If you have previously used hormonal birth control—and, who hasn’t these days—you will most likely need help recovering your optimal health, ideally before pregnancy. Hormonal birth control can deplete the body of key nutrients, including thyroid hormones and zinc, which are both crucial for reproductive health.
“There is evidence that the longer a woman is on hormonal contraception the longer it may take for her cycle to return,” says Jennifer Block author of Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care and the forthcoming book Everything Below the Waist about feminism’s unfinished business in women’ health. “So if you are wanting to be pregnant, think a year or two ahead,” she says as it can take that long to be ovulating regularly. She cautions that many women have been on the Pill since they were young to treat conditions such as irregular periods, endometriosis, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. “These women often then go off the pill and the symptoms return with a vengeance because the reality is that the Pill hasn’t been treating the symptoms but masking them.”
“It’s a myth, this idea that hormonal birth control is harmless,” says Geraldine Matus midwife and founder of Justisse Healthworks for Women. She has seen hundreds of women struggle to rebuild their fertility after using hormonal birth control. “Being on the Pill is not like being pregnant.” Hormonally, “it is more like being perimenopausal or menopausal, a state that ages a woman quickly.” It can take a few years of a woman tracking her fertility and working with a helper to recover fertility, but it is possible she councils. She recommends learning to track your fertility as a start.
“One of the deficiencies of modern gynaecology is that we aren’t effectively treating these conditions we are just masking them with pharmaceutical hormones,” says Block. She cautions that many of these same women are later diagnosed with infertility and end up taking more synthetic hormones in order to get pregnant and “we still aren’t treating their underlying health.” The answer is to plan well in advance to help restore your body to health.
I was fortunate to be able to interview both Jennifer Block and Geraldine Matus when researching fertility, toxins, and women’s health for my book Green Mama-to-Be. Learn more about the Green Mama books and what life is really like living on an island, researching toxins and health, and raising children with science and spirit by signing-up for the newsletter.