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Bye-Bye BC: Acupuncture & Herbs to Transition Off Birth Control 

In Chinese medicine’s view of physiology, having regular menstrual cycles is considered important to maintaining good health, because the monthly flow of Qi and Blood from the Liver to the Uterus for menstruation prevents the Liver qi from stagnating. Conversely, not having regular cycles, whether due to physiological causes or birth control, is known to both contribute to and be a result of qi and Blood stagnation. Because the Liver also regulates the smooth flow of qi and blood throughout the whole body, Liver qi stagnation can cause widespread stagnation throughout the body, affecting multiple organs and disrupting the normal physiological function of the qi. Qi and Blood stagnation produce pain, cramping, swelling, bloating, constipation, disruptions in circulation, loss of function and other signs of inflammation. In this way, hormonal birth control can actually contribute to the root causes of the conditions it is prescribed to treat. At any rate, it is clear that hormonal birth control does not “balance your hormones”- it merely masks the underlying causes of unwanted and bothersome symptoms. 


Because of this, stopping any hormonal birth control method can cause whatever symptoms were being covered up by the birth control to re-emerge. Even if your cycles were not particularly painful or “problematic,” before starting birth control,  So, if you’re planning to get off of hormonal birth control sometime in the next 6-12 months, there are a few important factors to focus on: 


Irregular cycles and other hormone-related symptoms are very common after getting off hormonal birth control. It can take 3-6 months or longer for your cycles to regulate depending on what birth control method you are stopping and how long you were on it. During this transitional time, symptoms like PMS, spotting, long or short cycles, missing periods, weight gain/loss, cravings, difficulty regulating body temperature, bowel irregularities, mood changes and skin issues can flare up. Fortunately, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are very helpful in reducing inflammation, improving gut health and helping to balance your hormones, naturally restoring balance to the body (34992414, 32499125, 24696703). 

Did you know that hormonal birth control depletes your body of some important nutrients? Research shows the birth control pill commonly depletes people of coenzyme Q10, B vitamins, Vitamins E & C, magnesium, selenium, zinc and phosphorus (PMID: 23852908, 22224344). So many of these are key for hormone balance, energy, mood, immune function, healthy sleep and more. To support adequate nutrition, and good quality qi and blood, consider a multivitamin and eat a diet that includes a diverse range of micronutrient-rich foods. 

Hand-in-hand with supporting your transition off of birth control is supporting gut health. The birth control pill affects metabolism and can contribute to gut dysbiosis (overgrowth of bad bacteria outnumbering good bacteria in the gut) and leaky gut (gut irritation and inflammation causes increased permeability of the intestines, allowing toxic substances to leak from the gut into the bloodstream). In turn, these contribute to inflammation, hormone imbalances, chronic pain and nervous system dysregulation. 


Fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles and pickled vegetables are great options to support a healthy balance of gut bacteria. But when the gut is already inflamed, you are likely to need more support, and this is when adding a high-quality probiotic may be helpful. I recommend choosing a probiotic with at least 10 billion CFU to start. If issues are severe or persist, it may be worth investigating further with gut testing. Chinese herbs and acupuncture can also help to support a healthy gut microbiome, healthy stomach acid levels and regular gut motility, all of which are important to improve digestion and prevent symptoms like nausea, indigestion, bloating, water retention, constipation or loose stools, acid reflux and other signs of gut irritation (PMID: 35134488, 31110553, 34012475). 


Navigating all of the supplements, probiotics, nutritional guidelines, and lifestyle changes takes a lot of time and expertise. We are here to help guide you with personalized treatment plans including herbal medicine, acupuncture and targeted recommendations for supplements and other services as needed. 


Let us help get your post-birth control cycles regulated and worry-free. 

Book with us at mindplusbodyacu.com/services or call/text 512-541-9673. 

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