Modern forms of birth control have revolutionized the world for women and people with a uterus.
It gave them more freedom about how they led their lives, their career options, how they could shape their sex life, and when and how many children they wanted. Today, an estimated 25 percent of women ages 15 to 49 in the United States are using some form of hormonal birth control.
Hormonal contraceptives have given sexually active people options and choices. Unfortunately, they’re not perfect.
Many people experience side effects of hormonal birth control such as weight gain, loss of libido and, in some cases, psychological problems such as depression and anxiety.
At some point everyone who takes HBC will have to stop taking it, be it because they are experiencing side effects, or are hoping to get pregnant, or it is just no longer right for them and their body.
Because birth control is easily prescribed and used, many people don’t think much about the effects artificial hormones can have on the body.
What is a Birth Control Cleansing?
More and more people are starting to connect with their reproductive health with tools like tracking their menstrual cycle and being aware of their periods.
This surge in body awareness leads people to ask questions like:
“What are the long-term effects of hormonal birth control?”
“How long does it take for birth control to get out of your system?”
“Is there any way I can cleanse my body of birth control?”
Contraceptive cleansing is a method typically used by naturopathic or holistic doctors and practitioners to help a client’s body detoxify the hormones that are included in birth control. These are typically formulated with various vitamins, herbs, and minerals.
Let’s find out.
Do you need to do a birth control?
No, you don’t need to do birth control. Many people leave birth control, never do a cleanse, and continue to lead happy, healthy, and often fertile lives.
Sometimes cleaning is encouraged to help people with what is known as “post-reception control syndrome”. This is technically not a disorder but rather a set of symptoms that some people experience after they stop using hormonal birth control, typically the pill.
This term was coined by thought leader Dr. Aviva Romm in her textbook “Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health”.
Most HBC work by suppressing ovulation so that people cannot get pregnant. It does this through the use of artificial hormones. Many people go to birth control primarily to help with things like acne, painful, and irregular periods. Often times, people go on HBC as teenagers to help with these “problems” that are usually just a normal part of the teenage boy.
Then, years later, when people stop taking HBC, these symptoms may recur, to their dismay.
Here are the symptoms people can experience when birth control is stopped:
- Painful, irregular, or heavy periods
- Missed periods or amenorrhea after the pill
- Difficulty getting pregnant
- Hair loss
- Digestive problems
- Weight gain or loss
- Depression or anxiety
HBC can also mask symptoms of PCOS and endometriosis that occur when you stop taking the drug.
So far there are no scientific studies that support the use of contraceptives. Of course, despite long-term use of hormonal contraceptives, there have been very limited studies of the long-term effects of using them. That being said, science is not always up to date with people’s experience, and many people benefit from some form of birth control.
Tips after birth control
Even if you’re not on contraception per se, there are other things you can do to help your body after you stop taking HBC.
- Additions: Like zinc, magnesium, folic acid, B vitamins and vitamin E that can break down HBC in the body.
- Balanced nutrition: Eat a nutrient-rich diet that includes healthy fats, fiber, micronutrients, and probiotic fermented foods.
- Getting a lot of sleep: Avoid screen time before bed and try to spend time in the sun whenever possible.
- Acne medication: If this is one of your main symptoms, you can treat it through skin care changes and a dermatologist if necessary.
- Give it time: Sometimes it is only a matter of time before these symptoms subside. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months for your cycle to return to normal and for symptoms to subside. Post-HBC symptoms can take even longer to show up and then go away.
When to see a doctor
If it has been three to six months since you stopped HBC and you still haven’t got your period, you may want to see a doctor.
Still, if you’re hoping to get pregnant, getting a thorough blood test and seeing where your hormones are, whether you’re vitamin or mineral deficient, or anything else that might be helpful for your fertility journey can still help.
It is also advisable to see a doctor if you have symptoms of reproductive health problems such as PCOS and endometriosis.
In rare cases, your doctor may suggest hormonal medications to help with severe symptoms.
Giving up contraception is a big step. Keep following your body’s intuition and enjoy the journey of learning your cycle in a whole new way.