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Feb 6, 2013 BY Joy McCarthy

The Truth About The Birth Control Pill

—  found in  Family  —

Note from Joy: 

I was personally on the birth control pill (bcp) for well over 10 years. My reasoning for going on it in the first place was that I was advised by my gynecologist it was the only solution to balance my hormones. However, it only masked the problem and gave me a whole slew of side effects, listed below.

It wasn't until I stopped taking the bcp in 2007 that I began my true healing journey of getting my body back and on track and addressing the root cause.

Of course it took several months for all the symptoms to subside but it was absolutely incredible the changes that occurred in my body, my digestion and my sex drive. I felt like Joy again when my hormones were regulated naturally.

I have seen hundreds of women over the years and many of them have chosen to go off the bcp and follow a detoxifying diet along with herbs and supplements to aid the body in the removal of excess estrogen and balancing of their hormones.

I'm a joyous to tell you that I have never ever heard a single woman ever come back to me and say "Joy, I wish I didn't make the choice to go off the pill". In fact, every woman who has gone off the pill feels like they have their body back again. 

I hope this post from Guest Blogger Mary, a student at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition, lights a fire under your fanny to seriously consider if taking the pill is the best thing for you and you feel confident that you are making an informed decision.

To joyous hormones!

Joy

The Truth About the Birth Control Pill

By: Mary Cammisuli

The pill has allowed us to have care free sex whenever and wherever we want; the only problem is we are corrupting our bodies not only from a hormonal perspective, but also a nutritional perspective.

How many of you out there would eat something every day that could cause infertility, dry vagina, yeast infections, lost libido, cause hormone imbalance, or alter your choice in a mate? My guess is nobody would knowingly do this, but they are in fact side effects of taking the birth control pill, and over 100 million women worldwide take this tiny little pill that can potentially cause all these problems.

So, how does the Birth Control Pill work?

Reduces period blood flow

Thinning the lining of your uterus, which makes it difficult for an egg to implant, should it become fertilized

 Suppress the hormone estrogen that is needed to start a menstrual cycle

Inhibits the development of egg in the ovaries

Thickening your cervical mucus to help block sperm from fertilizing an egg

Lower estrogen levels trigger the pituitary gland to push out the hormone that triggers egg development

The pill is considered to be both the most effective and the most hazardous form of contraception. Taking an oral dose of a combination of the hormones estrogen and progestin (synthetic progesterone) in amounts higher than the body's natural levels prevents pregnancy.

Effects of using the Birth Control Pill

Infertility

Prolong use of the pill may cause some women’s period to stop. Some women may take months or years to get their period back which results in temporary or sometimes permanent infertility.

Hormonal Imbalance

The pill influences the body’s natural production of estrogen and progesterone, which can cause women to have a hard time rebalancing after coming off the pill. It can take months to a couple of years to normalize hormones after coming off the pill.

Lost Interest in Sex

Women who take the contraceptive pill are in danger of losing their interest in sex, because the oral contraceptive pill inhibits testosterone, the hormone that drives sexual desire.

Birth Control Pill can alter your natural choice in a mate.

When you're taking a hormonal contraceptive, you interfere with your biology and risk producing a hormonal imbalance that might make you more attracted to men with similar chemical makeup. If you were on the pill when you met your mate, you might, therefore, feel less attracted to him when you stop taking it (for more information check out this study)

Nutrient Depletion

Taking the pill can create certain nutrient deficiencies and excesses as well as increase your nutritional needs. Most of the B vitamins especially B6, folic acid are needed and copper levels usually rise, and zinc levels often fall. Therefore, more zinc is needed as well. An increased need for vitamins C, E, and K. It has also been found that the pill causes an alkaline imbalance in the vagina that may lead to infection.

Dry Vagina and Yeast Infections

Vaginal dryness and yeast infections are common side effects of birth control. The pill sends a pregnancy state signal to the brain with excessive progesterone and/or estrogen, so that your brain will think you are pregnant and then shut down your ovarian function. This results in excessive progesterone or estrogen in the uterus and cervix.

Now, don’t get me wrong I do realize that some women take the pill due to other issues such as painful menstrual cramps and acne, but the question remains, has the pill actually healed any of the issues you had or is it just masking the symptoms of why you experience these hormonal imbalance signs in the first place?

Tell us what YOU think? Do you think the birth control pill has helped you? Have you gone off the pill and experienced improved health? Tell us your story below.

You can find Mary on Twitter - @MaryCammisuli

Check out Mary's Blog: http://marycammisuli.wordpress.com/

Feb 6, 2013 BY Joy McCarthy
87 Comments
T.   •   February 6, 2013

Hi, thank you so much for this post. I, too was on the bcp for over a decade until I understood what it was doing to my body. I then went to the mirena IUD, thinking that it was better. I am interested what you and others use for birth control that does not contain hormones. Is there anything besides condoms? I am interested in getting my body back-hormone free. Thank you!

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Sarah   •   February 6, 2013

Sarah   •   February 6, 2013

I could not agree more with this: getting off the BCP was the BEST decision I ever made for my body! It was now almost 3 years ago and Im STILL experiencing some of the residual side effects (especially skin wise). Even though, I was on it for about 3.5 yrs, it always amazes me to see just how much its affected my body- which I see now in retrospect as my body is regulating itself back to homeostasis. It is so important for all women to get back in touch with their own body and know that it is perfectly regulated on its own. No need for the pill to know when your next period will come or how to avoid pregnancy. Just learn to watch your body's signs and to understand them. It has been such an empowering experience for me and that's the reason why Im always a big fan of telling my story to whoever wishes to hear it. Thanks for sharing this, Joy and Mary. Great information ;)

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Just a Regular Wednesday « Health Beyond The Label   •   February 6, 2013

[...] http://www.joyoushealth.ca/2013/02/06/the-truth-about-the-birth-control-pill/ [...]

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Marissa   •   February 6, 2013

excellent post! i, too, had a similar experience as Joy did with the pill. i realized how much better i felt off of the pill. when on it, i suffered from constant infections that just could not be treated. it took my body a looong while to re-balance itself, but i've now been off the pill for 7 years & everything is healthy again! the part about the pill influencing your mate selection is so interesting...can't wait to read more about this.

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T.   •   February 6, 2013

Be careful of alternate treatments to birth control pills too... The copper IUD ruined my life! I never tolerated bcp's so after suffering a spinal injury from a car accident, the last thing I needed was to get pregnant. I decided to try the copper IUD as it was touted as being "safe" and hormone free. I started developing weird symptoms a few months later that got progressively worse; and each time I asked the doctors if it could be related to the IUD, they all said no. 6-7 years later, many many many doctors and specialist apts later, I was so ill I would literally crawl to my bed at the end of the day and sometimes wondered if I would awake in the morning. Doctors were at a loss to explain why and then I was scheduled for a procedure that required the IUD to be removed (due to precancerous gynecological cellular changes, believed to be from the IUD). 4 months after having the IUD removed (and not reinserted), I started to feel a bit better but not without severe lasting damage. While I feel a lot better than I did with the IUD, 3 years after having the IUD removed, everyday is still a challenge due to the lasting side effects / damage. So much so, that I am looking into starting a civil lawsuit against the company to prevent this from happening to someone else. Since I have started telling my story to people, I am hearing of other women developing strange health problems after using the copper IUD. So, if you or anyone you know has had health problems after using a copper IUD, including strange things like heart palpitations or developing new unexplained allergies to foods/liquids, please post here or get Joy to forward a message to me with your contact info. I would love to talk with you. Thanks

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Kelly   •   February 7, 2013
Deborah   •   May 19, 2013

Dondrea   •   February 7, 2013

I was on the pill for approx. 6 or 7 years, and I felt horrible about it.. Something about taking a pill like that everyday, made me feel strange. I went off of it a year or two ago and at first had huge issues with my hormones being imbalanced (once in a while I still deal with this)... But over all, my body has never felt better. I noticed I was sleeping more, I had less headaches, and my digestion was better. I haven't been on it since and I don't plan on taking it again... Doctors that I've been to have told me to go back on it, even my mother and friends agree... But I just don't feel right about it. I rather keep my body at it's most natural state. Thank-you so much for posting this, I've always wondered if I was completely nuts for not wanting to take it. ;)

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Priscilla   •   May 19, 2015

Gabby Ouimet   •   February 7, 2013

So great to see this post here! Congrats Mary on such a wonderful post :)

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Kelly   •   February 7, 2013

I am in my recovery of being off birth control. I have tried several different kinds and always noticed things were never quite right. And after a severe emotional, physical and mental reaction to the nuva ring this summer i have rid myself of hormones completely. I am still working on feeling %100, but I am getting better and better every day. It has taken 6 months to even get to this point! I hope the longer I am off of the hormones the more my body will balance itself again. I just got a copper IUD as a hormone free form of birth control and so far so good. I am so happy to rid my body of all the bad things that bcp had caused.

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Ashley   •   February 7, 2013

I understand there's side effects for some women, but not for everyone. It's irresponsible to go off of it and continue as always. "Use condoms" is just bad advice.

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Melissa   •   February 7, 2013

I have done both - been on the bcp for over 10 years and then off for 5 years. Recently I just went back on the bcp in an attempt to balance my hormones that are completely out of control. Unfortunately, the natural treatment from a naturopath who specializes in hormones still isn't enough. Although I agree the less meds you put in your body the better, sometimes, depending on the individual, the bcp can help. It really is quite amazing how people can have such different reactions. Finding your perfect balance is key...and not so easy to do, as we know! (So congrats to everyone who has : )

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Tanya   •   November 7, 2013

Rosa Awad   •   February 7, 2013

I went through a BC nightmare.... I was put on bcp when I was 14 in hopes of alleviating the sever cramping I was having that actually caused me to loose conciousness at times. From there on, at 15-16 my GP advised my mother about a new birth control option that would be good for me, since it alleviated the option of "forgetting" to take the pill. I had just started dating and my mother agree'd that Depo Provera seemed like a good solution (mind you it was nearly 4 years later before I was ever sexually active). At 22, I had been on Depo for 6, nearly 7 years straight when the insomnia started. I dropped weight drastically within 3 months (30-40lbs), I had migraines and dizzy spells that would cause me to pass out, and my appetite was non existent with abdominal pains making eating for the sake of eating nearly impossible. My GP sent me to specialists and an answer was never found. I finally looked at my birth control as a potential cause and was horrified to learn that use of Depo Provera was linked to so many health issues, and that my GP had failed to notify me that I should have been off it for a month at a time every year. I was given injection after injection for nearly 7 years. It was 10 months after that before I had a period, but during that time I was terrified I was infertile after receiving so much artificial hormones for so long. I had pretty much given up on my GP when I went to a naturapath and he advised me what I was going through was likely adrenal failure, or at the very least adrenal fatigue. We had just commenced treatment when I discovered that at 23 I was pregnant with my first born, and within the first month of pregnancy I was back to my old self again. After my daughter was born, at the insistence of my family, I started BC again, this time the patch and then I moved onto seasonelle... It wasn't a year before the same issues started cropping up. I was down to 113 lbs, home alone with my 16 month old daughter (my husband was away with the Canadian Armed Forces in Haiti for earthquake relief) when I decided never again would I feel like that. After my second daughter was born, I spoke with my naturopath and OB-GYN about non hormonal BC options. For us, our best option was the copper IUD. Pregnancy was giving my body the kick start it needed to produce the hormones it needed to function, and I refused to stop that by giving it artificial hormones again. We made some changes at home, opting for Organic produce and meats at all points possible, and even found a job with an organic foods company that lets me keep my ear to the ground when it comes to health and wellness. I'm currently 28, artificial hormone free and planning my third child, free of health issues! (other than the usual cold and flu of course)

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Rosa   •   February 7, 2013

I was put on bcp when I was 14 in hopes of alleviating the sever cramping I was having that actually caused me to loose conciousness at times. From there on, at 15-16 my GP advised my mother about a new birth control option that would be good for me, since it alleviated the option of "forgetting" to take the pill. I had just started dating and my mother agree'd that Depo Provera seemed like a good solution (mind you it was nearly 4 years later before I was ever sexually active). At 22, I had been on Depo for 6, nearly 7 years straight when the insomnia started. I dropped weight drastically within 3 months (30-40lbs), I had migraines and dizzy spells that would cause me to pass out, and my appetite was non existent with abdominal pains making eating for the sake of eating nearly impossible. My GP sent me to specialists and an answer was never found. I finally looked at my birth control as a potential cause and was horrified to learn that use of Depo Provera was linked to so many health issues, and that my GP had failed to notify me that I should have been off it for a month at a time every year. I was given injection after injection for nearly 7 years. It was 10 months after that before I had a period, but during that time I was terrified I was infertile after receiving so much artificial hormones for so long. I had pretty much given up on my GP when I went to a naturapath and he advised me what I was going through was likely adrenal failure, or at the very least adrenal fatigue. We had just commenced treatment when I discovered that at 23 I was pregnant with my first born, and within the first month of pregnancy I was back to my old self again. After my daughter was born, at the insistence of my family, I started BC again, this time the patch and then I moved onto seasonelle... It wasn't a year before the same issues started cropping up. I was down to 113 lbs, home alone with my 16 month old daughter (my husband was away with the Canadian Armed Forces in Haiti for earthquake relief) when I decided never again would I feel like that. After my second daughter was born, I spoke with my naturopath and OB-GYN about non hormonal BC options. For us, our best option was the copper IUD. Pregnancy was giving my body the kick start it needed to produce the hormones it needed to function, and I refused to stop that by giving it artificial hormones again. We made some changes at home, opting for Organic produce and meats at all points possible, and even found a job with an organic foods company that lets me keep my ear to the ground when it comes to health and wellness. I'm currently 28, artificial hormone free and planning my third child, free of health issues! (other than the usual cold and flu of course)

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sara   •   February 7, 2013

I was on the pill for over a decade and decided to stop taking it several years ago. I had cramps so bad that I would crawl up in bed and sob (I'd never had cramps that bad in my entire life), my skin broke out with bad acne, my period was so heavy and I also went into a very deep depression and felt very emotionally unstable. The upside was that my sex drive was back in full swing. After 3 months of craziness I went back on the pill because I just couldn't take it anymore. I've been wanting to figure out a way to get off of the pill but I am literally terrified of going through all of that again. I am much healthier now than I was when I tried going off of it. Any advice for helping to balance out after going off of the pill and get through it? Any information would be greatly appreciated!

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Crystal   •   February 7, 2013

Just came off the bcp about 5 months ago, after being on it for 13 years and repeatedly being told it was safe to take long term. The only reason I decided to stop taking it was that we discovered I had a hole bunch of health problems related to it after experiencing strange symptoms for about a year. No one thought it was the bcp or my hormones that could be causing the problems, but somehow I convinced one doctor that things were wrong with me and he sent me for the right tests. After being off for 5 months I actually haven't seen improvements externally, things have actually gotten worse in that way. But internally - blood tests - SLOWLY seem to be getting closer to normal. I wish I had known all these things before I went on the bcp or at least early on that I could have saved myself from some of these health issues. Joy/Mary - what have you found to be helpful in restoring balance? Diet? Or just plain ol' time...? Thanks for the post, more gals need to learn the harsh truth about bcp!

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Sandy   •   February 10, 2013

Great article, but is there any advice for those who've recently gone off of BCP? After almost of decade of taking BCP, I decided that the side effects were definitely outweighing any benefits. It's been about 7 months and I still don't feel 100% back to my old self (that is, if I remember what that was!). Any advice? Thanks for the post!!

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Joy McCarthy   •   February 11, 2013

T.   •   February 10, 2013

Is anyone concerned about having a metal, like copper, INSIDE them? This is why I did not choose this hormone free method-specifically because it is a metal (metal toxicity etc) No one seems to discuss this aspect of the IUD and I am interested in what others think. Thank you for any insight!

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T. T.   •   February 10, 2013

Has anyone ever experienced issues such as leg cramping, or sex drive issues do to B.c, including the IUD? I have been using some form of BC for 10+ years including the pill, the Nuva Ring, and currently have the IUD. I am considering having it removed for many reasons including wanting to be able to conceive in the next 5 years . However am slightly nervous to remove it due to trying to go off BC for a few months a couple years ago and that is when the leg pain and vein issues started occurring. Just interested if anyone has any suggestions.

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T. T.   •   February 10, 2013

Has anyone ever experienced issues such as leg cramping due to B.c, including the IUD? I have been using some form of BC for 10+ years including the pill, the Nuva Ring, and currently have the IUD. I am considering having it removed for many reasons including wanting to be able to conceive in the next 5 years . However am slightly nervous to remove it due to trying to go off BC for a few months a couple years ago and that is when the leg pain and vein issues started occurring. Just interested if anyone has any suggestions.

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online dental shop India   •   February 12, 2013

nice post about the birth control Thanks for share this post

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Nicole P.   •   February 12, 2013

I have been on the BCP for 25 years. Yes that's right. I went on them for pain relief around 14. I have considered going off (went off briefly in 20s before pain started coming back and went back on). I do not have endometreosis. We are talking about extreme, debilitating pain, not regular cramps. I've considered going off the pill but am afraid of the pain and my doctor has reassured me about certain concerns that make me feel it's best to stay on the pill for now. I'd be interested in hearing from people who went off the BCP after being on for years for extremely painful periods and who do not have pain without the BCP. It is relevant whether they have had kids, because that can make the pain better on its own. Thanks.

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Jesse (OutToLunchCreations)   •   February 13, 2013

I went off the pill a year ago after being on it for far too long. Thankfully I didn't have much trouble getting my cycle back on track. The biggest change I noticed was weight loss. I have come to realize that going off the pill wasn't the answer to my digestive issues but I'm still so happy I did it and would never go back on it or suggest it to anyone.

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Chloe Froehlich   •   February 13, 2013

Thank you for posting this! I've had terribly painful period cramps for the past four years that result in throwing up and loose b.m.'s. I've always thought the pill was so unnatural and unnecessary. I am determined to find the actual cause, which no doctor has been able to tell me yet. Every doctor has told me I need to go on birth control. One doctor was bold enough to even tell me I am "stupid" for not being on the pill. My last doctors appt. even resulted in me succumbing to my doctors words and had her write me a prescription which I never ended up picking up. It's a relief to know I am not the crazy one.

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Cate   •   February 15, 2013

So pleased to read this article. I found that the bcp made me fat and no longer able to read my own body. I also developed a nasty food intolerance to all fruits and veggies that were raw - my Tongue would swell up. I stopped the bcp and e symptoms disappeared immediately. Terrifying to think I must have been poisoning my body really.

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Kristin   •   February 19, 2013

Look into the ladycomp or babycomp. Small, basal thermometer/computer that tracks your temps, cycles, fertile and infertile days. My husband and I both love it! Reliable, natural, and easy!

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Kay   •   February 23, 2013

I have suffered from acne, depression, PMDD since my early teens. When I was 22, I finally tried birth control hoping that it would balance my hormones. After a few months, I had gained a bit of weight, my skin had worsened, & my moods were more extreme than ever. I consulted my doctor and she insisted that it would just take time for my body to adjust. I took the pill dilligently for a little over a year and NEVER saw an improvement. I had gained about thirty pounds, my skin was worse than ever, and my moods were deplorable. I decided to stop taking bc and dealt with more months of difficult periods and skin issues. I finally spoke with a friend who has suffered from similar issues when I noticed that her skin had been looking really great. She told me that she had been taking Chaste Tree Berry Extract. I figured it wouldn't hurt to try and I now SWEAR by it. I have seen AMAZING improvement in my overall moods, my food cravings, my skin, and my PMS. I have also started taking fish oils & MSM (an anti-inflammatory) and I changed my diet to be mostly raw, no dairy, and limit my wheat & sugar intake. I focus all of my meals around proteins & practice yoga everyday. I can't even tell you how much this has changed my life. I have not found a lot of research or studies about it, but I can tell you that it worked for me & my friend. You have to take it everyday & I started noticing everything being regulated after a few months. I experimented once and didn't take it for two months and both months my period came at the wrong time and had TERRIBLE cramps again. My skin also broke out worse than it has in over a year and my sex drive almost completely diminished (no thanks!!!) I would love to send anyone before and after pics of my skin if you need tangible proof. I am so grateful to Joy & others like her for being life-changing resources & am happy to share my personal experience & thoughts with anyone! I am not a nutrintionist or necessarily well-read in all things holistic, but what I know is that I feel & look better since I have made these changes to my life. And that's compelling enough for me!

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Rachel   •   November 6, 2013

A.   •   February 28, 2013

Thanks for this insightful post! I haven't been on BCP for over 10yrs. I'm not a fan (at all) of birth control but hey, now I'm on it as it was a choice that my partner and I made together (Nuvaring which is inserted). After reading this post, I want off again!

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Ashley   •   March 5, 2013

Hello! Great article! Thank you! What are some healthier contraception options? Thank you!

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Sofia   •   March 24, 2013

I got off the mirena about a month ago and I can feel the difference, I do not regret getting that thing off my body!! The removal was painful! The iud got stuck and upon pulling it out it scraped my uterus. Withdrawal symptoms after that were horrible!! I'm doing well now and it's been a month. I really wish I would've know the problems that come after removal.

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Atika   •   April 7, 2013

I took bcp's for almost 3.5 years before being told to stop taking them by a naturopath. My doctor still tried to convince me to take them to help with my osteopenia but there is no way i'm going that route again. Around the same time that i started taking bcp, my childhood eczema which had been mostly under control through my teen years starting coming back. I didn't realize it was the bcp till i saw a naturopath for my eczema. The detox she made me go through was brutal. I detoxed through my skin and for 6 months looked worse than i ever had before. That's how toxic i was. But once that was done, i had the best skin i had ever seen on myself and i felt great.

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Courtney   •   April 23, 2013

Hi Joy, I too would love to go off of the pill. I am convinced this is contributing to my moods swings and a decreased sex drive. I have been on the pill on and off for about 20 years now, so I am ready to be done with it. Can you offer some suggestions on how to eliminate the extra estrogen in my body? Thanks!

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Kait   •   May 10, 2013

I was on the low-estrogen BCP for a couple years and decided to go off of it because I had stopped getting periods and thought something was wrong. I had also experienced a low libido on the pill and just decided that hormonal birth control was the wrong choice for me. It has been over a year and I have still not gotten my period back. I had blood work done by my doctor, and all my levels are normal except my estradiol level (about 29). I have been working to get this level up because my husband and I want to start having children in the next year or so and I'm worried that this has affected my fertility. I've been looking for ways to naturally boost my estrogen level because I don't want to undergo more costly tests or take medications. Before I ever went on the BCP, I had perfectly regular periods every month - to the day! - and rarely ever had cramps or other PMS symptoms. I worry that the BCP has disrupted my previously balanced hormones. I've started eating more edamame and flaxseed on a regular basis (use the flaxseed in my homemade almond-walnut butter!), and am going to try maca powder soon. Crossing my fingers that I can finally have a period for the first time in over a year and a half (never thought I'd be wishing for that!!). Any other tips for boosting my estrogen level are very much appreciated!!

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Leigh   •   May 14, 2013

Hi Joy! I stopped using birth control about a month and a half ago, after using it for about 8 months straight. I have not had a period since I stopped the pill and Im pretty sure Im not pregnant. Basically, i am wondering what I can do to balance out my hormones and get my period back!! I excercise regularly, practise yoga, eat clean but I was wondering if theres anything else I can do.. Thanks!!

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Joy McCarthy   •   May 15, 2013

Mahsa   •   May 21, 2013

Hi Joy! I'e been told by my doctor for ages that I should take up birth control to regulate my hormones/period. I finally did four months ago because of my ovarian cysts. It regulated but I wasn't enjoying the emotional roller coaster I was going through and decided to quit. Now three months without my period. I would rather find another route but I don't know what to do. I try eating better, and added macca powder into my diet (how much should I be having of that?) The doctor isn't helpful, at all.. - M

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Andrea   •   November 6, 2013

The BCP is one messed up little thing. Was on it for maybe a couple of years, maximum, and had the most intense side effects of depression, insomnia and worse things! I didn't even realize it was the cause of hormone imbalance from birth control until I stop taking it altogether and felt better and "normal" within a couple of weeks. I will never take it again!

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Ana Candido   •   November 6, 2013

Hi Joy, I would like to know what other kind of birth control pills can I use? I am on Yaz, and I am having some of those side effects, but I don't want go get pregnant so I what could I take it instead? Thanks Ana Candido

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Margaret   •   November 6, 2013

I went of the BCP after 7 years (15-22), because I finally started to have an inkling that something about it wasn't quite right. Not in terms of symptoms I was experiencing, but the feeling that as I was physically and emotionally developing into an adult, I shouldn't be altering my body's preferred hormonal levels. I switched to a copper IUD. The biggest change I have noticed then is my happiness. I realized that I've been laboring under near-constant mild depression since I started taking it at 15. Of course, many teenagers experience varying levels of moodiness and depression, and for me it felt normal. Now I am generally happier, have more energy, and am more motivated. There are certainly other changes in my life that could have contributed to my emotional happiness but I think this is no coincidence. I'm also encouraged to hear that it can take a long time to normalize from the effects of taking hormones. I suffer from mild but constant acne and I am hoping that as I put more time between myself and BCP that my skin issues will resolve. Thank you to Joy, Mary, and everyone else who is speaking up the challenge the blanket acceptance of hormonal birth control within the wider medical community and public, and advocate women taking charge of the reproductive health!

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Jobin   •   November 6, 2013

BCP has helped me deal with symptoms of endometriosis (an incurable disease), when nothing else has helped. For some people this is better than taking heavy duty pain meds.

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Jennifer Aldoretta   •   November 7, 2013

Thank you for starting this conversation. We truly need more men and women to think critically about hormonal contraceptives, rather than hailing them as the "cure-all" many currently view them to be. I'm hoping to make a dent here as well with both my company and the book I'm currently writing: http://readytogroove.com

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Stevie   •   November 7, 2013

Thanks for the insight Joy. I recently just made the decision to go off BCP and learn the fertility awareness methode a same and of birth control. I am excited to learn about my body and be off birth control. Your post is very reassuring since there is not a lot of information out there about contraceptives. Thanks again!

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Lelia   •   November 7, 2013

I went on the pill about a year ago because i felt it was the easiest option for birth control. I soon realised that it altered how I felt, I didn't feel right. I put on weight and felt heavy all the time. I recently discovered the natural alternative through Natalie Kringoudis at her Debunking Ovulation information seminar in Melbourne and like your article my world was changed forever. I soon realised that getting to know my body, it's cycles and it's signs and symptoms is the best thing I as women can do for myself. It's the holistic approach not just the quick fix that many doctors and drug companies offer. I have been off the pill for a month now & am feeling a lot better and am focusing on getting my health back on track! Thanks so much for your article and I will be subscribing to keep up to date with other articles that you publish - Lelia

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M.J.T.   •   November 8, 2013

I'm interested in this conversation and am interested in going off the pill but I see very little discussion on what other methods are available for women to have control over reproductive. The copper IUD it seems is also problematic, abstinence is not a viable option for all, and I don't (and I'm sure other women) won't feel comfortable not using or doing anything. Are condoms our only hope for a less-invasive method?

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Bcp sucks   •   December 14, 2013

Thank you so much so informative!!! i been on the pill for 3 months and it caused extremely dryness in my vagina being getting many yeast infections and lost interest in sex .. I would just finish my last pack of pills and i would never go back to it again..

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Melissa   •   January 3, 2014

Great article! Thank you for posting. I was wondering if you had any tips (since you had your own journey of getting off the pill) of how to make the transition a little easier while your hormones balance? The last time I got off the pill I had terrible acne. Lasting acne! I changed my diet, but I know it was more hormonal than anything. I will reduce dairy and meat this time, but any other advice? What supplements did you take to speed up the process? I just want my hormones to be level! LOL. :) Adult acne is EXTREMELY EMBARRASSING! Any advice from you, or anyone is welcome. I'm willing to try! Thank you!

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Liz   •   January 9, 2014

Stephanie   •   January 13, 2014

Thank you so much for this post! I have always known the pill were extremely bad for you and this has confirmed my choice to stay completely away from "the pill" and thanks to another comment I think I will take a look at the book by Toni Weschler. I am currently studying at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition as well and cant wait to learn so much more! Thanks Mary

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Michelle Olson   •   January 15, 2014

Hi Joy, I really appreciated your blog on going off of BCP. I am currently on Yasmin and when I went off of it six months ago I gained ten pounds in one week. I have severe PMS on Yasmin and would love to come off of this pill. I was thinking of working with a Natuopathic doctor. Do you know of any good Naturopathic doctor's in the Minneapolis, MN area? I live just twenty minutes west of Minneapolis near Plymouth, MN.

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Joy McCarthy   •   January 15, 2014

Jasmine   •   January 21, 2014

Thank you for your post! You brought up some very interesting points. I've always suspected birth control as the culprit for many/all of my problems. I started taking bcp at 16 and decided to quit for financial reasons at 22 for about 8 months. I tried Ortho-Tri, Nuva Ring, then Yaz. When I went off Yaz and bcp all together, I started having issues with adult acne, gastrointestinal problems, and yeast infections. I thought going back to birth control would fix all of this and a gyno for some reason allowed me to get Mirena IUD. The symptoms persisted and worsened along with moderate depression, weight gain, and no libido for 3 years until a Naturopath told me I had Candidiasis and a gluten/dairy intolerance. I went on a hard core diet for a year and switched to the copper Paragard IUD thinking the lack of hormones would help. I now have more yeast infections (every month) and am probably more depressed. I just got blood, fecal, and urinary lab work done and the dr can't find a thing. I'm considering removing the IUD to see if that helps. I am in Mexico for vacation and I can't bring myself to be happy or have sex. I wish gynos would tell 16 year old girls, "Use condoms instead or you'll mess up your 20's."

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Anonymus   •   March 7, 2014

I agree, the pill definitely altered my moods and at times I felt emotionally unstable and way to sensitive. I was on it for 4 years and I did realize how much it changed me. I've been off it for 6 months now and I feel like a new person. Being on the Pill also made me forget who I was. It made me irritable and cranky all the time. i forgot how to laugh and have fun. I'm so glad i'm off it and I will NEVER go on it ever again.

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Grace   •   March 24, 2014

I am 22 years old and have recently gone off hormonal birth control. I was on the pill for about 7 years and then got the Mirena IUD inserted. I had a horrible reaction to it and decided I'd had enough of pumping myself full of fake hormones...I immediately broke out in hives all over my body, my joints swelled up to the point where I couldn't walk or make a fist...and this was all within just a few days of the insertion. I've been off hormonal birth control for 9 weeks now and I'm definitely noticing the benefits (better mood, increased libido, weight loss, etc.) BUT my skin is terrible! I have horrible cystic acne on my shoulders, neck, and back. I've been practicing clean eating and have taken most chemicals out of my life (detergents, soaps, etc.) but haven't noticed a difference. Do you have any tips for how to clear up the cystic body acne like supplements or herbs or something? Thank you, it's been so good to read about others like me!

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Ashley   •   August 21, 2014

Hey Joy et al, After a month of researching the best options to alleviate symptoms from coming off the bcp, I’m still in cahoots. I started taking the pill to clear up my acne, and yes, it worked to a certain extent, but was half afraid to stop taking them in case it came back…. but I did stop taking it, about 7 years later, and my acne was the worst it has ever been. I would literally only leave my house to go to work… I was depressed for about 5 months and I had no interest in anything except painting (which I’ve never done before then). Then I caved and my GP put me back on it…and what do you know? It cleared right up again. 9 years later, with being on and off intermittently I’ve finally decided to stay off it for good. However, my acne is slowly returning and my mood swings, and irritation levels have sky rocketed…I’m actually afraid I’m going to slump into depression again. I’m considering a full on detox, as I’m already eating clean, organic, doing yoga and exercise and such… I even go to meditation to level out my moods and use locally made natural face products…but I know something is in the way of me being toxin/artificial hormone free, and it just makes me more and more frustrated… any leads on how to stay grounded through all of this? Or at the very least, a suggestion on a good natural facial product to reduce redness/irritation of the skin? Peace -Ashley

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Kate McDonald-Walker   •   August 23, 2014

Kata   •   October 9, 2014

I went off the pill several months ago and finally came back to myself on all levels - spiritually, physically and mentally. I strongly recommend taking a vitamin B complex and a daily vitamin when going off the pill to ensure you are taking in everything you can to help your endocrine system balance out on its own. The aftermath was a titch difficult to deal with, but I would go through it all again for the way I feel now. Our natural state is a blessing that should not be compromised with synthetic hormones. I encourage all women to investigate alternate birth control routes!

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SH   •   April 1, 2015

What else do you recommend? Pill helps me not have babies (something that I can't risk having right now), has gotten rid of my cramps, and somewhat helped cleared up my skin.

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Kate McDonald Walker   •   April 2, 2015

Melody   •   April 20, 2015

I'm 22 and I've just recently (one month ago now) started taking the birth control pill, my first contraceptive beyond regular condoms. I didn't see a real need for it, but my bf was too paranoid about pregnancy to have much of a sex life with me until I just resolved to start on something. I'm taking a very low-dose pill and have so far felt no negative side effects whatsoever. In fact, I'm even inclined to believe that --strangely-- it's helped balance my mood and make me feel happier most days (I stopped taking SAM-e for my depression because it was getting so expensive, and some days it didn't seem to do much for me). I've never had a problem with acne, but I've suffered from extremely painful and debilitating periods throughout all of my adult life. The pill seems to lessen that a bit, but I still need to take otc pain meds just to be able to function. The fact is, everyone's body is different. I try to be pretty in -tune with mine, and nature-- I currently work at a natural foods co-op and have followed a meat-free organic diet since high school--so I understand the value and importance in being as close to the way "nature intended" as possible. However, for now, this is working for me. I consider my female parts, in a sense, sacred; and the notion of an IUD or Nubs Ring seem way too invasive. I'm also smaller in size than the average adult female, and somehow I feel that would complicated things too. If the pill helps stabilize my mood and keeps me child-free at the same time, it can't be all bad.

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Cat   •   June 13, 2015

Hiya, I have only taken the pill for around 2 months now as a condition of a clinical trial for asthma (though I am on maintenance arm) - I hate it. I do not feel myself at all - I am told it takes so long to settle down, but I completely disagree with altering something that was like clockwork before. Plus - I'm pretty convinced it's the reason my body hasn't recovered from a virus at the beginning of April, just before I started the trial and contraception, and I have had a cold and cough ever since which usually takes less than 2 weeks to bounce back from. It's 2 months I've been unable to be myself. It may not be connected? But coupled with spotting - which is expected during settling apparently - it is very disturbing compared to having my body run as normal. Weight gain also is an issue despite what they say, despite me being too unwell to exercise, extra bloating cravings and altered levels of stress/cortisol as a result can direct be connected as a possible symptom listed in mine is "depression". I don't know whether to save myself now and limit my recovery time, or stay on it for the year for the sake of the trial, which is why I decided to do it in the first place. Help!

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Jen   •   June 24, 2015

Stefanie   •   June 30, 2015

Omg! I took out my IUD yesterday! after having it for almost 5 years. I woke up this morning singing to my kids.. I usually have no energy when it comes after lunch time.. and guess what.. I have TONS of energy. Cant believe how crazy hormones can cause you to feel horrible. I feel mental clarity I feel like myself. Waiting for my first period to come on. But anyways wanted to tell you thank you for writing this article.. someone should make something else for women beside this pill.

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Joy McCarthy   •   June 30, 2015

Alisha   •   July 31, 2015

I came off the pill about a month and a half ago. I do have more painful periods but I have a lot less headaches. I have Intracranial Hypertension which can lead to vision loss/severe headaches so coming off birth control pill has helped my condition immensely. I used to not be able to drive to higher elevations without getting altitude sickness and my first time off the pill going to the mountains I had absolutely no issues! I don't know why but I just feel like more of a woman and more natural by letting what happens with my body be neutral and not so regulated by pills. The world today has too many people on drugs for anything wrong with them. I don't believe we should be treating every single thing with pills! My sex drive is a lot better. My emotions just feel more normal, even though they're very up and down before my period. I'm glad I went off the pill!! Some people feel better on it, but not me!!

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Joy McCarthy   •   August 1, 2015

Pip   •   August 30, 2015

I came off the pill back in February after 15 years. I was on Yasmin, but I started experiencing cyclic spotting so changed to Ovranette, which gave me an ocular migraine within 3 weeks. I took the decision to just come off it altogether. Since coming off, I haven't had any hormonal headaches like I used to get on my pill free week or migraines. My skin does break out more often over my entire face but I do get larger hormonal ones more often now around my chin and jaw. I have had a few yeast infections since coming off too. My scalp ( which I used to experience eczema on when I was younger ) has started flaring up again, as well as on other parts of my body. I feel like my hair is falling out more than it used to, and I'm definitely growing more facial hair. It's not terminal hair, but the peach fuzz has darkened in places somewhat. I know my body is struggling with the hormonal transition, I'm just frustrated with how long it is taking! The symptoms seem to be getting worse rather than better

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Joy McCarthy   •   August 31, 2015

Mandi   •   September 20, 2015

I just went off birth control and can't wait to see what happens. Was put on the pill at age 17 and am now 33. Have never taken a break. The red flag was that I've been having very visible dilated veins in my face, hands, chest, and feet. Not just noticeable, but monstrous, twisted veins piling on top of each other. A new doctor says they are "normal, not even varicose" but he hasn't been observing me over time! I also got the comment from him, "Whatever you do, don't go off the pill. Pregnancy will screw up your veins even more." So it seemed like he was telling me a half truth to shut me up, semi-admitting the pill was the cause, but not really admitting it! There are other ways not to get pregnant! I'm hoping that when I go off the pill, I'll be able to see my normal skin color again. Sick of looking blue head to toe! From what I've read synthetic progestin has a way of weakening the vein walls and causing them to permanently dilate. Maybe this has something to do with the nutritional absorption aspect? It's very distressing to look at photos from five years ago and see how my veins have doubled in size. I might have to get surgery for the ones that burst near my eyes. They look like huge blue tree branches, 3-5mm in width! No one in my family has this condition but strangely enough, no woman in my family ever took the pill for more than a few years. Also curious about the weight aspect of the pill. My thyroid tested at "mid range" of normal and it's very distressing that the fat just won't come off. I exercise 4-5 times a week, eat a clean diet, and am a healthy weight. I'm 5'8 but I can't get lower than 145! Even eating 1400-1600 calories a day for years and years. My doctor says none of this is related to the pill, it's just aging or radiation from the sun. I never even go in the sun, I'm too pale! And I wear spf every day. Ugh. Plus, what if it were the pill and the sun in combination? That I would believe, doctor pill pusher. I'm looking into a non-hormonal IUD or possibly even diaphragms, although those seem so uncomfortable to use. Better than looking like an old witch before my time. -Mandi

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Kate   •   October 17, 2015

I randomly decided to go off the pill while purchasing a house. I missed it a few times, and decided to give my body a break. After just ONE WEEK of being off of it, I noticed a HUGE change in body. I woke up happy, I would find myself at work humming with joy. Mood swings vanished! I've now been off it for almost a month, I've lost weight and feel amazing. My boyfriend is happy too I'm sure, as my sex drive has come back full force! Going off of the pill was absolutely the BEST decision I have ever made for myself and my health!

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Kate McDonald Walker   •   October 19, 2015

jane   •   January 22, 2016

i was on bcp for 15 years, I'm 30 now. i was experiencing every single horrible side effect possible. interstitial cystitis, bowel problems, dryness, no sex drive, deep pain during sex every time, constant UTI, depression, you name it. it was ruining my body, and my relationship. I tried every type available, even a copper IUD, which as the most excruciating pain of my life, and had it removed the same day. So i made the decision to have my tubes tied. i never want kids, and i simply can't take the misery of hormonal bc any longer. i am 2 weeks post op. the surgery was not that bad. after having it don't I've read an abundance of testimonials on post tubal syndrome. all the symptoms are literally identical to the negative side effects of the BC which was my reasoning for doing it in the first place. if anyone has had a tubal, and can tell me god or bad, their experience with life after. id like to hear.

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Alice   •   April 25, 2016

As an alternative, I've been using this app: https://www.naturalcycles.com/en/

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Heather Allen   •   April 26, 2016

Sarah Johnson   •   October 25, 2016

I was taking Alesse bc pills for 20+ years. I stopped in May 2015 and though my periods regulated right away, I lost about half of my hair. This past year has been devastating and you name it, I have tried it and been to multiple doctors. I went back in the pill from Oct-Jan 2016 but stopped permanently in January. I have been off for 8 mos now and still have horrible hair sheds. I have a prescription for Beyaz and every month I debate starting the pill again just to have my normal hair back. I have thrown away tons of money over the past year. I have been taking tons of supplements but nothing helps. I wish I could say I went off bc and my life has never been better but unfortunately that's not the case for everyone. Trying so hard not to go back on but it's hard. I am 38 and not in a relationship. I am divorced w 2 kids and my cycles are perfect though to me my periods seem light. Any advice would be welcomed. ....Sarah

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Heather Allen   •   October 25, 2016

sam anto   •   March 23, 2017

The best home remedies are listed here on this site that can help to control unwanted births. Read more info on this site https://tinyurl.com/k5y7nxn

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Ashley   •   June 7, 2017

I was on the pill for about 5 years and I just got off of it about a month ago. It is crazy that I already feel so much different. I feel like the pill made me a duller version of myself. My sex drive was almost non existent. I will say I am experiencing the acne that I was lucky not to have while I was on the pill but I will take that if it means feeling like myself again.

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Rachel Molenda   •   June 8, 2017

Emily   •   September 11, 2017

Hi, I know I am 4 years too late for this blog! However I came off the pill in late July and have been left with an array of problems! Mostly to do with the vagina- I've had an on/off vulva burn that disssapears during menstration!! I think it is my hormones being all over the place - reading this has helped me grow to understand just what happens after taking a pill for 4 years with no idea about the side effects! X

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Joy McCarthy   •   September 12, 2017

cams   •   October 4, 2018

hi im using lady pills for a year pero something happened, i finish the one pack 28 tablets but i forgot yesterday to take a new one if its okay that i missed one day and take only one pill? or should i take two pills because i miss one day? i need your help guys thank you so much!

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Joy McCarthy   •   October 4, 2018

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