Breaking up with the Contraceptive Pill
Four years ago I came off the contraceptive pill after a loving, committed ten year relationship. My sweet love, Yasmin.
I LOVED the pill. I had no side effects. My period came like clockwork. No PMS. Clear, beautiful skin. I felt very in control and empowered being on the pill.
Then of course yoga came along and ruined it along with everything else I so loved like drinking and smoking and partying. It was in my first yoga teacher training, learning just how important the menstrual cycle is, just how deeply it is connected to our spiritual, mental and emotional health, that I knew I had to let go of yet another part of my life I was so very attached to.
Many women take the pill for a long time, much longer than my ten years, and come off it with no more than an irregular period for a couple of months, if that. It is a very personal experience and if this is you I promise I’m not jealous at all okay maybe just a little bit.
When I came off the pill I began a deeply dramatic second puberty. At 25. It was torture. I would cry looking in the mirror at my broken out skin and oily hair. I was exhausted. I was angry. My PMS lasted two weeks at a time. My cycle was six weeks long. It felt completely unfair. I was healthier than ever but I looked, and felt, like shit.
I’m not saying the pill caused this. The pill definitely has its place as something very short term, in the same way a migraine needs painkillers. No one believes the painkillers are going to fix your migraine problem, they just mask it temporarily. The same is true with the pill. Our world just needs a re-education. Your hormones will never be balanced when you’re on the pill, because your system is being overridden by a synthetic one. No matter how many times your doctor says “stop your complaining and just go back on the pill love”.
The thing about the pill is, that it sneakily hides all these symptoms, for years at a time, and when you come off the hormones, your body just throws everything at you at once and then runs away crying - which you might do a lot of in those first few months pill free.
It is possible, for you, that the pill isn’t hiding anything. That your cycle is pretty healthy and there isn’t much to be revealed underneath. However, the pill is excellent at hiding nutrient deficiencies, missing periods, acne, PMS and a whole host of other irregularities. And sure, it can be scary to really look at all that. You know, ignorance and bliss and everything.
But we all know thats not actually what we want. And to grow, expand and solve a problem - you need to be aware of it first.
Before coming off the pill:
Get a blood test to check all your essential nutrient levels, especially iron.
If you had problematic periods, skin or PMS before taking the pill, consult a naturopath before coming off it so your body is in a strong, healthy state to detox the hormones and settle back into true health without too much drama aka Emmie Rae circa 2015
Work with an acupuncturist to regain a consistent cycle
In fact, if you’re having a shit time at all please work with a professional – you deserve it
Drink heaps of water (water, for health? ground breaking). and eat all the green, liver supporting vegetables & juices
Drink herbal infusions daily
For the love of god, PLEASE REST. For any symptoms associated with your period. There is no point piling on the herbs, supplements and drowning yourself in filtered water charged by an amethyst if you are exhausted. It won’t work. Stop. Sleep in. Lay down.
For any issue related to hormonal health, twenty minutes of rest a day is essential. The resting state is a non-negotiable for female reproductive health. If your periods suck, rest twenty minutes a day, every day for a month and notice the change in your next period. I dare you.
On the days of your cycle you feel the most tired (first and second day, the days before you bleed, whatever it is) skip your regular yoga class or workout and take a yin or restorative class, or a walk around the park and take a nap. I promise the world will not end if you take 2-4 days off exercise. In fact, you’ll have so much more energy throughout the rest of the month, you’ll smash out that free standing handstand in no time.
A note on diet:
Many practitioners (naturopaths, acupuncturist and doctors) told me if I wanted to regain healthy periods and hormonal health I would have to drink bone broth or eat animal protein. You may encounter the same thing, but please know I managed to regain full health on a vegan diet. It truly is possible, trust your body and have the confidence to stand by values that are important to you, even when you are challenged. If not eating animal products is a cherished part of your life and practice, adding them in is not going to make you feel better on any level. Work with someone who respects what you believe in.
So hair hair loss, cystic acne and craziness aside, going off the pill was the BEST decision ever. I like talking about it because no one talks about it. It’s either well Susan, the pill, as we know, is poison and encourages promiscuity so of course, myself or my precious daughters would NEVER ingest such a thing OR a flat out refusal to see life as possible and liveable without it.
If you live in a body with a uterus periods are a thing, whether you bleed or not, and I think it’s time we occupied the space between complaining about them or pretending we are so holy we just wake up one morning bleed and then get straight back to business.
On June 2nd I’m teaching a Restorative Yoga Workshop called Womens Rest // Womens Ways all around the menstrual cycle, in particular, the days leading up to and during the bleed (or where the bleed would fall if you’re currently not menstruating) I’d love for you to join us, or share this with a friend who is struggling with PMS, the pill, or learning to slow down.