I remember being prescribed the birth control pill at the age of 16. Was I sexually active at the time? Nope. It was just the trendy Western medicine thing for doctors to do to “solve” whatever symptom you had. The pill is the most commonly prescribed form of hormonal management – not simply for birth control purposes, but for menstrual cramps, heavy bleeding, menstrual irregularities, acne breakouts and even migraines. The pill is treated like the savior pill of all problems. Your relationship ended and you’re depressed now- take the pill! Have one pimple on your forehead – take the pill! Even teens and adult women with PCOS, endometriosis, fibroids and cysts are being recommended the pill.
Ladies, I’m here to wake you up and give you a reality check: the pill is not a miracle cure-all pill that we been led to believe. It’s nothing more than a Band-Aid! The pill is designed to disrupt our hormonal system on a daily basis. While I don’t advocate for the pill, I understand and acknowledge the important role it plays in avoiding contraception. I want women to make informed decisions after hearing the whole story of what the pill does to your body and the risks and side effects that come alongside with taking the pill.
Nutrient Depletion: Many drugs deplete nutrients, but birth control pills can create certain nutrient deficiencies which increase your nutritional needs. The vitamins and minerals depleted in body folic acid, vitamins B2, B6, B12, vitamin C, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. These vitamins are essential and fundamental for good optimal health. And we all know the pill is always taken over extended periods of times which ultimately exacerbates your nutritional status.
Damages gut bacteria. Gut bacteria is essential for proper digestion, nutrient assimilation, and a healthy immune system. However, the pill destroys the beneficial gut bacteria in your body. So what’s the big deal with killing the good bacteria is your body? When your gut flora is insufficient it can cause you to be more vulnerable to more UTIs and yeast infections, digestive issues, acne, short-term and chronic illnesses, and reduce your clearance of estrogen (maintaining the proper clearance of estrogen is essential for general female hormonal health).
Future fertility issues. Many doctors are reassuring that the pill does not directly affect your fertility, however taking the pill is certainly and most definitely not doing you any favors. The pill is essential pausing your fertility clock by stopping your body’s ability to get pregnant. Don’t forget that after all that time being on the pill, your fertility has aged during that time as well. Some women may take months or years to get their period back which results in temporary or sometimes permanent infertility.
Lost interest in sex. Taking hormonal birth control can screw with your libido because it inhibits testosterone. Testosterone is the hormone that drives your sexual desire! Women get mid-cycle spikes in testosterone when they’re ovulating, which is the reason why you feel hornier than normal. When testosterone levels increase so does your sex drive. But if you shut down ovulation with the pill and suppress testosterone then you miss out on this sex drive, and possibly even lower your ability to orgasm! (Oh hell no!)
Though the side effects of BCP are not ideal, there are ways to protect your body and repair from the damage that may have been done by long-term use of the pill. If you are on the pill, supplementation is necessary! If you’re getting ready to wean off the pill (don’t quit cold turkey) then it’s super important to build a strong foundation of healthy eating, supply the body with the right supplements, and lifestyle habits a few weeks prior before attempting to go off the pill. Along with finding an alternative birth control method (if you’re avoiding contraception). Below are my recommendations if you’re currently taking the pill or preparing your body to transition off.
B Complex. Because the pill depletes most forms of B vitamins, it’s important to supplement with B-Complex vitamins to help restore what’s lost. B vitamins are responsible for helping to metabolize carbohydrates, proteins and fats for energy and support tissue and red blood cell formation. They also support our brain and nervous system, maintain skin, hair and muscle tone, and support all immune function and hormone activity. Advanced B Complex by AOR is personally my favorite (2 caps in morning + 1 at lunch).
Probiotic. It is essential to restore gut health as the pill is responsible for disrupting our diverse ecosystem of bacteria, yeast and other microorganisms in our gut flora. The best way to replenish your gut bacteria is by consuming probiotic-rich fermented foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso. You can further restore your gut health with a good quality probiotic supplement like Natren Healthy Trinity. Each non-dairy probiotic capsule from Natren Healthy Trinity contains a minimum of 30 billion colony forming units (cfu) of three potent, super strains of beneficial bacteria.
Support liver clearance. The liver is the body’s primary detoxifier, keeping it healthy is critical to your overall health, including proper metabolism and function of your hormones. But with the overload of synthetic hormones you’ve been ingesting through the pill, your liver has been overworked and burnt out which causes your liver not be an effective detox system for the body. Your liver is where hormonal clearance takes place, so help ensure the detox and clearance of your liver by supporting it with herbs like milk thistle, dandelion root, artichoke leaf, burdock root, barberry, and yellow dock (in a tea or tincture form). EveryDay Detox by Traditional Medicinals formulated an amazing herbal tea blend to help stimulate your liver’s natural process of detoxification. Warm water and lemon first thing in the a.m. is super beneficial in aiding with liver detox. But stay clear of sugar, as it can congest the liver. LOVE your liver
It’s important to know what to expect when you get off the pill, I don’t want to sugar coat anything. Like I mentioned before the pill is often prescribed as a “treatment” for almost everything. So if you went on the pill for acne, unbearable PMS, menstrual irregularity then it was nothing more than a temporary Band-Aid. So although your original symptoms may have seemed to get better when you started the pill, they haven’t really gone anywhere. In fact, once you quit the pill, your symptoms that you thought “disappeared” will surely be right where you left them. And even if you didn’t have symptoms/issues prior to the pill that doesn’t mean you won’t experience post-breakup problems (remember the pill wrecks havoc in the body). But the good news is you can address and solve the root cause of your original pre-pill symptoms and set yourself up for success by following my recommendations of healthy eating, supplements, and lifestyle habits.
You only have one body so you shouldn’t have to compromise your health and overall well-being when there are indeed other forms of contraception options. I won’t go into great detail about other natural contraception options (I’ll save it for another post) but women can keep track of their menstrual cycles and abstain from unprotected vaginal intercourse during their peak fertile times through Temperature Method, Cervical Mucus Method, and Calendar Method.
My best advice is to do your own research, balance your hormones naturally, listen to your body and come to your own conclusions of why the pill may not be right for you. Whether you’re on the pill or not I’m still advocating to supply your body with nutrient dense foods and supplements and practice healthy lifestyle habits (sleep, exercise etc.)