I spent 5 years on the pill – 5 years that I can’t ever get back. During that time I swung from one major imbalance to another. Your story might sound a lot like mine: I was 17, cruising along doing my teenage thing and then suddenly my period started acting up. By the time I was 19 I was getting it every 3-4 months and my gynecologist decided the pill was my only hope of ever getting “back on track.
At the time I was thrilled because I wanted to be like all the cool kids who were already on the pill. The pros – within months, my terrible period symptoms began to subside – I no longer had 7-day long periods that were super heavy, the vomit-inducing cramps were almost gone and the PMS and bloating were a thing of the past. I’d finally conquered my period problems…or so I thought! If only I’d known then what I know now!
How the pill sent my Hormones on a roller coaster ride:
Here’s what I didn’t know – the pill was merely masking my underlying hormonal imbalance which was being caused by insulin dysregulation. How’d that happen? My meat and potatoes diet topped with lots of sweet treats. Frosted Flakes for dinner anyone?
Who knew that insulin was causing my ovaries to ovulate less. Or that the pill was chipping away at the hormones I did have, leaving my body so depleted that when I came off at 24 I wouldn’t get back my period for many months. In addition, my digestion was ruined (they thought I had Crohn’s), my hair was thinning, I developed melasma on my face, I was constantly sick and run down, I had awful joint pain and my sex drive was at an all-time low (which was a good thing because I was plagued with chronic yeast and urinary tract infections anyway!).
Here’s the straight truth – on the pill no woman’s body is capable of functioning at its optimal level. The body has a delicate system of balance and each woman’s system is different, but the pill is a one-size-fits-all jam. Modern medicine’s biggest flaw if you ask me.
Top 5 must-knows about hormonal birth control:
I’ve compiled FIVE must-knows about hormonal birth control – whether you’re on it, considering it or have just come off it, here’s what you should know:
- The pill royally messes with your digestive function. No joke, 95% of women who come to me with whacked out hormones also have some form of digestive disorder and almost all of them have taken oral contraceptives at some stage. A 2012 study linked BC pills with a higher risk for inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. It appears that synthetic hormones change the permeability of the gut lining and synthetic estrogen does a number on the “good” bacteria in our guts.Symptoms ranging from migraines to infertility, endometriosis, psoriasis, chronic yeast infections, PMS, depression, fibromyalgia, digestive disorders and many other seemingly unrelated health problems have been attributed to gut bacterial imbalances. If you’re on the pill please include fermented foods in your diet and/or take a good quality probiotic.
- B vitamins and minerals too? The pill messes with your gut’s ability to adequately absorb B vitamins, especially folate and vitamin B12. It also inhibits the absorption of zinc and magnesium. If you’ve ever read anything about fertility and hormonal health, you know that these vitamins and minerals are crucial for us. Hint: Zinc deficiency literally equals infertility for some women. You can read my take on B vitamins here. I recommend a good Vitamin B Complex and a quality mineral supplement while taking oral contraceptives.
- You might be attracted to the wrong partner. Whoa what! It turns out that the BC pill alters how we choose our mates. Humans tend to choose partners based on their differences rather than their similarities, but women on the pill choose partners based on their sameness. One study even suggested that when “a woman chooses her partner while she is on the pill and then comes off it to have a child, her hormone-driven preferences change, and she may find she is married to the wrong kind of man.” I wouldn’t believe this if I hadn’t seen it happen with a client!
- Feeling kinda dry “down there”. When a woman is on the pill, her body will cease to send signals to her cervical crypts (producers of fertile cervical fluid). Extended use of the pill literally shrivels these crypts up because they are not being used if a woman is not ovulating. This atrophy can be hard to reverse for many women and some find it difficult to get pregnant because of the lack of fertile cervical fluid. The only way to address this issue is to get off of hormonal birth control.
- You’d rather be gardening than having sex. The pill isn’t called birth control for nothin’! Not only does it stop ovulation, it literally stops your sex drive in its tracks too. Basically the liver makes a protein called Sex-Hormone Binding Globulin. SHBG binds to testosterone and makes it inactive. The pill increases SHBG production which lowers the amount of free testosterone. Bad news for your libido. A woman not on the pill typically has a SHBG level of 20-30, but a woman on the pill can have a SHBG level of 200-300 and even up to 500! Again, the only way out of this is to ditch your birth control.
Birth Control Pill: Modern Medicine’s biggest lie
The sad part of all this is that modern medicine has convinced most women that they are not in charge of their fertility, that it is impossible for them to pinpoint when they can or cannot be pregnant, and that the only way to prevent a pregnancy is to take hormones every day. This is a blatant lie, as there are many ways a woman can learn to listen to her body’s signs, and avoid unwanted pregnancies. It’s just a matter of doing a little upfront work.
Trust me when I say you can avoid the pill altogether if you want. I know this is a scary prospect for many women but I personally think choosing the wrong husband is more terrifying! I highly recommend a natural birth control method called the Fertility Awareness Method.
This involves observing your cervical fluid and other fertility signs and taking your basal body temperature each morning. Using FAM has seriously changed my relationship with my body and has given me an immense amount of data to work with. If you want to know more, get your hands on the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility, the definitive guide to natural contraception. Also check out my post on Period-tracking apps for how to get tracking.