I am passionate about empowering women with knowledge.
I do not believe this is an area where it is appropriate to have hard and fast opinions about what every women should be doing with birth control. But I believe it is important to speak openly about what hormonal birth control is, what it does and its pros, cons and risks. 〰️
Gone are the days that the oral contraceptive pill (OCP) was your only option. However its prevalence today is so high because it’s a catch-all solution for many health issues.
Missing periods? Take the pill
Period pain? Take the pill
Polycystic ovary syndrome? Take the pill.
So let's talk a little about the OCP. 〰️
1️⃣ The OCP does not ‘regulate hormones’ it turns them off
A pill-bleed is not a menstrual cycle. The pill bleed is withdrawal from contraceptive drugs that stimulate the uterine lining but shut down your ovaries.
There is no reason to bleed monthly on the pill except gives women peace of mind that contraceptive drugs must support a natural process (they do not). Why does this distinction matter?
Because contraceptive drugs do not “regulate” or “normalise” they suppress natural hormone production.
Natural regular menstrual cycles are beneficial because of OVULATION because this is how we make progesterone and your body loves this guy (Progestins drugs of hormonal birth control are not the same as progesterone).
2️⃣ The OCP does not contain natural hormones.
These are steroid drugs better described as pseudo-hormones such as ethinylestradiol, drospirenone, levonorgestrel and others.
Though they are similar in function, they produce very different effects in others. For example, natural progesterone has been found to improve brain health and cognition. In comparison the synthetic progestin levonorgestrel has been linked to depression and anxiety. 〰️
3️⃣ There are risks and side effects to hormonal birth control
- Cancer: hormonal birth control slightly increases your risk of breast cancer. On the plus side, the OCP reduces your risk of colorectal, ovarian and uterine cancers.
- Increased risk of blood clotting: This risk has been pretty clear from the first development of the OCP and five decades this is still the case.
- Mental health: the stories I have heard from patients on this front astounds me. A new study published a few days ago has found that OCP use in adolescence can be linked to depression later in life (years after she has even stopped using it).
- Loss of libido / sex drive: Reduced testosterone production can result in a loss of sex drive. You libido is not just important for sex, its also an important part of your vitality and motivation for life.
- Weight gain: The OCP’s synthetic oestrogen can cause fat to be deposited and can worsen cellulite due to its effect on another hormone insulin.
- Hormonal birth control can also lead to high blood pressure, nutrient deficiency, reduced thyroid function, alterations in intestinal and vaginal microbiome and impact the health of your bones.
4️⃣ There are also advantages
For many women, the pill elevates significant symptoms that effect their ability to work, live and have good quality of life. If this is what is most important to you and you are not suffering significantly from the above risks / side effects and are happy, I would say, eat some vegetables, get some sunshine and keep doing what you’re doing.
But if you are struggling - seek some help! There are so many options for birth control and some of the best include non-hormonal birth controls.
For more information, stay tuned
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