When you halted hormonal birth control, did your body throw a curveball? You’re in good company. A myriad of women grapple with post-birth control syndrome (PBCS) after discontinuing their contraceptives.
Perhaps it’s a friend or a family member you’ve heard about – they decided to let go of the pill, patch, ring, IUD, or ended their depo shots, and suddenly, life turned topsy-turvy.
Let’s acknowledge: discontinuing birth control is a profound hormonal transition. When you’ve been harnessing synthetic hormones to curb ovulation, it’s a significant change, not something to be trivialized.
Should you find yourself anxious about ceasing birth control or if you’ve faced challenges in doing so, understand that your sentiments are shared by many. Tales abound of the daunting journey of stopping birth control, the apprehension surrounding it, and some even feeling compelled to return to it.
The aftermath of #PBCS might manifest as:
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
- Thinning hair
- Overwhelming tiredness
- Among other symptoms
It’s essential to grasp that hormonal contraceptives influence more than just the reproductive system. Every bodily system has receptors for these hormones, implying a comprehensive impact.
Regrettably, there’s an unsettling tendency to dismiss or undermine experiences related to birth control.
“Didn’t you always have these issues?”
“Perhaps you don’t recall your pre-birth control cycle correctly.”
“The research doesn’t squarely blame birth control, so it’s likely just you.”
It’s evident that the realm of women’s healthcare requires a transformative approach. Collectively, we can achieve this.
In my endeavor to bridge this knowledge gap, I’ve produced an extensive number posts and videos on understanding your hormones, the role of synthetic ones (like those in contraceptives), the nuances of PBCS, and strategies to address the myriad symptoms that seem like your body’s revolt.
Post Birth Control Support Package: K14, K5, K4, K3
Support During Birth Control Use and for Post-Birth Control Pill Syndrome
- Methyl-SP (K-14)
- Estrovite (K-5)
- Progestaid (K-4)
- Opticrine (K-3)
BIRTH CONTROL PILL
Oral contraceptives are widely used not only to prevent unwanted pregnancy but also to manage irregular menstrual cycles. The pill works because the high amounts of synthetic hormones prevent the release of pituitary hormones and therefore ovulation. This may lead to many problems including increased risk of estrogen based proliferation, depletion of methylation cofactors (B-12, folic acid, and B6), increased risk of embolism and cardiovascular disease and potential loss of proper pituitary-ovarian feedback loop which is called “post-birth control pill syndrome.”
If getting off oral contraceptives is not an option, we recommend nutritional support be used to decrease the impact on healthy hormone function.
- To support the methyl donor depletion since the pill will cause depletion of methyl donor nutrients.
- Methyl-SP (K-14): 2 capsules, one time a day
- Oral contraceptives contain high amounts of synthetic estrogen which have unwanted effects on healthy hormone balance. The nutritional support will help optimize hormone metabolism and detoxification of estrogens, as well as provide “selective estrogen receptor modulators” (SERMs) to balance estrogen receptor site responses.
- Estrovite (K-5): 2 capsules, one time a day
- Although the pill contains synthetic progestins, they do not have the same physiological properties and effects on your body as natural progesterone. Most women feel much better as well as function and perform better when adding small amount of natural progesterone on days 14 through 28 of their cycle.
- Progestaid (K-4) days 14 – 28: 2 capsules, one time a day
POST BIRTH CONTROL PILL SYNDROME
“Post-Birth-Control-Pill Syndrome” is a condition in which women lose their hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) feedback loop communication from long term usage of oral contraceptives. In these cases women the HPO communication is altered from years of inactivity and suppression from years of excessive amounts of synthetic hormone suppression. These cases are difficult to manage. This pattern can be identified on an extended female hormone lab test.
In these cases, a short trial (3 months) of nutritional support for the HPO should be considered. It is absolutely imperative for you to be consistent taking the supplements for the short trial (3 months).
Suggested Supplement Protocol
- Opticrine (K-3): 2 capsules, one time a day
- Progestaid (K-4): 2 capsules, one time a day
Certainly. If you are using or planning to use oral contraceptives, it’s essential to understand the potential side effects and the nutritional imbalances that may arise. As you mentioned, oral contraceptives can affect methylation cofactors, potentially leading to a depletion of essential nutrients. Here’s a more detailed guide on how to provide nutritional support to mitigate some of these effects:
1. Support for Methyl Donor Depletion:
The metabolism of synthetic hormones found in birth control pills may lead to a depletion of certain vitamins and nutrients, particularly those involved in the methylation process. Methylation is a crucial biochemical process in the body, involved in DNA synthesis, neurotransmitter production, detoxification, and many other pathways.
Supplements to consider:
a. B-Vitamin Complex:
- Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): This vitamin is essential for nerve function, the formation of red blood cells, and DNA synthesis. Some oral contraceptives may deplete B12 levels.
- Folic Acid (Vitamin B9): Critical for DNA synthesis and repair. A deficiency can lead to elevated levels of homocysteine, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Supports neurotransmitter synthesis and may be depleted by oral contraceptives.
b. Betaine (Trimethylglycine): An important methyl donor that can support the methylation process, particularly when B-vitamin status is compromised.
c. SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine): Acts as a primary methyl donor in various biochemical reactions. Supplementing with SAMe can support methylation, mood, and joint health.
d. Choline: Essential for the synthesis of neurotransmitters and cell membranes, choline can also act as a methyl donor.
2. Supporting Liver Function:
The liver is responsible for breaking down and eliminating the synthetic hormones found in oral contraceptives. Ensuring that the liver is functioning optimally can help in mitigating some of the potential side effects of the pill.
Supplements to consider:
a. Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum): Has been traditionally used to support liver health and function.
b. N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC): Acts as a precursor to glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that supports liver detoxification.
c. Turmeric (Curcumin): Has anti-inflammatory properties and can support liver function.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
Supplementing with omega-3s can support cardiovascular health, which may be particularly important given the potential increased risk of embolism and cardiovascular disease associated with oral contraceptives.
There is growing evidence that oral contraceptives can impact gut microbiota. While simultaneously, the gut microbiota can cause hormones destined for elimination to be reabsorbed. This disturbed and disrupts the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. The reabsorbed hormones are free-fractioned, bio-available capable of interacting with hormone receptors anywhere in the body, causing Hormonal symptoms. The Medical community uses serum/blood hormone tests which do not measure free-fractioned, bio-available hormones. Serum/blood test measure only protein bound, bio-unavailable hormones.
Certainly. Here’s a clearer explanation of the relationship between oral contraceptives, gut microbiota, and hormone regulation:
1. Oral Contraceptives and Gut Microbiota:
Oral contraceptives (OCs) have been shown to influence gut microbiota composition. The gut houses a vast community of microbes, and any alteration in their balance can impact various physiological processes, including metabolism, immunity, and neurobehavioral traits.
2. Gut Microbiota and Hormone Regulation:
Our gut microbes play a role in processing and metabolizing hormones. One significant aspect of this is the enterohepatic circulation of estrogens:
- Estrogens are secreted into the bile and then released into the intestines.
- In the intestines, some gut bacteria produce an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase. This enzyme deconjugates (or breaks down) the estrogen, making it free-fractioned and bioavailable.
- This free-fractioned, bioavailable estrogen can then be reabsorbed into circulation rather than being excreted. When reabsorbed, these estrogens can bind to receptors throughout the body and exert their effects.
3. Impact on the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Gonadal (HPG) Axis:
The reabsorption of these free-fractioned estrogens can disrupt the HPG axis. The HPG axis is a complex set of direct influences and feedback loops among the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and gonads. It plays a central role in regulating reproduction and the secretion of sex hormones. When excess estrogens are reintroduced into the system, it can potentially affect feedback mechanisms, leading to hormonal imbalances and related symptoms.
4. Limitation of Serum/Blood Hormone Tests:
Traditional serum or blood hormone tests primarily measure protein-bound hormones. These are hormones attached to proteins (like sex hormone-binding globulin) that render them bio-unavailable, meaning they can’t exert their effects on target tissues. On the other hand, free-fractioned hormones, which are not bound to proteins, remain bioavailable and active. As a result, solely relying on serum/blood tests might not provide a complete picture of an individual’s hormonal status, especially if there’s a significant amount of reabsorbed, bioavailable hormones due to the actions of gut bacteria.
Given the intricate relationship between OCs, gut microbiota, and hormone regulation, it’s essential to approach hormonal health comprehensively. Addressing potential gut imbalances and understanding the limitations of traditional testing can provide more clarity in diagnosing and treating hormonal-related symptoms.
Unfortunately, very few healthcare providers are capable of explaining the difference between free-fractioned, bio-available and protein-bound, bio-unavailable hormones and how to test for them.
Note: Before starting any supplement, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider or nutritionist to ensure the right dosage and to check for potential interactions with medications or existing health conditions. This is particularly important when discussing oral contraceptives, as certain supplements might interfere with their effectiveness.