Taking the Pill? What You Need to Know that the Doctor Doesn’t Always Tell You

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This post is brought to you by the fact that I am saddened that so many women feel stuck when it comes to methods of contraception and healing hormonal conditions. I feel frustrated that the side effects of the pill are not clearly conveyed to you and I find it bloody concerning that we have 13, 14, 15 year olds being prescribed the pill before their hormonal systems have a chance to establish themselves.

Some of the below may seem abrupt or like I am not on your side. I absolutely am. I would never ever force a woman to come off the pill. It is an individual choice but in my opinion it should be an informed choice and you should be provided with alternate options if you choose not to take the pill after weighing up the risk versus benefit.

I cannot include everything I know about the pill and its effects on the body in one blog post because we would both be here all day. So what I have done is pull out a few key points for you to consider and be aware of. I would also like to point you toward this post by my lovely friend Kate-The Holistic Nutritionist who goes into some great steps on coming off the pill.

One thing I want you to understand is that taking the pill is completely shutting off all of your hormonal signalling. Why that matters is detailed below…

  1. A pill bleed is not a real bleed. It is a withdrawal bleed from the medication you are taking. Essentially you don’t have any (of your own) hormones so testing them is pointless and holds little clinical relevance when trying to treat your symptoms.
  2. When you are on the pill, you are not ovulating. Ovulation is SO important to your health as a female. Ovulation is the only way to produce progesterone and is important in DHEA and estradiol (beneficial type of estrogen) production too. The production and cycling of your hormones is essential to multiple things, not just fertility. This includes vitality, immunity, mental health, weight control, skin, hair and nail integrity, libido, your ability to experience an orgasm and gut health. YES your hormones affect your POOP, people!
  3. Estradiol (natural estrogen) helps increase insulin sensitivity, is essential for bone health and is a precursor to neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that affect mood. Conversely ethyinyil estradiol (synthetic estrogen found in the pill) promotes weight gain by decreasing insulin sensitivity! THEY ARE NOT THE SAME MOLECULE!
  4. Progesterone holds pregnancy to full term, and is known as “hormonal valium” because it has a naturally calming effect i.e. helps ya chill the F out when #lifehappens. Conversely, progestins (synthetic progesterone) do the opposite and actually cause anxiety. This has been proven in both animal and human studies. I also see it anecdotally in private practice. Lots of women who are on the pill experience anxiety and/or depression. Yet instead of addressing the issue or option of coming off the pill you either deal with it or are further medicated with anti-depressants, which come with their own side effects.
  5. Fun fact for anyone unaware but synthetic Progesterone (Progestins) are used in the morning after pill and promote abortion. If you recall from above, our natural progesterone does the exact opposite in that it promotes full term pregnancy. How in the world are we just substituting one for the other and thinking that contraception is the only consequence?
  6. Many of the progestins (synthetic progesterone) promote hair loss, weight gain, acne, insulin resistance and anxiety. This is because they have a high androgen index. What that means is they are somewhat similar to the hormone testosterone. On the other end of the spectrum we also have low androgen index pills, which I bet you are thinking “sweet, now I won’t get anxious and have a baby”. Not so fast. These come with their own host of symptoms including increased blood clot risk, decreased adrenal function (ability to handle stress), depression, anxiety and lack of libido.
  7. Other side effects of the pill include:
    – Zinc deficiency (zinc is important in immune health, hair, skin and nail growth and the integrity of your gut lining)
    – Altered microbiome (make up of bacteria) of both the gut and vagina. This further increases the occurrence of thrush, IBS, recurrent bladder infections
    – Changes to sleep patterns
    – Vaginal dryness
    – Increase risk of autoimmune conditions

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Now the last thing I want you to do if you are currently taking the pill is freak out. We are blessed in the 21st century that there are multiple options for natural contraception. My personal favourites are the fertility awareness method, temperature tracking and condoms. However, there are plenty more out there. I’d also like to point out that you should always make these changes under the care of your health care provider. Coming off the pill can be relatively simple for some people, but for many others it is more complicated than that and having nutritional and supplemental support is really effective in mitigating some of those symptoms and helping you to return to a natural cycle.

If you have any questions or concerns you want addressed in future posts, please feel free to comment below or e-mail me directly.

Until next time,
Nat X

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