How to effectively transition off birth control + Your listener questions!

Jun 8, 2024 | Let's Hear From The Experts

Episode 59: How to effectively transition off birth control + Your listener questions!

Taylor is a Registered Dietitian specializing in identifying and treating the root causes of hormone imbalances. She has a particular passion for educating women about the rarely discussed negative side effects of hormonal birth control. Taylor works 1:1 with women in her private practice, helping them navigate how to support their body on and/or how to safely transition off of birth control, symptom free. She has an extensive background working with clients with eating disorders and practices from a non-diet, weight-inclusive perspective. Let us join Lindsey and Taylor discuss how to effectively transition off birth control + Answer some of our listener questions!

Connect with Taylor on Instagram- @nourishedbytay

Download Taylor’s Health Hormone Recipe Guidebook

Work with Taylor

In this episode:

  • Why birth control won’t solve your period problems 
  • Is a birth control “period” better than no period?
  • How to correct vitamin and mineral deficiencies caused by the pill
  • You may be under eating even if your weight is normal 
  • How to transition out of a constant fight or flight state 
  • Non hormonal options for preventing pregnancy 
  • The science behind food habituation and “moderation” 

Connect with Lindsey Lusson: 

Instagram: @‌food.freedom.fertility
Website: www.foodfreedomandfertility.com/
Twitter: @LindseyLusson
Tiktok: @food.freedom.fertility

Transcript:

Lindsey Lusson  00:00

On the one hand, I would love to get my period back, right? That would be amazing. But I also think it’s important that people understand that when you get your period back, you get pretty fertile pretty fast. And so what do you usually tell people to do? Who are not desiring pregnancy but do want to get off the pill and stay off the pill.

Taylor Lechner  00:17

Yeah, so there’s options of the fertility awareness method. That one is great. And there are some really awesome providers out there who specialize in that, that I refer people to if they want to go that route, just like basic birth control methods, so condoms, those types of things, even tracking. 

Taylor Lechner  00:19

If you don’t want to work with a fertility awareness specialist, you can always just start tracking your cycle, just to get me more aware of when you’re ovulating, when you’re more likely to get pregnant. There’s also the copper IUD. 

Taylor Lechner  00:43

And with that, you just have to just be aware some people do have negative side effects with a copper IUD, some people don’t. So that’s where just doing your research and being [indecipherable] personalized, what you’re looking for, it’s good.

Lindsey Lusson  00:54

Welcome to the period recovery and fertility podcast. Here we discuss the challenging, rewarding and life changing process of recovering your period and finding freedom with food and exercise. Whether you’re hoping to regain your cycle to get your health back on track, or you’re ready to become a mama, this podcast is for you. 

Lindsey Lusson  01:12

While the recovery process isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, it’s my hope to bring you both information and inspiration during your own recovery journey. I’m your host, registered dietitian and fellow HA woman, Lindsey Lusson.

Lindsey Lusson  01:25

Taylor is a registered dietician specializing in identifying and treating root causes of hormone imbalances. She has a particular passion for educating women on the rarely discussed negative side effects of hormonal birth control.

Lindsey Lusson  01:37

 Taylor works one on one with women in her private practice helping them navigate how to support their body and how to transition off of birth control safely without having any negative symptoms. She has an extensive background and working with clients with eating disorders and practices from a non-diet weight inclusive approach.

Lindsey Lusson  01:53

Alright, y’all welcome back to another episode of the Period Recovery and Fertility Podcast. I am so excited to bring on a colleague of mine, Taylor, who is here to talk to us all about getting your period back after coming off birth control and all things birth control. So if you are cycling off the pill and not yet ready to start your family, you are in the right place. So welcome, Taylor.

Taylor Lechner  02:16

Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited.

Lindsey Lusson  02:18

Yes, well, let’s first start by talking a little bit about how you got here because you and I were chatting before we pushed record. We went to school, we became dieticians, we got our masters. So we’re talking y’all six, seven years of school. 

Lindsey Lusson  02:32

And a lot of dietitians, we kind of get out and we’re like, oh my gosh, I don’t really know that much about women’s health and hormones. So how did you find yourself in this place of wanting to learn more? And tell us a little bit more about your story and how you got here?

Taylor Lechner  02:45

Yeah, I’ll try and make this as succinct as possible. So I have a background working with eating disorders. I did that for about five and a half years before transitioning to women’s health, hormone nutrition. And all of that really stems from my own personal journey with food and my relationship with my body and health and all that kind of stuff. 

Taylor Lechner  03:06

So I ended up losing my period when I was 18. And I was put on the birth control pill, there wasn’t really any other options given to me no one really dug deeper. My mom and I, we didn’t know any better. So we’re like, okay, cool. And my doctor said, you can just stay on that until you want to get pregnant. And there’s a lot wrong with that, in my opinion that I learned later. 

Taylor Lechner  03:31

And again, at the time, I was 18. And this information wasn’t as–we didn’t know that much about it. So fast forward, I was put on the birth control pill when I was 18. And then when I was 28 years old. So 10 years later, I was listening to this random podcast by a women’s health expert, the woman who wrote “In the FLO,” Alisa Vitti, and my mind was blown, she was talking all about the negative health consequences of being on birth control pill. 

Taylor Lechner  03:56

And here I was with, like you said a master’s degree in nutrition. I had years in the healthcare field, and just blew my mind how little I knew about my own body. And it just kind of brought to fruition, I knew that I had an undiagnosed eating disorder. That’s what actually made me really passionate about working with eating disorders. 

Taylor Lechner  04:16

I didn’t want other women to go through that I really wanted to work with that population to help them in the way that I wasn’t supported. And it just connected a lot of dots of no one really talked about that. That was a huge red flag that was ignored of me losing my period and that signalling that my hormones were at rack and that I wasn’t eating enough. 

Taylor Lechner  04:34

I was over exercising. And so I decided to go off the pill because I wanted to basically make sure my body was functioning normally. So I talked to my doctor and she was like, yup, you can just go off if anything happens. You can come back and see me. So I didn’t know any better. So I quit cold turkey. And my body was a hot mess. So I had really bad acne and I did get a period back. But I later found out for my own functional testing and research that it was unovulatory. 

Taylor Lechner  05:06

So meaning I wasn’t actually producing enough progesterone to have a true period. So it was a “fake period” or “fake bleed,” and I had mood swings, my anxiety was really bad, it just all of these different things. And I kept going to my doctor, I saw my dermatologist for acne, and it was ruling my life, I had no clue what was going on, I wasn’t expecting any of that stuff to happen. And their only solution was you just have to go back on the pill. 

Taylor Lechner  05:34

And I just knew at that point in time, this is before I did even more digging into all of this, I just knew that wasn’t the right answer. So that’s when I kind of became my own patient. And I started researching reading all the books, listening to all the podcasts, following all the accounts, doing my own testing on myself, because thankfully, since I’m a dietitian, I can order those tests, but really just kind of figuring out, 

Taylor Lechner  05:59

What the heck is going on. And it just brought to the forefront how little, even in the eating disorder field, how little we know about women’s health, and in general, how little we know about women’s health, and how much misinformation there is out there. And how little women are supported specifically with not being aware of the negative side effects of the birth control pill, and not being aware that there is a process to coming off because of those ramifications of being on the pill, especially if you’ve been on it for, like me, I was on that for 10 years. 

Taylor Lechner  06:31

That’s a huge chunk of time. So my personal story is shifted from–I got into eating disorders because of my own experience. Then that connected into once I stopped the birth control pill to make sure my body was okay, once I was in recovery for a period being in this crazy period of what the heck is going on and not getting support. And then that made me again want to help other women who have gone through that and they’re just not really sure what to do. They’re suffering from that.

Lindsey Lusson  07:00

Yeah, for sure. Well, I am an older millennial. And it was kind of just given out like [indecipherable]. Graduating from high school, if you weren’t on the birth control pill, it was like, why not? Why would you not be on the pill. And so I want to talk a little bit about birth control being prescribed for period problems. So, we can definitely get more into missing periods, but talk to us a little bit more about over-prescription of birth control and why it’s not the solution to period problems, whether it’s heavy, painful periods or missing periods.

Taylor Lechner  07:36

Yeah. So, it’s really what I call–I tell my clients is, it’s like a band aid approach. So a lot of times people, let’s say, you are missing your period like I was, or you are having really painful periods, or you’re having all these symptoms, a lot of times even people who have PCOS, endometriosis, this is your solution is the birth control. 

Taylor Lechner  07:56

And it’s a band aid solution, because it’s what it’s doing is it’s suppressing your natural hormone production. It’s not actually solving the problem of whether there’s hormone imbalances, there’s so many different steps before we even get to hormones. 

Taylor Lechner  08:08

But a huge factor is it’s not actually solving your hormone imbalances. It’s just suppressing your natural hormone production. And it does have negative consequences that may get worse. So then once you decide to go off the pill, whether it’s a sort of family, whether it’s just because you don’t want to be on it anymore, I have some clients who they say it’s really not even helping.

Taylor Lechner  08:28

And so I want to go off of it and do more of a like an [indecipherable] approach. If they’ve been on it, it makes their symptoms worse when they come off because of the damage the pill dies in combination with the reason they were put on it for those imbalances.

Lindsey Lusson  08:41

And Taylor and I were talking before we push record, just to put this message out there before we get into this that, we’re not anti birth control. I think that we’re both anti BandAid approach for a deeper hormone issue, especially something like amenorrhea or heavy painful periods. Nobody should be in pain every single month, and they’re having your period. 

Lindsey Lusson  08:59

If you are, let’s figure out what’s going on. So we’re not anti birth control, if you know the side-effects of birth control, and they are not a big deal for you. And that is the best solution for you. That is totally fine. I think the biggest thing that we’re kind of hoping with this podcast is just to educate people because I do think a lot of people have negative side-effects from birth control, they don’t understand. 

Lindsey Lusson  09:23

So talk to us a little bit more about what’s come out with–what are some things that we kind of know to be evidence based that are side effects of being on the birth control pill, particularly prolonged use of being on the birth control pill?

Taylor Lechner  09:36

Yeah, so I’ll kind of hit the main two or three that I talked to clients about so the first one is it is a form of stress on your body in terms of it depletes a lot of crucial vitamins and minerals. So vitamins A, selenium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, just to name a couple, just the mechanism behind that it depletes those vitamins and minerals. 

Taylor Lechner  09:58

So we want to be really careful make for sure or that we’re eating adequate sources, sometimes people might need to add some supplements with those things because of that depletion. But when we’re depleting these vitamins and minerals, especially over a period of time, that can cause a lot of damage to our body. 

Taylor Lechner  10:13

So specifically minerals, they’re like the, I call them the spark plugs to those cells. And so they impact our thyroid or adrenals are all of our cells essentially in our body or metabolism, our hormones, our gut. So when those are depleted, you’re going to have a lot of those symptoms that people struggle with, when they come off the pill, or when they were the reasons they are put on the pill. 

Taylor Lechner  10:34

So mineral imbalances and deficiencies, vitamin deficiencies as well. And then gut health. This was one that really blew my mind the most, I think, because I was like, How can birth control negatively impact your gut, but there’s so much linkage between the gut and the brain and hormones and stuff like that. So research shows that it can increase gut permeability. 

Taylor Lechner  10:56

So what is oftentimes referred to as leaky gut, which is where food particles can get through the intestinal lining or the little fibs that basically prevents food particles from going through. And those open up and can cause inflammation, which can result in digestive distress, constipation, gas, bloating, pathogenic bacteria forming, and it also decreases the good bacteria in the gut, and increases the bad bacteria in the gut. 

Taylor Lechner  11:24

Overall, it just negatively impacts the microbiome. So a lot of women are having digestive distress, that is fully or partially from birth control use. Those are the two main ones that I would say, along with just general inflammation, because if you think about it, you are pumping your body full of artificial hormones that aren’t natural. So your body really isn’t used to that and it has to do a lot of work to kind of filter those out.

Lindsey Lusson  11:50

I mean, it makes total sense. But I feel like, again, it’s just been so overprescribed. And I think also too, for at least the last decade, I also feel like a lot of people just didn’t feel like they had a lot of options, right? It’s like, well, I can just not have my period at all, or I can go on the pill, probably, it’s healthier to be on the pill. 

Lindsey Lusson  12:09

And unfortunately, that’s not evidence based, even if somebody is in recovery from an eating disorder, if we want a bridge to prevent osteoporosis, you’re really going to be better off on hormone replacement therapy with bio-identical hormones than the birth control pill. So it kind of blows my mind, that is still actually prescribed, especially for the context of amenorrhea. 

Lindsey Lusson  12:30

Taylor, you were talking about vitamin deficiencies, mineral deficiencies. I think a lot of people come off the pill, and they don’t really know where to start. How would one know if we are deficient? And what are kind of best practices for replenishing vitamin and mineral deficiencies? I mean, first up, how do we know we’re deficient?

Taylor Lechner  12:50

Yeah, so I will say most people are deficient because including hormonal birth control. But just medications in general, there’s so many medications that deplete minerals, as well as stress, stress is a huge one. So if anyone out there is listening, and is not stressed, that is wonderful. But most of us [indecipherable].

Lindsey Lusson  13:08

Yeah, tell us your secrets if you’re not [indecipherable] because we need deets. I’ll also say too, I think, especially for people listening to this podcast, I think you have to recognize that if you’re over-exercising and under-eating, of course, you’re depleted, right? And whether or not we can [indecipherable] all with food, or whether we need some special supplements would probably be something we would need to test for. Is that right?

Taylor Lechner  13:29

Yeah. I talk to clients about that all the time, people think of stress as it has to be these big life changes, I lose that job, I get divorced, I lose a loved one. But really, it’s all of those little things. I use it as an analogy of a stress bucket of, you’re just continuously putting drops into your bucket, whether it’s like a stressful day at work, kids, or there’s so many different things to add to that. 

Taylor Lechner  13:52

So I will oftentimes have clients who are, I’m not stressed, myself included, when I first started this journey, I’m a high-achiever entrepreneur, type A go-getter type of person, and those are the ones who are probably the most stressed but they refuse to see it or admit it, or they just don’t know, they’re not aware. So I have a lot of clients who just–I have them write out there day, we go through together and highlight, how is that? How did that feel? 

Taylor Lechner  14:16

And then they are like, Oh, my gosh, my whole pages, yellow highlighted. So yeah, definitely stressed. And just knowing that, like you said, not eating enough, over-exercising, those are stressors on your body. And I would say 99% of the women that I work with, even if they don’t have a diagnose eating disorder are under-fueling and or over-exercising. So that in and of itself is putting a tremendous amount of stress on your body. And you’re just not in taking orally enough nutrients from food.

Lindsey Lusson  14:48

Yeah, and I think that that’s so under talked about as well is just the amount of women who are under-eating even if people are getting their period and I think sometimes people are, oh well, eating 1600 calories is fine because I get my period and I’m not losing weight. And it’s like, well, fine isn’t optimal. Maybe you could feel a lot better if you actually knew how to eat and fuel your body.

Taylor Lechner  15:13

100% I did a presentation recently, and I was talking to the women, it was all ages. So I had women who were in their 20s to 60s, and we were just talking about hormone basics of how to have healthy hormones. And one of the things I said was, a lot of you need more than 1600 calories, a lot of you probably need more than 2000 calories, because a lot of people even think, oh, 2000 is like a [indecipherable]

Lindsey Lusson  15:36

Too much, yeah.

Taylor Lechner  15:38

And I had so many questions about that. And so many, I think, women who had their eyes opened were like, maybe that’s why I’m tired all the time. Or maybe that’s why I fall asleep on the couch, when you get home from work or don’t have the energy to cook dinner or my workouts are suffering. 

Taylor Lechner  15:53

And I even connected it back to a lot of women who feel they are holding on to weights or have weight loss resistance, they assume they need to exercise more, eat less. And that’s part of the problem that’s causing so much stress and deficiencies in your body. It’s doing the opposite of that thing. Or it’s doing the opposite of what they want it to do.

Lindsey Lusson  16:13

I think so many people to think that if their weight is normal, or maybe they’re even, higher on the BMI scale, they think I can’t possibly be under-eating. And maybe, at the end of the day, if we were to do a very correct calorie count, which no one does, because it’s impossible to do. But I think when you eat matters, too, right? 

Lindsey Lusson  16:33

Because if you’re starving yourself all day, and then you’re kind of binging on 2000 calories even. It’s like, but what is the message that your body’s gotten all day long? I’m stressed, I’m starved, so you have to kind of think about the context of timing and everything. What are your favorite ways to identify specific deficiencies with people? Are we getting blood tests? Are we doing some functional tests? How do you do that in your practice?

Taylor Lechner  16:59

Yeah, so I incorporate functional testing with all of my clients, because I found it to be so helpful, and to save them time and money and stress in the long run. So that’s something or my own personal experience that was never talked about for me. And that ended up me just me figuring it out. It took me four or so years to figure this all out on my own, because the right tests weren’t run. 

Taylor Lechner  17:20

So I do incorporate some form of functional testing. I love using the HTMA, which is the mineral test, you take a small, super tiny, I don’t want to scare people, super tiny bit of your hair, and it shows our mineral status from the last three to four months. So it’s really helpful to really dive into, what are mineral imbalances and deficiencies that can also give us really good information about the health of our thyroid or adrenal gland. 

Taylor Lechner  17:42

So I incorporate that with most clients, as well as some blood work as well. That show a lot of women are deficient in vitamin A, B vitamins. Those contribute to skin health, energy, stuff like that. And then with, I would say 50 to 75% of clients. I also run a stool test to be what their gut is looking like. Again, just because they’ve been on the birth control for any period of time is going to have some negative health consequences with the gut. So especially if someone is having some symptoms of that, we’ll run that as well.

Lindsey Lusson  18:14

Talk to us a little bit more about HTMA. Are there things, Taylor, that will show up on an HTMA because you’re testing for the minerals on the outside versus the inside of the cell? So are there things that would show up on an HTMA? That, if I went to go get [indecipherable] Hey, Doc, I want to see if I’m deficient in vitamin A, can you run that in a blood test? Are there things that would show up on HTMA that I wouldn’t see on a blood test, if I were truly deficient?

Taylor Lechner  18:39

Yes, because again, it’s showing you three to four months of your minerals. So if you go to the doctor, at that point in time, depending on what you ate, depending on what your body is looking like, it’s just going to show you that one level as well as ,what you said, like testing the inside versus the outside without getting too sciency. 

Taylor Lechner  18:57

Here, the HTMA is just going to be a much better broader mark of where are you at with your mineral status overall, versus just that one point in time. So that’s why I find it really valuable. And it’s also the HTMA specifically shows us your stress level. 

Taylor Lechner  19:12

So it shows that if you’re in a sympathetic state of stress, which is your fight or flight, you’re actively stressed. Or if you’re in a parasympathetic, where you’re kind of chronically depleted, you’re more in that burnout phase of stress. Though, that can be really helpful to for us to identify not just minerals and foods sources. Which is obviously don’t get me wrong, crucial. But also lifestyle changes that again, for myself, when I did my HTMA I was like, no, I’m not stressed, I’m good. And then I got it back. I was like, Whoa, I have some work to do with my nervous system with my stress levels because I was in an active state of stress. And now that I look back, I’m like, How did I not? But knowledge is power.

Lindsey Lusson  19:53

But I think that’s so relatable because I think a lot of us high-performing, we just thrive In stressful environments. We’ve kind of adapted. And so, you talked a little bit about, nervous system regulation. If that’s coming up for somebody listening, like, what do we do? How do we how do we start? How do we get out of that constant fight or flight state? Or do you have any practical tips or things that people could–kind of like a start here?

Taylor Lechner  20:21

Yeah, because it’s overwhelming people. A lot of times I have women who they’re like, I just want to take a pill, or I’m gonna take a supplement or I want this quick fix. And I’m like, unfortunately, that’s not what’s going to happen. That’s not what’s going to work long term. So my my first piece of advice, I’d like to start here with managing stress is just becoming more aware of it. Whether it’s through doing an HTMA test, and not being like, if you’re someone who likes research, you like the science, you need that information. That’s been really helpful for some of my clients, and or just, again, kind of look at your day, where are some places that those drops of stress are being added to your overall stress bucket? 

Taylor Lechner  20:57

And where can you start? And what are the signs in your body. So for me, just in my own building more self-awareness. For me, it’s when my heart starts racing, when my body temperature goes up. When my stomach kind of gets in knots. Before I overlooked that and pushed through. But now [indecipherable] my body that I’m stressed, I need to take a step back. Do some deep breathing, just becoming more aware is, I think, the first step and recognizing it.

Lindsey Lusson  21:25

Yeah, I think it’s so easy for us to not even notice and not even really be in touch with our bodies. How do you help people kind of reconnect and even start to take those notes, Oh, I’m stressed, how do we even bring that mindful awareness to it?

Taylor Lechner  21:43

Yeah, I always tell people, it just takes time. People don’t like [indecipherable] again, they want the quick fix. But it just takes time. And I always tell people, it’s like stair stepping, let’s just become more aware of it. And then I’m all about making this realistic for someone. So I have a lot of clients who, a lot of them are moms or a lot of them are go-getters. They just do have a lot of stress. 

Taylor Lechner  22:07

And so we talk about where’s one place, you can start even just making a list of things that someone enjoys taking time for self care taking time for hobbies, setting boundaries, especially for women. I find that people a lot of times are those perfectionist or they feel they’re letting people down if they say no. But setting boundaries with coworkers, with bosses, with family members with their kids, and just finding ways that they can take care of themselves and take a step back. So they’re not they are not adding just too much to their plate where they’re feeling constantly overwhelmed.

Lindsey Lusson  22:39

Yeah, boundaries are so important. And I think a lot–it can be so hard to put those in place, but I also love just the idea of, pick one or two areas. Don’t try to do this total overhaul with everything. I know a lot of a lot of things that kind of come up for people who are coming off the pill who are maybe not yet ready to start their families is what do I do to prevent pregnancy? 

Lindsey Lusson  23:01

If I don’t desire to be a mom, especially with people with a long history of amenorrhea, like yourself and myself? On the one hand, I would love to get my period back. Right? That would be amazing. But I also think it’s important that people understand that when you get your period back you pretty fertile pretty fast. And so what do you usually tell people to do? Who are not desiring pregnancy, but do want to get off the pill and stay off the pill?

Taylor Lechner  23:28

Yeah, I always outsource for that. So I give them–there are some options, but that is not my specialty. So there’s options of the fertility awareness method that that one is great. And there are some really awesome providers out there who specialize in that. That I refer people to if they want to go that route. Just like basic birth control methods, so like condoms, those types of things. Even tracking, if you don’t want to work with like a fertility awareness specialist, you can always just start tracking your cycle. 

Taylor Lechner  23:54

I mean, it’s really only a short blip of the month that you can’t get pregnant. I think a lot of us at least when I was in health class, the [indecipherable] was good enough that you can get pregnant at any point in time. When in reality, that’s not true for the most. 

Taylor Lechner  24:08

So just becoming more aware of when you’re ovulating. When you’re more likely to get pregnant. Working with a specialist. Using some basic birth control methods. There’s also the copper IUD, for people. That’s personally what I use at this point in my life. And with that, you just have to just be aware some people do have negative side effects with the copper IUD. Some people don’t. So that’s where just doing your research and being [indecipherable] personalized with what you’re looking for, it’s good.

Lindsey Lusson  24:33

I love that. I second if you do want to do fertility awareness working with a [indecipherable] there’s different methods. Some people might be like, Oh, just figure it out on my own, the margin for error is enough. If you do not want to be broke, like if being pregnant would completely derail your life. I think it’d be worth the investment of working with someone. But let’s also talk about copper IUD because that’s also what I personally use. What are some pros and cons of using that? Then maybe let’s also talk about maybe one other option for birth control, even if it’s a hormonal one.

Taylor Lechner  25:08

Yeah. So with a copper IUD, a lot of times when people who have heavier periods do not respond well for the copper IUD. Because it makes their bleeding heavier, it can result in heavier cramping. So if you’re someone who maybe was put on the birth control pill for having heavy periods, I would probably recommend not using that method. 

Taylor Lechner  25:27

Again, you can do your own research and figure out what’s best for you. But that probably will give you more side effects than you are looking for. Especially if you’re coming off and you’re like, I want to get to the root cause of my painful period. You don’t want another problem causing you and then just making you feel like well. I just should have stayed on the pill. 

Taylor Lechner  25:42

It can also depending on your body’s how it’s affected by copper. That’s one thing that I like to do. Blood testing because for me personally a lot of times the words copper toxicity is thrown out. It’s very rare that someone’s going to have copper toxicity. So I want to put that out there too. And it can impact your iron levels and your bioavailable copper levels. 

Taylor Lechner  26:06

So just something that we’ll test for too. And just be more aware of, do we need some more bioavailable copper sources? Or a lot of times vitamin A and copper have a relationship. So do we need some more vitamin A? I personally take a cod liver oil supplement to help with that just to balance out my levels. But that’s really in a nutshell, things to consider with the copper IUD.

Lindsey Lusson  26:29

I also think this is where cycle tracking can be a really helpful tool. With a copper IUD, for those unfamiliar, you do still ovulate, and the cycle of hormones that you have is your body’s natural cycle of hormones. And so if you start to notice, hey, my periods are getting heavier, my periods are getting lighter, I have a lot of cramping, this is painful, I have headaches, I feel tracking it back to your lifestyle, your stress your sleep of what’s going on can probably give you some good clues too, and if the common denominator is my cycle started getting wonky when I bought this IUD and hey, maybe it’s not the best option for you. But I do think body literacy can be really helpful even when you’re on some sort of IUD.

Taylor Lechner  27:13

100%. And I think too, if you’re the person who doesn’t want to get pregnant, the copper IUD could be maybe a good intermediary place to start. Because then you can start being more aware of your cycle. And because you aren’t having a true cycle. So you can start to note your phases, symptoms, side effects and stuff. And then when you’re ready, if you want to transition off of that, you can do that. But sometimes I find women feel better to start just because I am kind of fearful of that pregnancy piece of thing. And then I can transition to FAM or when I want to get pregnant.

Lindsey Lusson  27:45

Well, and I like that too. Especially with somebody with a history of amenorrhea, because once you’re on a hormonal IUD or a hormonal birth control. You’re always going to get or you should always get a withdrawal bleed. And so you don’t really know, you know what I mean? You’re kind of putting your self back in that situation where it kind of the ignorance is bliss with everything. 

Lindsey Lusson  28:07

Taylor, kind of thinking more about birth control, I will get clients sometimes that say they’re on the pill for 10 years. Like you talking about a little bit with your story. And they’ll be like, so I really don’t know when my period went missing. But they’ll kind of recall back to a time when they stopped getting a withdrawal bleed on the birth control pill. Is that a warning sign that your body’s going into amenorrhea, or do you know any more about that?

Taylor Lechner  28:31

That’s a really good question. I mean, honestly, I go back to, you’re still not having a period on the pill. I guess I would have to think through that a little bit more. And that’s something I think is important for people to know. Because even I have friends who they’ve been on it too, and they’re like, Well, I’m, I’m getting a period.

Taylor Lechner  28:53

And I’m like, but you’re not actually getting a period on the birth control pill or that the hormonal IUD and they are like, What are you talking about? It’s just really new information. That was me too, before I listened to that [indecipherable] when I was 28. So totally get that. And I think that’s one of the myths. One piece of misinformation. I guess that’s what I’ll say that doctors don’t tell us because so many times they’re like, this will help you get your period back. Like you said, with people with HA, when in reality, it’s not really giving you a period. 

Taylor Lechner  29:19

So I would say yes. I guess in general, that’s a sign because if you normally at least get that “fake period” or that withdrawal bleed. And for sure something’s happening, even if it’s like artificial hormones. That’s a surface layer. That’s not truly your period.

Lindsey Lusson  29:38

Yeah, yeah. And I think just doubling down on that, at the end of the day, and really the only way to know what your body’s doing is to come off of hormonal birth control. And making sure that you’re aware and using the right ways to prevent pregnancy if that’s not your goal right now. 

Lindsey Lusson  29:58

What are some other things that come up as women are cycling off of birth control, to just kind of be aware of let’s say, somebody went on the pill for heavy, painful periods, and they’re, Well, I don’t really want to be on the pill after listening to this podcast, or in addition to other things. Hopefully, [indecipherable] although we’re not totally swaying somebody here. 

Lindsey Lusson  30:19

Where do we start? Because, I’m just thinking, if somebody went on the pill in high school, because they were bleeding for seven days, and they had to stay home from school, and they were just hyped up on Advil for seven days. And it was painful, why would you want your period back? Are there solutions for that, too, that we’re kind of missing just in our typical OB visits?

Taylor Lechner  30:42

Yeah, 100%, and that’s exactly what I help women do. Whether you want to stay on the pill, or whether you want to get off of it, or hormonal IUD. I have 50% on both people. So again, we’re not against it, it’s just more of educating yourself about it and getting to the root cause. 

Taylor Lechner  30:56

So I’m all about that’s where functional testing comes in, where we do that from the get-go. I do a 90-minute deep-dive assessment with clients. Talk about their history, talk about when you were 13 and you were put on the birth control pill for heavy periods. Was there anything else going on? Assessing those things, as well as those functional tests to really get to the root cause of those painful periods. So a lot of times they do see it. 

Taylor Lechner  31:19

It’s mineral deficiencies, it’s vitamin deficiencies, it is hormone imbalances, but that’s kind of the last step. It’s more about your minerals affects your hormones, your gut affects your hormones, your stress levels affects your hormones. So we’re taking a really holistic approach to get to identify a root cause. And then address your root cause through nutrition and lifestyle changes.

Lindsey Lusson  31:41

Yeah, whenever somebody is having heavy painful periods, do you find, Taylor, that it’s typically an undiagnosed endometriosis or something? Or are there things related to how people are moving, sleeping, eating that might be, maybe not 100% causing, but contributing to the level of pain they’re experiencing?

Taylor Lechner  32:03

I would say both. It could be an undiagnosed PCOS, endometriosis, it could just be their lifestyle, if they’re not eating enough. They’re not feeling appropriately, they have a lot of stress on their body. That’s where doing that deep-dive assessment, I think, is unfortunately, a place where conventional medicine is lacking is they just don’t have the way our medical system works, if they don’t have the time to dig into those things. 

Taylor Lechner  32:27

So they just kind of look at the symptom and treat the symptom, which would be the painful period. Versus you and I, we do that deep-dive we listen to you, it’s kind of talk through when it does start what was going on? And then me incorporating those functional testing to really get a bigger picture of the why behind it.

Lindsey Lusson  32:44

Yeah. I feel like amenorrhea, in some ways, is a very obvious red flag of, oh, something’s off. And for a lot of people, hypothalamic amenorrhea is one of the top causes for secondary amenorrhea. So, I feel it’s kind of a straight shot, right? This is why and this is what we do. Have you seen, in your practice, people who are experiencing heavy periods or other period problems, and the root cause is under-fueling?

Taylor Lechner  33:15

Yes.

Lindsey Lusson  33:16

Okay, tell us a little bit more about. You can even just use a random example of somebody that you worked with. I feel like people miss this, you know what I mean? They’re gonna go down a gazillion rabbit holes before and maybe never land on the idea that they’re not eating enough?

Lindsey Lusson  33:35

Yeah. Well, I think a lot of that goes back to what you said earlier, which is important to reiterate, is a lot of people think that if they’re based on BMI, which you and I could probably go off on a different podcast tangent about this, but we’ll refrain for now, but the BMI is not an accurate indicator of health. It’s not an accurate indicator of what your weight should or shouldn’t be. 

Taylor Lechner  33:54

So, but a lot of people, including doctors use that as a reference of, you’re overweight, you’re unhealthy. You’re underweight, you’re unhealthy. Oh, you’re normal, you’re fine. So a lot of women who I see they equate their weight and their weight compared to the BMI as, I’m eating too much, that’s their marker. Yeah, I would say even when I worked with eating disorders, 90% of people who were under fueling were in a “normal BMI.” Yeah. 

Taylor Lechner  34:21

So there’s so much misinformation about that, but so many people are under fueling, especially women, because there’s so much misinformation out there about you got to look this certain way, there’s so much pressure eat this, don’t eat that so many diets out there. And I always tell my clients that diets worked. We wouldn’t have so many of them.

Lindsey Lusson  34:39

We wouldn’t be a thriving billion dollar industry. Yes.

Taylor Lechner  34:42

Exactly. Exactly. So, coming back to your original question, it’s, so many women are well, I’m I’m not under fueling because my weight is fine. Or my doctor even said, I’m overweight and I should be losing weight. So that added fuel to the fire of we’re stressing your body out even more under fueling it and again, And that goes back to minerals. We’re not getting those vitamins, minerals, calories, even. So there’s just so much that goes into that piece of things that just aren’t assessed that lead to those heavy painful periods, those hormone imbalances from just under-fueling and that stress alone.

Lindsey Lusson  35:16

Other than having testing done, are there any other warning signs that people can kind of be on the lookout for, I’m getting my period it’s coming, and I think, like most girls are trying to conceive, but not all. So how could somebody identify that they aren’t eating enough? Because I think that that can be really subjective. What’s enough? You know what I mean?

Taylor Lechner  35:40

I love this question. So I love talking to people about this, because I think it’s just so important and not talked enough about this. So I’m glad that you asked that question. I would say if you’re tired all the time, that’s a huge red flag, you should not be tired all the time. 

Taylor Lechner  35:55

That’s a big thing, if you have irregular hunger and fullness cues. So specifically, if you’re not waking up in the morning hungry, or if you can go, if you don’t eat breakfast, you can go until, mid afternoon, lunchtime, even dinnertime without feeling hungry. And then you’re ravenous. That shows me that your metabolism needs some some TLC, meaning that it’s been slowed down because you’re not eating. 

Taylor Lechner  36:19

Yeah. Consistently hungry throughout the day, that’s actually a good thing. That’s something people are scared of. You probably work with women like that too where they’re like I feel hungrier, and this is bad. Yeah, that means your metabolism is working, you’re burning energy more efficiently, yourself have the energy, it needs to be healthy. And another big one I see is cravings. So sugar cravings, cravings for I’m using a lot of like air quotes in this episode, but “unhealthy foods,” I know you and I both are like they’re all foods can fit so 100%. 

Taylor Lechner  36:49

But people oftentimes will crave sugar, desserts, sweets, fried foods, those more energy dense foods. And that makes them feel like oh, I just don’t have the willpower. I shouldn’t be eating these foods, there’s that guilt layer wrapped up in there. In reality, that’s a huge sign to me that they aren’t eating enough. So I will look at all of those things and present that to the client. And most of the time, they’re like, that blows my mind that you’re actually, especially the dietician, I don’t know, if you see this with clients, or sometimes scared to come work with us, because they think we’re gonna restrict them more, or we’re gonna make them cut out foods. 

Taylor Lechner  36:53

But I know you and I do the exact opposite, what can we add, and their minds are blown when I’m usually, you need to be eating more. And you need to be eating consistently throughout the day. And we need to incorporate those foods that you enjoy, because eating enough and then eating those foods that you had put off limits for so long. Those are the best things you can do to naturally reduce your cravings and just make it a normal part of your your healthy lifestyle. So it’s not, oh, I only restrict these foods or I binge on them. We want to incorporate those. So they don’t have that power over you.

Lindsey Lusson  37:54

Exactly, and I think that that blows a lot of people’s minds too, especially if somebody’s listening to this but maybe struggling with the history of binge-eating are currently struggling with binge-eating as a lot of times, I think, the solution to binge eating is presented as, well, don’t keep those foods in the house or just don’t eat sugar, stop eating sugar. 

Lindsey Lusson  38:11

And Never have I ever felt more out of control around sugar than when I was trying to not eat it at all, because it was always feast or famine. And what I always tell people is that, yes, it can be scary to incorporate these foods that maybe you feel have felt out of control around in the past could be scary to incorporate them and have them more often. 

Lindsey Lusson  38:30

But the more that you do that the more that you habituate them, the more that you don’t feel you need to eat as much of them to feel full and satisfied. Meanwhile, you’re also working with somebody like Taylor and addressing any sort of hormone or mineral deficiencies that are going on. So you’re actually addressing what’s going on with your body. 

Lindsey Lusson  38:48

And then the “moderation.” If you can’t see my air quotes here, the “moderation.” It just happens over time. If you just figure it out, when you’re not, restricting and you’re feeling appropriately and you’re giving your body the energy that it needs.

Taylor Lechner  39:03

Yeah, absolutely. And I always use the analogy with clients of your favorite new shirt. I don’t know if you’ve heard this before. But it’s like when you get a piece of clothing I’m saying is like a shirt, and you’re so excited about it. 

Taylor Lechner  39:14

So you wear that shirt probably like multiple times each week, you’re really excited about it. And then over time, it just loses its allure you get other pieces of clothing that you’re more excited about. It’s the same thing with food, eventually that shirt just becomes a piece of your wardrobe. It’s not your favorite shirt anymore. 

Taylor Lechner  39:28

But when you first get it like naturally, you’re more excited to wear it. So it’s the same thing with, let’s just say cake. Once you start reincorporating that there’s that fear around it. There’s that excitement, you might overeat on it a little bit when you first start and people get really terrified about that. And I just tell them, that’s a normal piece of the process. 

Taylor Lechner  39:46

And then over time, the more you do it, the more habituate, you get, like you said, it becomes where you can, if you really want kids, you can have it, it doesn’t even have to be a special occasion to have it and then when you don’t want it or it’s not your favorite time you can just decline it and be okay with that without that nagging feeling of, I always have to have this or I have to restrict this.

Lindsey Lusson  40:05

Right, right. Yeah, it becomes an afterthought. And I think that’s an important piece too is recognizing that giving yourself permission to eat foods that you have previously put off limits are considered unhealthy, just because you allow yourself to eat and just because in the process of healing your relationship with food, you might be eating them more frequently, there will come a day where it’s very easy to say, I don’t feel cake, and I’m not going to have it, you move on with your day.

Lindsey Lusson  40:07

 And it’s not a thing. And I think that is so hard for people to conceptualize when they’ve been struggling with disordered eating or eating disorders for decades. They’re like, that world doesn’t exist. So could be hard.

Taylor Lechner  40:31

When I think too, in the hormone, the functional nutrition space too, I think that’s a huge part that differentiates me from other dieticians in that world. Because there are the hardcore of no white sugar, no white flour, and to me, it’s, well, that’s just going to make your hormone issues worse, because that goes back to you’re not eating enough, you’re restricting, or then you’re binging on these foods versus just incorporating them in moderation. 

Taylor Lechner  41:04

So I’m all about having those foods that you enjoy, and having the things that you like, even if they’re white sugar, or white flour, like all foods still provides us with nutrition, there aren’t any inherently good food or bad foods. And that in and of itself, I think is shocking for people not just working with a dietitian, but also working with–I’m not saying we should always have brownies for every single meal and snack because we’re missing out on vitamins, minerals, fiber, [indecipherable].

Lindsey Lusson  41:33

[indecipherable] you would not enjoy that.

Taylor Lechner  41:35

But if you want that sometimes, you’re going out to a cafe and you want a latte and a brownie for a snack, that’s a great part of your life worth living that is still providing your body with energy with carbs and fats like, that’s what I want my clients able to do without overthinking it. And so he’ll–.

Lindsey Lusson  41:50

Now, I appreciate that call out. Because I do feel a lot of what you see, at least on social media, and I know tons of great functional practitioners that are not like this. But I do think the perception, at least from social media is that it is very strict and very rigid and very black and white. 

Lindsey Lusson  42:08

And I think it’s hard, especially with a disordered eating background to think that that has to be the solution, right? Because I think you would have a really hard time fully recovering from your eating disorder. If your MO was I’m gonna eat enough, but I can never have sugar. I’m gonna eat enough, but it has to be obviously healthy foods. Eating disorders can morph over time. And even though we’re not yet in the DSM-5, I’m hopeful that orthorexia will make it there eventually. 

Lindsey Lusson  42:36

And I think that, it can, for some individuals, being that structure can really just set you up for developing another eating disorder. So I really appreciate that call out because I think that that is really important, and under-talked about.

Taylor Lechner  42:50

Absolutely, yeah. And again, it just goes back to, we need to make sure that we’re giving our body enough, there’s so much emphasis on what you shouldn’t have restricting, but it’s so missed. And it’s such a crucial component of not just hormone health, but your overall health to make sure that you’re eating enough that you’re getting that nutrition in your body because it’s crucial.

Lindsey Lusson  43:10

100%. Well, Taylor, somebody wants to come off the birth control pill tomorrow, what would be the next couple of steps that you would recommend for someone to do this safely and to make sure that they’re best supporting their body to have healthy hormones and a healthy cycle once they come off?

Taylor Lechner  43:25

Yeah, absolutely. I would say that’s where, if you’re kind of feeling overwhelmed, that’s where it’s really great to work with a dietitian, like myself to really get that individualized support and approach. Again, we dive really deep into that. Make sure everything’s customized to you to meet your goals, do the functional testing to see where imbalances lie on your body. And if you want just a good place to start today, I would say start with the basics. 

Taylor Lechner  43:49

Manage your stress, even if that’s just becoming more aware of where stress comes up in your life, how you’re managing your stress, what are signs that you’re stressed, taking note of that, and making sure you’re eating enough, what’s your relationship with food look like? Because that’s huge. And then after that, that’s for you to probably dive deeper into mineral testing, gut testing with professional if that’s something you want to do to dive deeper to make sure you’re prepping your body fully before transitioning off. 

Taylor Lechner  43:52

Do not quit cold turkey. I usually tell people three to four months of prep work before going off the pill and when I work with clients, I usually require a minimum of working together for four months. So that’s one of the reasons why behind that is because if you’re planning on coming off the pill, you need that time to get those layers and get that resiliency to get your body ready without adverse symptoms or hormonal chaos.

Lindsey Lusson  44:40

Well and I think that this is such a different message than what we hear from our typical PCPs and OBs is because they’re like no you should just be able to come off the pill and get pregnant. No big deal, move onto the next chapter, and here you’re saying and other people have said on this podcast too is there really should be a preconception prep and there should be a cycling off birth control prep.

Lindsey Lusson  45:00

 So what would be the next steps, Taylor? Somebody wanted to know more about that or work with you directly. Do you work with people in one-on-one or group setting? Or, how can people get in touch with you?

Taylor Lechner  45:10

Yeah, so you can follow me on Instagram @nourishedbytay and I have lots of information there too. I’m also happy to chat with people in the DMS. Even if you’re just kind of curious, I can give you other resources that were personally were really helpful in my journey to getting off birth control. And that’s how you can work with me. If you want to apply to work with me directly, there’s a link in my bio for an application, or again, you can just chat with me in the DM and we can get you to the right place.

Lindsey Lusson  45:11

Love it. Well, Taylor, thanks so much for your time and your wisdom and sharing with us next steps for coming off birth control and how to get your body on track to have a healthy cycle. We appreciate you being here.

Taylor Lechner  45:48

Thanks so much for having me, Lindsey.

Lindsey Lusson  45:50

Thank you so much for tuning in and listening. If you found this episode to be inspiring or helpful, please share on social media and tag me @food.freedom.fertility, also don’t forget to leave a rating and a review.

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MEET THE HOST
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I’m a fertility nutritionist and registered dietitian who specializes in hypothalamic amenorrhea. My passion is helping women trying to conceive find freedom with food and exercise, so they can recover their period, and get pregnant naturally.

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EPISODE 1: MY RECOVERY STORY

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