birth controlHere’s the stuff you may already know: 

Yes, the 1960s, the sexual revolution for women! Birth control pills seemed like the answer for decades of repression, yet a few years later, with rising rates of breast cancer, we would be ignorant to say this isn’t a problem.

Over the years, various forms of oral contraceptives have been manufactured using synthetic forms of estrogen and progesterone.  The goal of these pills is to prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation, or by thickening the lining of the cervix or uterus to prevent sperm from entering or to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg.

If you pick up a prescription for birth control, you’re told the usual warnings:  risk of blood clotting disorders (stroke, embolism, heart disease), liver disease, gall bladder disease, bloating, moodiness, weight gain, headache, hair loss, and nausea.

But, you think, it’s worth the risk to prevent an unwanted pregnancy!  The problem is not that you may get one of these side-effects, the problem is why the pill is causing those problems to begin with.

Here’s the stuff you may not already know (or have considered):

“ESTROGEN DOMINANCE”

Your reproductive system does not exist in a vacuum.  Taking man-made estrogen or progesterone causes system-wide problems.  These synthetic hormones bind to estrogen receptor sites in your body to artificially cause something called “estrogen dominance.”  Too much xeno-estrogens (synthetic estrogens) are what can cause cancer.  Other than cancer, they can also cause

  • allergy symptoms
  • autoimmune disorders
  • breast tenderness
  • cervical dysplasia
  • thyroid disfunction
  • decreased sex drive
  • depression
  • dry eyes
  • weight gain
  • fatigue
  • fibrocystic breasts
  • foggy thinking
  • gall bladder disease
  • hair loss
  • headaches
  • hypoglycemia
  • blood clotting
  • infertility
  • irregular periods
  • irritability
  • insomnia
  • memory loss
  • magnesium deficiency
  • osteoporosis
  • PMS
  • polycystic ovaries
  • uterine fibroids
  • bloating
  • zinc deficiency

from “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause” by Dr. John R. Lee, MD

If you think about it like this, estrogen is designed for growing things.  That’s why it can help us grow babies…or tumors.  Birth control pills, even the progesterone only ones because they still bind to estrogen receptor sites to trick your body into thinking you’re pregnant, cause growth and thickening of tissues.

CHINESE MEDICINE STANDPOINT

In Chinese medicine we call this process blood stasis.  It’s coming from two sources:  one is the hormone itself causes actual condensing of the cells and the other is the impairment of your Liver function to circulate blood properly.

The medication is filtered through your Liver.  In order to do this, your Liver needs extra vitamins, in particular B-complex, zinc, magnesium, and C.  This is why most women test for slightly lower blood serum levels of these vitamins when they are on the pill.  Of course most MDs and scientists will tell you it’s nothing to worry about!

According to Chinese medicine (they’ve only been doing this for 5000 years, after all), if you cause undue stress on your Liver, your blood flow becomes not smooth, or we say “Liver Qi Stagnation.”  This means you may be more likely to have clots, moodiness (the Liver regulates mood in CM), and headaches.

HORMONE IMBALANCE

Besides for actual pregnancy prevention, you may choose to take birth control pills to regulate your period, to help with heavy painful periods (menorrhagia), or to stop PMS or PMDD symptoms.  Again, this is faulty logic (not your fault) because hormone imbalances – in Chinese medicine anyway – start with some type of blood imbalance.  Either the blood is deficiency (nutrient or vitamin deficiency or anemia) or stagnant (from trauma) or both.  To get to the root cause of that you need quality nutrition, supplements, or herbal medicines.  Artificial hormones are simply temporarily masking the problem.  The underlying problem will worsen over time.

AFFECT ON FUTURE FERTILITY

Later on, if you decide to try to become pregnant, this may be more of a challenge because of a few reasons.  The sluggish blood flow and thickened tissues, depending on how long you were on the pill, can make your cycles irregular or painful and your natural hormone levels “off” as your body tries to adapt again to your own hormones attaching at the receptor sites.  The thickened uterine lining is actually full of dead blood cells that can prevent the implantation of a fetus.  If your B-vitamins are lowered from Liver function impairment, the deficiency of folate in particular can reduce likelihood of getting pregnant and holding pregnancy.

AFFECT ON MENOPAUSE

In menopause, I see women who took birth control years ago with hormone problems that I can see relate to these same issues.  Unless you actively do something to decongest your Liver and your blood flow after taking the pills, the problems persist and then you have menopausal disorder.

Menopause should just be your period stops.  Period.  These shouldn’t be any other symptoms.  Hot flashes, night sweats, low libido, etc. are just signs of estrogen deficiency…which I theorize is from the body’s inability to reconnect your own estrogen to its receptor sites.  It’s like your body can get lazy.  I imagine it’s something like this:

Estrogen:  “Oh, you’re going to do this job?  Ok.  I’ll just hang back here and watch.”

…”Hey, where’d that guy go?  The one that was doing my job?  What was my job?”

Don’t worry, though, these problems are typically fix-able.  Again, I like to use Chinese herbs to regulate hormones and get your own estrogen up to par.

ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECT

Another side-effect of hormonal birth control is on our environment.  Like most pharmaceuticals, we eventually pee out the residue.  All of these drugs (antibiotics, antidepressants, and birth control are among the biggest offenders) are finding their way into our water supply.  To me, this is alarming.  The last thing we need when we are trying to hydrate and flush toxins from our bodies is more toxins coming in!

NON-HORMONAL BIRTH CONTROL OPTIONS

There are actually many options for not getting pregnant other than the pill.

  1.  You can get fitted for a diaphragm.  Many OB-GYNs won’t do this, but try calling a midwife or a natural birthing center for a referral to someone who does.  I know the Austin Area Birthing Center does.  This is what I use and it’s very convenient and it works.  Except when you forget to put it in.
  2. You can convince your partner to get a vasectomy.  Obviously, this works for monogamous, long-term relationships only.  
  3. You can have a tubal ligation.  There are many new clinical procedures available for this, and many of them are covered by insurance.  This is a more permanent procedure, so it’s good if you’re done having kids or know for certain you never want any kids.
  4. Condoms.  Old fashioned yet easily accessible, cheap, and they work.  Plus, they protect against most STDs.
  5. Natural Family Planning.  I honestly know little to nothing about this but there are many online sources you can look up. NFP has to do with tracking your mucous and basal body temperature through your cycle to know which days you’re ovulating and fertile and then avoid (or if you’re trying to get pregnant than do have) intercourse.