When I was much younger I remember my father telling me that the contraceptive pill wasn’t a good thing, it goes against nature (sic). Although I would I hear those words many times in my head, it was only many years later that I truly understood their wisdom.
Developed in the late 50’s for menstrual problems, the use of the pill for birth control was limited to married women ( how very un 2016). However as the women’s liberation movement took force in the 60’s, so did the use of the pill and it is estimated that there are now approximately 13 million women using it worldwide ( This does not include other synthetic hormone contraceptive devices such as the Mirena coil ).
The pill has many uses including and not exhaustive of – reducing menstrual pain, reducing acne and skin issues, reducing bleeding, reducing migraines, improving mood ( yes really ) and of course birth control.
Using synthetic hormones which mimic those of the body, ovulation is suppressed. Lets just think about that shall we. Ovulation is suppressed. By using chemicals. And we think this is completely normal?
Some of the common side effects of synthetic hormones are ironically reduced libido – so it’s cool to have sex now you can’t get pregnant but you don’t feel like it now anyway, weight gain, headaches – wait, didn’t we just say that the pill is used to reduce this very symptom?. amenorrhea (missed periods), mood changes – so the pill is used to improve mood, but again ironically can send us into a spiral off depression…. Of course there are other side effects, more serious ones. The ones on the package insert that many seasoned drug users will tell you “are really rare, they just have to list any possible side effects”. Like cancer.
If you’ve continued reading this far you’re either fascinated or outraged at where I’m going with this. Either way I think you’ve worked this much out: I don’t believe in using synthetic hormones without a very good reason. Let me tell you why.
There is now an increasing amount of research linking synthetic hormones with depression, hormonal imbalance and more.
Hormones are regulated by the liver, which as the power house of the body, is also responsible for detoxification. The liver is an incredible organ that is responsible for making potentially harmful substances that we ingest or absorb through the lungs and skin, harmless. When the liver has an excess of substances to deal with, including hormones, it can become less efficient, contributing to hormone imbalances. This can give rise to a whole host of symptoms, including those for which women choose to take the pill.
Of particular importance to women is the hormone oestrogen. Oestrogen is broken down into various oestrogen metabolites and which ones and how much depends on various factors which affect a process called methylation. Synthetic hormones are much more potent than natural ones which means they remain in the blood for longer and take longer for the liver to process, having a greater effect on it. Metabolites with stronger oestogenic effects present in higher levels are associated with a higher risk of cancer. ( The progestogens in contraceptives are less of an issue as the liver does not contain progestogen receptors). If the liver becomes over worked detoxification is less efficient. This can have far reaching effects on the body.
To regate hormonal levels in the body a feedback mechanism exists, so when synthetic hormones are taken the body tries to reduce production of its own. It releases proteins that bind sex hormones – making them inactive. This sex hormone binding globulin is more attracted to testosterone than oestrogen however, which can account for decreased libido, energy and even difficulty gaining muscle mass.
I took the pill for a while. On and off. But there was always a nagging doubt in my mind. It goes against nature. I used to think that taking a magic little pill was a wonderful panacea to the days lost curled in a bawl, unable to to go to work, wanting to tear out my womb, the crying and pleading with Doctors who pushed various pills at me – ibuprofen, codeine, paracetamol, ponstan along with a dose of “you just have to deal with it”. And what about those painkillers – pills of a different sort – pills that are still chemical compositions requiring the liver to break them down… on top of the imbalanced hormones it is trying to break down… remember what you just read about the liver being over loaded? For a while I felt liberated, pain free and in control of my body. Then one day I had a revelation.
The very thing that I thought was liberating me was suppressing me in more ways than I had realised. I began to wonder why so many women were so keen to stop their bodies working as nature intended, to potentially cause more problems than they know about. And then I realised, knowledge is power and I began to ask women wether they knew how synthetic hormones worked in their bodies, the effects that they had. Had their GP’s explained it? Had they researched it. Did they know about the role of the liver and hormones? Did they know that they could balance their hormones naturally with food, herbs and lifestyle changes? I was met with blank stares and ohhhs.
Somewhere along the line we stopped listening to our bodies. We listened to a man who made a little pill that was sold to us as a magic bullet. We forgot to look at why we might have pain, heavy bleeding and unbalanced moods. We got lazy. And now we are getting ill. Because everything we put in and on our bodies has a reaction. As newton himself said – to each action is an equal and opposite reaction.
Mostly I wonder now why we as women want our bodies to be like mens, with their unfluctuating hormones, their inability to conceive, their lack of curves and softness. And I see that this is because we are told that life is better as a man, better without the very thing that makes us women and gives us the power to reproduce.
If you are taking hormonal contraceptives I urge you to research them. I encourage you to question what they might be doing to your body, your liver and look at ways to support and balance your hormones naturally. I would love you to consider something more empowering and to embrace the very essence of being a woman.