Post-Pill PCOS - Diet & Lifestyle Tips

Your driver: Post-Pill PCOS

What is the impact of the pill on your hormones?

When you come off certain types of hormonal birth control including the oral contraceptive pill (OCP), it can cause PCOS symptoms of acne, hair changes and irregular cycles. This can be because it triggers a pre-existing PCOS condition, or as your body withdraws from synthetic hormonal birth control and tries to recalibrate your natural hormone production it can simply mimic PCOS symptoms.

The mimicking of PCOS symptoms versus a flare up of pre-existing PCOS condition will generally will mean it is a temporary experience of symptoms and can easily be brought back into balance.

  1. As the OCP suppresses ovulation and progesterone which are the two KEY mechanisms to keeping your androgen levels in check, when you come off the OCP it is common to have a rebound surge of androgens. When your androgen levels skyrocket you experience PCOS symptoms of oily skin, acne, and hirsutism.
  2. Hormonal contraceptives like the OCP are linked to alteration in glucose levels, including elevated fasting glucose and insulin levels. These alterations often persist even when the individual ceases using the OCP. The insulin resistance that results leads to excessive amounts of androgens, suppression of sex-hormone binding globulin, and poor metabolic function ⟶ ALL common symptoms of PCOS!

Diet Tips 

  • Follow a whole-foods diet: the pill can cause increased permeability of the gut lining and reduce nutrient absorption which will hinder the speed at which your hormones come back into balance. Focus on building up good gut health by limiting processed foods, alcohol and refined sugars. You may also like to consider removing dairy if you are experiencing acne symptoms.
  • Ensure each meal contains a serve of high-quality protein (grass fed meat, wild caught fish, tofu, tempeh, beans and eggs) to stabilize your blood sugar levels when eating. This helps to normalise your body's insulin response after coming off the pill by allowing the slower breakdown of food lending itself to a slower release of sugars into the blood stream!
  • Increase your consumption of healthy fats. Think avocados, nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil, small fatty fish. Healthy fats will provide the building blocks for healthy hormone production to support your body coming back into balance.
  • Avoid processed foods and refined sugars. Sugar will stimulate your insulin-like growth factor, which follows on to stimulate androgen production. Remember, elevated androgens equals acne, hirsutism, and irregular periods. In low levels androgens are your friends, in high levels they are not! Your goals is to restore healthy blood sugar stability to prevent testosterone surges.

Diet hack!

Ingesting 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in some water 20 minutes before each meal has been shown to reduce your insulin spike by 30%. This is amazing - it means you can eat what you normally eat without worrying too much about your blood glucose spikes.

Lifestyle tips ?♀️

  • Exercise! 30 minutes a day of varied exercises will improve your insulin sensitivity and help you better manage your blood sugar levels. Resistance training with heavy weights has shown to have the greatest impact on insulin sensitivity - but any exercise is better than no exercise! 
  • Manage your stress! 
Whether that's through meditation, walking or singing - whatever helps you feel relaxed. Stress triggers the release of cortisol and adrenaline, signalling the body to produce more energy. Consequently, blood sugar levels rise, leading to energy fluctuations and potential unhealthy eating habits. By addressing stress, you can avoid the glucose rollercoaster and make better dietary choices
  • Practice good sleep hygiene
Healthy sleeping patterns and sufficient melatonin production will help regulate your menstrual period and is essential for the balancing of estrogen and progesterone. Poor sleep quality is also linked to increased risk of obesity and insulin resistance which will have a significant impact on PCOS progression. 

If you are looking for an effective treatment option, I offer 10 minute herbal medicine consults where I am able to formulate you your very own unique mix to balance and support your hormones. If this sounds like something you are ready to explore, book today using the link below!

Access your own herbal formula here by booking a Herbal Medicine Consult

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