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Post-Pill Hormone Production
When a woman takes oral contraceptives she is taking synthetic forms of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone to regulate the menstrual cycle and prevent pregnancy. Stopping the pill, the body has to readjust to a normal production of hormones. According to the Mayo Clinic, within three months a normal period should return, although it can take longer. There may be other temporary side effects such as bleeding and delayed fertility. For women who experienced low libido when taking the pill, this effect can last for some time after stopping. How the body will react depends on several factors, including what oral contraceptive was used, for how long and what symptoms a woman may have experienced before the pill and during the time the pill was used.
Natural herbs can be used for balancing hormones after birth control. There are several plants which can safely help the body return to a state of balance, making the transition comfortable. Always talk to your doctor about any herbs you may choose to use before use.
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One of the most important herbs for normalizing the hormones after the use of oral contraceptives is chaste tree berry. This herb acts by normalizing estrogen and progesterone activity. By stimulating normal, healthy pituitary gland function, this herb can be used to regain balance after the pill, but it is also useful for PMS symptoms and menopausal changes.
There are no known side effects from taking chaste tree although some people experience mild stomach upset from taking supplements. To make an herbal infusion from the berries, steep 1 teaspoon of the ripe berries in 1 cup of boiling water for ten minutes. Strain. Chaste tree tea can be taken on its own to balance hormones or blended with other herbs.
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Black cohosh also acts to normalize the female reproductive system, balancing the production of female sex hormones. Aside from being a female tonic, this herb also has a relaxing effect on the nervous system. It is also safe for general use, although some people have experienced mild symptoms such as a feeling of heaviness and a headache.
To make an herbal tea simmer 1 teaspoon of the dried roots in 1 cup of water for about ten minutes. Black cohosh and chaste tree work well together as an herbal infusion for balancing hormones after using birth control pills.
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Licorice does not act specifically on the female sex hormones but it is an excellent tonic for the glandular system in general. Licorice is rich in glycosides and will help to tone the adrenal glands. It is most useful when combined with either black cohosh or chaste tree for facilitating hormone balance after stopping the pill.
Licorice, if used for a long period of time, can raise blood pressure levels. For this reason this herb should be avoided if you have problems with high blood pressure. Also, to be safe, do not use for a prolonged period of time. For example, take licorice for one week and then stop using for one week.
To make an herbal infusion simmer 1 teaspoon of the root in 1 cup of boiling water for about ten minutes. Licorice and black cohosh root can be simmered together to make an herbal infusion if you are using these two herbs together.
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Using These Herbs Safely
If using herbs to help normalize hormones after stopping oral contraceptives be sure to talk to your doctor first, especially if you are on any type of medication or if you have a medical condition or are pregnant. If using herbal infusions drink one to three cups daily while your body readjusts. You can also take botanical medicine in supplement form. Be sure to only purchase from a natural, trusted source.
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Hitti, Miranda. "Halting Oral Contraceptives: Effects Linger." (WebMD) http://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/news/20050519/halting-oral-contraceptives-effects-linger
Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/birth-control-pill/WO00098
Hoffmann, David. "The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies." (Element Books, 1996).
photo by Andrew Yee