The Pill: it just prevents pregnancy, right?

the pill just prevents pregnancy right image

The Pill: it just prevents pregnancy, right?

So much for the week of love when your libido’s lower than the deepest gorge in the Grand Canyon. Not that it matters anyway: with your hair falling out and your most recent dive into depression, you reckon you’d be lucky if a lad ever looked your way.

But before you begin beating yourself up with blame & personal inadequacy, can we just stop the bus?

Although hair loss, depression & loss of libido can all have other causes, did you know that they’re also all very common side effects of the birth control pill?

The Pill?!

That’s right. That tiny, pastel-coloured pill that you started popping 14 years ago for teenage acne, might not actually be doing you many favours beyond preventing pregnancy (provided there aren’t any missed doses).

Yes, the pill was a massive step in the struggle to legalise contraception – one that’s worthy of celebration. But instead of getting into social debates, let’s take a look at the health implications that we’re facing, beginning with:

How The Pill Works

As Dr Lara Briden explains in her Period Repair Manual, the pill doesn’t help to “balance out hormones” as we’re so often made to believe. It actually switches them off.

It stops ovulation. This means that whilst we’re on the pill our only way to make estradiol & progesterone is kaput. Overs. Not gonna happen. And guess what estradiol & progesterone are good for? Our mood, libido, heart, bone & breast health and even our metabolism (to list but a few).

So no, no balancing going on here.

And no period for that matter either – a true period involves ovulation (what the pill stops) so as Dr Briden highlights, bleeding on the pill shouldn’t be referred to as a period but rather a pill-bleed.

But aren’t the Hormones in the Pill the same as in the Body?

That’s what we’ve been told.

But levonorgestrel & drospirenone (known as progestins) and ethinylestradiol, are some of the synthetic hormones found in the pill and they don’t have the same molecular structure as human hormones. As a result, they can actually have opposite effects to human hormones.

And what about other side effects of the pill?

In addition to all of the above, there’s:

  • A possible increased risk of breast cancer, (especially with higher oestrogen pills).
  • Blood clot risk.
  • Increased risk of Crohn’s disease.
  • Impact on bone health.
  • A negative impact on oestrogen detoxification.
  • Nutritional deficiencies, including Vitamin C, B2, B6, B9 (folate), B12 and zinc.(Depletion in just one of these can have a cray impact on health. Just take a look at Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin. When it’s low, we’re talking cracks on the tongue or corners of the mouth, dermatitis, dandruff, dizziness, nerve issues, low red cell count, sleep issues & brain fog.)

All fair and well but you hands down DON’T want a baby right now.

Alternatives The Pill?

There are various options, but I’m just going to touch on three now:

Fertility Awareness Method

Basically learning your lady landscape inside out. It involves tracking physical signs of ovulation such as cervix position, vaginal discharge & body temperature. It requires detailed instruction and can only used if you have regular periods.

Contraceptive Devices such as Daysy

Not yet available in the UK but word on the street says that they’re prepping for product distribution soon. It does all the hard grind for you. Ha! Puns aside, all it requires is taking your temperature for 30 seconds each day, confirming when you menstruate, and in a few months it evaluates your data and calculates your fertility status for the next 24 hours.

Barrier Methods

Including male condoms, female condoms and cervical caps without spermicide.

Coming Off The Pill: Where to Start?

Make that decision for YOU. Just like any nutrient, food or drug, the pill doesn’t affect every women in the same way. But if you are in the privileged position of considering other options, you might want to look into them. It’s not always the most straight forward process, but it’s not an impossible feat either. And if you need some support through it all? I’m here – let’s chat.