The pill has been used for many things. For something that was designed to prevent pregnancy, it is the most prescribed medicine in the world.
It’s used for reproductive disorders, commonly endometriosis and poly cystic ovarian syndrome, it’s now believed to help prevent uterine & cervical cancer (I’ll touch on why this is a fib shortly) and ovarian cysts. It’s used for treatment of pre menstrual symptoms, for irregular periods, heavy periods, painful periods, heavy bleeding and acne. Most women have taken it at one point in their lives, many for most of their ‘fertile’ years. I’ve spoken a lot about the pill here and here and here and here. The feedback from these posts have been phenomenal – my inbox is totally busting.
Here’s what you want to know.
Why do I break out when I stop taking the pill and what can I do to stop it?
Firstly – all those things I mentioned about (endometriosis, PCOS and so on) are all signs your hormones are out of whack big time. They are all treatable. They are signs your body isn’t working and it is about finding somebody to help you get that back in working order and on the road to a better you.
Secondly – before I get into pimple mode, we must know that synthetic hormones like those found in HRT and the pill are now being linked to cancer. If you want to hear more about that – I’ve got a podcast for you here.
So you want to stop taking the pill but you want it to be easy. I get it.
When you stop taking the pill, one of two things happen. For some, nothing happens. Big fat nothing. No period, no acne, no fertile mucus. Zip. Zilch. Nothing. Not good news – because hormonally you are a wreck. There is nothing going on and until you get that sorted, nothing will.
On the other hand, you body can go into a frenzy as it tries to balance itself out. Remember, the pill was designed to prevent pregnancy – it literally flattens your hormones and disrupts the delicate dance they were designed to do. Imaging a heart monitor like you might get hooked up to in hospital. Now imagine it flatlining. There you go – that's what is going on when you're taking the pill.
When acne arises post pill, it is important to establish what part of your body is screaming out. Undoubtedly it is your hormones talking – communicating to you, in the form of the location of your pimples and the nature of them. This helps us decide how to best treat them. For example, large, painful blind type pimples are more of an indication of blockage rather than pussy and infected ones indicating damp (turbidity/toxicity) build up in the body. How we treat these in the clinic will differ from person to person, determined by their presentation. Of course, this works because it is an individualized approach.
That said, there are a few things you can do to help with that transition. Of course, my best advice is to be prepared and well supported when coming off the pill. Find a practitioner who has experience in this area – but these tips are appropriate right across the board.
1. Get onto the best multi vitamin and fish oil money can buy.
The pill zaps the living bajoongers out of you. You must get your body back on track nutrient wise – so topping up with as much vitamins and minerals as possible is key. Look for practitioner grade products, they might cost a little more, but they are well worth it. A general multi is ok when in good health – but it won’t replace what is lost whilst on the pill.
Fish oils is so good for everything. In this case – it takes good care of your skin. If your vegetarian or vegan, there are some great alternatives to fish oil.
2. Clean your diet right up for at least 4 weeks – do a mini cleanse and get your gut happy. This is ultimately the pivot of your health. If it is working and fueling, the rest of your fires on all cylinders. This may mean cutting down on meats and dairy and absolutely avoiding processed foods. A good alkaline cleanse can be key (check out my Spring Body Cleanse I’m running via the blog set to commence oct 22nd – it’s very basic but I’ve done the hard work for you!). Meat and dairy can cause inflammation, contributing to a host of issues including acne.
3. Get a good zinc supplement. Zinc is essential for beautiful skin. Or speak to your health practitioner – they may have a specific formula for you. We have one we regularly recommend to women coming off the pill.
4. Introduce a cleansing herbal supplement and go crazy on it. Better still, blend your own using fresh leaves and herbs from your garden. Think cleansing and soothing – so things like peppermint, nettle and dandelion. Make tea drinking a priority.
5. Sleep for your hormones – going to sleep (not just to bed!) before 11pm is vital to keep your hormones happy. If you sleep too little, you will find your body craving foods as it aims to regain the balance – it means you’ll feel lousy, eat poorly and probably more than you usually would.
6. Before bed, take your pro-biotic to keep your gut ticking and happy. Does wonders for you and your skin.
It can be useful to talk this over with your practitioner, but this advice is a great start to a smooth transition coming off the pill. Remember, listen to what your body is saying and allow it to go through the motions as it readjusts to the ‘new you’ post pill. It doesn’t have to be terrible – who knows, the reason you first went on the pill might not actually be relevant anymore anyway! Puberty delivers some interesting things.