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On Birth Control? 8 Ways to Fix Hormonal Imbalance

March 11, 2022

Popping those tiny birth control pills every day usually goes one way or another for women—it either clicks and makes you feel like you’re on hormonal cruise control, or (let’s be real) it turns you into an emotional and physical wreck. Choosing the right birth control method is a personal choice for everyone, and there are pros and cons to consider before committing to a method.

Benefits of Birth Control

Any gynecologist will tell you—hormones are powerful stuff, and the hundreds of formulations on the market prove it’s not one-size-fits-all science. The benefits are great, of course: Pregnancy prevention, acne reduction, menstrual cycle regulation, not to mention the convenience.

  • Pregnancy prevention: When taken consistently (as in, every single day), birth control pills are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. It’s most reliable when you take the pill at the same time every day, so choose a time when it’ll be easy to incorporate into your routine (such as when you brush your teeth in the morning or evening).
  • Acne reduction: Acne forms when hormones called androgens create sebum, an oil made by your skin. Too much sebum leads to clogged pores and bacterial growth, and ultimately creates acne. Birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progesterone are believed to help reduce androgens, leading to clearer skin for some women.
  • Menstrual cycle regulation: Birth control pills were once offered with 21 days of active hormone pills and seven days of inactive pills. While that formula is still common, there are even more options today, including 24 days of active pills, and extended-cycle regimens for longer stretches between bleeds.

How to Balance Hormones While on Birth Control Pills

While there are numerous benefits to birth control pills, some women experience side effects that are hard to swallow. Common combination formulations like Ortho-Tricyclen, Yasmin, Yaz, the Nuva Ring (the ring), and Ortho Evra (the patch) administer synthetic estrogen and progestin into your body to inhibit the natural hormones that make you ovulate, which fools your body into thinking it’s already pregnant. Pretty clever, hormones.

But playing tricks on your body can really throw things off kilter. Aside from weight gain, bloating, migraines, tender and even enlarged breasts, and a lowered libido, perhaps the worst potential side effect is that insidious feeling of anxiety or depression that makes some women feel like they’re riding an emotional roller coaster.

If you’re not ready to give up on your birth control method just yet, it might be time to experiment with your diet to naturally re-balance these chemical messengers. Whether you’re getting these nutrients through food or supplements, you may be surprised what a difference they can make.

1. Folic acid, riboflavin (B2), vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc may be depleted when using hormonal birth control or experiencing hormonal imbalance. Supplement these nutrients if you’re not getting enough in your daily diet.

2. A DHEA supplement can also help balance testosterone and estrogen levels.

3. Fiber can help expel excess estrogen while promoting a healthy digestive tract. Eat plenty of whole grains and fibrous fruits and vegetables.

4. The liver needs to metabolize synthetic hormones from birth control, and that can be taxing. Drink dandelion tea or ingest dandelion herbs for a liver detox.

5. The pH levels in the vagina may also be altered, increasing the possibility of a yeast infection. Take probiotics by eating plain or Greek yogurt with live active cultures.

6. Fats are essential for natural hormone production and function, so consume healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado, olives, fatty fish, cod liver oil, flaxseeds, and nuts.

7. Maca root can help regulate hormonal balance and is great for kick-starting your libido, too.

8. Refined sugars and pasteurized juices can exacerbate hormonal imbalance, so steer clear of these. Soy products are high in estrogen, so it’s best to avoid these, too.

Illustration by Karley Koenig

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Dana Poblete

Dana's love for all creatures under the sun (bugs, too) drives her in her advocacy for ethical eating, environmental sustainability, and cruelty-free living. A natural born islander, she surfs when she can, and writes, always.

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