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I was only 14 years old when I decided to start taking hormonal birth control.
For the following 10 years, my hormones relied on being artificially regulated. I was one of the lucky ones who faced no problems at all from being on the pill. I loved it. My skin was always clear, my hair was silky, my weight didn’t fluctuate too much, I didn’t have any period symptoms, and I was generally pretty happy. I had it easy.
Around year 9 of being on the pill, I (finally) started to question what I was putting into my body. Every night at 9 p.m., I’d flip open my pack, push out the tiny, circular white pill, and reluctantly pop it into my mouth. Right around the same time, I had enrolled in a holistic nutrition course and my passion for living a natural, simpler life was growing exponentially. Yet, at the same time, my body’s natural cycle was being controlled by chemicals—and had been for nearly half of my life.
Simply put, being on the pill didn’t align with my beliefs and how I wanted to take care of my body and my health. And completely out of personal choice, I decided it was time to let my body do her natural thing by letting go of the pill.
The first three months of being off the pill were a breeze. Other than losing my period, not much had changed. I did everything I could to try and get my period back—I ate certain foods, I did visualization meditations, I exercised regularly—and, eventually, it came back. But little did I know, this was just the beginning of a brutal few years of trying to get my body back to its natural rhythm.
Not long after, a whole village of pimples decide to reside on my chin, my hair suddenly looked like Olivia Newton-John’s from “Grease,” my mood swings were harsh, my periods were excruciating, and my weight was all over the place. After 10 years of being on the pill, this was my body’s way of saying, “What the f*ck is going on here?”
Let me be clear, these symptoms I experienced above are normal parts of life, but this was a sudden shift for me. And I could genuinely feel the imbalance in my body—and it sucked.
Because I tried so many (seriously, so many) different methods to balance my hormones, I honestly cannot come to any kind of conclusion as to what truly helped me. But what I do know is that I finally feel like myself again and, damn, it feels good.
But, because so many people out there struggle with hormonal imbalances, I figured it might be of benefit to share a little bit of what (may have) worked for me and how I balanced my hormones.
Other than simply eating well, managing stress levels, and getting regular exercise, here are the top three things I believe helped me the most on my journey to regulating my hormones naturally:
1. Seed Cycling
Before I go into this one, I would like to disclaim that there is no scientific evidence to back this up and I am simply writing about my personal experience.
Seed cycling is a process where during the first half of your cycle (i.e. from day 1 to 14), you consume one tablespoon of ground flaxseed and one tablespoon of raw pumpkin seeds every day, and during the second half of your cycle (i.e. from day 14 to 28), you consume one tablespoon of sesame seeds and one tablespoon of sunflower seeds every day.
This process is said to help regulate estrogen levels in the first half of your cycle and progesterone in the second half of your cycle.
Although I have no clear evidence to prove that this actually worked for me, around month three of seed cycling, I did start to notice my skin clearing up a lot, my typically short (23 day) cycle started to reach a more “normal” range, and my periods were becoming less painful.
I have been seed cycling for almost two years now, and though there are so many other factors that come into play, I truly have never felt better and more like myself—and I do believe that this may have played a role.
2. Intimacy and Connection
We should never underestimate the power of healing in community and connection. And though this part of my healing process might be harder to come by for some people, I truly believe that creating deep, meaningful, intimate connections with others really helped to balance my hormones.
And, yes, this absolutely includes good sex. For women, having regular (good) sex can help to increase and balance estrogen levels in the body, resulting in clearer skin and healthier-looking hair. However, it’s important to note that too much of anything is never good, and having too much sex can deplete our energies (especially in men).
But, good news: sex is not the only part of the equation. There is also deep healing in hugs, kisses, cuddling, and most kinds of physical touch. As well, I believe that having meaningful conversations and real connections with others can help us feel happier, safer, and more supported. And as a result, our hormones can reach a more balanced state.
Ah, yes. This one hurts a little because I understand how frustrating it can feel to have imbalanced hormones and all the nasty symptoms that come with that. But, more often than not, time is our greatest healer and having patience with ourselves is incredibly important. Even when it feels like we’re doing all the right things, we have to remember that none of them will be a quick fix.
Especially if you had an experience that was anything like mine, teaching our bodies how to regulate their hormones naturally (after 10 years of being regulated artificially) is not going to happen within a few months. And stressing out about why nothing is working is only going to slow down the process.
Remember that healing takes time and time heals. Have patience. Have compassion. And have faith that you can do this and you will.