Women, you may have heard that the oral contraceptive pill (hormonal birth control) can cause depression, loss of sex drive, hair loss and weight gain. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there; high blood pressure, nutrient deficiency and reduced thyroid function can also occur as a side effect. It also alters intestinal and vaginal bacteria which can lead to digestive problems and yeast infections. Finally, studies have shown it can decrease the formation of healthy bones. How can one pill cause so much disruption over so many systems in the body? The answer is the synthetic hormones.
Your human hormones are produced by your ovaries are estradiol and progesterone and they have many benefits not just for reproduction, but for mood, bones, thyroid, muscles and metabolism. These hormones are essential for human physiology and are HUMAN hormones. These are unfortunately not the hormones administrated every day in the form of the OCP. In contrast, the pill consists of steroid hormones called ethinylestradiol, drospirenone, levonorgestrel and others and serve their purpose as chemical messengers. Naturopath for twenty years specialising in this area of health, Lara Briden better describes the pill as pseudo-hormones. There chemical make up is different to our human hormones, therefore do not carry out the same beneficial roles that our human hormones do.
A real period is a sequence of hormonal events including ovulation, and the making of progesterone and ending in menstruation if an egg has not been fertalised. A real period represents healthy ovaries and if you know how to listen and interpret your body signs, it can give you a healthy report card every month. A pill bleed is not resulting from ovulation, it is a withdrawal bleed from the synthetic hormones. When you stop taking the synthetic hormones that stimulate uterine lining and shut down your hormones, the drop in pseudo hormones results in a bleed. Yes I did just say shut down your hormones, on the pill you do not have any of your own sex hormones, they go on a holidays and the pill provides steroid hormones as a hormonal replacement method.
I see all the time at Wellnation Clinic, heavy periods, painful periods and/or irregular periods being prescribed the pill as a band aid. Yes, the pseudo hormones do regulate your bleed but they do not address the underlying pathology as to why there were symptoms in the first place. The good news is that there are other options that do not come with side effects and compromises on your health whether your on the pill to ‘regulate your menses’ or to avoid pregnancy.
As a naturopath, I have used a lot of great supplements and herbal medicine to achieve the desired results whether its pain, heavy periods, loss of periods, spotting throughout the cycle, nausea, headaches etc. There are herbs that help communication between the pituitary gland and the ovaries via the HPO axis to bring on a period after coming off the pill, there are herbs to reduce pain by alleviating uterine spasmodic actions, there are herbs to decrease nausea, there are herbs to reduce inflammation via COX pathways. I also have done testing to identify any differential diagnosis that may the reason behind the symptoms around the periods itself. Through thorough case taking on your diet, reproductive history and depending on the case its self, other systems I will be able to determine an appropriate treatment to address the correct pathology.
For further information feel free to send me a message via the contact tab, direct private message me on Instagram or book a naturopathic consultation with me. This is only a snippet of information as the female anatomy is complicated to say the least! But it is an area that I am passionate about and love to learn about.
For further reading I recommend you read: “Period Repair Manual- Every Woman’s Guide to Better Periods”- Lara Briden. This will be your bible! It is $30 AUD and you can get it via Amazon, Pan McMillian and Farrell’s Bookshop in Mornington, Victoria.
Lots of love, A