s2 e13: How to transition off hormonal birth control

In this episode, I’m covering a highly requested topic: how to support your body when transitioning off of hormonal birth control. Coming off the birth control pill is what sparked my own hormone healing journey and there’s so much that I wish I knew back then that I will be sharing with you in this episode. We will be focusing on five main areas that you want to consider when rebalancing post birth control. These are what I find the most important to address with clients and my own experience. 

One quick thing I want to note is that you can apply pretty much all of these principles to support your body while continuing hormonal birth control as well. This is probably the top question I get when I talk about this, so I figured I’d address it right away. If you’re currently on hormonal birth control and plan on staying on, this episode is still for you. 

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Amanda Montalvo 0:00
Hey, this is Amanda Women’s Health dietitian.

Emily 0:03
And I’m Emily nutritional therapy practitioner.

Amanda Montalvo 0:05
And this is the RU menstrual podcast where we help you navigate the confusing world of women’s hormones in teach you how to have healthy periods.

Emily 0:12
Each week we will be diving into a different topic on women’s health and sharing our perspective using nutrition, email physiology and metabolic health.

Amanda Montalvo 0:20
Our goal is to help you wade through conflicting health information and empower you on your healing journey.

Emily 0:25
We hope you enjoy it.

Amanda Montalvo 0:37
Okay, in this episode, I’m covering a highly requested topic. And that is how to support your body when you’re transitioning off hormonal birth control or if you’ve already come off and you’re having symptoms. This is something that really kind of sparked my own hormone healing journey. And if you’ve been here for a while, you probably already know this. But there’s so much that I wish I knew back then I got off hormonal birth control. About 12 years ago, I was like doing sports nutrition in college, I was like this is not this is definitely my main focus. I never thought in a million years, I’d focus on women’s health. And here I am. And it all happened after I came off the pill. And I didn’t get my period for almost a year. My acne got way worse diagnosed and hypothyroidism, PCOS like, basically I thought I was in a really great health came off the pill, everything started going downhill, and no one could help me. And that’s what made me try to learn everything I possibly could. I just wish there are so many simple things that we can that now I know, because I’ve helped a lot of women come off the pill or recover after, there’s a lot of things you can do to minimize the stress within your body to rebalance minerals, support your hormones, get your ovulation back, which is really like that main goal that I just wish I knew back then because it would have saved me a lot of you know, heartache. And I would say like stress, trying to figure out my health for so long. But that’s okay, because it’s why I’m here today and doing work that I truly love. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to focus on five main areas to that you want to make sure you’re addressing things to like consider, you know, like a checklist, basically, when you are coming off the pill, or hormonal IUD doesn’t really matter. But these are the biggest areas that I like to address with clients and what I wish I knew when I came off, and one quick thing I want to know is that you can apply all of these things, if you are still taking hormonal birth control, I get that question a lot when I post content around, like, how to come off the pill, how hormonal birth control affects your body, people are usually like, what do I do if I want to stay on it totally fine. And you can continue to do a lot of these things like obviously, some of this stuff is specific for the time when you’re coming off. But a lot of the recommendations, like we’ll talk about minerals, and then like some stress management stuff, you can still do all this while you’re taking it or while you have your hormonal IUD, and that’s fine. In fact, my younger sister, she recently came off the pill. But she did, we basically did lots of hair testing, like after she had my nephew a few years ago. And we’ve continued to do it throughout because she did choose to take the pill during that time. So there’s still things you can do to support your body while on it. And honestly, these are all them that I would recommend. And if you’ve come off like a while ago, but you feel like you’re still struggling. Yes, you can still apply all these things. The five areas are stress management, liver support, mineral balance, beneficial gut bacteria, just supporting gut health in general. And then replenishing nutrient deficiencies. And some of these overlap. I tried to make this as like, actionable as possible so that you can you feel like you have like a little list of things you can work on after you listen to this episode. So let’s start with stress management. I don’t think a lot of people realize that the pill is like a chronic, low grade stressor on the body. So when we stop taking it, we do want to make sure we are supporting a healthy stress response. It also depletes certain nutrients that like magnesium, for example, that we need to respond to stress appropriately. So there’s like multiple ways that it’s going to impact our stress response. But overall, we want to think about if we’re taking I mean I say the pill but like the pill, any like hormonal IUD, it’s giving you a small amount of hormones every single day. And so what happens is, it leads to like a stress cascade in the body. So our brain gets alerted to the stress tells our adrenals Hey, there’s inflammation. That’s when Cortisol is released. There’s a stressor. This happens over and over and over and eventually the brain and the adrenal glands are no longer functioning in the way that they’re supposed to be. Because normally our bodies are supposed to be exposed to a stress and then we take a step back, we relax, we recover But when we have something like the pill, hormonal IUD, or honestly, like any day to day stress, it’s all going to look the same. That’s when we are constantly having this cortisol release. And when we have this happen over and over that little feedback loop, the brain, the adrenals, and how they’re talking to each other, that no longer works properly, because your body, your brain starts to think, oh, I have plenty of cortisol, I’m not going to continue to make more cortisol. And that’s when we start to get into this dysfunctional like burnout phase. Obviously, if we’re dealing with this chronic stress, too, it’s going to deplete certain minerals like magnesium, sodium and potassium. If we’re not replenishing those, it’s really hard for your body to continue functioning properly, because it’s always going to try to compensate and bring you back into balance. But when we start to get deficient in certain things, it gets really difficult to do that. And this constant like stress cascade that’s happening in your body. When you’re on hormonal birth control. I think this is a really big contributor to post pill fatigue. And this is something I see a ton of usually women feel pretty good when they first get off the pill or first get initially, like get their IUD taken out. It’s kind of like, oh my gosh, I feel better already. This is amazing. I can’t believe this, and then it kind of sets in, because you’re not always ovulating right away making more hormones and you no longer have these hormones being put into your body. A lot of rebalancing is happening. But also, you’re now dealing with this, a little bit of adrenal dysfunction and your body’s just a little bit tired. We also tend to see lots of gut imbalances, possible thyroid issues, then some nutrient deficiencies that we’ll go into. So all these things kind of contribute to that Postville fatigue. But I do see this like stress cascade, you know, it is a little bit of a stressor every single day. Plus, if you just think of all of our other life stressors on top of that, not amazing. And so if and when you do decide to transition off the pill, I always recommend trying to take that a week or two off from like, very intense exercise, only doing things if you have the energy to like exercise wise, if you don’t feel like doing your workout that day, then listen, because your body’s trying to communicate with you its needs trying to get as much sleep as you can an avoiding like adding too much stress on top of that, like if you know, for example, that you have a super stressful week coming up, like maybe not the best time to come off or get your ID taken out. Now, sometimes it’s a health thing, and we’re like, I cannot continue to take this, or this is the only time I can get my IUD taken out. That’s fine, I would just keep in mind, like trying to implement as many of these practices that we’re going to talk about next, to reduce your stress as you can. It’s not always gonna be perfect timing, and it’s okay. But I would just say like, if you can plan it, that would be ideal, like trying to do it during a time where you’re gonna have less stress. So what are things that I recommend doing? When we’re coming off? Like, what can we do during this time? I would say, Well, number one, I don’t think we need to add in extra fancy things. I you know, sometimes it’s like, Oh, should I like do this type of like meditation practice? Or should I do this type of routine every single day, I would not make it complicated. The biggest thing that you want to do is nourishment for your body. Because remember, the pill depletes certain nutrients. And one, we want to make sure we’re punishing those two, it’s your body’s been under a little bit of a kind of like low grade chronic stress for a while. So we want to make sure we’re punishing, like using a drain on cocktails and then three, we really want to just think about, Okay, so what’s going to help reduce your stress? What do we know? What do we know for sure, that’s going to lead to you making less cortisol, that stress hormone throughout the day. And that’s keeping your blood sugar balance and being fed. You know, one of the hardest things our body does all day is balance our blood sugar. And I think that because it’s you know, it’ll compensate and it’ll balance it out, our bodies will deal with it. We kind of think it’s no big deal. But it’s one of those things that, you know, while our schedules can be challenging sometimes, and we might not always have like food on hand unless we really plan for it. I still think that focusing on eating breakfast soon after you wake up eating every few hours, and then having adrenal cocktails, I would say twice a day if you can when you’re transitioning off the pill or getting your IUD out. Because, again, like we want to really replenish that sodium and potassium as much as we can and help your body deal with stress better. That’s really the goal. So I mean, my my hope is that you’re doing all these things before you come off. But if you are just finding this episode, and you’re like I just came off this week where I’m gonna come off on my last pack of pills, or I’m getting my IUD out next month, or tomorrow, that’s fine. You can implement all of these now. So nutrition wise, eating breakfast soon after waking, trying to eat every three hours, I would say. And then adrenal cocktails twice a day would be the goal. If you’re not doing them at all, just start with one. And if you’re like, what is an adrenal cocktail, I have a blog post that I’ll put in the show notes. We’ve talked about this on the nourishing nutrition foundation episode. Same thing with like eating regularly. But basically, what these are going to do is it’s going to keep your blood sugar balanced, it’s going to give you sodium and potassium from the adrenal cocktail. And that’s going to help you respond to stress. And keep you hydrated, which is huge, too. But those those would be like the three top things food wise that I would really try to work on. As soon as you’re coming off the pill. And ideally, like beforehand, if you’re like, how do you make an adrenal cocktail, there are many recipes, check them out in the blog, I think one of the easiest and well tolerated ones to start with is half a cup of coconut water, half of a lemon or lime, and then a quarter teaspoon of sea salt, that’s going to give you sodium, potassium, whole food, vitamin C, and a great balance. And it shouldn’t really disturb your blood sugar either. You can have it at any time. If you’ve never had it, and maybe you’re worried about blood sugar imbalances, you could have it with a snack, you could have it close to a meal, or like an hour after a meal. But ideally like morning, and or afternoon, that’s going to be like the best time to do it. I do have a lot of people that do that before bed, and it helps them sleep. So experiment, find what works for you. But those three things nutritionally are going to be a great way to bring down that cortisol and help you start regulating that nervous system telling your body that hey, I’m fed, I’m safe. And we can ease out of this, you know, suppressed ovulation state and hopefully get you having a regular cycle again and ovulating right away. Because remember, ovulation is the only way that we’re going to make progesterone and making progesterone is what helps us have balanced hormones. And it makes sure that we feel good, and we’re thriving, and we’re not symptomatic all cycle. So that’s kind of the nutrition aspect. When we think of like, what are some things outside of food that I can do during this time to like, really make sure that I’m supporting my body. Number one, I would say go into bed just a little bit earlier, if you already get like, eight, nine hours of sleep, and you’re like, I don’t really feel like this is going to help me move the needle. That’s fine. But I will say like, most of the women I work with need a lot more sleep, when they come off the pill. Again, your body’s doing a lot of work your livers doing a ton of work, which we’ll talk about next. So getting some extra sleep can be really helpful. So going to bed a little bit earlier, if you already go to bed early, maybe you’re skipping your morning workout that week, just so that you can like truly rest and let your body kind of chill. Getting outside is another big one, trying to get that good light exposure. And plus, when we go outside, it’s a great way to lower cortisol, like going for a walk, you know, that immediately burns off cortisol or stress hormone. So getting outside going for a walk could be great. Getting that light exposure in the morning, if you can, eating your meals outside, like that’s usually how I get more outside time during the day. Because sometimes it’s like, we don’t always have an extra hour to go outside. So just trying to eat meals and snacks outside helps me get that more that time in. But those two things, it’s all about like kind of resetting that nervous system. Because if you’ve had this low grade, chronic stress for however long, you’ve been using that hormonal birth control, which I mean, for many of us, it can be like 1020 years, sometimes I’ve had clients come off after 10 years, 15 years, sometimes it’s only a couple of years or even a couple of months, we still want to support our bodies, especially if you feel like you did not react well. Like if you’re one of those people that you only took it for like maybe like six months, you only had your IUD for like less than a year. Because you were just you notice an immediate change in yourself. Please, please, please take this time to like, calm that nervous system because you likely had a much more stressful response to the birth control.

So doing things that help calm you and that’s, that’s why like, it can be really hard when I’m like try to reduce your stress and like I don’t know what relaxes you and what relaxes me is going to might not relax you because everyone’s in like a different nervous system state. And I did a podcast episode with Alyssa Chang about brain based like a brain based approach to healing. And we do talk about like creating safety in your body because our bodies are constantly scanning for threats. So that would be a great one to listen to. If you’re like I don’t really know where I’m at right now. or I’m not really like super connected to my body, I don’t know what my body might be trying to communicate with me based on my symptoms. Definitely listened to episodes talks about the threat bucket. It’s just really good for kind of evaluating, like where you’re currently at. But just think about, like, what helps you calm down? For me, like I do, like getting outside, I love reading, petting my dogs immediately. Like, you know, cuddling my dogs, spending time with my husband breathwork is huge. Like, I find an immediate relief when I utilize breathwork. So it’s like I have red light therapy also that like every red light, I’ll just sit in front of if I’m like, feeling like way too stimulated. So try to find what are those things for you. And tapping into that during this time. And it could just be as simple as like, I’m gonna eat my lunch outside or like, I’m gonna go outside after work and just like, chill. It doesn’t have to be anything big. And so that’s like, the big reminder is trying not to add more to your list and more stress with this, you just want to think of okay, how can I sleep more? How can I make sure I’m eating enough during this time, maybe I’m going to add some extra adrenal cocktails. And then I’m just going to basically treat yourself as good as you possibly can for that, like week or two, after coming off. And I do think that will help you mentally physically, and just kind of help your body reset. So that’s the stress piece. As far as liver stuff, so like stress is the first area you want to start thinking about, because it’s something you can immediately start working on. Now, the liver support, I would say, same idea. And honestly, most of these things, I try to help people start doing at least like a month before they come off. But when we think about what our liver is going through, whether we’re coming off the pill, or maybe we have a hormonal IUD, our body has been dealing with extra hormones, and our livers been working really hard to try to process out all those hormones. And then plus, when you’re coming off, you’re gonna start to slowly make your own. So typically what happens is, yes, our hormones might look low when we come off the pill or the IUD, especially the pill. But you’re going to start making more like, hopefully FSH and LH and like estrogen, but you really aren’t going to make any progesterone until you ovulate. So most of the time, our androgens and our estrogen can be a little bit high when we come off. And that’s why we can have a lot of like, fluid retention and weight gain in the beginning, not feeling super great. Some acne, you know, so many of those things happen just because we haven’t ovulated and made enough of that progesterone to balance it out yet. So livers work at heart. Plus, we have to remember that when we’re taking hormonal birth control, we’re depleting things like magnesium, vitamin A certain B vitamins, vitamin C, E, and selenium and zinc. And all of those nutrients, especially things like vitamin A and B vitamins are really important for our liver function. So when we think about do you know, do I necessarily need to do anything extra? We’ll talk about a few things that I think are worth it. But the first thing you want to think of is, is my liver being supported? In general, right? I think we think of liver detox as this thing that we have to like take supplements for our liver is constantly detoxing. I think what we discount or don’t like put enough of an emphasis on is how much energy our liver needs in order to function properly. And that it is not just detoxifying things, it’s not just a filter, not even close. It has over 500 different functions, it’s already doing one of those being that whole blood sugar thing, right. So if we kind of like go back to like that stress piece of how I said try to eat regularly throughout the day, so you can keep your blood sugar balanced. That’s also going to help support your liver. Because keeping that T three, which is our active thyroid hormone and a good place, we can do that by eating frequently throughout the day. If we can do that, that that’s also going to replenish our liver glycogen, which is just stored energy stored glucose or sugar in the liver. And that’s going to help us keep our blood sugar stable. Eating Enough food, getting a mix of protein and carbs at your meals. And eating regularly is going to help reduce that burden. Because your livers already doing a lot of different things at this point, I would say that’s like the number one way to support your livers. So if you’re someone that’s coming from a restrictive background, maybe you’ve been under eating, you are not the person that’s going to want to add it any of the herbs that I like to use. You’re going to want to start from the beginning because if you start adding in some stimulation to help your liver detox and try to get that process going. You probably won’t feel great big cuz you’re not going to have the resources to back it up all the things I already talked about for stress, also going to help with liver detoxification plus the sleep, you know, that’s huge. Our liver does a lot of processing at night. And it’s really restorative for for it. So we want to keep that in mind to food wise, I also think protein is very under utilized for liver support. Trying to get enough complete proteins, like animal proteins is going to be really important. Not only are we going to use the amino acids, our liver uses a ton of amino acids, we’re also going to use the vitamins and minerals in them to support the liver and make sure that it has those nutrients it needs to actually properly detoxify. So eggs, any sort of beef, seafood, bone broth, and gelatin are also going to be great because they have glycine in them. And even if we think of like eggs, like they’re gonna have choline, which helps us make more bile. And bile helps us break down fats. But we also like Bile is important for getting rid of hormones, too. We excrete hormones in our bile. So another big one that we’re and we’ll talk about supporting digestion, too, that’s going to help but eating enough food getting enough animal protein, and I usually say like 100 grams a day minimum for most people. And if you’re eating like 50 grams, I wouldn’t go right to 100, I would do like maybe do 70 grams and like slowly increase it. Because that’s probably not going to be realistic. But that’s going to be like kind of the Food Basics, if we want to get a little more specific. And we’re like, Okay, well, what about those vitamins and minerals that get depleted? When we’re taking hormonal birth control, all the animal foods are going to be helpful because remember, B 12 is a big one. And that is found in in animal proteins. Vitamin A is another big one. So we can get that from like liver, egg yolks, dairy. And then Vitamin C is another big one that’s we can get that from like citrus, any fruit, bell peppers, that sort of thing. But citrus is gonna give us the most. So those would be like the big ones we want to focus on. And then if we think about how can we like reduce the burden? That’s before we do any sort of like stimulation of the liver, we always want to make sure the main needs are met. So food eating regularly protein micronutrients, and then we want to think about are you getting enough sleep? And then we want to think about what is the current burden on the liver, what is it already doing, that could possibly take away from working on processing out these hormones and getting you in a better place symptom wise. And so reducing our toxic exposure is huge for this. And that’s going to reduce the overall burden on the liver. Because while it’s so much more than a filter, it still is going to be working on all those different chemicals and additives that are in the products that we use. So I would say like plastics is it is a big one. I mean, we’re never gonna get rid of all plastic, but it’s one that can give you like, a lot of bang for your buck, because it’s going to help reduce that toxic exposure, but it’s also going to help minimize Xeno estrogens. Those can mimic estrogens. And then remember, you’re probably already going to be in an estrogen dominant state at this point. So that’ll help you in multiple ways. Things like switching to like menstrual cups, period panties, that’s going to reduce your exposure from certain harmful chemicals and those products and reduce plastic exposure. And then looking at your products, which is like a whole podcast.

And I don’t know some people are like really extreme when it comes to this. I just think that when I when I look at the liver, the burden on the liver, I look at the overall it’s like the called the rain barrel effect. So your everything that we’re using and coming into contact with every day is going to fill up a rain barrel. So as soon as we switch over like saying you’re doing less plastic, maybe you get period panties, and they completely change your life and you never use tampons or pads again, that’s another those are that’s more kind of chemicals not going into that rain barrel. And then as you slowly switch over your products because it takes time to find stuff that number one works. There’s a lot of non toxic products out there now. And they’re not all good even if they have great ingredients like That’s great. Like for me like with I don’t really wear makeup a ton but when I do I’m like I want it to work. So that was one where it’s like it took me longer to switch over all my makeup products and I was okay with that because I was like I’m not gonna get something. I’m not going to use a foundation that like makes me break out just because it has better ingredients. At least like that’s how I personally feel with mascara took me like forever to find a good one. So I like the honest brand. They make a great one. And, and it’s not perfect, it’s not as great as my other one. But it’s a much better option that work has worked for me so far. Hey, Amanda here, just giving you a quick break, hopefully a break for your brain in the middle of this podcast episode to remind you that if you haven’t gone through our free training, optimizing hormone health through mineral balance, we really do recommend starting there. And the main reason for that is because you’re going to hear us say things like mineral foundation, having a solid foundation, are you putting the foundations in place, especially what as we get deeper and deeper into different hormonal topics and specific imbalances in the body, though, the mineral foundation is always going to be so essential. So if you haven’t watched the free training, you can find it in our show notes. Or you can go to hormone healing rd.com. And it’s going to be right on that front page there. But we really recommend starting there so you can understand how is your current mineral status, how do you assess this, and how to get started with all that just so you can get as much as you possibly can out of the rest of the podcast episodes. But that’s it, I hope you enjoy the rest of this episode.

Hair products, I mean, I think hairs the hardest, honestly, because now it’s like they make a ton of makeup. They’re like Lilly has a great brand. They have good mascara to Foundation, all that kind of stuff like you can find it. But her products are really difficult. Morocco method I love for shampoo and conditioner. But not everyone likes that natural under Luna is one that I talked about too. And that hair loss episode. That’s my current favorite. And that’s the one that I would recommend to someone if they’ve never used cleaner hair products before. I know it’s more expensive, but it’s super concentrated. So you like the they’ll last you a really long time. I’ve used the same two bottles for like three months at this point. And they’re not even halfway gone. So definitely something to consider, like just doing it slowly and not like stressing yourself out of like, oh, I have to change all my cleaning products, all my personal care products, though every time you switch one out, that’s lowering the burden on your liver. So again, like if you’re just coming off the pill or getting your IUD out, I don’t think it’s worth it to be like, Oh my gosh, I have to do all these things foodwise a to minimize my stress. But then I also need to swap all these products or my liver is going to have a huge burden. Like that’s not helpful, I do think it’s more important to focus on that like reducing those products than it is to like stimulate a liver detox. Because, again, you’re going to be stimulating this detox when your liver already has a big burden. When we have a burden on our liver, it’s already working harder. It already kicks in that phase one detox, the more toxins were exposed to. So focus on that first. And then from there, I would say if you can listen to if you haven’t already, our live our intro to Lynn flow podcasts I do with my friend Leah. She’s a lymphatic massage therapist. She’s amazing. And she’s really good at teaching about the lymph and lymph self massage. So we talk all about the lymphatic system. i It’s another one where like we do transfer some hormones and stuff in our lymph and it affects our immune system. It’s really important. I find like not a lot of people really focus on their lymphatic system. And, you know, I mean, I never did self massage before I met Leah. I did dry brushing, but turns out I wasn’t doing it right. So there’s just so many little easy tips that she gives that you can start to incorporate to support your lymphatic system, because that is one where that’s going to have a huge effect on your liver and toxins. And honestly just like how you’re gonna feel. So listen to that one. That’s episode 11 of season two, we recently did that one, it’s totally worth it. So eating enough, eating regularly throughout the day, getting enough sleep just like kind of repeating all the things we just said, getting animal proteins in 100 grams a day, citrus foods for vitamin C, liver, meat, eggs, dairy, for the other nutrients that we’re missing out on. And then really trying to like slowly swap out products, reduce your toxic exposure, support your lymphatic system. And then finally I would say then you can consider getting fancy. And I think herbs like milk thistle dandelion root burdock root, I love those for supporting the liver, you can even just do them in like simple T forms. And that does help stimulate phase one. So you just want to make sure your other phases. Phase two is really focused on food nourishment, my macros and micros, and then phase three elimination digestion, we have to actually make sure we’re eliminating the toxins. So we don’t just want to focus on phase one, which is the mistake most people make we want to focus on everything. I also love castor oil packs. We’ll talk about those a little bit more with the high iron section. But those those can be really helpful too. But again, like none of those things are going to matter. If you’re not eating enough, and like reducing your stress, and I just want to go through a couple signs, like if you’ve done a hair test most, we’re gonna talk about mineral balance next. So I use hair mineral testing with all my clients. But and I have that mastery minerals course where you can do a hair test, learn how to interpret your hair test make a protocol, and like so much more at this point, I’ve added a lot to it. But that’s kind of the basic premise of it. When I work with women coming off hormonal birth control, they always do a hair test first, or like at the same time, because the hair shows the last three months of information, some signs, if you have done a hair test that you can look at like is your liver, like extra stressed? Do you really need to pay very close attention to this on the hair tests are going to be things like high Cobalt is a sign of liver stress, there’s a lot of signs of like excess iron, so things like high zinc, high iron, manganese, high chromium, or high boron, those are all going to be signs that there’s some iron accumulation going on. We’ll talk about that. Next, that’s very stressful in the liver, and then just low minerals in general. So if you’re like a fast for or if a lot of your minerals are below that middle optimal line, you’re already going to have a harder time detoxing. So it might be tempting to be like I’m going to focus on like adding in some milk thistle, I’m gonna do some castor oil packs, you might not actually tolerate it well, because you don’t have the mineral resources for your liver detox properly. So that’s big, it can be really helpful to see what’s going on with the hair test, you don’t need it to apply any of these things. But I know a lot of you have done them. So just in case, that’s what you’d want to look out for on your hair test. So then mineral balance. So we talked about stress management, we talked about supporting the liver, when it comes to the other big area. And probably one of my big biggest focuses with people coming off the pill or hormonal IUD is balancing copper and iron, what typically happens is they’re going to be high on your test, they might not always be high in your first test, they might be normal, and then you do a retest and like four months, and then they’re both really high. And you’re like what the heck is going on. I see this all the time, but actually like copper. So the first thing people think of is, oh my gosh, I have copper toxicity, they start googling what copper toxicity is, and what you do about high copper. It is incredibly difficult to be copper toxic, the amount of copper that you’d have to take in is extremely high. And you’d have to actively be supplementing with it, which most people are not, there’s a really great book called The copper revolution if you want to learn more about this, but it’s totally worth the read. I’ll probably do a whole nother podcast on copper and have the author on but he I mean, some of his stuff I don’t always agree with but a lot of it gives you a lot of really good perspective because people see high copper on a hair test, they immediately think copper toxicity, but it’s usually a copper in balance. So it’s not necessarily oh my gosh, I have high copper now. But why is my copper leaving the cell? Because remember, the hair shows us what’s leaving the cell. If you have high on blood work, it can be the same thing. It’s the the question is why is copper being displaced? Right? Because when it’s really heightens, we can’t use it. So I almost always see high copper when someone’s on the pill especially. I have seen it with hormonal IDs. My sister, my younger sister when she was on the pill, and we were kind of monitoring her minerals, just she was dealing with some health stuff, some like yeast, recurrent yeast infections, annoying things that she like could not get rid of. And I was like, I know you’re not going to come off a pill right now, which is fine. But if we just look at what’s going on with your minerals, we can at least try to keep them in his balance as much of balance as possible while you’re taking it. And honestly, it really helps because once we saw that super high copper, we were able to do a lot of things that we’re going to talk about, and the tips and like a second, like getting more whole food vitamin C and we really upped her vitamin A, like cod liver oil really helped her which normally I wouldn’t just randomly have someone supplement with so it’s helpful to get a look at but I wouldn’t freak out and assume you’re copper toxic. If this is the case for you. One of the things that’s impacting this is that as estrogen goes up, copper is also going to go up and I see estrogen changes even if someone is on a progesterone only pill like my sister was on a progesterone only pill, but she still had a lot of estrogen dominance. So I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s just from the combined bill that has estrogen and progesterone, or at least the synthetic versions of those. It can also be from just the progestin only, we’re also depleting certain nutrients like vitamin A, when we take hormonal birth control. Vitamin A is essential for keeping copper available. So when we have less vitamin A, we’re much more likely to have less bioavailable copper, but it doesn’t mean copper is going to look low, it can look high, so So, I see a lot of high coppers on hair tests, I don’t assume that that person has too much copper, it usually means they need one they need enough copper because they’re using a tons leaving the cell. And then two, we probably need more vitamin A and a lot of women are I mean, think about it, I eliminated dairy for a long time. So so many of us are like eliminating dairy we, which is a great source of vitamin A, we might not eat organ meats. And then we end up taking medications like Accutane, if you’re dealing with acne, that’s further going to deplete vitamin A levels and copper. So most women I talk to are worried about too much vitamin A, but in reality, they probably need a lot more than they’re currently getting. And like with my sister, like she doesn’t eat a ton of dairy, she had some. And she definitely wasn’t doing organ meats because she’s not like a huge meat eater. So getting and she didn’t love the beef liver supplement. So I was like, Let’s do cod liver oil so that we can get more vitamin A. So she was kind of doing all these things while she was still taking the pill. And then it definitely helped ease the transition off. It still wasn’t perfect, but you can only do as much as you can. So that’s kind of the copper piece. Copper imbalances are huge. So if we want to think about how are we going to help this, minimize this, even before you come off, if you can, you want to make sure you’re getting enough copper and vitamin A rich foods, beef lovers going to be the best source, you can eat it, you can take it as a supplement. There are many brands that I love, I’ll put in the show notes. Dairy is a great source egg yolks, cacao is gonna give us a good amount of copper, not vitamin A, but it’ll give us copper, and then citrus foods, those are going to really help give us whole food vitamin C, which does have copper. And then we also want to include whole food vitamin C, so that helps us use copper better. So hopefully Vitamin C is going to help make it more available. And if you see really high levels, it just I’ve found that it really helps bring those down pretty easy ways to like stress, the adrenal cocktails I talked about under the stress section, fruit in general bell peppers, all those things are gonna be great sources of vitamin C. And then there’s two things we want to like rethink supplement wise, zinc, so the links can further deplete and displace copper, and then vitamin D, and vitamin D. It does a lot of other things like it depletes potassium, magnesium, not great. But it tends to lead to a lot of imbalances and copper and deplete vitamin A. And it makes us look anemic. So if you’re like what I thought I was supposed to take those two supplements, everyone recommends them. Listen to season one, episode eight, we talk we talk more in much more detail about this. It’s supplements that do more harm than good. So listen to those if you’re like I have no clue what you’re talking about. But that’s those are the recommendations I would make to help rebalance copper. And then some signs and your hair tests a copper is out of balance, I would say really low copper, high copper or having an imbalance in that iron and copper ratio that’s on the second page. So that’s copper, the other mineral we really want to focus on iron. So we had to cover copper first, because copper impacts how we use iron. So if we don’t have enough available copper, because we’re taking some form of hormonal birth control, it’s depleting certain nutrients like vitamin A, our iron is gonna get dysregulated. And if you’ve been in this community for a while listening to my podcast for a while, then you know that iron has a recycling system that’s very specific, and requires certain nutrients like copper and vitamin A just to keep it in motion. We don’t want iron to get stuck in the tissues. This is when inflammation happens. So and like things like estrogen dominance, and gut issues and all that fun stuff. So if you’re like, I have no idea what you’re talking about Amanda, I knew here, then listen to season one, episode six, the connection between copper and iron, that is going to help you better understand how these two minerals work together. But just know that in order to get iron in motion and using it properly, we need copper and vitamin A. And those are two things that I just mentioned, they get very dysregulated when we’re on the pill, or other hormonal birth control. So another area that’s going to impact iron outside of like copper and vitamin A is if the birth control you’re taking actually contains it. So there’s a lot of types of birth control out there that have red sugar pills. And some of those can contain up to 75 milligrams of iron. So if we pair this iron that we’re getting from the pill, plus low copper and vitamin A, or imbalanced copper, then we’re going to get way more accumulation of iron and that can cause inflammation, gut issues, liver stress, usually high cobalt on a hair test is going to be paired with with high iron. And if you’re like looking at your chest and you’re like oh my iron is not high, but I have high high high cobalt. It could also be that if you see really high zinc or are high chromium, those are signs of excess iron, high boron or low boron, and then higher low manganese, those are all going to be signs of some iron imbalances. Same thing with like sulfur. If Silver’s lower, high, that’s another sign. So those are like the two big areas are in from the pill, not getting a copper, vitamin A, the last area that we want to consider for iron and kind of like what our situation could be coming off, hormonal birth control, is how much you’re bleeding while on the pill. So women are always gonna absorb more iron than men. And this doesn’t go away if we don’t get a period. Or if we’re not bleeding, because on the pill, you don’t get a period because you’re not ovulating. But a lot of times, we’ll have pill bleeds once a month, the only way we can get rid of iron is through bleeding. So normally, we do this every month with our menstrual cycle. A lot of women don’t experience regular blades on the pill, it could be maybe you only have a few a year, every other month, no bleeding at all, or you just have a lot lighter periods, all of these things are going to lead to more iron accumulation. And then that’s going to make you want to consider more of like, okay, how can I really try to rebalance my iron, and make sure that this isn’t like an issue for me. Especially if you have like, like recurrent yeast infections, or like candida overgrowth, pathogens or parasites, lots of digestive distress, those are going to be very greatly impacted by iron. And it’s going to be hard to get rid of them if you have a lot of this excess iron. So how can we rebalance iron when we get off hormonal birth control. Number one, follow all the tips for copper because remember, we need to have enough copper. Number two, I would say castor oil packs are great. I know I talked about those for liver detox, but they do have a specific type of acid in them that can help remove iron. And then once you’ve like, set a really good nutrition Foundation, maybe you’ve been doing adrenal cocktails for at least a few months, you could consider a blood donation. Blood donation is really the best way to get rid of excess iron, but it takes a lot of energy. So I think people kind of underestimate, like, Well, I’m just gonna go donate blood. And then they don’t feel great after it’s a huge energetic demand on the body, you burn at least like 600 calories and people even more, you lose about a gram of sodium. So that’s why I’m like please up your sodium before you give blood, increase it the day of and after, have an extra snack before you go. Bring an adrenal cocktail snack with you. Because you probably don’t want to eat the snacks that they’re gonna try to give you. And you don’t really want to wait until you get home. And just in general, like you’d want to make sure that you’re not super stressed. So remember, I say we want to minimize stress around this time of transitioning off the pill. So we wouldn’t want to donate blood. Right during that time, right? We’d want to wait a little bit. But just so that you know, like say you do a hair test because you want to see what’s going on, like, what your current stage of stress is, you want to see if there’s any copper and iron imbalances going on what minerals you want to focus on to help sort of supporting your metabolism and ovulation. It’s really helpful. But say you see all the signs of excess iron and you’re like, oh my gosh, I need to donate blood. Don’t make that the first thing you do. Okay, set yourself up for success and support yourself nutritionally. First, and I promise you it will be worth it. And that way, then you can donate every few months. And you won’t have like a bad reaction because if you do it and you don’t feel great, you’re going to be scared to do it again. And then it’s not. It’s kind of defeating the whole purpose. So that’s the mineral portion. So stress lovers support mineral rebalancing. The next area is rebalancing beneficial gut bacteria. So especially with the pill, this is important, not as much the hormonal IUD. I haven’t seen research on this, at least with the IUD, but the pill does cause dysbiosis, which is just like a fancy way of saying that you have an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your gut. And what this does is it creates a really nice environment for other things to grow, which is the opposite of what we want, right? We don’t want things like pathogens and parasites and yeast to overgrowth in the gut. This is gonna lead to a very over activated immune system. And I see this all the time like really low beneficial bacteria a really low functioning immune system. Just like lots of reactions to like histamines and stuff like that.

Recurrent yeast infections, acne. A lot of these things happen post pill because of this, like low grade chronic stress, we’re already dealing with right? hormone imbalances, and then some mineral imbalances, like iron. And then if we just add another layer, that pill also creates this dysbiosis. So this is kind of how things can like slowly get out of control. I definitely had more like infection based acne post pill. I took antibiotics for years for my acne, which I’m not super happy about now, but it did clear up my skin. And that’s because I had an overgrowth of my gut that was contributing to that. So what do we want to do to rebalance the gut bacteria? I would say like number one, I don’t always recommend like probiotics first, but post pill I just find them very helpful. So taking a high quality like spore based probiotic can really help if you do have some overgrowth, it’s a very gentle way to start to get rid of some of that. So just thrive, probiotic is great. And I also really like megaspore biotic, it’s basically the same as the just thrive one. They’re made by the same company. And then I love the Mitel life endotoxin reducer one. So I’ll put those in the show notes. That would be a great option, especially if you are dealing with more acne, or if you have a history of it, or you feel like you have digestive issues, constipation, loose stools, anything like that. I would say number one would be that sorbets probiotic. Obviously we want to feed that probiotic to. So getting probiotic rich foods in this is something everyone can do. onions, leeks, garlic, asparagus, artichokes, apples, bananas, dandelion greens, oh Tikka plantains, these are some of the best ones, they’re gonna give you great fibers, they’re going to help feed beneficial bacteria. And then taking the spore based probiotics can help crowd out some of that not so great bacteria, and helping slowly rebalance your gut. I do like probiotic rich foods for some people. So like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kefir, all that kind of stuff, it can be helpful, but some people are not going to respond well to that, especially if they have other imbalances. So what can happen like if you have those foods and say you get digestive distress, or bloating or constipation, or pain somewhere in your body or a skin reaction, acne, eczema, dry skin, itchy skin, anything like that, that those are all signs of just a histamine intolerance. And this means that so much histamine has built up in your body, that you’re now getting a reaction from it. And I’m gonna do a whole podcast on histamines because they’re more complex than I have time to go into in this episode. But basically, if you don’t have great digestion, you think you’ve got gut issues, maybe you have eczema or something, do not add in fermented foods, they’re not going to help you right now. While they do give you good beneficial bacteria, you’re probably not going to process that well. And it’s going to kind of exacerbate things. So again, the spore based probiotic, their probiotic rich foods, that’s going to be your best bet. And the other thing I would say is just making digestion easy, like let’s not make things more challenging for your gut right now, trying to cook the majority of your vegetables is going to help you a ton and just like chewing your food enough trying to relax before your meals. This is going to make sure that you’re breaking things down properly, you might need more support. So like some people, especially if you feel like you have a slow metabolism. We talked about this in the first episode, sluggish thyroid, if you have that sort of history, or if you have constipation, like slower digestion, adding something like apple cider vinegar before your meals, just one or two teaspoons, or digestive bitters, which I like the ones from urban moonshine, and I like digestive juice from organic Olivia, those are going to help stimulate your own digestive process. And that’s going to allow you to break down your food better. So I do I do recommend that to most people transitioning off because a lot of times they have their symptoms going on, right? If you feel amazing and you’re coming off the pill and you’re just kind of like trying to do everything you can and you have already a good digestion. You don’t have to do those. But we want to make sure we’re having a bowel movement. Remember I talked about liver detox, we’ve got phase one, two, and then three and three is elimination. And if we are not eliminating and having at least one or two bowel movements a day, we’re gonna be recycling a lot of those toxins, a lot of that estrogen and if we have got stress on top of it, a lot of those endotoxins so I would say support digestion, cook your veggies, do your food, spore based probiotic probiotic rich foods. That’s going to be the best way to start to replenish and rebalance what’s going on in your gut. So stress, liver minerals, gut bacteria rebalancing the last area. Hopefully you’re still with me, replenishing depleted nutrients. So again, the pill has been shown to deplete magnesium B vitamins like folate and b 12, vitamin A, C and E, selenium and zinc. So how can we start to replenish these magnesium Um, like cooked greens, especially spinach and swiss chard are great. Avocado, dark chocolate mackerel, banana plantains, those are some great sources. And we’re gonna have like, we have a transcript of all the podcasts, too. So you can find this on my blog. If you’re if I’m going too fast, I just don’t want to spend like a ton of time. B vitamins, beef, chicken, pork cooked leafy greens, easy, right egg seafood too, but I would say the first or you’re gonna have the most vitamin C. Again, this keeps coming up. Hopefully you guys are like, I’m gonna start eating citrus if you can tolerate it. Bell peppers any like raw fruit or veggie is going to have it but I would say citrus and bell peppers are gonna give you the most cooked potatoes have it too and tomatoes. It’s just in like slightly smaller amounts because you have to cook them. And then vitamin E, dairy, cod liver oil, you can also consider a supplement. I don’t recommend a ton of food sources like nuts and seeds because usually those are going to challenge one challenge your digestion, which we don’t want during this time, too, they can create more inflammation. And really the vitamin E in the inside those nutrients, it’s just going to be bouncing out the really unstable fats that they contain. So if we want to get more than we would want to say like okay, I’m gonna maybe consider a supplement and I’ll put my favorite ones in the show notes but unique e mix a mix Toko for all Vitamin E that I like. microlife has a great vitamin E and then integrative therapeutics has a great one. Selenium, lots of seafood like oysters, shrimp, cod, pork, beef, chicken should cook chick Toki mushrooms, those are going to be great sources. Brazil nuts too. But again, it’s like nuts are tricky. It’s like you want to soak them first if you’re going to eat them and like who’s going to who’s going to soak their nuts or by themselves and they’re more expensive but if that is like a food source that you enjoy, you could do that if you wanted zinc organ meats, oysters, oysters, probably the highest beef pork bison, chicken, and then vitamin A liver organ meats, egg yolks, dairy, that’s going to be our best option. And I know I mentioned organ meats a ton I if you’re not going to eat them, you can supplement It’s okay. Whatever works for you. We talked about all the different ways to get them in.

One it’s one of the season one episodes I can’t remember off top my head but I’ll make sure I put all these in the show notes. So those are the areas you want to focus on stress management, supporting your liver Medrol rebalancing with copper and iron, rebalancing, beneficial gut bacteria supporting digestion and then replenishing depleted nutrients. And a lot of these go together. So I’m hoping you can kind of see like how if you focus on like a few main principles, you’re actually going to cover the majority of your bases. I just want to mention a few helpful resources if you’re like, I want to learn more about different things. So number one, if if you’re thinking about coming off the pill and that’s why you listen to this episode, I would say beyond the pill by Dr. Jolene Brighton is a great book to consider reading. I also think that every woman should own a copy of the fifth vital sign by Lisa Hendrickson. Jack, she has a great book. It’s like yes, it’s about fertility awareness. But it’s more just understanding your cycle in your hormones. And I think and it’s in a very digestible way. I love the book taking charge of your fertility, but it is long. And it’s a lot to go through. I think the way Lisa lays it out is just very digestible. If you’re like I want to do a hair test, and I want to learn how to read it, you can always join the master minerals course. I’ll put the link for that in the show notes. We teach you how to build a protocol based on your unique hair test results. And then finally, kind of a topic that we didn’t really dig into. But I’ve had other podcast episodes on and that is like what am I going to do now if I’m going off the pill or getting my ID out? What am I going to use for birth control? I personally love and use fertility awareness method or fam there is a learning curve but it like yes, you can use it for birth control you can use to conceive but you also use it to learn about your body better understand your hormones and what’s going on. So I think every woman should learn this if they can. Again taking charge of your fertility the fifth vital sign great books to start with. My friend Nina, we did a whole podcast episode on this that I will link in the show notes. And that is all about fertility awareness how to use it for birth control versus conception which are two different things. And she just makes it very approachable. I actually gifted this course to my sister when she came off the pill and this is how she is learning to use fertility awareness is her form of birth control. So it’s something I obviously trust if I’m buying it for someone important in my life, but her course is called Luna and Nina is a certified fertility awareness instructor very important because you do want to make sure you have someone that thoroughly understands the rules and guidelines of fam. And I think she makes it very accessible. So I will link the course Luna in the notes. I’ll also put her podcast episode if you want to get to know her a little bit better. She’s nourished with Nina on Instagram. She’s a great follow as well. But I hope that this episode has been helpful for you. And that if you are thinking about coming off some sort of hormonal birth control that this helps guide you in that journey. And yeah, definitely make sure you tag me if you share the episode in your stories. Share this with a friend you think it’ll be helpful for and I will see you in the next episode. Thank you for listening to the RU menstrual podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please consider leaving us a review and sharing the podcast with someone you think it will help. If you are new here, we can’t recommend enough to start with our mineral imbalance quiz. This is going to give you an idea if you are at low, moderate or high risk for mineral imbalances. And then of course, make sure you follow us on Instagram at hormone healing rd. And consider signing up for our newsletter if you like nerding out and you’re just loving these podcasts but maybe you’re a little bit more visual and you want to see things too. We go into a ton of detail in our weekly newsletter. So we would love to have you join us there. All right, thank you and we will see you in the next episode.

Amanda Montalvo

Amanda Montalvo is a women's health dietitian who helps women find the root cause of hormone imbalances and regain healthy menstrual cycles.

Master Your Minerals

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