of their menstrual cycle and support them in balancing their hormones from a bio-individual approach. Visit her website or find her on Instagram to connect and learn more.