Hormonal birth control prevents pregnancy by essentially shutting down your body’s natural hormone production mechanisms, wreaking havoc on your gut. This spells disaster for your health, and not just your reproductive health.
Unfortunately, the impact of hormone-releasing birth control on your health will last long after you stop taking it. But it is possible to rebalance your gut microbiome, regain your health and fertility naturally, and come off the pill without all kinds of nasty side effects.
Aside from the obvious and most common side effects – suppressing ovulation, IBS, vaginal infections, rashes/skin issues, fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, depression, hormone imbalance, and/or infertility – hormonal birth control is capable of destroying your gut.
New research over the last decade or so is revealing just how much your gut health impacts your estrogen levels. The particular group of bacteria capable of metabolizing estrogens is known as the estrobolome. Microbes in the estrobolome regulate estrogen by producing an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase.
In a healthy gut, the estrobolome produces just the right amount of beta-glucuronidase to maintain an optimal estrogen level and flushes the rest from the body.
In an unhealthy gut, there is often an elevated level of beta-glucuronidase enzyme. High levels of beta glucuronidase disrupt the body’s ability to detoxify both natural hormones and environmental chemicals, resulting in higher than normal estrogen levels.
The synthetic estrogen in hormonal birth control disrupts this delicate balance even further by flooding the body with MORE estrogen, interfering will ALL of your body’s process, including your fertility.
Let’s break down what else happens when hormonal birth control disrupts your estrobolome:
Research shows that synthetic estrogen increases intestinal permeability and inflammation in the body, causing side effects like increased risk of GI disorders like IBS, Crohn’s, and chronic pain disorders related to chronic inflammation.
The term leaky gut refers to a condition where the intestines are chronically irritated and, consequently, the protective barrier of mucus becomes eroded. This allows large food molecules (and other toxins) to pass through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream, triggering the immune system to launch an inflammatory response to the foreign items detected in the blood.
Besides creating extra work for the liver, having a leaky gut makes you feel tired, achy, bloated, and unable to think clearly most of the time
One of the reasons that the pill may cause GI symptoms is because it alters the balance of “good” versus “bad” bacteria in our digestive tracts, and may thereby encourage gut dysbiosis.
Dysbiosis, the term for when the microbiota in your gut become severely imbalanced, damages the health of both your gut AND your vaginal microbiota. When your vaginal flora are out of balance, it creates an environment that is not healthy for sperm or for a fertilized egg to implant, causing issues with conception, implantation, and also with IVF success.
Even if you are able to get pregnant, imbalanced vaginal microbiota can be dangerous for pregnant women, increasing the risk of second-trimester miscarriage, preterm labor, and postpartum endometriosis.
Another side effect that happens when you have leaky gut and or/dysbiosis is that your intestines become unable to absorb critical nutrients your body needs, causing your body to burn through the nutrients it does get in order to metabolize the synthetic hormones.
The main nutrients that become depleted include folate, riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. These micronutrients are essential for optimal hormone balance, and a deficiency can lead to fertility issues, even after you’ve stopped taking birth control.
Unfortunately, when you’re micronutrient deficient and unable to absorb what you need even from additional supplementation, you’re set up for decreased physical, hormonal and mental health.
Before you quit cold turkey, let your doctor know that you’ll be coming off the pill. A good doctor will help you find alternative natural and non-hormonal methods of contraception and support you through the change.
Once you’ve consulted your medical practitioner, take these steps now to transition off birth control without side effects:
Start by adding digestive support to help your body properly break down, digest, and assimilate the nutrients necessary for gut healing and immune support.
If you experience bloating, gas, heartburn, loose stools, constipation, or feel like food is always “sitting in your stomach” after you eat, you will definitely benefit from adding in additional digestive support.
Digestive enzymes or Betaine HCl are two great options to add support.
Focus on re-establishing healthy bacteria in the gut, healing both your intestinal microbiome and your vaginal microbiome by eating plenty of naturally fermented foods like kombucha, kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, and kefir water, and taking a potent, high quality probiotic every single day.
In addition to rebuilding your intestinal and vaginal microbiota, you’ll also need to work on healing your gut lining. It’s important to make sure that you’re eating plenty of anti-inflammatory, gut healing foods to make sure that your body has access to critical nutrients at every meal.
Add in GI Revive powder. I love using this powder with clients as it offers comprehensive support for optimum gastrointestinal health and function. It helps to heal and seal the lining of the gut so you have proper permeability and integrity so you can not only absorb nutrients, but also prevent toxins, allergens and microbes from gaining access to the bloodstream.
Next, make sure you’re eating lots of these beneficial anti-inflammatory foods:
You can also reduce gut inflammation and regulate hormone production with high quality, gut healing fats, like:
Synthetic hormones deplete your body of vitamins and minerals, especially B vitamins, vitamins C and E, and the minerals magnesium, selenium, and zinc. If you’re considering coming off the pill, consider supplements your nutrients with high-quality supplements now to make the transition easier:
Zinc: 1 capsule/day
Prenatal Pro: 2 capsules with each meal, 6 total per day
Fish oil: 2 capsules per day with meals.
L-Glutamine Powder: 5-10 gm of powder twice daily, for one month
Magnesium: 2-3 capsules at bedtime
In addition to the other side effects that synthetic hormones cause (like increased risk of blood clots, mood swings, weight gain, etc), you can also develop immune disorders, infertility, thyroid issues, chronic pain disorders, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and even cancer because of the excess levels of estrogen in your body.
Hormonal birth control prevents pregnancy by essentially shutting down your body’s natural hormone production mechanisms, which can wreak havoc on your gut. This spells disaster for your health, and not just your reproductive health.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take now, before quitting the Pill, to help you transition without all of the nasty side effects.
Protecting and healing your gut, fixing micronutrient deficiencies, and eliminating the excess estrogen build-up in your body are essential strategies in getting you off the Pill.