When it came to holistic, natural living hormonal birth control was my final frontier. I had long favoured unprocessed foods, clean beauty products and chemical-free cleaners before I ever considered giving up my trusty Nuvaring. Natural birth control was something I had read about it but I certainly didn’t understand it. And besides, my hesitation really had little to do with pregnancy – I was terrified to find out what my periods might be like after more than a dozen years on hormonal birth control.
Like so many women nowadays, I first started taking birth control when I was 16 or 17. Not for preventing an unwanted pregnancy but to “regulate” irregular, long periods that were so heavy I had to wear overnight pads around the clock and change them between every class.
While I still experienced intense headaches, mood swings and even depression while on the pill, it was a relief to have regular, more manageable “periods”. Then every couple of years I’d start to feel a little weird about taking synthetic hormones for so long so I’d stop taking the pills. A few months would go by without any period at all, and then it was back to incredibly heavy, long periods accompanied by every PMS symptom in the book. Intuitively I knew it wasn’t right, but the answer I got from doctors was always the same – the only thing I could do is go back on birth control. And so I did, albeit reluctantly.
After almost 13 years of near-continuous hormonal birth control use in the form of either the pill or the Nuvaring, I decided that it was time to face my fears and I created a plan to come off birth control once and for all – in fact, it was going to be my 2014 New Year’s Resolution. Until then I’d continue on as I had been for so many years.
By that time I had started nutrition school and just a few weeks into the program a lecture focused on some of the nutritional deficiencies that can be caused by hormonal birth control. As I took notes on how the pill depletes essential vitamins like B vitamins, minerals such as magnesium, selenium and zinc, and can mess with your gut microbiome I became increasingly aware that using hormonal contraceptives was having detrimental effects on my health. As soon as our class took a break I went straight to the washroom, removed my Nuvaring and never looked back. I learned about the Fertility Awareness Method and began using Kindara to chart my cycles and gain insight into my body and menstrual cycle.
Within a few months my cycles regulated and I was having regular 35 day cycles – something I attribute to the fact that I was taking good care of my health in terms of diet, exercise and lifestyle. In addition to eating well I also supported my liver through cleansing and castor oil packs to detox and rebalance my hormones.
As scary as it was to confront the fears that had kept me on hormonal contraceptives for so long, giving it up was one of the most empowering things I’ve ever done for my health and three years later I have no regrets.