The Pill & How to Reset after Taking It
Sounds like a scary word, one heck of a word.
Over the years, I myself have been a user of the pill and so have thousands of women in the past and currently. There has been a lot of talk around the use of the pill and why it works for some women and why it doesn’t for others.
Today, we’re just going to cover what the pill is, what it does, why it contributes to many nutritional deficiencies and guidelines on how to reset after taking it. Most of the resources are from Dr Jolene Brighten, Dr Aviva Romm and Dr Lara Briden as they are well known experts in this field. They have plenty of information about this particular topic and podcasts and videos etc. Dr Romm, especially has this incredible lengthy and informative article all about PCOS but if you’d like a narrow zoom in on the pill only and its relation to PCOS, read on!
I’m going to break it down into simple categories for you my fellow Nourishers.
What is the Pill?
The pill, otherwise known as birth control, was approved in the 1960s by the US FDA. It has since become very popular to use amongst women in order not to get pregnant for one.
What does it do?
The pill ultimately stops you from getting pregnant and one way is through stopping ovulation i.e. stopping periods from happening. This is serious when you realise that ovulation is a sign of good health - i.e. your thyroid is function and insulin levels are alright. In addition, having periods is important for us not only for reproductive reasons but the menstrual cycle itself is important for us to make hormones.
Estrogen besides playing a big role in the reproductive system, helps to build and maintain the female characteristics that we have including breasts, smaller bones compared to men, changes the vocal cord length so we do not have such a deep voice such as men, maintain body temperature and helps prevent bone loss via osteoporosis.
Progesterone, besides aiding in gestation, helps the brain to repair after injury by repairing certain structures of the nervous system. It can also help to reduce anxiety and instil calmness. Who would have thought!
If you are wondering what roles Estrogen and Progesterone plays in the menstrual cycle, check out the video on the left.
The pill comes in both a combination of synthetic hormones (estrogen and progrestin) and progestin-only form. They function to disrupt your reproductive cycle by telling your brain that there is enough hormones and so the ovaries do not release an egg as a result. This would get you the absence of ovulation and thus no periods. In addition, the pill causes the cervical mucus to thicken in order to make the sperm’s journey to the egg all the more difficult.
There are many reasons why women would want to get on the birth control pills - I myself got on them because I could not stop bleeding for well over a month. The most important thing to note from this blog post is to be aware of what the pill can strip from you, besides its potential benefits to your problems.
The pill depletes vitamins and minerals:
Common nutritional deficiencies: Zinc, Magnesium, Iron, Vitamin D
B2 riboflavin (energy production)
B6 pyridoxine (crucial for noradrenaline and serotonin production, involved in brain, immune and nervous system)
B12 (regulates DNA production, formulates red blood cells and prevents mesoblastic anaemia)
C (repair tissues, antioxidant)
E (skin, hair and nails, repairmen of tissues)
Zinc (childhood development, immune system)
Iron (circulatory system and red blood cells)
Vitamin D (immune system function, helps absorption of calcium)
Selenium (enhance liver detoxification)
Magnesium (energy production, hormone control, glycolysis (& blood glucose levels), muscle and nerve function, protein synthesis)
Folate (crucial in infancy and adolescent years, produces DNA/RNA, energy production, formulates red and white blood cells)
Pill can affect insulin sensitivity and blood sugar balance.
How to Reset Right after being on the Pill:
Symptoms that are masked can be bounced back or new symptoms can emerge once a woman goes off the birth control. It can take up to six months for symptoms to subside and hormones to come into balance. Even after going off the pill, your ovulation might still be suppressed and you might develop Post Pill PCOS.
A woman needs to be prepared for the symptoms when going off the pill.
Here are your pointers:
Eat whole foods- nutrient dense, protein and fats.
Incorporate foods that can help with weight loss and balance hormones specifically.
Not skip meals (Women may not do well in the fasted state, compared to men. For example, training in fasted state can reduce insulin sensitivity in women. )
Intermittent fasting - it has been claimed to help improve fat burning, increase cellular cleansing amongst others. On one side of the argument, women may not do well in the fasted state because PCOS women who have high insulin levels may suffer from low blood sugar levels. In addition, there is insufficient results to show long term results that fasting has on the body. High insulin levels has been linked to fats not being broken down.
However, being in a fasted state could also mean lowering of insulin levels which could help lower the release of testosterone from our ovaries. In my opinion, it depends on what type of PCOS a woman has (insulin sensitive, inflammatory, post pill etc.) Someone who has insulin resistance PCOS would not find fasting helpful due to their high levels of leptin (hunger hormone) and insulin levels, whilst fasting may work for women who has inflammatory PCOS because of the trigger of autophagy, a process that could help get rid of dead and damaged cell parts.
Limit processed foods and artificial sugars
Restore gut bacteria to improve overall gut health
Bowel movements once daily - fibre and herbal teas like dandelion root, ginger tea
Good quality sleep & try out lunaception: sleeping in accordance with the full moon. (3 days facing the moon or having a white light)
Reduce stress triggers - meditate, take adaptogens like ashwaghanda, rhodiola. Monitor stress situations and response, get good quality sleep and not over-exercise. Adrenals and liver do not function properly: will affect blood sugar levels.
Work on liver detoxification because the liver is key to detoxification and helps to get rid of excess estrogen. - no use of plastic containers, synthetic fragrances and home care cosmetics, toxic household cleaners. Eat brassica vegetables and berries.
Try balancing the reproductive cycle using traditional chinese medicine (this could be a whole other post and something I myself would be willing to explore in depth)
Supplementing magnesium (magnesium not mixed with calcium ideally) can help with insulin sensitivity, digestive support, mood, sleep and energy production.
It is perfectly anyone’s choice to go on the pill or not for any specific reason. I want to share more about the pill and what it can strip you off. It can also cause that weight gain if your hormones start to go out of whack. I personally went off the pill after being on it for four years and it bounced back with a definite vengeance. I suffered withdrawal bleeds, before going into a phase of long absences of my period and a tendency to gain weight easily.
Fortunately, besides seeing a functional medicine doctor eventually to find out more about my hormone levels, I got myself on a better whole foods diet and reduced my intake of processed foods and refined sugars. I now help to empower other women with PCOS to be able to live beautifully every day in my program.
Plus, there were three surprising foods that helped me in my diet a lot throughout the years and has definitely contributed to the way I live with PCOS right now… find out what they are in my guide below!
Foods to help with Weight Loss and Pill Reset
One of the ways to reset post pill is to incorporate foods which can help with hormonal balancing. Check out why these three foods made the list for PCOS Weight Loss.