Birth Control Series, Part 1
There are many well-intentioned reasons so many of us find ourselves on the birth control pill. However, informed consent is rarely engaged when it comes to the full spectrum of alternatives and side effects of the pill itself or the myriad of other choices that involve exogenous hormones (like the patch, ring, IUD, etc.)- which are often prescribed reflexively for various reasons such as acne, menstrual cycle issues, hormonal issues, and of course, to prevent pregnancy.
I want to be clear- I am not against birth control, however, I am for informed consent which is a principle in medical ethics and medical law in which a health care provider educates a patient about the risks, benefits, and alternatives of a given procedure or intervention before making their own free healthcare decision.
In my practice, I’ve come to see side effects as direct effects that we can take seriously and understand to mitigate damage and make choices with all of the information available before potentially masking and compounding the original presentation.
Here, we have the opportunity to shift gears and see the body as intelligent and talkative- willing to communicate through the symptoms presented as we lay it all out, address the underlying imbalances and identify the root cause(s) of what drove us to or to the consideration of medication treatment in the first place as you are on, after you get off or before you even begin taking the pill for the first time.
Informed Consent is a principle in medical ethics and medical law in which a health care provider educates a patient about the risks, benefits, and alternatives of a given procedure or intervention before making their own free healthcare decision. In this birth control series, we will open up the conversation on all things BC and how you can make the most of your choice to be on, opt-out or get off of it. Please feel free to follow along on our Instagram @drbrookestuart or Tik Tok @letgoandgrow to share your thoughts, ask questions, and connect with others. We’re looking forward to your thoughts and questions!
Birth Control Series, Part 2
If you are currently on birth control and you are getting exactly what you want from it, that is great! The idea is for your life to be an expansive experience, and for your health to support your life, not the other way around.
However, if you are noticing mood changes, emotional issues, weight gain, or any other physiological symptoms like fatigue or a disconnect from your biology, you may be considering getting off of the pill.
Many people may not be aware that birth control pills can deplete the body of the essential nutrients needed for whole-body health including- mood, cognition, digestion, heart health, etc. In clinical studies, birth control has been found to deplete total antioxidant activity, folate (the natural form of vitamin B9), B2, B6, B12, Vitamin C, magnesium, selenium, zinc, phosphorous and more.
To mitigate these side effects you may want to consider taking a high-quality multivitamin- I often recommend the Seeking Health Optimal Prenatal in this case or the Designs For Health digestive enzyme, called Digestzymes, to facilitate the break down of the food you are eating. To view all recommendations and for 15% off all physician-grade supplements, feel free to join our online Fullscript dispensary.
Birth Control Series, Part 3
Aside from the fundamental basics including mindset, diet, lifestyle and core supplementation, there are many healthy steps you can take to get off birth control.
In my experience as a practitioner, there are three main experiences people have when coming off the pill:
- Your body resumes as normal and you just feel better!
- Your menstrual cycle does not come back or light spotting occurs.
- Your menstrual cycle is worse than before.
In all cases, other issues may arise such as hair loss, acne, hair growth in places you don’t want it to grow, issues with gut health, indigestion, etc.
Whether you are thinking of coming off of the pill or already off it and whether your cycle is restored or not, functional medicine labs can help to facilitate the process and expedite health by making it easier to address the imbalances presented and resolve the underlying root cause(s) cycles of what is coming up now and what brought you to medication treatment in the first place.
In all cases, I recommend a strong set of fundamentals which I go into detail on for free on my website [make sure to check out the detox article too] and deeper in our Mind Body Reset Program over on letgoandgrow.com. Within the basics, blood sugar, metabolic and receptor health are especially important to consider. If you are having trouble with this, inositol, in the family of b-vitamins, can help to improve insulin sensitivity, reduce androgens and restore ovarian activity.
If your cycle does not come back- I recommend taking 1000 mg. of liposomal Vitamin C, 2 x a day which has been proven to build key hormone levels including estrogen and progesterone while equally lowering oxidative stress, detoxing the liver, restoring gut function and motility, clearing the skin and building collagen and essential tissues like hair. Vitex has also shown to be helpful. I would, however, try Vitamin C first.
If your cycle is painful and heavy, I find that Chinese herbal formulas can work wonders to decrease inflammation and regulate blood flow. These formulas often contain Boswellia, an extract of frankincense, ginger and curcumin, an extract of turmeric, cinnamon, and dong Quai [also known as Angelica root]. Find out more information in this study right here.
In almost all cases, I would also focus on building up and gently cleansing the liver with supportive herbs like chlorella, milk thistle, NAC or glutathione and also building the GI tract with digestive enzymes and a collagen powder, which contains glycine, l-glutamine and l-methionine- all of which help the skin as well. Acupuncture with a skilled practitioner can also facilitate this transition off of birth control as well.
In every case, I find it key to remember that you are unique, your body is intelligent and that with the right tools, you can repair and heal yourself. I also think it is key to align yourself with practitioners that believe in you and the body’s ability to heal itself by taking out what doesn’t work and investing in what does.
15 % Off Physician-Grade Supplement Protocols
For more on these supplement protocols, feel free to check our link here to access these products, more recommendations and 15% off! I added a category under favorites, called birth control series, so you can reference all of the products mentioned in this series!
Natural Forms of Birth Control
Natural forms of birth control, also known as fertility awareness-based methods, involve understanding and tracking your menstrual cycle to determine the fertile and infertile periods. These methods rely on observing and interpreting various physiological signs to identify when ovulation occurs and when it is safe to have unprotected intercourse. While these methods can be effective, they require commitment, consistency, and a thorough understanding of your body. Here are some natural forms of birth control:
- Basal Body Temperature (BBT) Method: This method involves tracking your basal body temperature every morning before getting out of bed. After ovulation, progesterone causes a slight increase in basal body temperature, which can be recorded on a chart. By observing the temperature shift, you can identify when you have likely ovulated and are no longer fertile.
- Cervical Mucus Method: This method involves monitoring changes in cervical mucus throughout your cycle. As you approach ovulation, estrogen levels increase, leading to changes in the quantity and quality of cervical mucus. Fertile cervical mucus becomes clear, slippery, and stretchy, indicating increased fertility. By observing these changes, you can identify when you are approaching ovulation and when it is safe to have intercourse.
- Calendar Method: The calendar method involves tracking the length of your menstrual cycles over time to estimate when ovulation is likely to occur. This method assumes a regular cycle and predicts ovulation based on average cycle lengths. By subtracting the length of your average luteal phase from the length of your average cycle, you can estimate the approximate day of ovulation and identify your fertile window.
- Symptothermal Method: The symptothermal method combines multiple fertility signs, such as BBT, cervical mucus, and other physical symptoms like breast tenderness or ovulation pain, to identify fertile and infertile days. By cross-referencing these different signs, you can increase the accuracy of determining your fertility status and making informed decisions about intercourse.
It’s important to note that natural forms of birth control have a higher potential for human error and are generally less effective than other forms of contraception when used alone. They require careful tracking, consistent observation of signs, and clear communication with your partner. Additionally, natural methods of birth control do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you are at risk of STIs, it’s essential to use barrier methods such as condoms in addition to any natural contraceptive methods.
It is also important to note that sexual abstinence is the most effective form of birth control. If you are considering using other natural forms of birth control, it is recommended to learn these methods from a qualified instructor or healthcare provider who can guide you through the process, answer your questions, and help ensure accurate tracking and interpretation of signs.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, please check with your doctor and in with yourself to decide what is best for you. This is a continual conversation, so feel free to check back here for updates and let us know what else you would like to see, ask or explore!
Birth Control Resources
- Fertility Awareness Mastery Charting Workbook by Lisa Hendrickson-Jack
- In the FLO by Alisa Vitti
- Track your flow with Alisa Vitti’s MyFlo app
- Understand your fertility with the Kindara app
- What Is Functional Medicine?
- A Practical Guide To Supplements- Favorite Brands, Philosophy & Function
- The Heart Based Practice, A Simple 3 Min. Meditation
- Diet Philosophy: Drop The Dogma & Discover What Works For YOU
- Diet Philosophy Part II: On Personalization
- Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Diet
- Resistant Starch Made Practical
Resources From Dr. Brooke Stuart / Let Go & Grow®
- For more holistic resources, sign up for our Free Let Go & Grow® Membership, where you will receive instant access to the heart based practice, a simple 3 min. meditation, a wellness workshop designed to optimize mental health & well-being, and so much more.
- For Let Go & Grow Publishing House books including the LG&G Holistic Guide Book, LG&G Journal, and the children’s book series Let’s Grow With Zo, check here.
- For more information, support and a tried and true springboard that can help you address the fundamentals and unlock your power to heal, make sure to schedule a free holistic consultation and check out our Let Go & Grow® Mind Body Reset, a 6 week reset program. To learn more about holistic healthcare and working with Dr. Brooke in private practice, check here.