I’m planning to stop taking The Pill at the end of the year, and I am very curious about what my body will think of this new development. I’ve been taking oral contraceptives for a little over five years, and although I didn’t notice any major changes when I started, can you give me an idea of what I might expect? Also, how can I support my body through this transition? Finally, my husband and I would, ideally, like to wait at least another six months before getting pregnant. Other than condoms, what natural fertility control do you recommend? Should I invest in a thermometer? Start getting to know my, um, mucus? I’m all ears!
Thanks Dr. Corinne. Sarah.
First of all, let me congratulate you on moving toward a more natural form of birth control! I always say that the body’s inherent hormonal fluctuations are like a tightly run ship, and the birth control pill being a form of exogenous (or non-self) hormones disrupts this delicate balance within the body. Common side of the birth control pill (BCP) is that it depletes the woman of certain crucial vitamins and nutrients and can also be taxing on the liver.
Now, some things to expect when you first stop taking the pill this is tricky: some women notice no change, other women feel like their bodies have gone crazy! Some women’s periods come right on time the following month, other women’s bodies take a few months to get back into the swing of things without all the extra hormones. Within reason, whatever symptoms you experience, give your body a few months to work out the kinks before getting concerned. It also depends on how your cycle was prior to starting the BCP were you regular then? Or were you skipping months here and there, early, late, etc? I know it was five years ago, but recalling your body’s previous natural rhythm will help ease worries if your period is less-than-regular now.
Supporting your body through this transition is a great idea is a liver cleanse would be ideal for you! I generally suggest a 4-6 week liver cleanse for any woman who is considering conceiving, but especially when coming off the pill. All those exogenous hormones clogging up the liver should be cleared out anyway, but especially if you’re going to be needing your reproductive hormones in tip-top shape (of which your liver plays a large part) for fertility tracking, family planning and conception.
Natural Family Planning is your best bet to naturally prevent (or attempt!) conception. It must be done OFF the pill, and it takes a few months to get it down pat so for those months at least you will need to use condoms. But you’re right it does involve your Basal Body Temperature (BBT) and your cervical mucous. These two things in combination can accurately indicate your most fertile time(s) of the month, and help you plan to either have, or avoid, unprotected sexual intercourse during that time. BBT charts are readily available online, and you have to take your temperature using a quality thermometer every morning at the same time before getting out of bed or moving around. What you are looking for is a sustained (~3 days) slight peak (~0.2 degrees Celsius above your previous high-normal) in your body temperature, caused by increased levels of Progesterone, which occurs just after ovulation. A good website outlining the BBT chart and the symptothermal method, as it’s called, here.
Your cervical mucous also fluctuates in consistency with the fluctuations of your menstrual hormones. Ideally with corresponding timing to the temperature peak, fertile cervical mucous will appear, often known as â€œegg white cervical mucous, like a freshly cracked egg white. The mucous should become a) plentiful, b) clear, c) thin or watery, and d) stretchy (i.e. between thumb and index finger) just before ovulation. This is your body’s ovulatory anticipation if you will; it is trying to facilitate and encourage sexual intercourse in order to achieve its main purpose: procreation! This will help you determine when your fertile period starts for that month.
Cross-reference your BBT with your cervical mucous, and you will know when you ovulate. Once you have charted your cervical mucous and BBT for a few months, you will know your body like the back of your hand and will know when you are most fertile. Avoid unprotected sexual intercourse for 6-7 days on either side of ovulation (sperm can live for up to 6 days!), and you should be all set! There are many books published on this topic, as well as many quality websites like the one above if you need more information. And of course, as always, making an appointment with your family Naturopath to help guide and supervise you throughout this process will definitely help, and when the time comes for wanting to conceive, Naturopathic Medicine has many excellent supplements and botanicals to support you throughout your pregnancy.
Good luck, Sarah. Thanks for your question!
In health and happiness!
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