Have you ever thought about what it would be like to come off of your birth control? Thinking about starting a family or just looking to have your body become more clean and free of synthesized hormones? It’s not as simple as you think, and depending on your body’s chemistry, get ready for a real roller coaster ride. BUT, I am here to tell you that you can navigate this journey, and you WILL make it through if you choose to come off your birth control. I’m going to guide you through my own experience, how I’m managing the process of hormone balance, and offering tips that can help.
Why I chose an IUD
When my son turned 3, I wanted to get back on birth control. I had to think of other options because I had a history of migraine headaches and my physician wouldn’t allow me to go on any kind of birth control pill. I had heard all about the IUD (Interuterine Device) and thoughtfully looked into it. It seemed so great…no period, minimal PMS symptoms, and I didn’t have to worry about forgetting to take it because it’s already inside of your body ~ Yep! Where do I sign?! I had mentioned to my doctor that my body was very sensitive and I needed the lowest dose of hormone possible (looking back, this should have been a sign for me to not even think about a synthetic hormone of any kind). So I did it…I chose an IUD that lasted 3 years. It was a pretty rocky start. Even being on the lowest dose of hormone, it took my body at least 2-3 months to adjust. Full disclosure: I felt constant PMS, I had a lot of bloating, spotting, and my boobs felt twice the size. However, after my body adjusted, I felt like myself again. Also, not getting a period for 3 years was such a nice feeling. Basically, there were pros and cons with being on an IUD, but again, every single body is different and reacts differently to synthetic hormones.
What Happened at Year 4
In January of this year (going on my 4th year with the same IUD in place), I realized this birth control and all of its wonderful synthetic hormones would start to diminish. I needed to make a decision about whether I wanted to replace it, or take back my body’s natural splendor. Little did I know, that at the beginning of self-isolation just a few months later, this IUD would act like Cinderella at the stroke of midnight: ONE HOT MESS!
My hormones proceeded to take a nose dive with my whole body on board. Every day for 6 weeks (and counting) I have woken up with intense lower body discomfort and some days, severe pain. From whole body aches, to extreme lower back pain. Some days, it took my whole effort to get off the couch, but I did, and I exercised daily, but it didn’t relieve the symptoms including the massive fatigue and bloating. I needed a reprieve but I couldn’t see my OBGYN due to COVID-19. I was finally able to make an appointment to get this tiny little monster device out, but I had to do something in the meantime. I would do anything… anything! I just didn’t want to wake up in my current roller coaster premenstrual syndrome state every day anymore. So I did what normal people do these days, I took to Google and immersed myself in research of the only thing I knew well: foods that heal.
Balancing Hormones with Foods that Heal
In my experience, foods can heal many ailments. I’ve always been a big believer in you are what you eat. Trust that I am far from perfect, but when I need to clean it up, I am dedicated and thoughtful with foods. This road, however, is different. It’s extreme. It’s being spot on with foods every single day. There is no room for error when you are dealing with regulating the body’s menstrual cycle and eliminating toxins that come from synthesized hormones. I carefully researched foods that would increase my progesterone (a steroid hormone released by the corpus luteum that stimulates the uterus to prepare for pregnancy) as well as balance my estrogen (a group of steroid hormones which promote the development and maintenance of female characteristics of the body). ~ dictionary.com
I quickly discovered, I needed to change my lifestyle to not only a plant-based diet, but to eat as clean as possible, which means only foods sourced naturally (fruits, vegetables, grains, and clean oils). Through my research, I discovered the following foods which I incorporate daily. Eating plant based every single day, as well as eliminating refined sugar, alcohol, and dairy, have already made me feel like a new person. I am not in the clear yet, as I just had my IUD removed and I am still experiencing an off balance cycle, but I know that continuing on this plant-based path will allow my body the cleansing it needs for a new beginning.
Lunch Bowl (avocado, broccoli, kale, short grain brown rice, almonds, lemon & flaxseed oil dressing).
The 10 foods that are currently helping me to regulate my hormones
First, let’s talk about progesterone. When too low (which is what was happening to my body post IUD), can yield a variety of symptoms including: headaches, thyroid dysfunction, mood changes, weight gain and fibroids.
These 10 plant based foods can promote progesterone production which is essential for regulating your body.
- brocolli ~ (absorb acid is key for women deficient in estrogen)
- kale ~ (full of B vitamins which help balance cortisol)
- brussel sprouts ~ (effectively metabolizes estrogen)
- cabbage ~ (indole-3 helps to balance estrogen)
- cauliflower ~ (acts as a hormone detoxifier, metabolizes estrogen_
- spinach ~ (high in magnesium which can alleviate PMS symptoms)
- avocados ~ (help balance the stress hormone cortisol with their beta-sitosterol properties)
- nuts ~ (almonds, cashews but not salted)
- potatoes ~ (or B6 supplement ~ any increase of Vitamin B6 which plays a very important role in regulating hormones)
In terms of estrogen and progesterone levels, this is crucial. You need to have a complete balance between the two or irregularities will ensue: bloating, weight gain, irregular periods, mood swings, thyroid issues and more.
These foods will help foster the balance.
- Fiber: including: oats, flaxseed or quinoa (my lunch always has some flaxseed oil)
- Zinc: (aids in boosting progesterone): nuts, salmon (or any kind of seafood)
- Vitamin B6: I take a supplement, but you can get this through eating fish or dried fruit
- Magnesium: plays a huge role in regulating both estrogen and progesterone. I use Moon Juice products in my smoothie that contain Magnesium but you can get this through dark chocolate, spinach and whole grains.
- Vitamin C: essential in increasing progesterone which you can get through oranges, broccoli, kale and pomegranate, which in some countries is hailed as ‘the most medicinal fruit’ and aids in fertility. This fruit will balance both estrogen and progesterone ~ I also make sure I eat fruit twice a day (usually smoothie bowls loaded with Vitamin C).
Smoothie Breakfast Bowl (frozen strawberry, banana, plant-based protein powder, Moon Juice magnesium)
If you’re going through a hormone imbalance due to birth control, or just an imbalance from stress in your daily life, and you want to be serious about regulating the delicacies of your endocrine system, my one piece of advice is to create a new lifestyle based on foods. I am currently living about a 98% plant-based lifestyle (the 2% is minus the small amount of fish I’ll be incorporating into my diet this summer). This also means no refined sugar, no carbohydrates (aside from veggies or whole grains), no dairy and I’m meticulous about reading labels. I won’t put anything into my body that isn’t fresh, or with chemicals, or anything I cannot pronounce. It also means no alcohol (for the near future). Is it difficult? Yes, but worth it, as my body tries to find balance. As of today, my body feels cleaner, and I don’t experience as many symptoms; however, I am not totally through this process… It takes at least a few months to eliminate toxins and balance hormones. I will keep adding to my experiences in future blog posts. In the meantime, here are some of my top picks for ways to keep your hormones stabilized.
Check out some of my daily hormone balancing essentials here:
Other Books to Read:
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