"Wow, I never knew the pill did that to my body!"
"I had a terrible experience on birth control too! Hair loss, anxiety and digestive issues...I'm so glad I stopped taking it."
"I know the pill isn't working for my body and it's only masking my symptoms, but I'm scared to stop it incase my symptoms return and I get pregnant!"...
The response from my last post, was overwhelming.
I knew that sharing my story and research I had done about the pill would help educate a lot of women and spark a lot of questions.
The main one was from you ladies wanting to prevent pregnancy, and at the same time, keep their hormonal symptoms, like acne, under control.
But what options do you have?!...
You can expect the symptoms you had before the pill to come right back when you stop (often with a vengeance), if you haven't made any positive changes to your diet and lifestyle.
If you haven't already , I recommend that you prepare your body for a month or two prior to stopping, to make the transition easier and reduce your chances of symptom flares.
If the main reason you took the pill was for contraception, then I have good news! There are a few options that are highly effective and won't shut down your brain to ovary communication, like the pill does.
Don't forget, you are only potentially fertile just 6 days out of the month! Many of us are not taught this, and instead we are scared into believing that we can fall pregnant any day of the month - which is not true at all.
1. Fertility Awareness Method (FAM)
FAM involves being aware of your body’s changes throughout the menstrual cycle and predicting ovulation using your body’s biological changes. It can be up to 99% effective when used accurately, which is similar, if not better than than the oral contraceptive pill!
This can include tracking your cervical mucus, basal body temperature and the position of your cervix throughout your cycle.
Your cervical mucus changes throughout the month. After your period ends, you will notice absent or drier discharge, during ovulation it tends to be a thicker, more slippery texture (similar to raw egg whites) that can stretch between your fingers, and leading up to your next period it can be creamy, like lotion.
The thick, stretchy mucus at ovulation is a sign that you are fertile! Therefore you can use this information to try for a baby or prevent conception.
Tracking your basal body temperature using a specialised thermometer first thing in the morning (before getting out of bed), allows you to identify ovulation and your fertile window. Most women see a small temperature increase (0.5-1 degree) right before ovulation, therefore avoiding intercourse during this time period is important if you are trying to prevent pregnancy.
You can use barrier methods such as condoms or abstain from sex during your fertile window, however abstinence may be difficult for many women as this is the time of the month when they have a higher sex drive!
You can purchase amazing fertility monitors such as the LadyComp, OvuSense, Natural Cycles and my personal favourite, the Daysy, to help plan for or avoid pregnancy. Or you can stick with the old fashioned basal temperature thermometer, pen and paper and tracking your other fertile signs.
An amazing book to read on this subject is 'Taking Charge of your Fertility' by Toni Weschler. This is a must-read for every women in my opinion!
*The fertility awareness method does not protect against STI's. Please be aware, a fever, chronic medical condition or physical activity before taking your reading can throw off your temperature numbers.
2. Barrier Methods
The good old fashioned condom is a great way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STI's). If you use condoms perfectly every single time you have sex, they’re 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. With typical use they are about 85% effective, which means that about 15 out of 100 people who use condoms as their only birth control method will get pregnant each year.
Other types of barrier methods include the diaphragm, (which is a reusable, dome shaped device that holds spermicide and fits over the cervix), female condoms, cervical caps and vaginal spermicide (although these are quite toxic!)
Condoms are obviously the most popular and commonly used, however if you aren't a fan of condoms, you and your partner could give the other options a go!
3. Copper IUD
The copper IUD is a small T- shaped device that sits in the uterus. It works by changing the cervical mucus, making the environment of the uterus less hospitable and the copper ions kill sperm / makes them immobile.
It has about a 0.5-0.8% efficacy rate and doesn’t need to be removed for about 7-10 years. This may be a suitable option for someone who struggles to remember to take her temperature daily or cannot easily identify her fertile body signs.
I have personally never had the copper IUD, but I have heard mixed reviews about it from friends, clients and colleagues. In my opinion it is much better than the birth control pill and hormonal IUD's such as Mirena (because it doesn't shut down our own hormone production), however because of the fact it is a foreign object in the uterus, it can create inflammation, pain, cramping, heavier bleeding and even expulsion in some women!
Another thing to be aware of is potential copper toxicity. Ensure you consume plenty of zinc rich foods or consider taking a supplement to reduce your risk, as zinc and copper levels need to be balanced!
* The copper IUD does not protect against STI's and may not be suitable for someone who already experiences painful or heavy periods. These women should consider addressing the root cause of those symptoms and an alternative form of contraceptive.
It is totally a personal decision which option is best for you.
Unfortunately there is no 'perfect' option, however the types of non-hormonal birth control I shared today are highly effective (some even more so than the pill!)
If you would like 1-on-1 support transitioning off the pill, if you're dealing with post-pill side effects or need help with your acne breakouts, irregular periods, hair loss and other hormonal symptoms you can work with me online by clicking here.
*Please speak to your healthcare practitioner if you are unsure which is the best fit for you or if you are dealing with complex health issues. This blog post was written for educational purposes only, it is not designed to replace medical advice, diagnose conditions or treat your health issues.*