#2 The Contraceptive Pill & Tips For Coming Off It
The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast
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In Episode 2 of The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast, Natalie Douglas and Kate Callaghan discuss hormonal impacts of using the Contraceptive Pill, and share their tips for how to come off the Contraceptive Pill safely.
- What a normal healthy menstrual cycle looks like
- What the pill does to your cycle
- The benefits of natural estrogen versus the side effects of synthetic estrogen
- The benefits of natural progesterone versus the side effects of synthetic progesterone
- How to come off the pill
- Supplements and lifestyle tips to help you in this transition
Natalie K. Douglas 0:02
Hi, guys, and welcome back to The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast. I’m Natalie Bourke, holistic dietitian and nutritionist at health by Whole Foods. And with me, I have Kate Callaghan, the holistic nutritionist, and also a holistic dietician. How are you, Kate?
Kate Callaghan 0:20
I am awesome. Thanks. Now, I still don’t have much of a voice, which is great ahead of many talks in Sydney. But I’m awesome.
Natalie K. Douglas 0:28
That’s good. And what’s been happening? So you said you have a few talks coming up? Is that right?
Kate Callaghan 0:32
Yes. So as you know, I’m launching my book, holistic nutrition, eat well train smart and be kind to your body. On Thursday, it’s officially launched. So what today is Tuesday, so two days, the first of September. And, and I’m going to Sydney on Friday, and I have a few talks while I’m there, one on Saturday, the third of September at CrossFit bar NY and then I have another one for bottoms up fitness girls are this Sunday. And then I have another one for women of Westpac on Tuesday. And then another one at Fitness first on Wednesday morning and the CrossFit one and the fitness first ones that are open to the public. So I need to get my voice back properly. Yeah, you do. Man.
You’re just gonna have to carry like water and lozenges everywhere. Yeah. Yummy.
Natalie K. Douglas 1:25
Yes, yes. you totally should. Maybe you should just bribe someone into make bringing you some dummies. I just I just bought some new silicone gummy trays.
Kate Callaghan 1:35
Oh, little little teeny bit of
Natalie K. Douglas 1:38
different seriously different shapes make everything better. I have like little hot ones. And it’s just like, it just adds to the whole experience. I dove anyway,
Kate Callaghan 1:47
yeah, what’s been happening with you?
Natalie K. Douglas 1:50
Not too much. I’ve just been working away writing some blog post and had a really nice relaxing weekend. Actually, I just had a family picnic, Nick at in the middle of nowhere kind of along the coast, which is really nice. I kind of find my my way of switching off that I just need every week is to just get out in nature and away from the busyness of Sydney life and just to chill out. So that’s all that’s really been happening. It was long needed rest because I’ve been started a new job part time job recently, as well for a nutraceutical company, which has been really exciting and lots of learning about a lot of health conditions and kind of really spending a lot of time reading research papers. So it’s been busy, but good to have a bit of a break over the weekend.
Kate Callaghan 2:42
With us, and lovely. Yeah.
Natalie K. Douglas 2:45
So today we are chatting to everyone about the pill. And we’re going into a bit of information on what your normal cycle should look like as well as a few side effects of the pill and what you need to know when coming off it. So I know that you’re just as passionate about me in empowering women to make informed decisions. And we’re by no means telling or prescribing you all to get off the pill straightaway if it’s you know, if you’re on at the moment, but what we want to do is really give you the information that you need to make an informed decision around contraception and know that there are other methods out there if you choose not to take the pill.
Kate Callaghan 3:34
Absolutely. And on that we should say a little medical disclaimer that the information that we’re going to let you know is not a substitute for medical diagnosis, treatment or any of that speak to Dr. The health dream Okay, so don’t take this as as your diagnosis or treatment. And yeah, definitely speak to your healthcare practitioner. If you do want to come off the pill. Gosh, stopping
Natalie K. Douglas 3:58
Kate Callaghan 4:02
Natalie K. Douglas 4:03
That’s pretty impressive.
Kate Callaghan 4:07
I listened to too many other podcasts like,
Natalie K. Douglas 4:09
I know, right? You know what I really wanted to start the podcast off with I wanted to be like, Hey, what’s up y’all? Because I wanted to say that like Sean Croxton ever since I used to listen to underground wellness but it just never works out as as well as he does it. No, I can’t I can’t understand why. I’m just like him. I’m
Kate Callaghan 4:36
all the list is going Google Sean Croxton and then go and help picture and maybe a slight different
Natalie K. Douglas 4:45
Kate Callaghan 4:47
Natalie K. Douglas 4:48
okay. Well, let’s,
let’s get started. So, first of all, Kate, can you tell us a bit about what a healthy normal cycle should look like?
Kate Callaghan 5:00
Surely can. So a healthy textbook menstrual cycle should be about 28 days long, but a healthy one can range anywhere from 26 to 35 days long. And the first half of your menstrual cycle is called your follicular phase. So for the first five or so days is when you’ll have your believe your period you menstruation, and the dominant hormones at this in this phase estrogen and not produce estrogen and follicle-stimulating hormone FSH. So estrogen helps to build that healthy uterine lining and get your body kind of ready. Create the nice little oven warm, cushy environment for a baby to implant if maybe, and follicle-stimulating hormone stimulates follicles as the name and so you have a blade for about five days. And then from there until that day 14 is still on the follicular phase at about day 14 is an ovulation at a roundabout so give or take. We’re going textbook here. And Luton housing hormone Lh is something that spikes around here and that triggers ovulation so triggers the release of an egg from a dominant follicle. And from there, once the egg goes out of that follicle, that follicle becomes what’s called the corpus lutein. And and that starts to produce progesterone, and helps to really get your temperature up and really warm up your uterus and really make that nice oven for the baby to implant and then your body’s going to stay in that warm environment stay with that elevated temperature and have that dominant progesterone in for the next 14 days or so will take and before progesterone will then fall again and the uterine lining will shed and once again, you’ll have your menstrual bleed. Did that make sense?
Natalie K. Douglas 7:11
That did and you know, it’s hard to explain such a complicated, like processed simply. So I think you did well. And look, you guys don’t need to know all of the fancy names for every single thing. But it is really important to understand how your cycle works and know that it’s you know, it’s quite an energy, kind of demanding process. And you need to make sure that you are healthy in order for in order to have a healthy cycle. And we’ll go into that a bit more. But what I want to point out now is kind of the contrast between will not necessarily a contrast, but I just want to give you a bit of information about what the pill does. So, in the bluntest, and most basic explanation possible, the pill is literally shutting off your hormonal production, it’s completely kind of severing the communication between your hypothalamus, pituitary and ovarian axis. Or for those of you that think more like myself, it’s stopping your brain talking to your lady garden, I think it might have been lower Brighton, that’s that cold it chemical castration. And I think that’s a pretty, pretty fair statement to make. So essentially, when you have a blade on the pill, it’s not a true blade. It’s a withdrawal blade, from the synthetic hormones in the pill. It’s kind of crazy how quickly the pill is prescribed, given this fact and everything else we’re about to go into. I mean, like, we, we think it’s like, would we think it’s acceptable and beneficial, if we, you know, cut a man balls off, and then a huge chunk of his testosterone production was gone. And sorry, that was really, really graphic. But that’s what I’m trying to point to add is, we are cutting off that communication and cutting off our own into hormonal production. And it’s kind of ridiculous to think that doing that is it like that the consequences start and stop there. It doesn’t. And there are many more effects in the body when this happened, and we’re going to talk a bit about that. But before we do, what we want to go through now is actually the benefits of natural estrogen. And Kate, I might also get you to tell everyone about the negative effects of synthetic estrogen and then maybe I can have a bit of a chat about progesterone.
Kate Callaghan 9:36
Sure, love to so unnatural estrogen. There are actually a few different estrogens, but the main one we’re going to talk about is estradiol and the benefits of natural estrogen and main ones, improving insulin sensitivity. So Insulin is a hormone that helps us to get glucose from carbohydrates into the cells. It’s an anabolic hormone. So it helps us to build muscle to build thyroid hormone, it’s really really important for overall health. And is Whereas in contrast, the synthetic estrogens and I’m not gonna be entrepreneur things probably ethanol Lester dial, I can never pronounce
them, don’t worry, live or no Jess strel,
they can contribute to insulin resistance. So that’s the opposite. And insulin resistance is something that we often hear when we’re talking about and diabetes, pre-diabetes, obesity and polycystic ovarian syndrome. So basically, it’s stopping your body’s ability to use insulin properly. And that can be really problematic because then your blood sugar levels will rise, and cause all sorts of damage to your nerves, and all of those associated with diabetes that you hear of, and insert. So the SJL natural estrogen is also really important for bone health. And I talked about this a lot because of all my work with hypothalamic payment area. And when we have hypothermic, I’m an area we do usually deficient in estrogen and that’s where the whole and compromised bone density comes into it. So if you don’t have those natural estrogens, to help to build your bone and help to prevent the breakdown of bone as well, then you’re going to be more prone to osteopenia and osteoporosis. And same with heart disease. Natural estrogen is really important for and its really carrier protective, so important for heart health. And whereas synthetic estrogens are kind of the opposite.
That’s the main things really
Natalie K. Douglas 11:44
excellent. No, I think they’re really good points. And, you know, it is, like you said, it’s so important that we realize the importance of estrogen because of all of the consequences of not having our natural estrogen in enough supply. So it’s about it’s not about having too much or too little, it’s about that balance. And that’s what we’re kind of aiming for with a healthy cycle. So going into progesterone, so progesterone is kind of like hormonal value. It’s the hormone that keeps you calm and happy, or at least it tries to. It also is responsible for holding a pregnancy. It’s essential for cardiovascular health, it stimulates healthy hair growth, makes your skin glow, its anti-inflammatory, it boosts your thyroid production, and helps in white maintenance, and it’s clearly something we want around in our lives. The thing with progesterone production is that ovulation is the only way to make natural progesterone. That means in order to be getting all of the above benefits, we need to be ovulating regularly. ovulation is not an easy task. It’s quite the journey. So what happens is we eventually all flee for a temporary gland called the Corpus Luteum which Kate mentioned earlier. And this is what this is how progesterone is produced from that, Glenn, how to get these to happen, you need to Will I not be on the pill. And be make sure you have adequate levels of key vitamins and minerals such as iodine, magnesium, zinc, and selenium to name a few. You also need to ensure that you haven’t got any underlying chronic inflammation happening. So in a more practical sense, it means ensuring you’re avoiding pro-inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy for some people, industrial seed oils, sugar and anything else that you individually don’t tolerate. Well, it also means keeping your stress in check as stress actually steals progesterone and uses it to make cortisol which is not something you want to happen. Now in terms of the other side of things, synthetic progesterone, so they’re known as pretty Justin’s. So that’s what I’ll refer to them as from here on in. One thing to point out from the start is that they are not this, they’re not the same as progesterone, like literally the molecule is completely different. They’re kind of like two different classes of projections, those that have a really high androgen index, and those that have a lower androgen index, and both come with their own set of side effects. So just to backtrack a bit for those of you that don’t know, an androgen index is kind of like how testosterone like that progestin ease. So when we’re talking about high androgen index predestined, we start to see side effects such as hair loss, weight gain, insulin resistance, and anxiety. Then we have the lower androgen in index pills like as in Brenda, which had the side effects of increased risk of blood clots, decreased adrenal function, depression, anxiety, and lack of libido. So clearly, we have a whole host of symptoms that are the whole opposite of what we feel when we’re producing natural progesterone. And it’s truly concerning that this bucket list of symptoms aren’t clearly laid out to women, when they’re being prescribed the pill. You know, that’s not an informed decision. And that’s not allowing women to take control of the health, which is really upsetting from, you know, both just being a woman and also being a health practitioner that works with many women. And Kate, you would know this even more so with myself with your work with people that have PCs or hypothermic Amun area, or just any homeowner relating or homeowner related condition how, you know, really painful and upsetting hormonal conditions and fluctuations that aren’t natural can be. Absolutely, absolutely. And I forgot to mention estrogen is really important for producing cervical mucus as well. That’s the key one that is a key one,
Kate Callaghan 15:57
that’s natural estrogen when you’re on the pill, there’s synthetic estrogens. And the whole hormonal input from the pill will actually block cervical mucus production. So you probably experienced vaginal dryness while you’re on the pill, which is going to affect libido as well.
Natalie K. Douglas 16:11
Yeah. And I think it’s something that’s not spoken about all that often. And it is really important. And I think that starting to have those conversations about all the effects of the pill really kind of opens up a conversation around. Okay, well, then, what other methods are there? And how do I actually come off the pill? Because for a lot of people, it’s, it can be easy, yes. But for I would say, for more women, there, it’s quite, you know, challenging to come off the pill, and you kind of have to know what to expect and get some support through that. So, Kate, I know, you’ve written a really wonderful book, blog post on coming off the pill. And I’d wonder if you would go through a few kind of tips around coming off the pill, and what like that could maybe help anyone that’s listening that is considering this?
Kate Callaghan 17:06
Yeah, sure. And as we said at the start, always work with the health care practitioner, Speak to your doctor, about going off the pill and about your choices, and know that you do have choices. And first thing I would say is, so a lot of women come to me and say I’m going to wait until I’m on the sugar pills, or I’m going to wait to this certain time to get off the pill because I’m in the middle of a cycle. And as we said before, it’s not a real bleed that you’re experiencing when you’re taking a pill. So you don’t have to wait until you’re on the sugar pills. So there is no perfect time to get off the pill now is as good a time as any to come up with film, if that’s what you’re going to do. And I would say have some alternative contraceptive options available if you are sexually active. So condoms, fertility when this method, I think we’re going to speak about this in an upcoming podcast. So I won’t go too much into that now.
But just, you know, take precautions, be a responsible adult, Oh, man.
Natalie K. Douglas 18:09
Do you want a baby,
Kate Callaghan 18:11
unless of course you want a baby.
Go for it. Although in that second step, I do always recommend people to leave six months at least after going off the pill, if they do want to conceive just to get rid of all those synthetic hormones and replenish the body after being on the pill because the pill can deplete your body of important vitamins and minerals. And it can mess with your gut bacteria. So giving your body time to rebuild and rejuvenate and really make sure that you’re in a state of optimal health before falling pregnant is going to give you the best chance at a healthy pregnancy and health baby. And make sure that that you feel good during your pregnancy because babies are very resilient. So if you are a little bit new, trained and deficient, a little bit if you’re very nutrient deficient, it will affect your baby. But if you’re any a little bit nutrient deficient, they will steal what they need from you. And you’re more likely to feel like poo.
I’m trying not to sweat it I can get through this.
Natalie K. Douglas 19:18
I said goals though. Is that okay?
Kate Callaghan 19:20
I don’t think balls is swearing. Okay, cool.
We can do this we’re doing well, we can do this 10 minutes left, we can do this.
Alright, so once you decide you’re going to come with film, and know that you’re going to well, you might feel a little bit different, you might act a little bit different. And you might take a downwind turn before things get better. And so your skin might go a little bit wonky, you might feel a bit Moody, you might retain a bit of water, it’s really not specific, then your bowel movements might change. And but on the other hand, you might feel amazing. I was actually speaking to a client last night who I saw a couple of months ago and she was on Yasmin. And she was feeling depressed and anxious and really not feeling good at all. And she went off the pill in between consults, and I spoke to her last night and she’s actually feeling amazing, not anxious, not depressed. And her skin’s fine. no issues whatsoever. And Yasmin is one of those ones that’s known to have quite a lot of slides. So it’s really good. So everyone’s really different. When I went off the pill after taking it for 10 years, I had really bad headaches and upper back pain for about two weeks. And that was kind of a sign that my liver was struggling a little bit which is not surprising as I live is process all of the hormones and consider supplementation to replenish your nutrients still so as I mentioned before, the pill depletes vitamins and minerals. So choose a good quality multivitamin multi-mineral and a probiotic to get that gut bacteria balanced again and if you can have some fermented foods, kombucha, sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, absolutely go down that path. But you might even need a temporary boost by taking a supplemental probiotic. And if you’re taking if you’re wanting to conceive, get a really high-quality prenatal supplement that has adequate full light or an 800 micrograms of folate and around hundred 50 micrograms of iodine and it’s really really important for preventing your tube defects and growth issues in babies that pull out an item then you want to support your liver and detoxification so as I just said, When I came off my liver was struggling a bit. So supporting your liver through actual proper detoxification. I’m not talking lemon juice cleanse or breath area and diet. That
Natalie K. Douglas 21:54
cabbage soup diet cabbage Have you ever done a cabbage soup diet? Lower Haight soup?
Kate Callaghan 21:58
My God, you want to walk around stinking cabbage soup diet? how I did it when I was about 17 pull? It’s not nice you just gotta you gotta spend some alone time if you’re going to do that. My wife’s emissions from you guys ever a few days but my god, no one’s gonna want to spend any time with anyone to for it
Natalie K. Douglas 22:27
is boring. And you need protein for your liver to actually go through its detoxification process, which I think is what a lot of these detox type things nice.
Kate Callaghan 22:37
Yeah, so important juice, no juice doesn’t cut it.
You need those proteins to, to detoxify properly. And White Partain. Actually, I don’t usually like to suggest protein powder supplements that whey protein from grass-fed cows can actually help to support detoxification and help you to eliminate any of those excess synthetic hormones.
Natalie K. Douglas 23:00
Yeah, that’s a good, good tip. Yeah, and I think Don’t be, don’t be afraid of trying some things out as well. Like, you know, try whey protein, if you don’t tolerate it, then, you know, move on. But, you know, there are lots of different, you know, tools in the toolkit. So just use, go through a few of them. And you know, it’s best to do it, as we said, under the guidance of a health care practitioner to help you make those decisions. But there are lots of things that you can do to help your body through that kind of transition. And just remember that coming off the pill, like if you’ve been on it for quite a long time, this is the first time that your body is having communication with your ovaries in a sense, and the first time that you’re really feeling and getting to know your own real hormonal cycle. So you know, it’s going to take a little bit of time and just hang in there at remember that, yes, all of the supplements that we’re talking about can absolutely help. But of course, starting with an anti-inflammatory diet, managing your stress, exercising appropriately, and making sure your personal care products on adding to the chemical load on your liver, is really important. And beyond that, just be patient be consistent and get some help get some guidance along the way.
Kate Callaghan 24:29
Absolutely. And on that note of being patient do know that it’s quite common to not have a period after taking the pill. And as you said, not it can take time for your body to reestablish that connection between the brain and the ovaries. And but if you go for longer than say, three to six months without a period, then you’re probably looking at kind of post-pill amenorrhea or more even the hypothalamic amenorrhea. Yeah, right, or even face Eos. But definitely, as Nat suggested, getting that checked out and not trying to do everything on your own can be really, really helpful. It can help you to get to the root of the problem faster than if you were to go through Google.
Yeah, absolutely. Hope to Google is not recommended. In this instance, sometimes doctoral can be helpful, but not,
Natalie K. Douglas 25:22
not for hormonal conditions.
Kate Callaghan 25:24
Wow, I find that all roads in in cancer.
Natalie K. Douglas 25:27
It’s so true. It’s disappointing. I can’t they indeed something more positive?
Kate Callaghan 25:33
unicorns, on the end of the rainbow.
Natalie K. Douglas 25:39
All right, well, let’s kind of wrap it up, we’ll start to wrap it up there, I think that we’ve given everyone a really good kind of insight into, into the pill, into our natural hormonal cycles. And as Kate said, we will go into in future podcast, a few kind of alternative methods of contraception that are very effective, and that both my both Kate and myself use. So we’re not recommending anything that, you know, we don’t actually do ourselves or we don’t recommend to clients. So we will go into that as well. Because I think, as Kate said, it’s important to have a backup option where we’re not going to leave you without some options to explore. If you’re looking for more information on balancing hormones, Kate blog is a wealth of information. So head over to the holistic nutritionist calm and have a read of some of the content over there. Also, I will include in the show notes where you can find Kate, when she’s in Sydney soon at their public talks. I won’t give away the talks that I promised Kate, I wouldn’t give away all the talks that are not open to the public. So I will include the public one’s there. And if you get a chance to go and see Kate, that would be awesome. So hello, and give me us. Yes. Thanks for all.
She gives good hugs. I promise. Long Oh,
yes. Well, apparently, you need to hug for like seven seconds for it to be effective or like to release the good. Yes, yeah, me and my friends will have this like seven second hug roof. Anyone pulled that off? There are issues we have to start all over again. Anyway, that’s just a side note. So everyone hug your friends for seven seconds, head over to Kate’s blog, and make sure that you go and see her in her talks in Sydney. So Kate, was there anything else you wanted to tell the listeners about before we sign off?
Kate Callaghan 27:54
No. I would like to give a plug to lower Brighton though. I think I mentioned her earlier and she got the pill can Nicole castration? And she is amazing. Lauer bride and calm i think is her website, Laura broad and calm. And she’s got a lot of information about the pill. And she’s really passionate about it. And she has an awesome a book called The period repair manual. And I love her.
Natalie K. Douglas 28:17
Yes, I do too. And I’ve read that book and it’s amazing. So do head over to Lars blog as well. And if you can grab her book because he is again a wealth of information and it has informed a lot of my clinical practice and she’s doing some great things. So don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes. Gosh, I thought I would get to say this one day. Don’t forget to subscribe. To leave us a review. Yes, leave us a review and we will be back in a fortnight’s time. And again, as always, if you have any topics that you want discussed or any questions you have, then feel free to let us know so that we can make sure these podcasts aren’t just serving our own entertainment needs but they’re actually helping you guys out. All right, Kate, well have a very safe trip to Sydney and I will see you very soon.
Kate Callaghan 29:16
Thanks that we did it and I swear I know.
Natalie K. Douglas 29:19
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