Understanding the impact of birth control pills or oral contraceptives on your body is essential when you are deciding if they are a good fit for you.
No matter the why behind taking oral contraceptives, knowing the side effects is important in keeping your body as healthy as possible.
Many teen women come to see me because they have issues with their menstrual cycle and mood disorders. With some of them, I am their first stop; however, many of them come to me because they were put on the birth control pill but are still having issues. This is an important topic that led me to create the course, Know Your Body, Period. As with any medicine you take, either herbal or pharmaceutical, it is essential to have all the information presented to you to make the best decision for you. I will focus on the impact of oral contraceptives on the female body as it is essential and sometimes lost in conversations with doctors.
The birth control pill or oral contraceptive is a daily pill that has “synthetic” hormones like estrogen and progesterone – that help prevent ovulation, thicken mucous around the cervix, and make it less hospitable for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterus, thus making it (almost) impossible to get pregnant.
All sounds good. And I agree entirely; if you don’t want to get pregnant, the pill could be a perfect option. However, some girls are given the pill for other reasons like heavy periods or acne. But in both scenarios, doctors must inform their patients of the adverse effects of the pill on the body.
There are many types of contraceptives; therefore, ask your doctor and discuss your options along with pros and cons. It is an individual approach that must be taken seriously. When I speak to young women about birth control and especially the pill, I tell them that the pill essentially functions to block the communication between the brain and the ovaries; therefore, no ovulation will occur.
Most doctors will disclose the below important risks:
- irregular menstrual bleeding
- nausea, headaches, dizziness, and breast tenderness
- mood changes
- rare, but possible blood clots, especially if you smoke
Yet, the pill is a nutrient-depleting drug.
- Creates dysbiosis, an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and yeast in your gut. This can affect your mood and your body’s ability to remove excess estrogen from the body.
- B vitamins, selenium, and zinc are depleted when taking the pill; all essential for mood, hormonal balance, thyroid health, liver detox, and immune system balance.
In addition, the pill may lower thyroid, testosterone levels, and inflammation. The thyroid sets the body’s metabolism; therefore, when working too hard, people may lose weight, have loose stools, be very hot, and when working not so optimally, cannot lose weight, might feel depressed, cold, constipation, dry skin, and even hair loss. Testosterone is needed to maintain muscle mass; women need strong muscles! The pill increases inflammation in the body, monitored by the biomarker C-reactive protein (CRP). When the body is inflamed, there is a tendency for more depression, pain, and possibly other diseases.
When a patient decides that the pill is their best option to prevent pregnancy, we then speak about supporting the gut microbiome (dysbiosis), getting on a good B complex and multivitamin, and eating a very nutritious diet. And we do thyroid and inflammatory labs because we want to make sure all is good in the body.
To end, remember there are many types of contraceptives to use. Always ask your doctor questions, read the pharmaceutical leaflet, and decide what you think is best for you. And if you want to learn more about female anatomy & physiology and how to best nourish it, travel over here to learn more about the Know Your Body, Period course.
Learn more about oral contraceptives
Nutritional effects of oral contraceptive use: a review