Taking the right pill?

Birth control is a huge industry with millions of women taking pills on a regular basis for decades. There are many positive reasons and effects as to why women take birth control but there are also many, sometimes not considered, side effects to taking a chemical compound on a regular basis.  Some of these side effects include a potential increased risk of cancer, weight gain or inability to lose weight, and stronger psychological disturbances such as anxiety, insomnia, or depression.  So what happens when you take birth control and what are some of the negative changes you should look out for?

Hormones

Many hormones run off what is called a negative feedback loop, which means that when the body detects certain levels of a specific hormone, a signal is send to the corresponding gland to stop producing that hormone because the body wants to maintain the correct hormonal balance.  This is why you might become overly-dependent on a certain pill.  This is also the same for many other types of pharmaceutical medication.

As the pill is often supplementing oestrogen or progesterone, the real problem then occurs when you stop taking it.  Because the hormones have been eaten or injected into the bloodstream, the body has stopped producing them and therefore struggles to restart.

Changes

Any negative changes noticed when taking birth control should trigger the idea that you might not be taking the correct pill for you.  Notable drops in energy, mood or even motivation could possibly be a result of your birth control, in which case it is worth consulting your local doctor to discuss the possibility of changing your pill.

All humans (men and women) need the correct ratio of oestrogen to testosterone in order to function optimally. When this balance is incorrect a multitude of effects can occur.  This is why weight gain in females on birth control is a common occurrence as it increases the level of oestrogen in your body (it is worth noting that increased oestrogen levels via alcohol, pharmaceutical medication and toxins in such items as plastic bottles, cosmetics and household cleaners has similar weight gaining and hormonal imbalance effects).

Menstruation

The menstrual cycle is a classic example of ‘normal’ versus ‘common’.  A ‘normal’ i.e. healthy menstrual cycle should happen once every 28 days.  You should not experience any clotting or painful bleeding and this should last for 3-5 days.  You should also only have minimal food cravings, undisrupted sleep and minimal bloating.

If you experience anything different to this, it may be worth having a hormonal test.  However, if you do have a test for oestrogen and progesterone levels, it should be a full monthly cycling hormonal profile.  Because female hormones alter throughout the month, testing on a single day does not give a true representation.

If the pill you are taking alters your menstruation cycle out of the ordinary, again you must consult your GP.  For example, if your progesterone levels are dropping too early in the later part of the cycle, that can cause various problems, such as pre-menstrual stress, spotting (where you appear to have your period right in the middle of your cycle) and headaches or migraines.

Eating a more healthy diet, including lots of meat, fish, poultry, salads and vegetables on a regular basis is a good start to stabilising your hormones and cycle.  It might also be worth considering herbal or botanical supplementation rather than chemical but ultimately, any concerns about your pill should result in a consultation with your local GP or another health care practitioner.