HOW TO TRANSITION OFF HORMONAL CONTRACEPTIVES NATURALLY

1 / JUNE / 2022
SHEREE'S HEALTH DIARIES

After so many questions on this I was super inspired to share all about how to transition off hormonal contraceptives, particularly the pill in a really natural, holistic way. 

A lot of the time we can be really afraid of the side effects that can occur if we were to come off the pill or if we were to come off hormonal contraceptives. There can be a lot of fear around this and a lot of uncertainty about the symptoms that can happen. 

Am I gonna get breakouts? 
Am I going to get absent period for months? 
Am I going to end up putting on weight? 
Am I not gonna be able to put on weight? 
Am I gonna have irregular periods for the rest of my life? 
Am I gonna be in a lot of pain? 

There can be so many questions in relation to this, and asking yourself how is my body going to function effectively when I come off hormonal contraceptives? 

As I go through this, know that this relates to just about any hormonal contraceptive that you may be on. I’m going to keep this super short and super sweet because at the end of the day, there’s a really easy way to do this without all of the fluff, without all of the BS, without all of the nasties that can come with it. 

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS WHEN YOU TAKE HORMONAL CONTRACEPTIVE

So I want to give some context to it by giving you a little bit of an understanding of what actually goes on in the body when you are on a hormonal contraceptive, like the pill. 

When you’re taking these, the connection between your brain and your ovaries are completely shut down. So we have, what’s called our HPA access and we also have our HPG access. Now our HPA access is linked to our adrenals, which are two little glands that sit right above our kidneys. They’re responsible for our fight or flight hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. In the ovaries however, part of the HPG axis, they produce our main hormones for females, which are estrogen and progesterone.

Now, if we are getting synthetic hormones from elsewhere, our brain says, “What’s the point of making our own hormones?” So it shuts down the connection between the brain and the ovaries. Now, you are not naturally producing these hormones in an efficient way. Your body’s actually not naturally thriving. This tends to cause a lot of the problems that we see, like PMS, anxiety, breakouts… even though you may have gone on these hormonal contraceptives for the purpose of all of these symptoms, right? 

The way I look at these hormonal contraceptives is like a bandaid.  We look at these external symptoms that we are getting from our hormonal health, ask how we can fix this? Oh, here’s a quick pill. Instead of going to what’s at the root of the issue here… why am I experiencing period pain? For example, is it underlying inflammation levels? Is it because I am not eating whole, real foods enough? Is it because I’m not sleeping enough? Is it because my levels of stress are far too high? What is the real reason behind the inflammation? 

And maybe it’s not period pain, maybe you’ve got acne and you’re wondering why your body is continually breaking out. And again, we wanna investigate, is this a liver issue, is this because our gut is not able to clear toxins effectively.

Our skin is an organ. Our body is going to push things out if it can’t evacuate those toxins effectively. This applies obviously whether you are on the pill or off of the pill, but essentially when it comes to making this transition, we need to make sure that your body is supported in all different ways. But first things first, identify the symptoms that you’re worried about. And then we need to investigate them. 

In fact, it’s like studies have been shown that around 13% of women are only on hormonal contraceptives for contraceptive reasons. That just continually blows my mind. 

It goes to show how many symptoms we’re trying to cover up what we’re trying to mask as a result of hormonal imbalance. The real issue here is how do we balance our hormones effectively versus how do we just put that bandaid on it? 

If you’re reading this and you’re someone that is on hormonal contraceptives, please know that I am not a doctor and I’m not here to tell you to come off it, it is completely your choice. I stand by your body, your choice, very strongly. But these are some suggestions and things that hopefully will open your eyes so you can make an empowered decision. 

I was on the pill for almost 10 years. I started when I was very young, around 14 because I had hormonal acne and nothing seemed to work. I went on antibiotics for three months to suppress it and then the skin started to break out even more. So I went on the pill and I went on a very high estrogenic pill. This then caused a whole host of problems on its own. Over the years, I switched to a lower estrogenic pill once I started to understand hormonal health a little bit more. But I still got really bad acne. I still got terrible PMS. I lost my libido. I ended up with quite high anxiety levels. I just wasn’t myself anymore and I really didn’t like who I was turning into or who I was becoming. So finding a natural solution is a huge passion of mine… because I asked doctors, gynecologists, specialists time after time, I even had a cyst on my ovary that was completely ignored. I was told to go back on the pill to try and fix it. So it’s really important to understand that you as a woman have a beautiful intelligence inside your body, our human body is such a miracle. 

LISTENING TO YOUR BODY

If we can start to listen to the beautiful signs and symptoms that our bodies give us, then we are going to be in a much more empowered state to make decisions and make choices. So to give you a bit of more context around what hormonal contraceptives can do to your body, like I said, firstly, see, there’s the connection between the brain and the ovaries, other hormonal contraceptives, for example, like the Depo Provera can actually shut down your thyroid as well so you can end up causing a whole host of issues with taking these hormonal contraceptives. It can take a while for our bodies to bounce back. However, internally what synthetic hormones do, just like any medication does, is load up our liver, right? And why this happens is because our bodies need to put everything that we get into our bloodstream, through our liver. 

Our blood is filtered by our liver 20 to 25 times per day. That’s just how miraculous your liver is. It’s not just there to process alcohol. It is making sure that your blood is filtered and it’s making sure it’s helping with the detoxification processes. So if you’ve got a synthetic hormone coming into the body or a medication coming into the body, then the liver has to break it down so that the body can use it. Any sort of excess hormones. It’s also the job of the liver to clear them out as well, and so when we are taking some synthetic hormones, our body is constantly overloaded or the liver’s overloaded, and we need to make sure that we are supporting your liver health. So one of the key things to do when we are transitioning off hormonal contraceptives is to make sure that our liver is looked after. 

This is normally a little bit further down the track in terms of what we would focus on primarily first. But one of the things I want you to understand is the load that these hormonal contraceptives can have on the liver. And then if the liver’s overloaded, that’s when those breakouts, eczema, rashes, etc can start to happen. 

The other thing we wanna understand is the impact that it can have on our gut health. For example the pill can actually alter your microbiome and a lot of research has been shown to suggest that when you’re on the pill or hormonal contraceptives, a lot of women develop something called leaky gut. Now, if you’re not familiar with this term, it essentially means that the walls of your intestine start to separate. 

Leaky gut is what allows things that aren’t supposed to be in our bloodstream to leak through the gut. This can look like food, bugs, parasites or overgrowths of bacterial or fungal types. They can actually end up getting into your bloodstream (systemically) and start to cause a whole host of reactions elsewhere. 

For me I had a leaky gut while I was on the pill. I wasn’t aware of it at the time and I ended up allowing what’s called candida, which is a fungal overgrowth to go systemically through my body. This wasn’t picked up early enough, and ended up causing severe eczema in my head as well as a lovely athlete’s foot too. Alongside this came a lot of weight gain for me, which I struggled to shift and further hormonal imbalances like estrogen dominance. And I couldn’t understand why? 

The other thing that the pill did was because you’re constantly suppressing that ovary connection between your brain and your ovaries. It led me to a state of burnout as well, but that’s a whole nother story. 

So to come back to gut health, if you are constantly consuming medication every single day or synthetic hormones every single day and then ruining or destroying or contributing to the destruction, I should say of your gut integrity. Then you’re going to be in a state where the gut needs a lot of support. So the first thing that we need to do when we’re transitioning off hormonal contraceptives is to look after your gut health. 

Now that can sound so different for everyone and we need to understand what that looks like for everybody and what state your gut is in. But if you’re someone that’s constantly bloated, if you’re someone that experiences a lot of IBS, or maybe you experience bowel movements from one symptom to another, or you’re constantly constipated, or you get a lot of loose bowel movements on a regular basis, and you’re on hormonal contraceptives, it may be time to look at if these are contributing to your overall health and your gut health in particular. As you may or may not know, our gut is the center of our immune system and it is where all diseases begin, essentially, according to Hippocrates around 2,500 years ago

HEALING THE GUT

So how do we look after our gut health? What does that look like? Well, inside Reclaim Your Radiance, which is my signature 12 week program that supports you in the transition off hormonal contraceptives we make sure that you go in with a gut protocol in which we take out any of the foods that could be causing inflammation that could be contributing to that leaky gut. So one of the key things for example, is gluten. 

Gluten is known in every single human being to cause leaky gut to some variation. For some people, it won’t be much for other people, it’ll be significant. For me, as a coeliac it destroys my ability to absorb nutrients, which is quite shocking, really. 

So what we need to make sure that we are doing is taking things like gluten out and other inflammatory foods. And you may know your body doesn’t respond very well to a few foods, so it’s giving your body enough of a break to allow the gut to seal back up and really allow that healing process to occur so that you’re not getting that leaky picture going on. 

We typically do this for about four weeks prior to making the transition off the pill or even two weeks, depending on where you’re at in your journey and how severe your gut symptoms are. This allows our body to kind of play a little bit of catch up. You’re obviously still putting synthetic forms of hormones into your body, but in doing the slower process and doing some of the deeper work before you come in, it’s not so much of a shock to the body when you do actually make the transition. 

So you may do two to four weeks prior, then we’re gonna look at supporting the gut whilst you’re transitioning off as well. So things like sugar, making sure maybe your dairy intake is a little bit lower. We’re looking at other things that can cause a lot of inflammation, not just in the gut, but also in the body, but really taking care of our gut health. 

For some, it might look like introducing a high quality probiotic. It’s very different for everyone and we need to make sure that you’re really supported in that respect, but ultimately you’re really diving deep into giving the gut the love and the nourishment. 

We may need to put some other supplements in that can support the healing of that gut lining. Collagen is fantastic in terms of helping things, kind of sew themselves back together.

So once we’ve done the initial pre ‘coming off the pill,’ we need to go into post ‘coming off the pill’. You’re looking at a gut protocol for roughly four to six weeks, depending on how severe symptoms are. Then we wanna make sure that your body is really supported after that. 

Like I mentioned earlier, your liver has been overloaded for however long you’ve been taking the synthetic hormones. Now, chances are your liver’s been overloaded from a whole lot of other things as well, right? It’s not just medication and alcohol that the liver takes care of. It’s any toxin inside the body and it’s filtering all of our blood constantly. So we need to make sure that we are supporting your liver health. This may look like continuing some of the things that you’ve been doing in terms of supporting your gut. 

It also may look like putting in a little bit more protein. It may look like adding in some herbs and some supplements that are specific for liver support to make sure that the pathways that your liver needs to transport the toxins out of your body are really supported. So I won’t specifically name these herbs because I don’t want you to go out and just grab them off the shelves. Herbs can do a lot of beautiful things in the body, but it is very important that we are listening to someone who has had a look and understands our bodies specifically which is something I support women with inside Reclaim Your Radiance. So we’re firstly looking after the gut, before you come off the pill, then we are looking after the gut, after you come off the pill, and then we are supporting the liver and making sure your body’s ability to clear toxins is effective. 

Once we’re at that point, your body should start to feel a lot better. We then move into focusing on whole real foods and living in a way that feels an alignment for you and your body ongoing and moving forward. 

I’ve had multiple clients come off hormonal contraceptives. In fact, just talking to one of the beautiful women last night as we were wrapping up the last round of Reclaim Your Radiance and she was still sharing a little bit of fear around, am I gonna get acne? Is my skin gonna break out? Even though it hasn’t. My skin’s been the best it’s been in six to seven years. What happens 3, 6, 12 months down the track, because there’s a lot of post pill acne that tends to happen. 

I had her reflect and go, actually, how many of those studies of the post pill acne have the women actually done these deeper healing work? How many women have actually gone and done the deeper gut healing, the deeper liver healing, allowing the body to support the detoxification process effectively to the point where they’re not going to get any of those nasty side effects and symptoms. 

So it’s really important to understand that even though there may be other people out there that have had terrible stories, there are also other people who do the deeper inner work that allow the body to be supported through it. 

You don’t end up with those horror stories that can happen. 

Instead, it’s really, really beautiful to support your body during this transition. If you’re someone that’s wondering, how on earth do I do that? Then Reclaim Your Radiance is the perfect program for you. So you can click here for more info. If you wanna book a call or to have a look and see if you just wanna jump in and sign up. 

The other thing I will share with you in terms of the pill is a lot of people are worried about giving their period back. I had a client who did all of this. She actually did Reclaim Your Radiance while she was on the pill and then made the decision at the end of the program through all of the learning and the knowledge she’d acquired to transition off the pill within a month, her period was back. She started ovulating, right after which is a huge thing that a lot of women struggle with coming off the pill and was able to fall pregnant within a month of coming off the pill, which just goes to show when you do the deeper inner work, when you really heal the body, the body responds. 

One thing I’ll leave you with is that our body’s goal every single month is to fall pregnant. 

Whether you want that for yourself or not. That’s how, as females, we are genetically built. 

So if you are constantly suppressing your natural hormone production, if you are constantly stressed and shutting things down and keeping your body in survival, you’re not gonna be producing the lovely hormones that not only help you fall pregnant, but help you with your body, feeling safe with your body, being able to shift weight with your moods, being able to be regular, with your skin being able to be beautiful, glowing and radiant. 

Really making sure that you take the time to take care of yourself, keep your body in this position, safe and in this beautiful space so you can glow from the inside out is really key. I hope that this was helpful and you got a lot from this. 

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments or shoot me an email at sheree@shereehannahwellness.com, I’m here to support you!

SHEREE BEAUMONT

Holistic Nutritionist, Personal Trainer & Wellness Coach I empower women like you to transform their lives, understand their bodies and feel their best from the inside out!

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