A birth control cleanse is a product that claims to “reset” or “detox” the body after a person stops taking hormonal contraception. However, there is no evidence that they are effective or even necessary. In some cases, they may even be harmful.
The body has its own detoxification system. When a person stops taking hormonal birth control pills, all of this medication leaves the body within a few days to a week. Therefore, individuals do not need to take any additional supplements or drugs for this process to occur.
In this article, we will explore what birth control cleanses are, whether they work, and their risks. We will also cover some effective, evidence-based ways to support hormone health.
Birth control cleanses are products that claim to remove birth control hormones from the body. A person may take them with the aim of improving overall health or aiding fertility.
These products usually contain a combination of ingredients, such as:
- herbs or nutraceuticals, plants that may have medicinal properties
No — there is no evidence that birth control cleanses do what they claim. Research also states that people do not need them. And to understand why, it is necessary to understand how hormonal birth control leaves the body.
Hormonal contraception delivers a dose of synthetic hormones that are only active as long as they remain in someone’s blood. The liver is responsible for cleaning the blood and breaking down any medications it contains. The organ does this naturally and throughout the day, providing constant detoxification.
When a person stops taking hormonal contraception, the liver will continue to remove the medication from the blood until it no longer remains. In the case of combined birth control pills, this usually occurs within around 1 week.
The manufacturers of detox products claim the body needs extra help with this process or that their products help the body do this faster. However, there is no evidence to support this.
No — as with the other claims surrounding birth control cleanses, there is no evidence indicating they improve fertility or speed up ovulation.
After people stop using hormonal contraception, fertility returns
However, in many cases, it takes some time for the menstrual cycle to return to its usual working process and for a person to become pregnant after starting to conceive.
A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis of 22 studies involving 14,884 participants found that 83.1% had become pregnant within 1 year of stopping contraception. There were no significant differences between hormonal birth control methods.
If a person experiences symptoms after they stop their birth control, it is not a sign that the medication is still affecting them or that they need to detox from it. As such, a birth control cleanse will not help.
Some detox products containing vitamins and minerals may help individuals with nutritional deficiencies. Otherwise, the claims that manufacturers make about them helping balance hormones have little scientific basis.
Some of the symptoms that people report after stopping birth control include:
- mood swings
- changes in sleep quality
There are several potential explanations for post-birth control symptoms. They may be the result of:
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS): Birth control can suppress PMS symptoms, such as mood swings, acne, or cramping. These symptoms may return after stopping it.
- Postpill amenorrhea: This is when someone’s periods do not immediately return after they stop birth control. It may take several months for them to resume as usual.
- Underlying conditions: Birth control can reduce the symptoms of various conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis. If a person has been using birth control for a long time, they may not be aware of these conditions.
Any post-birth control symptoms should not last longer than a few months. If they do, they may indicate an underlying condition that hormonal contraception previously helped reduce.
If a person stops the pill and experiences side effects or symptoms that last more than a few months, they should speak with a doctor.
Most birth control cleanses contain a variety of supplements, such as vitamin C and magnesium. With typical doses, these supplements are unlikely to cause any harm.
- Harmful bacteria: Some cleanses may contain unpasteurized milk or juice, which can cause the growth of harmful bacteria that may lead to infections. If a person becomes pregnant, these infections can affect the fetus.
- Laxatives: Previously, the FDA has found that detox products contain laxatives, which can cause cramping, diarrhea, dehydration, or in some cases, unsafe weight loss.
- Worsening medical conditions: People with certain medical conditions, including diabetes, kidney disease, or liver disease, may face a higher risk from cleanses. For example, foods high in oxalates, such as leafy greens, can damage the kidneys. As leafy greens are a potential ingredient in cleanses, this may pose a risk to those with kidney disease.
- Substitution for medical treatment: A person who substitutes a cleanse for medical treatment may not realize they have symptoms of a condition that requires professional care. This may lead to persistent symptoms or allow the condition to worsen.
After stopping birth control, the body’s hormones should naturally regulate themselves with time. To support the body during this process, a person can try some simple lifestyle changes. These include:
- getting enough sleep
- eating a moderate, balanced diet with nutrient-dense foods
- getting regular, moderate exercise
- getting enough vitamin D
- maintaining a moderate body weight
- avoiding caffeine, smoking, and alcohol
- taking time to relax and reduce stress
People who wish to prepare the body for pregnancy can also begin taking a prenatal vitamin that contains
If someone’s symptoms or periods continue to cause concern, they should speak with a doctor.
A birth control cleanse is a product that can reportedly help remove hormonal medication from the body. However, there is no evidence that they are necessary or offer any benefits for fertility or overall health.
Rather than trying a cleanse or detox, a person can help their body regulate its hormones by practicing healthy habits, such as getting adequate sleep and avoiding caffeine and alcohol.
While some detox products might be harmless, there is always the potential for unregulated supplements to contain harmful or unlisted ingredients. If a person is considering trying a birth control cleanse, they should first speak with a doctor about the product and whether it is suitable for them.