The Great Debate — Should You Cleanse After Coming off Birth Control?

We’ll get right to the point. There are a lot of products out there claiming to cleanse the body after coming off birth control, with zero scientific evidence supporting their efficacy. Any pill or powder or liquid that promises to remove synthetic hormones or help your hormones “reset” after birth control is on shaky ground, because the market need they fill is itself based on a common misconception. So the short answer is no, you don’t need to cleanse after coming off birth control. Now, properly preparing your body for the best chance of pregnancy? That’s a different story.

Key Takeaways

  • A common misconception about hormonal birth control is that they can build up in the body and wreak havoc on your fertility health.
  • Products marketed as birth control cleanses capitalize on this misconception, but there is no research to support their validity or benefits. In fact, in some cases, they could include ingredients or medications that might be downright harmful.
  • Research shows that synthetic birth control hormones leave the body quickly once you stop using them, and studies confirm that they don’t negatively impact your ability to conceive or delay fertility in any meaningful way.
  • Instead of a birth control cleanse, prioritizing a healthy lifestyle, improving nutrition, and taking a high-quality prenatal vitamin can help prepare the body for the best chances of conception.

Fact — hormones from birth control methods like the pill and the patch don’t “build up” in the body and make your fertility health go haywire. It’s a stubborn myth, with many people assuming detoxing after birth control is the first step to getting back to a natural cycle or becoming pregnant. But the human body is a pretty amazing machine, and it’s designed to process and remove medications — including your birth control — without any outside assistance. Once you stop supplying a steady source of contraception, you’re essentially good to go. Think about it — if your birth control of choice is the pill, there’s a reason you need to take it at the same time every day. Even a few hours difference can mean hormone levels drop enough for you to become pregnant.

One caveat here is the shot. If you opt for this method of birth control, fertility levels can take up a year to stabilize. But a cleanse isn’t going to change that. And again, there are no studies that say otherwise. In fact, there are no studies on birth control cleanses at all, so not only is there no evidence that they work, there’s nothing to say they’re actually safe. While you may be personally willing to take that risk, ask yourself how you’d feel if you become pregnant while cleansing.

Post Birth Control Syndrome

The persistence of birth control cleanses may be due in part to what’s known as post birth control syndrome, a charming collection of symptoms that you may notice as your body naturally adjusts to its own cycle and hormone levels. These can vary and may include:

  • Breaking out
  • Hair loss
  • Irregular cycle
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain
  • Digestive issues, including bloating

In some cases, these are things that your birth control was actually suppressing, meaning they aren’t necessarily side effects of quitting your birth control. Not fun, and definitely not convenient if you’re ready to get pregnant. And keep in mind another reality of hormonal birth control — there is evidence that long-term use can create vitamin shortages, specifically for vitamins B6 and B12, magnesium, vitamin C, zinc, and folic acid, which isn’t ideal if the plan is a baby.

Luckily, in lieu of a questionable cleanse, there are a few things you can do to actually support your body.

Prioritize a Healthy Lifestyle

If you smoke, quit. If you drink, scale it back or stop altogether. And if you aren’t exercising regularly, start penciling in those workouts. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, try to minimize major sources of stress, and just take steps in general to lead a healthy lifestyle. It’s the low-hanging fruit of the “trying-to-get-pregnant” checklist, and it matters. If you didn’t already know that your preconception health plays a direct role in a successful conception, pregnancy, and the health of your baby, well, now you do.

Improve your Nutrition

So many things come back to your diet, which makes sense. After all, what you eat is your body’s primary source of all the nutrients you need, which means a steady diet of processed junk and alcohol is pretty problematic. Just about every dietitian out there will advise you to get the bulk of your nutrients from your food, and yes, it is easier said than done. If you’re coming off birth control, do your best to prioritize healthy foods like lean sources of protein, high-quality fats, and quality complex carbohydrates. And then, add a high-quality prenatal vitamin to the mix.

Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins

A daily prenatal vitamin is a simple way to shore up nutritional deficiencies when the goal is a baby, and both hopeful moms and dads are encouraged to take them. But be clear — not all prenatal vitamins are equal, so opt for a high-quality, science-backed formula with recommended amounts of key nutrients. Doing so will eliminate a surprisingly big majority of the prenatals on the market, since many of them are either missing key ingredients, like choline, or using them in such negligible amounts that there’s no actual benefit. 

We’ll go ahead and recommend Beli for Women and Beli Vitality for Men, both of which are formulated based on the latest research with an emphasis on quality, safety, purity, and efficacy and designed to fully support your fertility. They’re also in it for the long haul, from preconception to all three stages of pregnancy into the post-natal phase. So skip the birth control cleanse, and start as you mean to go on.

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