There’s no denying that The Pill has done a lot for women over the years. It’s given us a lot of freedom, offering us the ability to have sex without falling pregnant and skip our periods. However, how much do we really know about the side effects of the universally popular contraceptive pill?
After 50 years on the market, The Pill in the most commonly used form of contraception in Australia. Its’ main purpose is to prevent pregnancy but is also prescribed to treat a range of hormonal conditions from polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, to acne and anaemia.
Despite its popularity, many women still don’t know much about The Pill and its very real side effects. The Pill is classified as ‘carcinogenic to humans’ by the World Health Organisation, placing it in the same category as tobacco and asbestos. Remember, this is your body. I’m not here to sway your opinion of The Pill, but rather provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision.At the end of the day, you need to do what is right for you!
So, how does The Pill actually work?
The Pill produces two synthetic hormones – estrogen and progestin. These hormones reduce period blood flow, thin the lining of your endometrium (making it difficult for an egg to implant) stop the growth and development of an egg in your ovaries, and thicken your cervical mucus (to prevent sperm from fertilising an egg). Basically, The Pill’s synthetic hormones convince the ovary that an egg has already been released.
Some birth control pills are a combination of both estrogen and progestin, and others are progestin only. Both are synthetically derived hormones and therefore carry the same risks and the well-publicised side effects. These include, but are not limited to:
- Irregular bleeding or spotting
- Painful breasts
- Headaches and migraines
- Weight gain
- Amenorrhea (the absence of periods)
- Bone thinning
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Increased risk of deep vein thrombosis
Feel a little crazy on The Pill? You’re not the only one! Some of the other negative side effects include anxiety, depression, panic attacks, irrational thoughts and feeling numb. Here are four other things you may not know about The Pill.
1. It ‘switches off’ your hormones
One common misconception is that The Pill is a safe way to control hormones and ultimately, your menstrual cycle. Another is that The Pill can help with acne and period problems. These are both myths! The Pill actually masks your hormonal imbalance. Painful periods, acne and irregular cycles are your body’s way of communicating that there is a hormonal imbalance. Skipping your period isn’t good for you in general, and the monthly bleed induced by The Pill is in fact, a drug-withdrawal bleed, not a “proper period”. Sure, periods can be inconvenient. But it’s important to have a break through bleed to release the build up of hormones. Most women will then find that once they stop taking the pill, that their symptoms return, as the pill is purelyartificially treating your symptoms.
2. It can affect your fertility
As The Pill involves synthetically feeding you body hormones, it can make the pituitary gland lazy. This can lead to what is known as the ‘post-pill syndrome’. This is when menstruation does not return for many months to years after stopping The Pill. The primary purpose of The Pill is to prevent pregnancy, but fast-forward 10 years and long-term hormone interference can lead to serious fertility struggles.
3. It can lower your libido
When taking The Pill, the hormone testosterone that drives sexual desire can become inhibited. Women who take The Pill can be in danger of losing their interest in sex. Pretty ironic, considering The Pill designed for the sexual revolution! Not only that, but there’s also growing research to suggest that The Pill may adversely affect our choice of mate. Some believe that the alteration of hormones in women taking The Pill affects their ability to choose the most suitable long-term partner When you’re taking The Pill, it interferes with your biology and chemistry make up, and instead of releasing natural pheromones you produce synthetic hormones that ultimately alter and affect your choice in a mate. Normally, you’re more attracted to men with a similar chemical makeup. But when you stop The Pill you may find you are, in fact, less attracted to your man. Oh no!
4. It can affect your gut health
The Pill acts like an antibiotic in the gut, destroying the balance of your good bacteria. It impedes the gut’s ability to absorb and break down food, possibly leaving you nutrient and mineral deficient. Studies link it to lower levels of vitamin’s B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12 as well as vitamin C, folate and zinc, which are vital for healthy foetal development. The Pill can also impact your overall health, lowering your body’s natural defence system, and increasing the overgrowth of bacteria and pathogens such as candida.