Most of us have been on hormonal birth control (aka the pill and hormonal IUD) at some point – in fact, there’s a statistic that 98% of women have taken it at least for a little while in their lifetime. Many of us take it for a long time – 5, 10, 15, and even 20+ years.
I once heard someone on a podcast say that it is handed out as easily as candy at the doctor’s office and many women don’t really even think about it as a medication – it’s like it falls into its own bucket.
But it is indeed a medication – and it is hormones designed to stop ovulation so that we can prevent pregnancy. It’s also used prescribed often as a “fix” for things like acne, PMS, heavy periods, and more.
Doctors tell us of the warnings – potential for blood clots and stroke – but we’re told it’s rare. So it almost feels like it’s this magic potion that can help solve so many problems women are faced with.
Really, though, is it?
Have you ever stopped to think about what is in that little pill or hormonal IUD or what’s happening with the body?
When I learned about the untold secrets of the pill, I was floored. I wanted to know why this information wasn’t more readily available. Why wasn’t my doctor talking to me about this?
We should know what we’re being told to put into our bodies so that we can make informed decisions about taking it or not.
So that’s what I’d like to do today – dive into some secrets about the pill that you may not know. Here we go!
1. If you get a period on it, it is not a real period
The creators of the pill back in the day built a “bleed” into the formula for the pill because they didn’t think they could convince women to take it if women didn’t get a period at all. These days, many pill manufacturers don’t build that bleed in – so some women don’t get a period the entire time they are on hormonal contraceptives.
2. We don’t ovulate
Ovulation is really the “main” event of our monthly cycle, not the period. Hormonal birth control shuts our natural hormone production off and, thus, prevents ovulation from happening so we don’t get pregnant.
Why should you care?
The hormone levels during our ovulatory phase every month promote muscle gain, insulin sensitivity, long-term health of bones, brain, and the cardiovascular system, reduces inflammation, regulates immune function, and supports thyroid, brain, bones, and breast tissue.
Thus, ovulation benefits reach FAR beyond wanting to have a baby.
3. It affects your libido
This is because it lowers testosterone production by a lot. Even though women don’t have a ton of testosterone in their bodies, they still need some and it plays an important role in desire and gratification.
4. It depletes vitamins and minerals from the body
There are studies showing that there are a number of key nutrients depleted from the body when we’re on birth control – including B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, CoQ10, and vitamin E.
It also raises copper, iron, calcium, and cadmium (a metal).
Keeping vitamins and minerals in balance is vital to keep the body functioning like a well-oiled machine.
5. It’s linked to estrogen dominance
You may have seen my recent newsletter about estrogen dominance (if not, here it is). Hormonal contraceptives put us at risk for this because many of them are pumping our bodies full of synthetic estrogen and the synthetic progestin isn’t strong enough to balance it out like our natural progesterone does with our natural estrogen.
6. There is a lot of research showing that it affects our mood
There are a number of potential reasons for this and it can vary depending on the formula you’re on. But, if you’re losing vitamins and minerals you need and not getting the benefits of ovulation plus being pumped with synthetic hormones while having your natural hormonal rhythm suppressed, it logically makes sense that all of this is going to have a cascading effect on our moods.
7. It impacts our digestion and liver function
Everything has to go through these systems as part of our detoxification. Compromised digestion means that no matter how healthy we eat or supplements we take, our body may not have the capacity to absorb the nutrients.
And the liver gets sluggish from having to process all the toxins we come into contact daily in our modern world – including the hormones from birth control. Sluggish livers cause toxins to be re-released into our body, causing inflammation that can lead to a lot of annoying health issues.
8. It does not “fix” health issues
The pill is prescribed for a lot of health issues like acne, PMS, PMDD, PCOS, irregular periods, and more. These things are not getting fixed when on the pill, because it’s not addressing the root cause. Rather, it’s putting a bandaid on it for the entire time you’re taking it.
Bonus Fact: They came out with a male version but it was discontinued
In 2016, they had men doing trials of a hormonal contraceptive injection. During the trials, many participants developed mood issues, depression, acne, pain, heart palpitations, and more.
The trial was ultimately discontinued early because the steering committee determined that the risks outweighed the benefits.
Interesting, since those are common side effects women experience on the pill, eh? 🤔
As I shared earlier, my goal with today’s email is to provide you with additional information about contraception so you can make informed decisions about what you do with your body.
Deciding to take or not take the pill is a very personal choice – but we need to be informed of both the benefits and pitfalls of anything we’re putting into our bodies.
If you decide that you want to come off of it at some point, then I highly recommend doing so with a plan. This is because there is a transition phase when coming off hormonal contraception that can last between 3 and 24 months.
While a transition period is likely, it is possible to make that period easier if you support your body in the right way.
This is what I have done with many of my clients – getting the body fully supported so that they are able to manage the transition easier with the goal of getting the cycle regulated faster than doing it on their own.
We do this through my TPI framework:
- Test, don’t guess – functional lab testing can clue us in where the body needs the most support
- Personal plan – based on the lab results, we’re able to create a plan that is designed for you and your body’s needs rather than trying a “one size fits all” approach
- Implement and Improve – we methodically implement the plan in a way that feels good to you, even if you’re super busy so that we can have you start seeing improvements sooner rather than later
If this is something that interests you, book a call with me. Whether you’re already off and having abnormal cycles or want to put a plan together to come off of it with as little hassle as possible, I can help.