To round out Women’s History month let’s talk about birth control. Hormonal birth control is often prescribed to manage unpleasant menstrual cycle symptoms. In many circles, this is considered to be the only fix for irregular periods, heavy cramps and bleeding, and even acne. In truth, the added hormones from birth control do not fix any of these 'problems'. They may mask the symptoms or change the way the symptoms present, but the underlying issues still exist.
Remember, I am a nurse working in western medicine and a coach/healer working in alternative therapies as well. I find great value in both schools of thought. But seeing both worlds I also see the weaknesses of them. One weakness in western medicine is the lack of teaching about women's health.
I hear things like this time and time again, "they are a nurse, they should know that progesterone can cause constipation." Or "my Ob said the pill will make me regular" Or "fertility awareness methods cannot be trusted."
I went to 4 years of nursing school. I have worked with women for years. Shoot, I’ve been a woman all my life! And still, no one taught me differently. It wasn’t until I started doing my own research, exploring education that was not offered in my nursing classes that I learned the truth about birth control. It became clear very quickly that the lack of education was by no fault of the education system or the doctors I worked with or saw as a patient. Education about women’s health is weak. It is limited. The research itself is limited. In fact, most research hosted by pharmaceutical companies is completed on men. No company wants the liability of harming unborn children or a woman’s ability to carry a child. Medications like DES (causing infertility in the female grandchildren of the women who took it pregnant) and Thalidomide (causing babies to be born with missing limbs) are proof enough of the risks at play. But I digress.
Let’s talk about what no one else has told you about your birth control. First, I am obligated to tell you I do not prescribe or diagnose anything. This is purely for your information and it is imperative you talk to your doctor before starting or stopping any of your medications.
Here’s the thing, hormonal birth control (HBC) will not “cure” the underlying cause of your hormonal imbalance. Will it improve your symptoms, most likely yes. However, this is a band-aid approach. If you are started on HBC at 15 for irregular periods, and come off of it 8 years later when you’re ready to start trying for a baby, your irregular periods may still be a part of your life. It’s awful hard to conceive if your hormones are not shifting and fluctuating as they should be.
Outside of that, the side effects or adverse reactions to the HBC may be a bigger concern than the original symptom, to begin with. Let me share a few of them with you.
The following side effects are listed in no particular order. They are from one or more of these brands of HBC (Depo-Provera, Mirena, Xulane, NuvaRing, Yaz). Of course, this is not an extensive list. If you’d like to further investigate the type of birth control you are on, you can find this information on the drug’s website. You’ll look for the Full Prescribing Information to find the package insert that lists all the proven adverse reactions for each individual medication.
Lowering bone density
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Mood changes: Nervousness, depression, mood swings
Vaginal discharge or discomfort
It becomes so easy to forget that a medication you have taken (or had inserted) for years could be the cause of some of your symptoms. Anxiety and depression, weight gain, low libido, and vaginal discomfort are often written off as something you “just have to deal with” but what if something as simple as changing the medications you put into your body could change the way you feel?
If you find this interesting and want to learn more about getting in tune with your body and the ways you can support it, let’s talk about all the ways you can Become Purely You. Schedule a chat HERE.