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Going off birth control pills?


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When I was young I had irregular periods, and when was 19 I went 6 months without getting my period. I suspected a hormonal imbalance because of that and because of what I believed to be excess facial hair (I'm not sure if hairy-ness just runs in my family because I'm adopted). At that time, I went to the gynecologist and got a blood test. The results showed that my testosterone levels were "a little elevated." I, unfortunately, didn't ask the doctor to elaborate so don't have any additional information on these results.


A friend of mine who is a doctor suspects that I have PCOS. I've asked doctors about this but there's no test for PCOS, so it's hard to confirm either way. (I don't have cysts on my ovaries, but that doesn't necessarily mean I don't have PCOS.) Anyway, I've now been on birth control for about 15 years and am interested in possibly going off of it. Of course, I'd like to get my doctors opinion. If I do have PCOS, that could put me at higher risk for ovarian cancer and I was told that birth control pills reduce this risk. But I'm hoping that Whole30 can correct any hormonal imbalances without continuing to take drugs indefinitely (I'm not planning on having birth children).


My concern, in terms of bringing this up with my doctor is that I know that many doctors aren't very knowledgeable how how diet contributes to things like hormonal imbalances, etc. I'm wondering if anyone else in a similar situation has had a conversation with their doctor and what kind of language they used to explain Whole30. Also, if anyone in a similar situation has been able to successfully balance their hormones and go off birth control pills I'd love to hear about that too. Finally, I'm on Day 3 and wondering if (depending on what the doctor says) I should go ahead and give up the pills now and see how it goes or should I wait until I finish my Whole30 before going off the pills. 

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This is what I did. Note: I'm not saying it was the best way, nor am I recommending it to you necessarily, but it is what I did!


I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 19 - I have the abdominal weight gain, hirsutism, elevated androgens, etc., along with actual cysts, so my case was pretty clear. At that point I hadn't had a period in at least 2-3 years. Every Western medical practitioner I've seen has been content with the treat-the-symptom approach - I was on metformin, spironolactone and Yasmin birth control, and my periods were regular and things seemed OK, so everyone thought that was great. I did lose a substantial amount of weight with the metformin plus diet and exercise (my diet growing up was pretty typical American, so just changing to less processed foods helped a ton, even though I was still eating a lot of whole grains and dairy). After losing some of the weight, an endocrinologist suggested I try going off the birth control for awhile, but I didn't have a period after a few months, so I went back on.


I did my first Whole30 a couple of years ago, while still on all my meds, and have been eating mostly Paleo since. My prescriptions ran out about the same time my insurance changed to a company that my current practitioner didn't accept, so I figured it was as good a time as any to take myself off the meds and see what happened with the dietary changes. I didn't get medical clearance for this, which is why I say I don't necessarily recommend it, but I don't regret it either. :) My periods have been irregular but present and getting better; the rest of my symptoms have been about the same, but I'm trying to take that as a sign of progress. I've also been working with a naturopath in the last year to try to address the root hormone imbalances instead of medicating the symptoms. Progress there is slow (which I expected; hormones are very tricky things) but, I hope, still progress.


My advice would probably be to do the Whole30 but stay on your meds for a bit - depending on what your diet is like now, that might be enough of a drastic change at once without dealing with whatever your body might go through when it goes off the pills. Whatever you decide to do, good luck!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Your FSH and AMH (both hormone levels) could be tested.   Low and high, respectively values could help with a PCOS diagnosis.


It may seem weird, but even if you aren't interested in fertility, you may see if you could get a referral to a reproductive endocrinologist.   They treat patients with PCOS all the time. 

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