“For so long I thought the birth control pill was helping my PCOS... when in reality it was masking my symptoms and causing more harm to my overall health”
I was diagnosed with PCOS at 15 years old, my doctor confirmed that the only effective treatment to help with my PCOS symptoms including regulating my periods will be the birth control pill. In that moment before I even had time to think about the decision I was making, my doctor wrote out a prescription and sent me on my way to the pharmacy.
Whilst waiting for my prescription I remember thinking I had been offered some sort of “magic pill” which would cure my PCOS.
I’m sure a lot of you reading this have gone through a very similar story when first being diagnosed with PCOS. Girls and young women who are desperately searching for a diagnosis and solution have only their doctors knowledge and experience to rely on. It makes sense why we don’t challenge what we’re being told... and in turn accept the fate of using the pill as long term medication.
I took the pill for 12 years and throughout that time I continued to suffer physically and mentally with my PCOS and even developed new physical symptoms. Even though this was happening I was sure my PCOS was under control and that I was having regular periods due taking the pill and the continued reinforcement from my doctor that these symptoms were not connected to PCOS. At 25 when I decided to heal my PCOS naturally, I found out this couldn’t be further from the truth!
So what does the pill actually do and how does it affect women with PCOS?.
1) The pill releases synthetic hormones (estrogen and progestin) into the body.
2) This disrupts natural hormone production and suppresses ovulation.
3) When taking a break from the pill the synthetic hormones drop and causes your uterine lining to shed resulting in a withdrawal bleed (which is not a menstrual bleed but a fake period).
4) These synthetic hormones mask common PCOS symptoms like painful or irregular/no periods, acne, hirsutism etc but does not treat/ fix the root cause.
5) Due to PCOS symptoms being masked there will be underlining issues that aren’t being addressed or could even be triggered like insulin resistance, IBS, fatigue, nutrient deficiencies, anxiety, depression, out of whack endocrine system and all of this can lead to even more serious illnesses down the line if not treated.
When I found this out, I couldn’t believe it!
For so long I thought the birth control pill was helping my PCOS when in reality it was masking my symptoms and causing more harm to my overall health. I had essentially placed a big plaster over my PCOS for all these years. Little did I realize one day, I would have to rip it off and find out what was truly going on underneath.
The reality hit me that for me to truly heal my PCOS long term it was critical from me to come off the pill permanently.
So, if you do make this difficult decision to permanently stop taking the pill it is vital that you break the cycle and take the below steps to ensure you don’t go back.
Firstly, I prepared myself on what I could expect if I suddenly stopped the pill from being on it for so long.
- Some PCOS symptoms that I suffered prior to going on the pill would come back
- I could temporarily develop post birth control syndrome
- Suffer with increased fatigue and low immune system by being depleted in nutrients from the pill
- Amenorrhea (no period) or irregular periods
- PMS symptoms and heavy periods
- Mental and physical changes.
Understanding this I decided to implement my PCOS lifestyle prior to coming off the pill to ease this transition and to stop my body going into shock. I solely focused on my PCOS food and exercise plan for 9 months before I took my last pill however I recommend at least 3 months to allow your body to start healing.
Examples of what I implemented within my PCOS lifestyle to ease transition when coming off the pill:
- Going gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free and reducing red meat intake
- Adding healthy fats, complex carbs and plant-based proteins
- Adding supplements to my diet (e.g Inositol, Vitamin D, Omega 3, Magnesium)
- Drunk more water
- Improved sleep routine
- Low intensity exercise (walking, yoga, weights)
- Avoided products containing chemicals that can disrupt hormones
Being off the pill and continuing my PCOS food and exercise plan, I started to see results within a couple of months. My periods started to return with minimal cramps and lasting within a normal range, my skin was clearing up, I lost more weight, my energy levels started to increase and overall, I started to feel like myself again. I knew this was only the beginning of more positive things to come and it was so liberating to finally start being in control of my PCOS and not have my PCOS controlling me.
Looking further into the pill and trusting my own instincts on my own method on how to heal my PCOS was one of the best decisions I had ever made for my physical and mental health. For anyone who is looking to do the same I would ensure you have a PCOS nutrition and exercise plan like I did prior to coming off the pill to create that safety net when you finally decide to take the plunge.
This content is strictly the opinion of S'moo and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither S'moo nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.