Last summer, after four years of use, I quit birth control. To be honest, I didn’t know what I was doing except that I had immense faith in my body to know how to balance and care for itself. I intuitively knew to wait for my next period and then I stopped cold turkey. No more pills filled with artificial hormones, daily throwing off my bodies natural balance and rhythm. Today I would like to share some tips that I have learned through personal experience and research.
First of all I would like to address the age old question:: “But if I stop taking birth control how will I prevent pregnancy?” There is a lot of fear tied to the thought of getting pregnant, and partly for good reason. Yes, pregnancy is an intense and life altering experience on a physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and psychological level. I believe that there is harm in getting caught up in fear, so although there is some cause for concern ((after all, why would I even be talking about this if at my core I deeply do not want to get pregnant)) I do not stand for or associate with fear. I believe that as a woman who has the power to create and foster life, I also have the power to prevent the creation of a child through intention. A practice that I have adopted to transfer the creative energy of sex into something other than a child is intentional manifestation. Prior to or during sex I will set and intention, like praying a prayer, asking for whatever it is that I want to invest my life-giving energy into. Sometimes it will be personal, like asking for peace or clarity. Other times I will ask for blessings on future travels, or financial blessings. It is very powerful to request stronger ties with your partner of deeper love and trust. The possibilities are endless. By maintaining this practice you are shifting the energy from fear and disempowerment to confidence and empowered control over your creative potential.
On a more physical level, I recommend tracking ones cycle. I use the app called Period Tracker – Monthly Cycles by Deltaworks. This app allows me to track when my period begins and ends, when I have sex, when I ovulate, weight, tempurature, and any other symptoms related to discharge, moods, headaches etc. There is only a set time during ovulation when pregnancy is possible. Using the methods of fertility awareness allows you to know exactly when pregnancy is more likely, and during the times when it is unlikely you can rest assured. For more information on step by step how to begin fertility awareness click here:: fertility awareness through natural family planning. In tracking ovulation I found that the connection to my cycle and body functions grew astronomically. I also found that my intuition grew much stronger, partly due to the clearing of my gut flora, which I am so excited to talk about. Let’s move into some more tips…
Naturally Transition Into Your Cycle
So you quit birth control, now what? Chances are your hormone levels have shifted drastically and you have felt it. Typical PMS symptoms can often arise with a vigor, such as moodiness, temperature changes ((for me I sweat a lot!)) or just feeling “off.” The best advice I can offer can be summed up by the five principles of self care taught to me by my dear friend Stephen and they are:: Breath, Rest, Water, Food, Yoga. Truly these are the basic steps to a happy and fulfilled life, but during a time of drastic hormonal shifts, self care becomes even more vital.
Intentional breathing, or pranayama, has the ability to clear and align the energy in our body. Practices such as alternate nostril breath or cycle breathing encourages the detoxification process. I am a huge fan of meditation and recommend that everyone incorporate it into their practice, but especially for one seeking extra healing. The power of meditation is beyond comprehension. There are many different ways to meditate, and you should try a few different options and find what is best for you. Some people like to sit with their eyes closed, others enjoy open eye meditation. Sometimes I will meditate through art. Being in nature is meditative and walking can be great for those who struggle to stay still. They key elements of meditation are clearing the mind of clutter, focusing on breath, and bringing the attention to the third eye or intuition. Set an intention for your body to clear the artificial hormones out of your system and to restore the bodies natural hormone levels. I enjoy sending out a few OMs, as the vibration of om-ing balances the yin and yang in the body. Another huge perk to meditation is that it lowers stress levels. For many reasons, maintaining stress levels is very important during this transition time. The body needs to dedicate it’s energy towards function, not unnecessary worry. If you feel like stress has been getting the better of you, perhaps it is time to increase the frequency or length of meditation time. Begin with a few deep breaths and then move into whatever breathing practice feels right for you.
Sleep does more than give us energy, it is a primary time of cell growth and repair. Getting what you feel is enough sleep is absolutely paramount. I encourage naps! By allowing the body to get adequate rest — which during this time may be more than what you usually consider the norm — stress levels are lowered and the body can focus on on healing and cleansing. When stressed, the body takes the hormone progesterone and uses it towards making the stress hormone cortisol. Keeping stress levels down will allow you to maintain optimum progesterone levels which in turn allows for quality ovulation. I remember when I first went off of birth control that I spent many morning sleeping in and evenings going to bed early. This time was sacred to me, for I had created a safe space to rest and take it easy free from any obligations to be doing anything else. It is paramount that the time spent resting is guilt free. Rest can also be more than sleeping, it can be laying in bed watching tv, reading a book, meditating, coloring, knitting. Stay in tune with your center and you will be guided to the best option for you.
Drinking water might seem basic, but it continues to be an area of self care that requires intentional choices throughout the day. Drinking water literally flushes the body of the artificial hormones. I like to keep a glass or jar of water with me wherever I am in the house, and glass bottle in my purse or bag wherever I go. Why glass? This brings me to another important point, that many of the plastics that are manufactured can affect our hormonal balance. Choosing natural elements in our kitchen is by far the healthier option, and this is true universally not just hormonally.
The food that you put into your body during this time can make the difference in making your transition a time of thriving. Fuel your body with only the highest quality foods! Let me be specific. I highly encourage a plant based diet due to the ease that the body has in digesting and gaining nutrition from plant foods. Some important foods to completely eliminate from your diet are:: Meat, refined sugar, and dairy products. These foods will only slow your system down and leave you more likely to develop heart disease and cancer.
Herbal and Mineral Support
For additional fuel, I recommend eating a diet rich in iron, calcium, vitamin B, and fats and amino acids. Yes I said fats! I believe that fat is a crucial part of a healthy and balanced diet. The brain is made of fat; it is important for our mental health and perception of safety to have the support of fat. I find when my diet lacks sufficient fats I feel weak and ungrounded, more prone to crankiness and emotional eating. Be sure that the fats you consume are as clean and organic as possible, and eliminate all trans//hydrogenated//artificial fats. I enjoy coconut oil and olive oil for cooking, avocado, nuts, and flax for foods.
Dong Quai is a medicinal Chinese herb used as a blood tonic by enhancing circulation in the pelvis. It can be taken to help bring back ones period, to minimize cramps, and strengthen the uterus. It is recommended that this herb be used to encourage bleeding, and not to be taken during ones flow. Maca supports the endocrine system, which is where hormones are created. Adding maca to your system will help stabilize hormones and ensure that the production stays healthy and strong. Go easy with this stuff, it is powerful.
Yeast Infection Prevention
During my transition on and off of birth control I found myself highly susceptible to yeast infections. There ph imbalance in my body went from artificial to real hormones. At this time I recommend drinking a shot of apple cider vinegar every morning. Incorporating garlic into your daily diet is also very helpful. You can eat a garlic clove whole or add garlic juice to your morning tonic. Taking probiotic supplements is an option or you can supplement your diet with fermented foods. I absolutely love kombucha and it is a really easy way to keep the lining of the stomach clear. Sauerkraut is also one of my favorite fermented foods and thankfully it has a huge perk:: it helps to restore gut flora! The gut flora is a name for the healthy bacteria and other organisms that live inside the stomach, helping with digestion, immunity, intuition, and ultimately having a body wide health effect. Being on birth control completely alters the natural state of gut flora, so going off the pill or patch is a good time to pay special attention to this valuable phenomena.
Yoga asana practice is one of my favorite ways to detox. There are many styles of yoga, and I enjoy hot power yoga. Sweating out the artificial hormones will leave you feeling cleansed. Yoga poses are inherently powerful in purifying the body by twisting, bending, moving, folding, breathing deeply and consciously into your body and cells. The practice is gentle enough for all levels. I have found that yoga can decrease painful cramps and can lead to shorter periods.
I also highly advise receiving body work and gut massage. You can practice gut massage on yourself if you want to try it, but to work with a practitioner allows you to relax and receive fully. There are blockages in the gut that can only be moved by touching and with energy healing. I am a Reiki Master Practitioner and I find gut healing to be a huge benefit for reproductive and digestive health.
What I believe to be one of the greatest clothing inventions of the century is Thinx underwear. This period underwear allows wearers to slip on a pair of underwear and go about the day worry free. Thinx underwear has patented leak proof absorbent material that holds up to two tampons worth of blood. I am going to be frank:: Being a vagina owner means that on a daily basis I am considering how leaky my vagina is and how I can prevent staining my underwear, my pants, and the chairs I sit on. With Thinx, I don’t even have to wonder. Wether it’s discharge, spotting, or straight up period bleeding, these panties allow me the freedom to live my life free from worry. I feel that the greatest uncomfortability around periods and spotting is the worry of leakage or surprise bleeding. Being worried makes my body tense up and feel uncomfortable, so doing something so simple as changing the underwear I wear is super life changing. If you are interested in becoming a happy customer like me, click this link to receive $10 off your order of Thinx!
In closing I would like to add that I am not a medically trained doctor. My qualifications lie in being human, in being aware of my body and its function in detail. I also have studied the body in a practical way my whole life. I believe that we all harbor the power to to be educated and accurate in our observation and care of our bodies. Yes, modern medicine and science has many applications, but I hold myself as the final authority on what is best for my body and I encourage you to do the same.
Progesterone // A blog I wrote specifically about the hormone progesterone and the importance of allowing your body to produce this natural hormone vs progestin, the synthetic hormone found in birth control.
Dong Quai // For more information on this valuable herb
Sweetening the Pill // A documentary on quitting birth control. Their website has links to many relevant articles as well.
Krista Annecharico is a Yoga Instructor, Reiki Master Practitioner, Oracle Guide and Empowerment Coach. If you are interested in scheduling a complimentary 20 minute phone session to determine what steps to take to begin a deeper path of wellness, please email at KristaAnnecharico@gmail.com
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