Post-Birth Control Syndrome Support with Dr. Cope

“Why would you want to do that?”

When I first began to ask about the possibility of discontinuing the Birth Control Pill a few years before actually taking the step, my OB-GYN at the time had quickly responded, “Why would you want to do that?”

When I continued to ask about it at yearly visits, they said that since I was not a smoker, I did not have anything to worry about because blood clotting was really the only side effect. This just didn’t sound right to me. 

At that time, I could not have known all of the benefits of discontinuing the Pill, even at age 47. But I knew enough to know that I wanted to stop taking the fake hormones. And I knew that if I stopped, I was not going to find the support I would need from the conventional medicine world. 

The Very First Step

I took the step to make an appointment with a naturopathic physician. And I thought it would be a one-time visit…or once a month for 3 months, tops. Little did I know that hormone healing can take much longer, especially for someone like me who was getting off of the Pill after 16+ years of continued usage of fake hormones. At the onset of this journey, I had no clue what I’d gotten myself into…my trek has been laden with pitfalls and rocky terrain. And, it’s led me to discover the many hidden benefits of working with a practitioner who’s committed to working with the whole YOU.

This was my very first step of a life-changing journey that not only elevated my physical health, but has also led me to understand the realm in which physical and spiritual health overlap. This has transformed my life in ways beyond what I could have ever imagined!

When It Comes to Perimenopause

Because my decision to discontinue oral contraception has been intertwined with my perimenopausal journey, Dr. Alexandra Cope carefully guided me through a plan to optimize my diet and lifestyle habits. Her recommendations for nutritional supplements began to improve my health in just a couple of weeks. My liver was being cleansed and my thyroid was being supported as my body was flushing out the fake hormones contained in the pill.

The first thing I noticed was increased mental clarity. Then, a couple of weeks later, when I faced the scary symptoms of drastically decreased hormone levels associated with Post-Birth Control Syndrome (Yes, this is a real thing…very real) my doctor’s skillful recommendations for natural, topical hormone therapy based on my results from the Dutch Sex Hormone dried urine analysis targeted my issues and brought relief within the week.

Then, as I began to follow Dr. Cope’s recommendations, I began to enjoy greater physical strength and endurance. Additionally, Dr. Cope suggested some dietary changes in hopes that this might help to further regulate my hormones. At this point, we did not know whether my amenorrhea was a  symptom of perimenopause, or the result of Post-Birth Control Syndrome, or both! This included beginning a dairy-free and gluten-free diet and continuing to exercise regularly. After about 3 months, I lost ten pounds that I had never thought I needed to lose and began to enjoy a leaner, stronger body!

Oral Natural Progesterone Brings Relief

When sleep became a struggle after about 9 months after discontinuing birth control pills, (this is not usually an issue after discontinuing the Pill unless you are in perimenopause) Dr. Cope helped me establish habits for healthy sleep hygiene.  Even with these new self-care tools, as hormone levels continued to drop; and estrogen and progesterone were relatively imbalanced with each other, sleep was still a major problem. Dr. Cope recommended that I begin oral Progesterone (200 mg). This is a bio-identical hormone replacement that comes from either soy or wild yam. This is not to be confused with synthetic progestin that causes many negative side effects, such as weight gain and anxiety. It also acts as a natural sedative; therefore improving sleep in perimenopausal women. In addition, it reduces both day and night hot flashes. It was a total game-changer! And it can help some women as they recover from Post-Birth Control Syndrome.

 Other symptoms of Post-Birth Control Syndrome include: 

  • Acne
  • Blood sugar dysregulation
  • Depression, Anxiety, and other mood symptoms
  • Changes in bowels
  • Hair loss
  • Headaches
  • Heavy, painful periods
  • Gas or bloating
  • Gut dysbiosis
  • Inflammation and other immune imbalances
  • Intestinal hyperpermeability (commonly referred to as “leaky gut”)
  • Migraines

For me, besides the sleep struggles, perimenopause unleashed hormonal fluctuations and brought heavy bleeding, severe pelvic pain, hot flashes, a ruptured ovarian cyst, vaginal dryness and more.

And then came gut issues

And just when I thought I’d faced all of the obstacles a post-pill/perimenopausal woman could endure, I began to have major digestive issues.

Gut problems are among the most common birth control pill side effects experienced by women with post birth control syndrome. Yeah, somehow my OB-GYN failed to mention this little detail.

To make a long story short: the long-term use of the Pill had gradually destroyed the lining of my gut to the point where I developed a leaky gut that invited the overgrowth of the Candida fungus in my digestive system. This overgrowth can lead to severe diarrhea which I dealt with on and off for nine months.

In the meantime, I lost too much weight and developed a food intolerance to eggs. Eventually, my fluctuating hormone levels and consequent lower ability to manage stress triggered IBS symptoms. Dr. Cope was a constant support every step of the way; and today my digestion is much improved and my gut is mostly healed. 

Higher Health

My recovery from Post-Birth Control Syndrome and my simultaneous perimenopausal journey taught me to take better care of my body in ways that improved my fitness, appearance, and quality of life. Having overall increased energy, heightened mental clarity, greater physical strength and muscle tone have allowed me to enjoy life more deeply. For me, this hormone healing journey has led to positive changes that I had never imagined. To learn more about menopause health, read Menopause Symptoms and Signs.

This journey has also given me an understanding of natural health and herbal supplements. Dr. Cope specializes in offering Five Elements Treatments using Flower Essences. These treatments have helped to stabilize the hormonal fluctuations and shifts that characterize the recovery from Post-Birth Control Syndrome as well as perimenopause.  

In Closing

I would also say that choosing to go through perimenopause and not staying on the Pill until reaching menopause has given me the gifts of acceptance of my life-stage and saying Goodbye to my fertile self. I have often thought that by staying on the Pill and by-passing these invaluable gifts, I would have short-changed myself! Not only would I not have reached this acceptance, but I would not have learned to give myself permission to take care of myself. I would not have a new understanding of women’s health and menstrual cycles that I can pass on to my daughter.

Even with all of the trials that I have endured, I do not regret for one minute my decision to go off of the Pill at age 47 and go through perimenopause. My hormone healing journey with Dr. Cope has been life-changing. To have discovered a doctor who is so gifted in an array of natural healing tools, and who is also deeply caring and passionate, is an extremely rare find in today’s medical world. Dr. Cope’s innate ability to seamlessly integrate the physical and emotional/spiritual dimensions of health has resulted in a powerful life transformation for me. I have so appreciated her patience, kindness, and wisdom coupled with her vast knowledge of women’s health. I cannot imagine navigating this season under the care of anyone else. 

Celia Layman, age 51- Harrisonburg, VA