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Get Your Period Back: 5 Tips for Recovering from Post Birth Control Syndrome

by Laura Beth Schoenfeld, RD

Published on

Reviewed by Phyllis J Gee, MD, FACOG


One of the downsides of using “the Pill” is that many times it’s hard to get back to a normal menstrual cycle once you stop taking it. Some of my young female clients in their 20s and 30s who were taking birth control for a long time and then stopped haven’t had their periods for months, or sometimes even years!

It can be frustrating, especially for women who have stopped taking birth control because they want to become pregnant. And my clients realize that having amenorrhea isn’t a good sign for their overall health regardless of their childbearing plans, so they’ve come to me to help them make the diet, supplement, exercise, and lifestyle changes they need to in order to get their hormones back on track.

Has birth control use made you lose your period? Get it back naturally with these tips by @AncestralizeMe!

Since this is a common experience for women my age, I wanted to share my best suggestions for recovering from post birth control syndrome using diet and lifestyle, in order to help those who have been frustrated by the symptoms associated with the condition. The following are tips you can follow without needing a doctor’s visit or a prescription. Read on to learn how to get your period back!

1. Optimize Your Nutrition Status

As a dietitian/nutritionist, nutrition is always the number one focus in any of my health improvement plans. My clients who’ve aren’t having regular periods tend to be some of the fastest responders to a tailored nutrition and supplement program, primarily because the loss of menstruation is often be a sign of underlying nutrient deficiencies. Even if you’re eating a whole foods, Paleo diet, there are many nutrients that can be inadequate if you’re not making a concerted effort to include specific foods and/or supplements.

There has been evidence accumulating over the years that certain nutrients may become depleted while a woman is on an oral contraceptive. While there are likely dozens of nutrients that are important in regaining your fertility and monthly cycle, there are a few in particular that I find to be extremely effective in helping to recover the menstrual cycle.


Zinc is a critical nutrient to consider, and many nutritionists recommend an increase in zinc intake for female clients struggling with loss of menstruation following the use of the Pill. There is evidence demonstrating that women who take oral contraceptives have lower plasma zinc levels, so they may have higher need for this important mineral for fertility.

Some healthcare practitioners theorize that taking oral contraception might either cause zinc deficiency or even copper overload, which could contribute to the loss of healthy menstrual function. Either way, I always include zinc as part of my recommendations for my clients with amenorrhea.

Zinc can be sometimes difficult to replenish without short term therapeutic supplementation, even in the context of a whole foods diet. If you’re willing to eat lots of shellfish (e.g. oysters and clams), red meat, pumpkin seeds, and poultry, you may be able to avoid supplementing with zinc in this case. I usually recommend 15-30 mg of zinc per day for someone with post birth control syndrome. (If you do supplement, be sure to take it with a meal, otherwise you may get sudden, intense nausea.)


Magnesium is another mineral that I find beneficial for my clients with post birth control syndrome. While many of us in the ancestral health community feel that everyone can benefit from daily magnesium supplementation, it’s especially important for those on birth control (or coming off birth control) to supplement with magnesium.

Magnesium is difficult to get enough of in our modern diets, and some evidence shows that serum magnesium levels are reduced by oral contraceptive use.

If you have a history of birth control use, I recommend using a chelated form of magnesium and taking 200-400 mg daily to supplement what you’re getting from food.

Vitamin B6

Finally, vitamin B6 is another nutrient that is not often discussed but can be very helpful in restoring menstrual function in those with post birth control syndrome. A 2011 study found that those who used oral contraceptives had lower plasma vitamin B6 concentrations, and one type of amenorrhea caused by high prolactin levels was able to be treated using B6 supplementation, suggesting that supplementing with B6 may be beneficial in post birth control syndrome.

Vitamin B6 is found in a variety of foods, and is generally safe to take as a supplement at doses below 100 mg per day. I like Designs for Health’s Sublingual Vitamin B6, which has the added benefit of providing a small amount of chelated zinc. At 50 mg per teaspoon, it’s a high enough dose to replenish any depleted stores, but not so much to risk toxicity with long term use.

Other Nutrients

There are other nutrients that I address with my clients, either making diet or supplement recommendations to address potential deficiencies in their diets. One nutrient that I find tends to be quite low in many of my young female clients’ diets is vitamin A. You can get plenty of vitamin A by eating 4-8 ounces of beef or lamb liver every week, and that’s almost always something I recommend to my clients who are struggling to regain their periods. Another important nutrient is vitamin D, which typically comes from adequate sun exposure but can be helpful as a supplement for those with blood levels below 30 ng/mL.

There are many nutrients that may be negatively affected by long term birth control use, and every person’s needs are unique. If you’re struggling with post birth control syndrome and aren’t sure if your nutrition has been optimized for your recovery, I recommend working with a knowledgable nutritionist who can help assess your diet for possible nutrient gaps.

2. Optimize Your Circadian Rhythms

In our modern world of late night TV, attachment to our cell phones, 24 hour artificial light, and inadequate hours of sleep, our circadian rhythms have taken a serious beating.

Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment. People who fly across several time zones experience circadian rhythm disruption as “jet lag”, but even less dramatic shifts in your circadian rhythms can cause significant health problems, including infertility and amenorrhea.

Your circadian rhythms affect all endocrine hormone secretions, including melatonin, cortisol, thyroid stimulating hormone, growth hormone, prolactin, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), insulin, leptin, and more. (1) While we don’t know how all of these hormones might contribute to healthy menstruation, we do know that prolactin, FSH, and LH are the key hormones regulating the menstrual cycle along with estrogen and progesterone.

So it’s not a stretch to assume that if these hormones aren’t being released at the appropriate times, the reproductive system won’t be getting the proper signals that are needed to regulate the menstrual cycle. And some research does show that circadian rhythm disruption from jet lag and shift work can wreak havoc on women’s reproductive function. (2)

There are dozens of factors that affect circadian rhythms, but I’ll just focus on the two most important: light exposure and sleep. Proper light exposure includes getting adequate daytime sunlight and appropriate elimination of bright light at night. The biggest influence is the light hitting your eyes, so I strongly suggest making an effort to get outside, or at least sit by a window, for most of the daylight hours. On the flip side, you also need to ensure you’re not getting blue light exposure once the sun has gone down.

There are ways you can address this issue even if you can’t go outside during the day or shut off all your lights when the sun goes down. The first is to get a light therapy lamp that can help provide the right spectrum of daytime light during your day, which you can set up at your work desk. The second is to block blue light at night, and the easiest way to do this is by using these super fashionable orange goggles. You can also use orange light bulbs as your evening lighting option.

And of course it should go without saying that you need to prioritize your sleep, going to bed early enough to get a full 8 hours of sleep every night.

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3. Eat Enough Carbs and Calories For Your Activity Levels

This is one of the most difficult recommendations for many of my clients, as frequently those dealing with post birth control syndrome are also trying to lose weight. And more often than not, their weight loss attempt includes reducing their food intake and cutting down on carbohydrates.

While this strategy may help with short term weight loss, it’s definitely not conducive to your hormonal health to significantly limit your food intake in this way. It’s a well known phenomenon in the medical world, called the Female Athlete Triad, where women under eat and overtrain so much that they lose their menstrual function, and even put themselves at risk for osteoporosis.

Stefanie Ruper has written a fantastic article on the problems with being overly restrictive with your food intake, and how dozens of her readers have written to her complaining that they lost their menstrual function when switching to a Paleo diet. She acknowledges that it’s not the Paleo diet that is the issue per se, but that those who switch to Paleo often get stuck in an overly restrictive, low carbohydrate approach that does not support healthy endocrine function through various effects on the HPA axis and thyroid hormone conversion.

I think it’s safe to say that those women dealing with post birth control syndrome should also be wary about how restrictive their diet is, and ensure that they’re getting enough calories and carbohydrates to support their activity levels.

I generally recommend at least 30-40% of calories from carbohydrate for my patients who aren’t getting their period, and provide them an appropriate calorie range for their body size and activity levels. Trying to quickly lose weight while dealing with amenorrhea is rarely a good combination.

And the other side of this issue is avoiding overtraining, which is another problem I see in many of my young female clients trying to “lean out”. As I mentioned, this overtraining and undereating combination is known as the Female Athlete Triad and is well known as a cause of amenorrhea. Overtraining means different things to different people; what might be a normal training schedule for an elite athlete may cause burnout and hormonal disruption in a non-athlete. If you’re dealing with amenorrhea, you need to take a serious look at your training regimen and make sure you’re not overdoing it.

4. Manage Your Stress

This is another big issue for many of my young female clients experiencing amenorrhea. Stress is generally unavoidable in our modern lives, but that doesn’t mean you have to let it disrupt your life and throw off your hormone regulation.

Chronic stress causes hypothalamic‐pituitary‐adrenal (HPA) axis dysregulation, which is also known as adrenal fatigue. (3) Unfortunately, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland are also key regulators of the menstrual cycle. (4) Thus, chronic stress is easily able to cause irregular menstrual cycle activity, and can even lead to a condition known as hypothalamic amenorrhea. This is very similar to what happens in the case of the Female Athlete Triad, and is typically caused by the chronic physical and/or emotional stress that is unfortunately common among young women.

For those trying to overcome post birth control syndrome (or any type of amenorrhea for that matter), getting stress under control is very important. This includes the recommendation above regarding eating enough and avoiding overtraining, but it also deals with managing daily stress from work, relationships, financial issues, and more.

I always tell my amenorrheic clients to find a stress management protocol that works for them, which can include yoga, meditation, journaling, deep breathing, and more. Anything you enjoy doing that helps relieve stress is a great choice, and can make a big difference in your return to normal menstrual function.

5. Boost Your Detox Capacity

Having a strong ability to detoxify is crucial for recovering from post birth control syndrome, as one of the primary issues with taking oral contraceptives for a long period of time is hormonal build up. Your body stores hormones like estrogen in your fat cells, and these stored hormones can linger for months or years after you stop taking the Pill. Your liver is responsible for clearing these hormones through the bile, and if you’re not detoxifying well enough, your liver is ineffective at eliminating these excess hormones.

There are many ways to boost detox capacity – too many to get into in this article – but I’ve written another article in which I recommend increasing intake of certain foods that can help boost hormone clearance. Another option is taking a supplement which contains a variety of nutrients and botanicals that support the body’s natural detoxification process. Liver Detoxifier and Regenerator from NOW Foods is a popular choice.

And wouldn’t you know it, your gut flora can even help you detoxify excess hormones. This podcast I’ve linked to is all about the “estrobolome,” the complete set of bacterial genes that code for enzymes capable of metabolizing estrogens within the human intestine. (5) So taking a high quality probiotic and eating fermented foods, especially fermented cruciferous vegetables like sauerkraut, is an important part of recovering from post birth control syndrome.

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What to Do If You Still Haven’t Gotten Your Period Back

These are my best general recommendations for how to regain your period after stopping birth control, and I’ve used these strategies successfully with many young female clients. It’s important to address all these factors, as any one of them can be enough to disrupt menstrual function, which is a sign of suboptimal health.

Of course, sometimes this isn’t enough to get you back on track hormonally, especially if you were taking birth control for many years, or if you started birth control as a method to address hormone issues in the first place. In this case, you may need some additional testing done to identify any issues that may be causing your amenorrhea. PCOS is a very common condition that can significantly disrupt your hormonal function, so you’ll want to discuss this possibility with your endocrinologist.

And of course working with a knowledgable nutritionist can help you identify the missing pieces in your recovery plan to ensure that you’re doing everything possible to get back your hormonal health and menstrual function.

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Laura Beth Schoenfeld, RD
Laura Beth Schoenfeld, RD

Laura Schoenfeld, MPH, RD, is a licensed registered dietitian and women’s health expert trained in Functional Medical nutrition therapy. She assisted in the creation of educational materials for both the ADAPT practitioner and health coach training programs.

Her passion is empowering women to nourish their bodies, develop true strength, and ultimately use their improved health to pursue their purpose. Laura guides her clients in identifying and implementing diet and lifestyle changes that allow them to live a healthy, fit, symptom-free life without being consumed by thoughts of food and exercise. She draws from a variety of sources to form her philosophy on nutrition, including ancestral diets, principles of biochemistry, current research, and clinical experience. Her areas of expertise include women’s hormones and fertility, gut health, autoimmune disease, athletic performance, stress management, skin health, and weight loss. Recognizing that health goes far beyond just diet and exercise, Laura teaches her clients how to focus on and implement life-changing mental and spiritual health habits as well, including changing their thoughts and beliefs to ones that drive health-supporting decision-making around food, fitness, and life in general.

Her greatest mission is to help health-conscious women realize that, while their health is priceless, they are so much more than a body. When she’s not educating and serving her coaching clients and community, Laura loves traveling with her husband, Sundays with her church family, hikes with her dog, beach trips, live music, and strength training.

Professional website: lauraschoenfeldrd.com

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Join the conversation

  1. I became a Chiropractor because of my success with restoring my natural cycles with chiropractic care. I found out that the nerves that go to the reproductive organs were being pinched by my spine and inflammation was surrounding the area. I had gone 1.5 years without a period and after working with my chiropractor, I’ve been back to normal! I’m now a chiropractor specializing in women’s health.
    I have more info about it on my website: http://www.denarochiropractic.com

  2. How could she have missed hypothyroidism? I was misdiagnosed with PCOS when it was actually hypothyroidism!

  3. Laura, I’m shocked that nowhere in this article do you suggest that a woman see either (a) her GP, (b) her gynecologist, or (c) an endocrinologist. Indeed, you outline steps to basically avoid proper care.

    Liver detox? Seriously?? IF there is sequestration of estrogen in the fat tissue (unlikely), no amount of liver detoxification would solve that problem anyway.

    Ladies if you’re not getting your period and your nutrition is decent (it need not be “optimal” whatever that is), see your doctor and get it sorted out.

    • From the last section of the article:

      “Of course, sometimes this isn’t enough to get you back on track hormonally, especially if you were taking birth control for many years, or if you started birth control as a method to address hormone issues in the first place. In this case, you may need some additional testing done to identify any issues that may be causing your amenorrhea. PCOS is a very common condition that can significantly disrupt your hormonal function, so you’ll want to discuss this possibility with your endocrinologist.”

      • My apologies for missing that. The point still remains that you’d have readers go off on nutritional goose chases — liver detox, REALLY? — and as a footnote mention that a trip to an endo might ultimately be in order. Proper medical care seems like an after thought when many struggles could be avoided by having tests run to see if the hormones are a problem in the first place.

        • The point is that women should make sure they have all their “lifestyle ducks” in a row first. Too many women jump straight into drug treatment without considering the role their diet and lifestyle plays (or even realizing that lifestyle is a factor.)

          And I stand by my suggestion to provide nutrients and herbs for liver support as the liver is the primary site of hormone metabolism and clearance/elimination: https://www.pharmgkb.org/pathway/PA145011118#

          Supporting liver detoxification pathways is not the same thing as a “liver detox”.

    • And to your point that “IF there is sequestration of estrogen in the fat tissue (unlikely), no amount of liver detoxification would solve that problem anyway.”

      I recommend reading these papers: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12660892


      Fat tissue can serve as a sink for hormones in circulation and can also release hormones into the circulation, a function known as “intracrinology”. So if the fat tissue is releasing hormones, it’s the liver’s job to metabolize and excrete those excess hormones, and thus improving the liver’s ability to metabolize those hormones by providing nutritional and herbal support to the various phases of detoxification will increase the rate of excess hormone clearance.

      • Evelyn,
        Wow. I’m not sure why you went on the attack. I see that you now recognize Laura did indeed encourage you to see a doctor if proper nutrition did not help, but you seem so utterly offended by a liver detox. May I ask your profession?

        I’m personally taken aback by your stance that a liver detox would be of no use – especially when it means insuring you get optimal nutrition for your body. In fact, you mentioned it in a later post which I assume means that you are strictly against a detox in general and believe it won’t/doesn’t work. Is this a fair assumption?

        Have you had any of the issues and symptoms that many of us posting here have had? I personally have been to my GP, in fact, all FIVE of the GP’s I’ve had over the last 10 years. I’ve been to THREE endocrinologists, TWO D.O.’s, TWO chiropractors and SEVEN gynecologists too. I’ve had all the tests, and I have nothing against doctors per se, but none of them have had a solution other than birth control or HRT.

        There is a reason why doctors are considered to be “practicing” medicine. Because they are doing just that, practicing. They don’t have it all figured out, have been taught from all the same medical books and have not expanded or updated their knowledge base, or they rely too heavily on medication instead of nutrition.

        Now, because my hormones have been so high for so long, I now have a uterus full of fibroids – so full that my uterus is enlarged. And, my most recent pap smear came back “high-grade”. Clearly, high hormones will take its [negative] toll on ones body eventually, but I’ve been vocalizing my symptoms for 10 solid years now. No doctor has been of use to me thus far and now that I’m faced with a full hysterectomy – which is one of the possible options I’m being offered now as a solution – I’m considering a 30-60 juice fast….for the sole purpose of detoxing my body, especially my liver.

        What can it hurt? It’s better than having a full hysterectomy! What if it works? What if it works and my hormones normalize? At this point, I have nothing to lose. Oh, and I’ve had an upper abdominal ultrasound, along with my blood tests, and my liver is clearly damaged. I don’t drink, don’t smoke, and I eat healthy. What’s caused the damage? I don’t know, but clearly my liver needs some help. What’s wrong with pumping my body full of liquid sunshine that is full of enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that my body can surely use?

        I’ve spent a lot of time researching detox programs – and not those B.S. commercial ones trying to make a buck – but specifically juicing your own fresh fruits and vegetables while totally abstaining from food consumption to take the stress of my digestive organs.

        Juice fasting is one of the quickest and most efficient ways to rid the body of accumulated toxins. It is an accelerated cleansing and detoxification and it’s worked for others.

        I found this article to be refreshing because it wasn’t focused on medication and instead focused on nutrition. I like it that Laura offered many solutions, breaking down how each one could benefit you. Laura is suggesting seeing your doctor if the natural approach wasn’t enough, and I simply posted my story to share that not only was regular diet and exercise not enough, neither was seeing my doctor – for me in my case. I thank Laura for giving others options – options her readers can discern for themselves and decide what’s best for them.

        I still believe nutrition is the answer, but I’m going to have to take, what some consider, a more drastic approach. But I’d rather do this than have to have all my female organs removed or to continue being at such high risk for cervical, ovarian and uterine cancers. My life depends on it. And my current GP gave me a 100% a-okay, thumbs up, good to go approval on my juice fast and has scheduled me for follow-up testing in three months after the fast is over.

        So yeah Evelyn, a liver detox.

  4. I’m still struggling with amenorrhea, although not from going off birth control. Undiagnosed coeliac disease made me drop loads of weight, which led inevitably to the loss of my period… for seven years. Still working to get it back, but nothing seems to be working. I’ll be implementing the zinc and B6 recommendations, as I’ve been practising most of the other (great) suggestions here. I’m still young so hopefully it is early enough to reverse some of the bone damage (already diagnosed with osteoporosis).

    Great article… Will pass it along to other friends who struggle with amenorrhea – hypothalamic or otherwise.

  5. Hi Laura,

    Do you have any resource recommendations for someone like me? Would I be a good candidate for a one-on-one consult with you, or is there too little data out there to offer any reliable solutions?

    I eat a strict, healthy diet (Weston A Price / LCHF blend with all top-quality ingredients: no sugar, no grains, no starch, no caffeine, all wild/grass-fed meats, FCLO, HV butter oil, cold-pressed coconut oil, wild salmon roe, grass-fed calf’s liver, raw whole milk & cream & butter from grass-fed cows, homemade bone broths, pastured egg yolks & poultry, no artificial trans-fats, full-fat dairy, etc.). This has been my diet for 2.5 years.

    My husband and I started trying to get pregnant in Dec 2013, with no luck thus far. I started seeing a “fertility specialist” about a month ago, and have had a whole slew of tests: blood tests, uterine ultrasound, HSG, semen analysis (for my husband). So far, nothing is wrong, and in fact, all tests of our “mechanics” are indicated as excellent. I was on birth control for only a month or two, now 10 years ago. Of course, my MD thinks my cholesterol is too high ( ::eyeroll:: ), but I live in an area where no MDs agree with this approach to nutrition. So, we’re scheduled for a phone consult with a top-notch fertility MD who does agree nutritionally in Jacksonville, FL, in early July. Hopefully, he’ll have some recommendations.

    I’m really not excited about fertility drugs, but can’t figure out what could be wrong. I’d much rather fix the problem than work around it. Any ideas or thoughts? Thx!

  6. My periods stopped after discontinuing birth control, but my period was getting weaker in the months prior to stopping, even when on the pill. 2 years later, I’ve discovered that I have a prolactinoma (benign tumor of the pituitary gland), and that was what was causing my amenorrhea.

    I’m about to start treatment (cabergoline). Does anyone have any experience with this? Is there anything that I can supplement with to help get everything back into line? And, could my elevated prolactin levels (~60ng/mL), or prolactinoma be contributing with my subclinical thyroid issues?

    • Lily, I have a Prolactinoma as well. The downside is that I don’t tolerate Cabergoline well, so I’m wondering if there is a way to tackle the elevated Prolactin levels with diet alone (possibly with the Paleo Autoimmune protocol?). I have definitely heard that Prolactinoma and Hashimotos are connected.

  7. This is a great article. My girlfriend is 26 years old, and hasn’t had her period in a little over a year and a half now. I believe she was on the pill for a while before this, and ever since she started “missing” her period she also has a high prolactin level that makes her be able to fall asleep within seconds…Almost unsafe like.
    Sounds like a pituitary gland issue (possible tumor) but the doctors she’s seen just haven’t seemed of much concern.

    Thanks everyone.

  8. I’ve never been on the pill, but suffered from amenorrhea for 3 years in college after my boyfriend broke up with me. I did cut calories a bit and exercise an hour per day, along with the stress of college. However, my periods came back as soon as I fell in love with my current husband. I think there is definitely a sexual component to all of this.

  9. Great article, thanks. Is not having a period directly related to osteoporosis? I quit sugar and grains 9 months ago, I feel great but I’ve only had my period twice since then. I’m not trying to conceive – my family is complete – and I’m pretty happy with no period! But my doc implied it might increase my osteoporosis risk. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Elspeth,

      Yes, there is a link between low estrogen and osteoporosis. So if you are amenorrheic due to low estrogen, then you may be at risk. But there are a lot of factors at play (age, family history, diet, exercise, other personal factors). I’d suggest doing a bone density scan to know where you currently stand.

      Also, if your period stopped after switching to Paleo, make sure you read the Stefanie Ruper article referenced above — you need to make sure you are getting enough carbs!

  10. I was on the pill for 13 years and never got my cycle back. I took clomid and progesterone to try to get a cycle and still nothing. I had one round of injectible hormones to get pregnant and then 2 rounds to get pregnant 18 months later. Still no cycle to this day after supplementing with everything mentioned, eating higher fat, not restricting calories and doing moderate amounts of exercise as well as stress reduction – going to sleep by 10 etc. No doctor can figure things out. Now that I’m 45 I have given up but instead have been making sure my hormones are in the optimal range. I wish I had never gone on the pill in the first place as PcOS was a factor in my 20’s which the pill at the time was the only option. I know better now but can’t go back in time.

  11. The timing on this is pretty neat.

    I started BC around 2010 after discovering I had a 7cm endometrioma (not -osis because it was on my fallopian tube). Even on the pill, I haven’t had a period since 2012. I decided to come off it back in March to see if I could produce a cycle on my own. I came off BC in March, and had blood work done this month. All of my nutrient levels are normal, my thyroid is fine, but my Estradiol was 26. Thinking I might be in a low phase of my cycle, I had it tested again two weeks later. This time it was 17. It’s so frustrating. I just started an estrogen patch/progesterone combo today.

    • Oh, I should add that I’m 5’3″, CrossFit 5x/week, and eat paleo. When I came off BC I was around 110lb, but after increasing carbs, I’m now closer to 120lb.

      My endocrinologist is scheduling an MRI to check my pituitary gland.

  12. What do you recommend when you have been diagnosed with severe level 4 endometriosis and the recommendation from the OB and fertility specialist is to either be on birth control pregnant or nursing? I went off birth control for years not knowing I had endometriosis. I ended up with level 4 endometriosis, a chocolate cyst on my ovary requiring surgery and IVF to get pregnant. I would prefer a more natural method than birth control, but don’t want to suffer as I did for years.

  13. I was on BC pills from the age of 19-32, during which time I was also EXTREMELY alcoholic (I’m 50 now, just going through menopause). After I went off the pill and began ratcheting down my drinking, I did not menstruate for 6 YEARS. During this time I was extremely ill and began to suffer from what felt and still does feel like inflammation/pressure in my head, and was also found to have off the chart mercury levels. Think my detox system was in very poor shape. Also decided to go back to school to get my MS in Nutrition and license (not practicing currently), which was incredibly stressful in its own right and I’m sure extended my amenorrhea. In any event, I think time just slowly eliminated the residual hormones from my system, but I was so ill at the time that I did not have the burning desire for children as many of you do, so I guess I was lucky in that sense. In retrospect, I would have really looked at the mind-body connection

    • Deb, have you been able to detox from the levels mercury and if so what is a good way? Just had all amalgams removed.

  14. I have been on a 3-year journey to try and figure out my hormonal imbalances, which is what initially brought me to the Paleo/primal lifestyle. After stopping hormonal birth control after 8 years, followed by a brief period at a low BMI (~17), I became amenorrheic. After regaining some weight, it returned, but strangely I am hypermenorrheic now (my menstrual cycles average 21 days). I am still on the low end of normal for BMI (~19), I don’t overtrain, and my largely primal diet includes rice, potatoes, and grass-fed, full-fat dairy.

    I have gone to 3 different endocrinologists over the past 3 years, all of whom treat me as though I am crazy for thinking I have a problem at all. My labs consistently show I have low estradiol levels (menopausal levels, despite the fact I am 33). Vit D is also low. MRI revealed I don’t have a pituitary tumor — their only explanation is that my pituitary isn’t functioning for an unknown reason. One of the endocrinologists diagnosed me with hypogonadism; another wasn’t completely convinced of this diagnosis. With low estradiol, they also did a bone density scan, and diagnosed me with osteopenia.

    I have been Paleo/primal for the past 3 years, including supplementation in many of the areas you outline in this article, all in an attempt to address my hormonal issues. I like this diet/lifestyle for many reasons, but haven’t noticed any changes in hormone function. My doctors are concerned about bone loss due to low estradiol, so I finally acquiesced and started on the Pill. I’d still like to find a non-pharmaceutical solution, so I’m open to additional advice.

    • Heather,
      I hate to hear you’ve gone back on the pill – this is just a bandaid masking symptoms and not getting at the source. I feel your pain girl as I’m right there with you! I think the most important thing is to find out WHY you have high hormones. Your body is telling you something is wrong, and you seem to be listening, but just don’t know what to do to correct them.

      Have you considered a healthy detox option to try and purge those stored hormones from your body? I, too, have done everything I could, but lowering my high hormone levels have been a real challenge. I posted earlier and laid out my journey, but in that post I explained I was going to do a juice fast and full spectrum infrared sauna therapy.

      I know some people don’t believe in detoxes/cleanses, but if you do your research, you’ll come across a lot of people who do – because they’ve done it themselves with great results. I was turned on to this idea when a friend of my cured himself of stage three throat cancer by juicing. I’m going to begin in the next few days and I’m actually excited to do it. Not to be without food, but to do the healthiest thing I can for my body and allow it to heal. I want to experience this and see if it works for me. And why not? Nothing else has worked.

      I think nutrition and exercise can only help you if you are already somewhat healthy. Since our bodies are all different, I think we react differently to foods and other environmental factors. Just because you eat right and exercise does not guarantee your health! I’ve learned this over the last 10 years – although most doctors would disagree I’m sure. But if you’ve switched to a Paleo lifestyle (which I believe is the healthiest form of eating around), you exercise, and you avoid all the bad stuff (HFC’s, GMO, Pesticides, Dyes, Preservatives, etc. etc.), it sometimes isn’t enough to negate years of damage – in this case, taking the pill. And to add to that all the xenoestrogens in our food, water, and whatnot and it’s a tough battle to win.

      Those hormones are stored in your body if your liver is unable to convert them to waste byproducts. I’ve come to the conclusion that a serious fast/detox program is the only way I can release those built up toxins and heal my body. I understand it isn’t for everyone, but know that it’s taken me 10 years to get to this point. It’s the only thing I have left to try, and if this doesn’t take care of it, then nothing will, because I’ve done it all.

      I wish you luck and feel free to reach out to me anytime. We have a lot in common and I’m happy to chat about this with you if you want!

  15. Hi Laura,
    Great article and very in depth. It’s nice to hear someone from the nutrition community talk openly about some of the side effects of birth control. I wish now that I’m 44 that I’d never taken the stuff and left Mother Nature to her job.

    That said, I was on the pill for 14 years straight, but the first thing I noticed was that I “padded up” – meaning, I got this layer of fat all over my body that I didn’t have before. At the time, I thought it was an okay trade off for lighter periods. But the truth is, 14 years on birth control took its toll and your article is the first I’ve read that hit on a lot of the things I encountered.

    First, let me say I started having hormonal problems which is what made me go off the pill at age 30. The first year was horrible and there isn’t enough space here to cover what I went through while my body attempted to purge what it could. At age 34 I had my daughter, and from that moment on, my body and hormones have gone very haywire.

    Blood tests showed I was deficient in Vitamin D, B12, B6, Magnesium, and Potassium. Simple supplementation wasn’t enough and I had to switch to a sublingual or even shots in some instances. Also, my good flora in my intestines/colon were virtually non-existent. Two of my estrogens were very high, while the third was low, and my progesterone and testosterone was high. I started losing my hair (male pattern baldness), and although I’m not bald per se, my hair is much thinner on top. Note: My hormones are so high that my last blood tests came with an info sheet about how my results meant I was experiencing hormone overload and enhanced proliferation. It also explained that I was at a very high risk for ovarian, uterine and cervical cancer. My most recent pap came back high-grade and an ultrasound showed my uterus is full of fibroids.

    I have steadily gained about 10 lbs. per year since having my daughter and no amount of diet and exercise has helped me. I even saw a nutritionist/dietician for a year with no weight loss. Unfortunately, the more weight I put on, the harder exercise is on my bones and joints – I’ve already had a knee surgery and have been suffering from plantar faciitis for more than 4 years now. And of course, I’m not as energetic as I once was.

    I have been on a journey to figure this all out and get my health back. Most doctors, including the three endocrinologists I’ve seen over the years, have been no help to me. So I’ve done a lot of research myself and have come to the conclusion that the pill messed a lot of stuff up.

    I started taking a probiotic that I like, I’m taking the vitamins/minerals I need, and I’m eating a Paleo diet that fits me. Although I am feeling better than before, I’ve not lost any weight, my hair is still thin, and my hormones are still screwed up. However, my research has landed me at the same conclusion you mentioned which is that what I’m doing isn’t enough since I took the pill for 14 years.

    I’m not sure what you know or how you feel about juicing and/or juice fasts, but that’s where my journey has lead me to. I’ve just received my new juicer and will be headed to the grocery store to purchase some of the items I was unable to grow myself (having my own garden is priceless and makes juicing more affordable!). I’m looking to start easing into a juice fast by replacing one meal a day, upping my veggie and fruit content, and eliminating meat. Eventually, I’ll be on a 100% liquid diet consisting of freshly juiced veggies and fruit (mostly veggies). I’m unsure how long I will go, but I’m hoping to do 30 days.

    I’m also going to be doing 30 days of full spectrum infrared sauna therapy. This has been said to be ten times more effective at detoxing the body than a fast and has been used by the military, as well as various police and fire departments.

    This may be extreme to others, but I’m actually looking forward to this as I feel it’s a way to really get in tune with me and be in the now. I’ve learned to listen to MY body and fasting is a way to really clear out the “junk” literally and figuratively, and focus on just my body. I feel my body will guide me in the direction it wants and needs to go if I listen.

    Thank you for your in-depth article, I truly enjoyed it. And, it confirms all things that I’ve been learning along the way!

  16. These are great tips! I’d like to add that acupuncture can really help with balancing hormones, regulating the cycle and reducing stress. This is why acupuncture is so respected for helping with fertility issues. Full disclosure-I am a US trained acupuncturist and I’ve helped women get back on track in this area.

  17. Thanks for the info Laura! I was on a birth control pill from October 2009-February 2011. My periods were never regular before and since going off the pill have been sporadic as well. After 2+ years working on my cycle with my holistic nutritionist, changing my diet, and supplementing I now get my period every 6 weeks. This is not the ideal 28 day cycle however. It’s been about 6 months of this every 6 week cycle. Do you have any recommendations to get my hormones in check for this last little bit? I was recently tested for adrenal fatigue and am awaiting the results.

  18. I would just like to emphasize the suggestion for testing up front before you spend time waiting and wondering. I did #1-5 first and struggled for 2 years before finding the answer. The cause for my amenorrhea after 10 years on birth control (7 of them on Nuva Ring) was a pituitary tumor, which may seem like an abnormal cause of hormone dysfunction, but it is far more common than one would think. It is estimated at 1 in 5 people have a benign pituitary tumor. Many are asymptomatic, but since the pituitary is the master gland it is not far fetched as a culprit. Whatever the case (PCOS, endometriosis, etc), getting a thorough health evaluation (blood, sonograms, HSG, MRIs) will remove a lot of the guess work. While I’m glad I made these changes in my diet and lifestyle, and I did a lot of the testing with my gynecologist, I didn’t have an MRI that looked at my pituitary. I wish I had seen an endocrinologist sooner. Thanks for addressing an all too common issue!

      • Transphenoidal surgery. It was a growth hormone secreting tumor, but it was so small that it wasn’t secreting large amounts of growth hormone. Just enough disruption so that I just had very low gonadotropin and sex hormone levels across the board (menopausal levels and below). I had no periods for a year after surgery, but when I started acupuncture, I regained a cycle and ovulation.

  19. Very interesting. I am a nurse and Catholic. I have spent years discussing with my friends why I believe that taking hormones to convine your body that it is pregnant ( for years!) cannot possibly be healthful . Hormones serve a vital function and should not be adulterated with no expectation of a physical effect over time.I had four easy pregnancies and was able to get pregnant the first month that I tried each time. I was able to easily breastfeed for over a year with each child. My friends have had years of infertility, miscarriage, breat cancer and ob/gyn problems after their years of BC use. Our medical establishment does not do enough to explain the ramifications of hormonal treatment of any kind. For goodness sake, many people are more worried about the hormones injected into their chicken dinner than the hormones injected into their teenage daughter.

    • I agree! But I when I was sixteen, it was the medical community touting the benefits of birth control pills! They pitched it like it was the best things since sliced bread and little emphasis on the negative side effects. Now, to that end, I’m not sure that they understood all the negative side effects at that time. And if they did, that’s even worse!

      Being on bc pills were the worst thing I ever could have done to my body and I educate my daughter thoroughly and encourage her to avoid them at all costs!

    • They should equally present both sides. Although I only took them for 2 years and got pregnant 1st cycle afterward, I believe that they messed up my hormones and thyroid which still have yet to return to normal 13 years later. If I had to do it all over again I would never take any hormonal birth control. Just get the IUD, nothing to remember and can easily be taken out if you decide you want to have more babies.

  20. Hello,

    Thanks so much for the helpful article here, I learned a lot, and this is something I am working through. I am an elite marathoner, who runs about 80 miles a week. I maintain a healthy weight, and one thing I know is that my diet is very healthy. I had a complete blood work sample done after my marathon and my numbers were “what every runner should strive for”. I am a healthy weight (5ft5, 115 lbs), and I am very careful not to overtrain. I was on the pill for over 5 years, and lost my periods completely. I have been off the pill for around 6 months, but still nothing has happened. I am hoping they will come back within a year, as I have heard my pill was known for stopping periods. I would love if you could help me get mine back, especially now I am getting to an age where I am considering children in the next few years.

    Thanks so much!