Most women, at some point in their lives, have been recommended the birth control pill by their doctor. In fact, the CDC estimates 10.6 million women use oral contraception. Your doctor may have told you that the pill can make your acne go away and improve PMS symptoms all while pre- venting pregnancy. What your doctor may not have told you is that thebirth control pill has its own share of side effects, some of which areirreversible.
Birth control pills can disrupt normal gut flora and create an environment that allows for overgrowth of harmful
bacteria and yeast. Our gut bacteria influence our mood, our breast milk production, and are the first inhabi- tants of our child’s sterile gut during vaginal birth. Gut bugs play a pivot- al role in our health as women and mothers, a role that researchers are only beginning to understand.
A healthy gut is needed to remove excess estrogen and other wastefrom the body. When gut function is inhib- ited, the body is unable to remove estrogen, which contributes to a state of estrogen dominance. Symptoms of estrogen dominance include ovarian cysts, fibrocystic breasts, weight gain, irregular or heavy menses, and irrita- bility.
INCREASED RISK OF CANCER
The risk of certain cancers is increased with the use of birth control pills. Breast, ovarian, cervical, liver, and uterine cancer risk is higher in women taking oral contraceptives.
LOWERS THYROID AND TESTOSTERONE LEVELS
Birth control pills increase sex hor- mone binding globulin and thyroxine binding globulins proteins, which bind free hormones, making them unavail- able for use by the body.
Low thyroid hormone causes multiple symptoms including inability to lose weight, depression, cold intolerance, constipation, memory and cognitive issues, dry skin, hair loss, and many other symptoms. Women with insuffi-cient levels of thyroid hormone have an increased risk of infertility and mis- carriage.
We don’t hear much about the need for testosterone in women, but we need testosterone to maintain muscle mass and a healthy libido. It is part of the intricate symphony of optimal hormonal health.
Elevated levels of these proteins can remain after a woman discontinues the pill and result in long standing hormonal issues, including estrogen dominance.
INCREASED RISK OF STROKE AND BLOOD CLOTS
That daily dose of estrogen isn’t free from risks. The pill has long been known to increase the risk of blood clots, stroke, and pulmonary embolism (a clot that is lodged in the lungs). It also raises the risk of heart attacks.
The pill increases oxidative stress in the body and raises inflammation, as seen by the elevation of the blood marker C-reactive protein (CRP). In- flammation is involved in the devel- opment of depression, autoimmune disease, cancer, and chronic pain.
Your body’s requirements for nutri- ents are the highest they’ll probably ever be during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Unfortunately, many women find themselves nutrient de- pleted when they become pregnant, which is exacerbated by the de- mands of breastfeeding and mother- hood.
The birth control pill depletes the body of vitamins and minerals that are essential to both mother and baby’s health. Antioxidants, B vita- mins, and important minerals such as selenium and zinc are depletedwhen taking an oral contraceptive. These nutrients are necessary for creating calm-inducing neurotransmitters, balancing hormones, liver detoxification, thyroid hormone synthesis, immune system regulation, and tissue repair.
For women wishing to become preg- nant, the pill can create a nutrient deficit, which can impact the health of your pregnancy and the health of your baby. For a mother wishing to conceive again, the pill can rob them of the nutrients they need to recover from their previous pregnancy and di- minish the essential vitamins and min- erals needed for fetal development.
ALTERNATIVES TO ORAL CONTRACEPTION
If you are using oral contraceptives as a means of preventingpregnancy, I urge you to consider some alterna- tives:
Fertility Calculators like Daysy (https:// www.usa.daysy.me/)
Fertility Awareness Method Condoms
Oral contraceptives used to treat symptoms of hormonal imbalances are doing nothing more than mask- ing symptoms and offering temporary relief at a high cost.
In my clinic, I recommend women begin with personalized lab testing to understand what is the underlying cause of their symptoms. Together, we partner in creating hormonal health, free from dependency on pharmaceutical sex hormones.