Post-Birth Control Syndrome: Do You Have It?
Uwe Porters - Mid-wife/Pregnancy & Postpartum Expert
Doctors are quick to prescribe birth control pills for a variety of reasons. While some doctors may mention side effects, they are usually understated and not well understood. Most women are also told that staying on the pill indefinitely until they might want to have a baby is completely fine, with no negative consequences. However, one thing that most doctors do not mention is how your body might react when you stop taking hormonal birth control, especially if you’ve been taking it for years or even decades.
Turns out, there’s a sneaky thing called Post-Birth Control Syndrome that catches many women off guard. While some women may feel like they’ve found a newfound freedom when they stop the pill, others struggle with tiredness, headaches, bloating, PMS-like symptoms and changes in their menstrual cycle like lighter, heavier or missed periods.
In this post, we’ll cover how the pill affects your body and what you can expect when you stop taking it. We’ll also share some practical tips to avoid some of the common symptoms including loading up on essential vitamins and minerals. Stopping the pill is a big decision so we want to help you have the easiest transition possible to a natural cycle.
What is Post-Birth Control Syndrome
Post-Birth Control Syndrome isn’t something that requires any treatment. The name just refers to a group of signs and symptoms that sometimes develop a few months after stopping hormonal birth control. Although unpleasant or uncomfortable, these symptoms are usually temporary and not a sign of a serious condition. It’s good to be aware of the possible symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Lack of energy
- Changes in sex drive
- Mood swings
- Hormonal imbalances that causes changes in your menstrual cycle
- Hair loss
Turns out, research points fingers at long-term use of hormonal birth control for possibly causing a drain on important nutrients in our bodies, making these symptoms even worse and leaving us feeling totally wiped out and empty.
The Impact on Energy & Libido
Struggling with low energy and a lackluster libido after ditching the pill is a common story. Hormonal birth control can mess with important vitamins and minerals our bodies need to feel vibrant and energetic.After stopping birth control, many women experience major fatigue which can drag down your mood and impact your libido. The fact is, bouncing back from synthetic birth control isn't always a quick fix. But these symptoms should reduce over time. Saying goodbye to the pill is step one in reviving your libido. Also, foods like dark chocolate, pineapple, spinach, and oysters can be your best friend in reigniting that lost spark.
Also, don't overlook your adrenals—they are an important part of your hormonal balance, especially when it comes to reviving your passion in the bedroom. Nourishing those adrenals is key, and that's why supporting them is crucial. For some women, the easiest way to up their energy and libido is to make healthy changes to their diet or add a supplement to their diet. Adding in mind-body practices like yoga and meditation can help too.
Oh, and here's a little secret: off the pill, women often report a surge in the pleasure department—better orgasms and all!
Getting Back on Track: The Role of Macronutrients
Studies have highlighted the importance of specific vitamins and minerals that can help your body replenish its nutrient stores and reduce the symptoms associated with post-pill syndrome. While you can get many of these nutrients from a healthy, varied diet, adding a supplement can help too. Here’s a list of vitamins and minerals to look for:
- B Vitamins: Look for B vitamins, especially B6, B9 (folate) and B12. They all play a crucial role in your energy and your mood. You can get them through food like leafy greens, legumes, and whole grains, but a supplement can help too.
- Vitamin D: The so-called “sunshine vitamin” is essential for hormonal balance and overall well-being. Of course, spending time outside is a great way to soak up the Vitamin D but if that’s not possible, try upping the quantity of vitamin D-rich foods you consume. Think about things like fatty fish, eggs, and fortified dairy products. All of these can support your body post-pill
- Magnesium: This mineral is very important in a lot of different processes in your body including your metabolism and muscle function. Try to eat lots of magnesium rich foods like nuts, seeds and leafy greens.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3s are found in fish oil and flaxseeds and they are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. They are scientifically proven to help regulate hormones and improve energy levels which is critical for anyone stopping their hormonal birth control.
- Zinc: Did you know that many women using hormonal birth control are deficient in zinc? Zinc supports your immune function so it’s important that you’re getting enough. You can get zinc from foods like lean meats, seeds, and dairy products. When eaten regularly as a part of a varied diet, they can help restore adequate levels of zinc back into your body.
If you want to learn more about how the pill impacts the nutrients in your body, check out our blog post all about why a supplement can help you if you’re on hormonal birth control.
Lifestyle Changes for a Smooth Transition Off The Pill
Beyond making sure you’re getting the essential nutrients, embracing a holistic approach to well-being is crucial for a smooth transition to a natural cycle. It's not just about what you eat, but how you live. Here are a few things that can support a calmer adjustment away from hormonal birth control:
- Exercise: Regular physical activity is a proven way to support your cycle when you stop taking birth control. Regular exercise not only helps maintain overall health but also aids in balancing hormones. Aim for a mix of cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises. It doesn’t have to be intense; even a brisk walk or a yoga session can make a significant difference. Here’s some more information about how to exercise according to your cycle.
- Sleep: Quality sleep is like a secret potion for your well-being, especially during this transition phase. Strive for consistent and sufficient sleep each night. Set a bedtime routine, create a relaxing environment, and ensure your sleep space is conducive to restorative rest. The body rejuvenates during sleep, supporting hormonal balance and overall health.
- Stress-Busting Practices: Managing stress through techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises can be a game-changer. Stress affects hormone levels, and post-pill, your body is adjusting to a new hormonal rhythm. These practices help calm the nervous system, reducing stress hormone production and aiding in the body's transition away from birth control.
- Healthy Diet: Opting for a nourishing diet filled with whole foods, plenty of vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats becomes crucial. Focus on nutrient-dense foods that support hormonal balance. Incorporate foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and certain seeds are particularly beneficial for hormone health. Don't forget hydration – drink enough water to keep your body functioning optimally. Want to know more about your cycle and nutrition? Here’s our guide on how to hack your cycle with food!
Getting Your Body Back on Track
Armed with knowledge and a plan, transitioning off the pill and avoiding the worst symptoms of post-pill syndrome is possible. It's all about embracing a healthier lifestyle and topping up on those crucial vitamins and minerals. Picture this as a chance to hit the 'refresh' button on your well-being. Remember: there's no one-size-fits-all solution. Everyone is different so don’t hesitate to chat with us, your healthcare professional or a nutritionist for a personalized game plan that suits your unique needs. It's time to take charge, reclaim that glow, and step into this new phase feeling like the absolute boss of your own health!
If you want to know more about how to get your natural cycle back on track after stopping the birth control pill, check out this post here for more tips.