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Home > Learn > FYI > >How to Balance Hormones After Stopping Birth Control

How to Balance Hormones After Stopping Birth Control

Apr 07, 23 7 min

By Dr. Kenosha Gleaton, OBGYN and fertility expert

Birth control and other hormonal therapies can be helpful tools for those with irregular menstrual cycles or uncomfortable symptoms of abnormal hormone levels. Unfortunately, many people are left with few options for balancing their hormones after stopping birth control. Let’s talk about how birth control impacts hormones and a few ways you can encourage hormone regulation naturally. 

An overview of hormones

Hormones are important chemicals found in the body that help coordinate different bodily processes. Hormones are made from endocrine glands such as the pituitary, thyroid, etc. and play a vital role in the body's homeostasis. [1] Body processes such as sexual function, pregnancy, menstruation, metabolism, sleep, and more are all impacted by hormones. [1] We know of over 50 hormones in the human body, and even the smallest change in hormone levels can cause a ripple effect throughout the body, causing various symptoms. [1] 

Hormonal imbalances

Abnormal hormone levels occur when there is too much or too little of one or more hormones. It’s normal for hormone levels to change throughout our lives, especially during puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and during the menstrual cycle. There are many other reasons hormone levels may be impacted, including: [1]

  • Certain medications or steroids
  • Hormone therapy
  • Stress
  • Tumors
  • Endocrine and thyroid disorders such as PCOS, Hashimoto’s, Hypothyroidism, etc.

Hormone blood tests should be able to tell you if you have abnormal hormone levels, but you may also be experiencing some signs and symptoms, such as: [1]

  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Infertility
  • Weight fluctuations
  • Hair loss or hair growth
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Acne

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How does birth control impact hormones?

Not all birth control methods will have an effect on your hormones, but hormonal birth control will. Hormonal birth control comes in many forms, including an implant, IUD, pills, patch, and more. These methods work by releasing hormones into the body that will then impact the body’s natural hormone cycle— this is where the ripple effect comes in. Hormonal birth control usually releases synthetic progestin or estrogen and progestin. [2] The increase of these hormones in the body causes the hypothalamus to decrease the frequency that it’s releasing gonadotropin-releasing hormone, which in turn affects the release of other reproductive hormones known as luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). [2] LH is responsible for releasing a mature egg, a period commonly known as ovulation. FSH is responsible for growing an egg in the ovary in preparation for ovulation. When FSH and LH levels are decreased, ovulation doesn’t occur, preventing any chances of pregnancy. So in order for hormonal birth control to do its job, there are five specific hormones that will be impacted in some way. [2]

How does stopping birth control impact hormones?

Now that we know what happens when you are taking hormonal birth control, let's talk about what happens when you stop taking it. Since you’ll no longer have increased amounts of estrogen or progestin in the body, your natural hormone cycle should start to come back within a few weeks to a few months. [2] If you had an abnormal cycle or hormone levels prior to starting birth control, these will likely return once you discontinue use. For those with regular hormone levels and regular menstrual cycles, LH and FSH production will begin shortly and earliest ovulation after stopping birth control may occur within a few days. [2]

If you are concerned that you have abnormal hormone levels or you’re experiencing irregular periods after stopping birth control, you’re not alone. Speak to your healthcare provider about your concerns and do what you can to support a healthy hormone balance. Some people may need longer than others for hormones to balance after birth control. 

Balancing hormones after birth control

Unfortunately there is no cure-all for maintaining balanced hormone levels, but there are some tips you can try to support the regulation and signaling of hormones.

Diet and supplements

Diet can play a very important role in our overall health and some nutrients may be helpful for targeting abnormal hormone levels. A supplement gaining a lot of attention recently for its role in cycle regularity is myo-inositol or inositol. Data shows that inositol can support insulin signaling and may play a role in regulating various hormones, including follicle-stimulating hormone, thyroid-stimulating hormone, and insulin. [3]

Magnesium is a vital mineral for electrolyte balance and has also been found to support the regulation of vital hormones including cortisol and progesterone. [4] Research also suggests that low levels of minerals may lead to estrogen dominance, an imbalance between different reproductive hormones. [4]

Another popular nutrient is the sunshine vitamin, AKA vitamin D. Vitamin D has been referred to as a multifunctional hormone due to its many roles in body processes, including the endocrine system, metabolic pathways, cardiovascular system, and more. [5]

Many of these vital nutrients are found in a balanced diet, but are also in comprehensive multivitamins and standalone supplements. You should always speak to your healthcare provider before adding any new supplements or medications to your diet. 

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Sleep more and stress less

Eating healthy and taking a vitamin isn’t the only way to support your overall health and hormone balance. Altering parts of your lifestyle can also play a large role. For example, being stressed causes hormonal changes in the body that may lead to various negative health outcomes. [6] Finding ways to reduce stress through meditation, organization, and work-life balance may be helpful in keeping your hormone levels balanced. 

Sleep is also necessary for proper bodily functioning and hormonal regulation. Many of our hormones rise and fall throughout the day based on the sleep cycle, which is why getting a full night’s sleep is so important. [7] 

Medical intervention

If your hormone levels are severely impacting your health or daily routine, you may need to speak to a healthcare provider about specific medical interventions that don’t involve hormonal birth control. If your abnormal hormone levels are the cause of an underlying condition, you may benefit from other interventions such as thyroid medication or surgery if appropriate. If you’re trying to conceive and having trouble with hormone levels, you may benefit from a fertility treatment such as ovulation induction, which encourages the body to grow and release at least one egg. 

Key takeaways

  • There are over 50 hormones in the body that are all vital for our bodily processes.
  • Birth control impacts up to five reproductive hormones directly: LH, FSH, estrogen, progestin, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone.
  • After stopping birth control medication, most people will have the same hormone cycle and balance they experienced prior to using birth control.
  • For those with underlying conditions causing abnormal hormone levels, medication, lifestyle changes, and/or medical intervention may be needed.
  • Some nutrients that play a role in hormone regulation include inositol, magnesium, and vitamin D. 
  • Getting more sleep and reducing stress levels may also help with the natural hormone cycle. 
  • Fertility treatments such as ovulation induction may be a good option for those with irregular hormone levels hoping to conceive. 

 

References:

  1. Hormonal Imbalance. Cleveland Clinic. Last reviewed 04/2022. URL. Accessed March 2023. 
  2. Britton LE, Alspaugh A, Greene MZ, McLemore MR. CE: An Evidence-Based Update on Contraception. Am J Nurs. 2020;120(2):22-33. doi:10.1097/01.NAJ.0000654304.29632.a7
  3. Unfer V, Facchinetti F, Orrù B, Giordani B, Nestler J. Myo-inositol effects in women with PCOS: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Endocr Connect. 2017;6(8):647-658. doi:10.1530/EC-17-0243
  4. Kolanu BR, Vadakedath S, Boddula V, Kandi V. Activities of Serum Magnesium and Thyroid Hormones in Pre-, Peri-, and Post-menopausal Women. Cureus. 2020;12(1):e6554. Published 2020 Jan 3. doi:10.7759/cureus.6554
  5. Ellison DL, Moran HR. Vitamin D: Vitamin or Hormone?. Nurs Clin North Am. 2021;56(1):47-57. doi:10.1016/j.cnur.2020.10.004
  6. Yaribeygi H, Panahi Y, Sahraei H, Johnston TP, Sahebkar A. The impact of stress on body function: A review. EXCLI J. 2017;16:1057-1072. Published 2017 Jul 21. doi:10.17179/excli2017-480
  7. Kim TW, Jeong JH, Hong SC. The impact of sleep and circadian disturbance on hormones and metabolism. Int J Endocrinol. 2015;2015:591729. doi:10.1155/2015/591729
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