- IBS success story
- 4 Reasons Why Birth Control Pill Might Affect Intestinal Microbiome
- Lo Loestrin FE
- Is Your Birth Control Causing Tummy Troubles?
- Is the Pill wrecking your gut?
- 7 Reasons to Go Off The Pill: The Truth About Birth Control Pill Side Effects
- The Truth About Birth Control Pills
- How Do Birth Control Pills Work?
- 7 Reasons to Go Off The Pill: Birth Control Pill Side Effects
- Ready to Get Off Birth Control Pills?
- Natural Birth Control Alternatives
- Is your birth control giving you headaches?
- Could your spotting be due to the pill?
- Can the pill cause sore breasts?
- Can birth control cause constipation, diarrhea, gas and bloating?
- Could your birth control be the cause of your yeast infection?
- Does taking hormonal birth control lead to nutrient deficiencies?
- Can the pill cause weight gain?
- Can hormonal birth control reduce your sex drive?
- Can your birth control be causing your mood swings?
- Does the pill cause acne?
- Can your period stop coming on the pill?
- Why is My Birth Control Making Me Sick? Experts Say These Symptoms Are Totally Normal
- So what is it about birth control that can make you feel so sick?
- Feeling sick is a common side effect of birth control, but rest assured, it won’t last forever.
G&H How common is inflammatory bowel disease in women of childbearing age?
LG Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) impacts approximately 1.6 million Americans and is equally as common in women as in men. The median age of diagnosis is approximately 30 years old, which falls within the peak reproductive years for women.
G&H How does the rate of contraceptive use in women with IBD compare with that of the general population?
LG Women with IBD have been found to have lower rates of contraceptive utilization than women without chronic diseases. My colleagues and I conducted a cross-sectional survey several years ago and found that 40% of the participating women with IBD who were at risk for pregnancy—meaning those who were having sexual intercourse with a male partner and who had not undergone a hysterectomy or sterilization—were either not using any form of contraception or were relying on the least effective types, such as barrier methods. These patients were at risk for an unplanned pregnancy even though they said that they did not wish to become pregnant at the time. The patients who were least likely to use contraception had the most active disease and, in follow-up questions, said they were focused on their disease and felt that contraception was something they could not think about at the time. However, the worse time for women with IBD to become pregnant is during active disease, when the risk of adverse outcomes such as pregnancy loss and preterm delivery is highest.
In the survey, another reason women shared for low rates of contraception was that many women with IBD mistakenly thought that their disease reduced their fertility and that they would not become pregnant. However, research on fertility in women with IBD has shown that only those who have undergone specific types of pelvic surgeries, and not women with medically managed disease, have reduced fertility.
G&H How should a contraceptive method be selected for a patient with IBD?
LG When talking about contraception to a woman with or without IBD, doctors should always try to find the method that is in line with the patient’s preferences. If a method does not seem like it would fit into the patient’s life, it is not going to be used. Thus, the first step is to have a conversation about the patient’s goals and whether she is at risk for pregnancy. Then, the efficacy of different contraceptive methods should be discussed, as not all methods are equally as effective.
G&H How effective are the various contraceptive options for women with IBD?
LG The most effective methods are intrauterine devices (IUDs) and contraceptive implants. They are as effective as sterilization but can be reversed at any time if the patient is not happy with the method or if she desires pregnancy. These devices also tend to be the safest methods for women with chronic diseases. Thus, in addition to having low failure rates when a pregnancy may not be optimal because of disease activity, these devices are least likely to cause adverse outcomes related to contraceptive hormones themselves.
The next tier of contraceptive efficacy consists of short-acting hormonal contraceptives (eg, the birth control shot, patch, vaginal ring, or pills). All of these methods are more user-dependent (eg, the patient has to go to the doctor’s office and get a shot every 3 months or the patient has to take a pill every day). Failure rates of short-acting hormonal contraceptives are slightly higher than with IUDs or implants because of dependence upon the patient on an ongoing basis and possible disruption to continuation (eg, the patient forgetting to take a pill or fill a prescription). The birth control shot has a failure rate of 3% over 1 year of typical use, whereas the combination and progestin-only pills, patch, and vaginal ring have a failure rate of approximately 8% over 1 year of typical use.
For most women with IBD, all contraceptive methods are safe.
Next in terms of efficacy are barrier methods and/or fertility awareness methods. Barrier methods are highly user-dependent because they have to be used for each episode of intercourse in order to be effective. Failure rates of barrier methods vary but can be as high as approximately 18% over 1 year of typical use because patients may forget to use these methods every time, devices could break, and so on. Failure rates of fertility awareness methods vary more because they require not only for the patient to have a regular menstrual cycle and to be able to predict it, but also to have a partner who is willing to be compliant with the method and not have unprotected intercourse when the woman is most fertile. Thus, failure rates of some fertility awareness methods can be as high as approximately 25% over 1 year of typical use.
G&H How safe are contraceptive methods in women with IBD?
LG Guidance regarding the safety of contraceptive methods comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use. This evidence-based guidance reviews the safety of different contraceptive methods in the setting of many conditions, including IBD. For most women with IBD, all contraceptive methods are safe. However, for women who are at higher risk for blood clots (such as those with more severe IBD activity, those who are undergoing surgery, and those with a history of blood clots), contraceptive methods that contain estrogen (such as combination pills, the patch, or the vaginal ring) can further increase the risk of blood clots. It is important to remember that the risk of blood clots is significantly higher in pregnancy than with the use of estrogen-based contraceptives. Avoiding unintended pregnancy through an alternative contraceptive is even more important in these high-risk women.
G&H Should any contraceptive methods be restricted in women with IBD?
LG Contraceptive methods containing estrogen may be restricted by patients with a higher risk of blood clot, which includes patients with more severe disease activity, as discussed above. There are no other restrictions, unless there is another limiting component of the patient’s medical history that is unrelated to IBD, such as a bicornuate uterus or another anatomic issue.
G&H Does the presence of IBD affect the side-effect profile of any contraceptive methods?
LG No difference in side-effect profile has been seen because of IBD, although sometimes it is difficult to determine whether patients are having side effects from their contraception or whether they are having disease-related symptoms from their disease activity. Women with IBD often note some mood changes, and IBD is highly associated with depression and changes in libido, all of which have also been associated, at times, with different hormonal contraception. Therefore, doctors should explain that these side effects are normal and can occur in any woman regardless of disease status. If the side effects impact the patient’s quality of life, then the doctor should find another contraceptive method that potentially has fewer side effects and should make sure that the patient’s IBD is well controlled.
G&H Do any medications used in the treatment of IBD, including biologic agents, affect the efficacy of contraception?
LG Biologic agents have been used for many autoimmune diseases, including IBD. Contraceptive methods do not affect biologic agents, and biologic agents do not affect the efficacy of the contraceptive method. Women with IBD who require biologic agents typically have more severe or persistent disease. These women should consider highly effective, first-line contraceptive methods, such as an IUD or implant, to avoid contraceptive failure and an unintended pregnancy when their disease may be more active.
Approximately 1 in 5 women said that their disease-related symptoms actually improved while on contraception.
G&H Does IBD surgery affect the use of contraceptives?
LG If a woman has had significant small bowel resections and has resulting malabsorption—which would most commonly occur in the setting of Crohn’s disease and small bowel disease—she could, in theory, have decreased absorption of birth control pills. That being said, such a patient probably would not be the best candidate for birth control pills because they contain estrogen and she might have more active disease, increasing the risk of blood clots. Nevertheless, if a woman with IBD is concerned about tolerating oral medications, she and her doctor should choose a different method that does not depend upon oral absorption.
In addition, some women with IBD have significant pelvic pain, especially if they have undergone pelvic surgery, so placing an IUD might be difficult. Thus, doctors should ask patients if they are able to tolerate a pelvic examination and discuss ways to manage pain with IUD placement.
G&H Does contraceptive use affect IBD symptoms?
LG In the aforementioned study that my colleagues and I conducted, women with IBD were asked whether the contraceptive methods they had chosen in the past or were currently using had affected their disease-related symptoms. Approximately 1 in 5 women said that their disease-related symptoms actually improved while on contraception. This is likely because hormonal contraceptive methods decrease the amount of blood loss and reduce the amount of prostaglandin released in the pelvis, resulting in less cramping, which can irritate the bowel. Thus, many women had decreased abdominal pain and cramping around their menstrual cycles because their menstrual cycles improved.
G&H Could contraceptive use affect the risk of IBD development or relapse?
LG A number of studies have tried to answer this question. However, most were population-level studies, which have many confounders because hormonal contraception is widely used in women in general, and IBD is a relatively rare diagnosis. Therefore, many women who participated in these studies often had recall bias or never filled prescriptions for contraceptives, yet were identified in databases as using them. Additionally, previous research has found that menstrual issues often predate an IBD diagnosis. Thus, women might have been using contraception because of painful periods, which were later realized to be a symptom of IBD.
However, there have not been conclusive studies showing that hormonal contraception causes IBD or increases the risk of relapse. One study showed an increase in the risk of surgery in patients who were on hormonal contraception and had significant disease activity. However, many of these women likely were using contraception because they had active disease and were trying to avoid pregnancy or were trying to improve their periods, and active disease puts them at risk for surgery. Many epidemiologic studies do not control for these confounders, so there has not been a study showing true causality between hormonal contraception and IBD diagnosis or relapse. This is important because if women avoid contraception because of theoretical risks, they are at increased risk for having an unintended pregnancy, which can be adversely affected by disease activity.
G&H What follow-up is needed for women with IBD who are using contraception?
LG It is important to check in with these patients on a regular basis to make sure that their contraceptive method is still meeting their needs, especially if a short-acting or barrier method is being used, and to remind patients that there are also other effective options. Patients should know that they can try different contraceptive methods throughout their reproductive lives if they are having difficulty using their current method (eg, if they are experiencing side effects or having trouble remembering to take pills or get prescriptions filled).
If gastroenterologists feel uncomfortable discussing sexual health issues with their patients, it is important that they find a partner in their community. It is also important to make sure that women with IBD have accurate information regarding both contraception and reproduction. Some women with IBD may choose not to have children because of concerns about heritability or their own health, so they need evidence-based guidance to ensure that they are not basing this decision on myths or poor counseling.
G&H How should IBD patients on contraceptives prepare if they would like to become pregnant?
LG The ideal time to become pregnant is when the patient’s IBD is well controlled, as previously mentioned. Thus, IBD patients should meet with their gastroenterologist, primary care doctor, and obstetrician-gynecologist to make sure that their health is optimized before stopping a contraceptive method. Pregnancy planning is important in order to make sure that any changes to the treatment plan occur far enough in advance that the patient’s body has time to adjust and the patient can become stable on any new treatments before pregnancy occurs.
G&H What are the next steps in research in terms of contraception in IBD patients?
LG There needs to be improved understanding of barriers to contraceptive access and education. Clinical goals should be to improve reproductive planning and contraceptive education and to ensure that women receive methods that are safe for them. Further research is needed to determine whether hormonal contraception is in any way related to IBD in terms of improvements or relapse. We know that some hormones have effects on the bowel and on receptors in the brain, so having more information on which hormones may improve disease activity could help guide patients regarding which methods could potentially improve disease-related issues.
IBS success story
This blog post is half reader success story and half awareness raising for the dangers of the birth control pill.
This topic is near and dear to my heart, because it’s the birth control pill that took my IBS symptoms from annoying and manageable (constipation, gas and bloating) to severe and torturous (migraines, yeast infections, anxiety, depression, fatigue, chronic colds, rashes, etc.) These are the side effect that legal drugs can have on our bodies. And I need to bring awareness to this topic.
I wished someone had warned me that the birth control pill kills beneficial bacteria, promotes candida overgrowth, worsens constipation and sends you into emotional hell. It doesn’t have such severe effects on everyone, but because my body was already out of balance and because I was so sensitive, it wreaked havoc on my health. And I had no idea of the cause.
The worst symptoms from the birth control pill were anxiety and depression and because of that, I started taking antidepressants. This put more stress and strain on my body and liver, throwing my bacteria further out of balance.
I learned the hard way. So now, I try to spread the word. Awareness is everything. What you do with the awareness is up to you.
Two months ago I had an e-mail conversation with a reader about the birth control pill. She read one of my blogs that briefly mentioned the side effects of the pill. She asked me if she should get off the pill to heal her IBS. I told her about my experience and let her make up her own mind.
I also recommended a few other things to help her along on her recovery.
I got an e-mail from her recently about how much better she was feeling.
Getting off the pill was the missing piece in her recovery. She said that I could share her e-mail with you
This is what Elisa wrote:
“I wanted to let you know that I am healing, thanks to you. I followed your advice and got off birth control pills on Oct. 1st and have been feeling well ever since. I had been on the pill for 15 years, the last 7 taking the hormones continuously so that I didn’t have a period. It was a tough decision to give up this convenience, but with my husband’s support, I took the leap. From the first week, I was amazed at how my body seemed to relax and start digesting the way it is supposed to. I had been gluten free for a couple of months before this, and had still experienced a bad week of IBS while traveling in Europe in September. Since Oct. 1st, I’ve been grain, dairy, sugar, processed food free most of the time at home and then I relax my rules when eating with friends. I’ve been sipping on the Great Lakes gelatin that you recommended 1-2 Tbs. a day in my tea and taking Align probiotics and oregano oil pills each morning. I agree that having hope is also a big factor and finding ways to relax during the day. I was actually excited to see that I got my period this week, only 34 days after getting off the pill. I’ll keep you posted with my progress. Keep up your brilliant work. Thank you for helping those of us who have tried everything else. Best wishes, Elisa from Boston
It is a personal decision to get off the pill, and it is not for everyone, but I’m compelled to put this information out there because it may make a huge difference for someone. There is a lot to learn from my agonizing experience and the experience of my Superhealer reader.
The worst kind of birth control pills are the kind that only let you have 3 or 4 periods a year or skip over your period completely. Women were meant to cleanse every month. Having a period is incredibly detoxifying, even if it is inconvenient. Your body needs to do what it was meant to do.
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Angela Privin is proof that IBS is NOT an incurable disease or a disease at all. IBS is a body out of balance. It’s an invitation for change. After solving her own IBS mystery more than a decade ago Angela trained as a health coach to help others.
Angela uses both science and intuition to help people figure out what’s out of balance in their body. She works with lab tests, dietary changes, supplementation and nervous system rebalancing. Get help rebalancing your digestive system and solving your IBS mystery here.
4 Reasons Why Birth Control Pill Might Affect Intestinal Microbiome
We’ve said it before – taking a course of antibiotics means supplementing with probiotics to help replenish the good microflora that gets wiped out by the medication. But have you ever considered the need to take a probiotic to support taking a long-term, prescribed medication, such as oral birth control pill?
A hormonal birth control pill can be considered wonderful in many ways. It is not only an extremely effective tool for preventing pregnancy but is also often prescribed to help alleviate many symptoms such as acne, painful menstruation and endometriosis. If you’re one of the many women who takes an oral contraceptive pill daily, you have your reasons. And, if it’s working for you, you already understand how this simple step each day can positively support the needs of your body. But did you know you should also consider taking a daily probiotic in conjunction with your pill regimen to support overall wellness in your body?
How the pill can impact your microflora
1. General change to the makeup of your microbiome
It is possible that your birth control medication may be compromising your general wellness efforts. The pill has been shown to have the ability to alter our microbiome and impact gut flora in negative ways.
Our gut microbiome is a complex ecosystem of bacteria that help govern nearly every function of the human body in some way. Environmental factors also influence these bacteria. The stress in our lives, the food we eat, and the medicine we take – including oral contraceptives – can all alter the state of our microbiomes.1,2
We refer to an altered state of gut flora as dysbiosis. Some of the main issues associated with it are:
- Abdominal pain
- Mental fog
- Acid reflux3
Do you feel like you’re frequently experiencing bloating or gas and despite taking efforts such as eliminating foods like dairy or gluten, you just can’t seem to get it under control? Or has your acne seemed worse now on the pill even though everyone said it would get better? While gas and bloating or acne are not side effects of taking birth control, it could be a sign that your daily pill is throwing your gut out of whack. Gas and bloating as well as constipation, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome (often a catch-all diagnosis for gut discomfort), acne and more can all be signs of dysbiosis, a microbial imbalance in the digestive tract.
3. Increased risk for GI Inflammation
An imbalance of microflora in the gut can result in inflammation of the GI system and lead to a number of health complications. The inflammation is typically referred to as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBD, and is an umbrella term used to describe disorders that involve chronic gut inflammation. The cause of IBD is not completely known but it’s believed a compromised immune system can attribute. Ensuring you have balanced microbiota in your gut also is a way to help fight off and control inflammation.
One disorder that is classified under IBD is Crohn’s disease. Recent studies have shown a link between Crohn’s ‘flare-up’s’ and taking oral birth control. Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the bowel and is characterized by microbial dysbiosis.4 It’s important to understand that Crohn’s is not caused by taking the pill or by microflora imbalance only but more significant flare ups happen with imbalanced microflora. Recent studies are showing that for some women who have been on the pill for five or more years AND have a genetic predisposition to Crohn’s, the GI disease is three times more likely to develop. 5,6
4. Compromised nutrient absorption
One of the side effects of bacterial imbalance is persistent inflammation, which can develop into something known as ‘leaky gut’. Leaky gut is a condition where the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged and undigested food particles, bacteria and toxins leak through the intestines into the bloodstream. Leaky gut can result in food sensitivities, poor nutrient absorption, skin conditions like eczema or rosacea, or more serious concerns such as thyroid or IBD.7
How to support your gut on the pill
The health of our gut plays a big part in our overall health, and an altered gut microbiome can influence your health in more ways than you may even realize. A healthy and diverse gut microbiome is essential for proper nutrient absorption and supports the elimination of unwanted toxins and chemicals from the body. Furthermore, when your gut is healthy, it can properly help your body regulate hormones, promote a healthy weight, and support your immune system.
The good news is that you don’t have to stop taking the pill to help support your gut. But there are some simple things you can do to give it a little more love.
The easiest way to give your gut a little boost and ensure that it’s getting what it needs is to use a daily probiotic. You could either take a capsule or a drinkable format as both forms support the needs of your body. Bio-K+ is an effective and clinically proven probiotic that can help replenish and restore gut flora as well as maintain it.
An easy way to remember to take your probiotic each day is to take it at the same time you take your birth control pill. If you have not been taking a probiotic, try starting gradually with a lower CFU level such as the Bio-K+ 12.5 Billion. If you feel you need to optimize your intestinal flora, give a try to a strongest capsule such as the Bio-K+ 25 Billion or 50 Billion. Once you’ve finished a course of those, or if you’ve been taking probiotics in the past, you can choose to go back to a lower CFU level to maintain the established healthy flora.
You could also ensure that you’re getting a daily dose of probiotics at your meals by trying the drinkable format of Bio-K+, which can be a nice addition to your breakfast or lunch. Each bottle delivers 50 Billion probiotic bacteria so you can feel good knowing you’re supporting both digestive health and immune function.
It’s also worth noting that probiotics have not been shown to affect the effectiveness of birth control pills.
The Case for Probiotics
Even though “The Pill” may not be for everyone, probiotics definitely are! If you do take daily birth control medication, especially in pill form, you may want to pay attention to the cues your body is sending you about the state of your gut flora. While everyone can benefit from a daily probiotic, it can be especially important if your gut microbiome is disrupted by medications or other factors, including birth control pills.
If you’re thinking about trying Bio-K+, head to our store locator. For more information on Bio-K+, probiotics and digestive health, contact us, find us on Facebook and Instagram or join our community.
This article is for information purposes only. Always check with your healthcare practitioner before starting or stopping a medication or supplement.
Lo Loestrin FE
SIDE EFFECTS: Nausea, vomiting, headache, bloating, breast tenderness, swelling of the ankles/feet (fluid retention), or weight change may occur. Vaginal bleeding between periods (spotting) or missed/irregular periods may occur, especially during the first few months of use. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly. If you miss 2 periods in a row (or 1 period if the pill has not been used properly), contact your doctor for a pregnancy test.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
This medication may raise your blood pressure. Check your blood pressure regularly and tell your doctor if the results are high.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: lumps in the breast, mental/mood changes (such as new/worsening depression), severe stomach/abdominal pain, unusual changes in vaginal bleeding (such as continuous spotting, sudden heavy bleeding, missed periods), dark urine, yellowing eyes/skin.
This medication may rarely cause serious (sometimes fatal) problems from blood clots (such as deep vein thrombosis, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, stroke). Get medical help right away if any of these side effects occur: chest/jaw/left arm pain, confusion, sudden dizziness/fainting, pain/swelling/warmth in the groin/calf, slurred speech, sudden shortness of breath/rapid breathing, unusual headaches (including headaches with vision changes/lack of coordination, worsening of migraines, sudden/very severe headaches), unusual sweating, weakness on one side of the body, vision problems/changes (such as double vision, partial/complete blindness).
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US –
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
In Canada – Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Read the entire patient information overview for Lo Loestrin FE (Norethindrone Acetate and Ethinyl Estradiol, Ethinyl Estradiol Tablets)
Nausea, vomiting, headache, abdominal cramps/bloating, breast tenderness, swelling of the ankles/feet (retaining fluid), or weight change may occur. Vaginal bleeding between periods (spotting) or missed/irregular periods may occur, especially during the first few months of use. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly. If you miss 2 periods in a row (or 1 period if the pill has not been used properly), contact your doctor for a pregnancy test. Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects. This medication may raise your blood pressure. Check your blood pressure regularly and tell your doctor if the results are high. Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: a lump in your breast, mental/mood changes (such as new/worsening depression), unusual changes in vaginal bleeding (such as continuous spotting, sudden heavy bleeding), dark urine, severe stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes/skin. This medication may rarely cause serious (sometimes fatal) problems from blood clots (such as deep vein thrombosis, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, stroke). Get medical help right away if you have: shortness of breath/rapid breathing, chest/jaw/left arm pain, unusual sweating, confusion, sudden dizziness/fainting, pain/swelling/warmth in the groin/calf, sudden/severe headaches, slurred speech, weakness on one side of the body, sudden vision changes. A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing. This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist. In the US – Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch. In Canada – Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
- vulvovaginal candidiasis
- benign hepatic cell adenoma
- neoplasm of breast
- folate deficiency
- body fluid retention
- hemolytic uremic syndrome
- mood changes
- libido changes
- retinal thrombosis
- optic neuritis
- acute myocardial infarction
- pulmonary thromboembolism
- cerebrovascular accident
- thromboembolic disorder
- arterial thrombosis
- hepatic vein thrombosis
- thrombotic disorder
- deep venous thrombosis
- biliary calculus
- gallbladder disease
- obstructive hyperbilirubinemia
- kidney disease with reduction in glomerular filtration rate (GFR)
- galactorrhea not associated with childbirth
- vaginal dryness
- premenstrual syndrome
- irregular menstrual periods
- abnormal vaginal bleeding
- skin photosensitivity
- Erythema Multiforme
- erythema nodosum
- pruritus of skin
- acne vulgaris
- back pain
- muscle spasm
- change in corneal curvature
- skin rash
- peripheral edema
- weight gain
- weight loss
- appetite changes
- headache disorder
- abdominal pain with cramps
- abdominal distension
- pelvic pain
- abnormal glucose tolerance
- hypersensitivity drug reaction
- general weakness
- Acute Abdominal Pain
- Dysplasia of Cervix
- neoplasm of liver
- Erosion of Cervix
- Cervical Discharge
- Liver Cell Carcinoma
- Focal Nodular Hyperplasia of Liver
- symptoms of anxiety
- acute occlusion of mesenteric vein
See also How to Use section. Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor’s approval. Some products that may interact with this drug include: aromatase inhibitors (such as anastrozole, exemestane, letrozole), dimercaprol, ospemifene, tamoxifen, tranexamic acid, certain combination products used to treat chronic hepatitis C (ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir with or without dasabuvir). Some drugs may cause hormonal birth control to work less well by decreasing the amount of birth control hormones in your body. This effect can result in pregnancy. Examples include griseofulvin, modafinil, rifamycins (such as rifampin), St. John’s wort, drugs used to treat seizures (such as barbiturates, carbamazepine, felbamate, phenytoin, primidone, topiramate), HIV drugs (such as nelfinavir, nevirapine, ritonavir), among others. Tell your doctor when you start any new drug, and discuss if you should use additional reliable birth control. Also tell your doctor if you have any new spotting or breakthrough bleeding, because these may be signs that your birth control is not working well. This medication may interfere with certain laboratory tests (such as blood tests for clotting factors, thyroid), possibly causing false test results. Make sure laboratory personnel and all your doctors know you use this medication.
Is Your Birth Control Causing Tummy Troubles?
Bloating, cramps, and nausea are common side effects of menstruating. But according to a new study, tummy problems may also be a side effect of the thing we take to help our periods: the Pill.
In one of the largest studies of its kind, Harvard researchers looked at the health records of over 230,000 women and found that taking the birth control for five years or more tripled a woman’s chance of developing Crohn’s disease, a debilitating and occasionally life-threatening gastrointestinal illness. Crohn’s happens when the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the digestive tract causing it to become inflamed. It’s characterized by diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, weight loss, and malnutrition. (Those aren’t the only side effects either. Read one woman’s story: How The Birth Control Pill Almost Killed Me.)
Even though cases of the illness have exploded over the past 50 years, the exact cause of Crohn’s hasn’t been known. But now researchers think that hormones in birth control can exacerbate the problem and could cause it to develop in women who have a genetic predisposition for it. Smoking while on the pill also increases your risk of developing Crohn’s-another good reason to quit the cancer sticks!
Now scientists are questioning how else hormonal birth control is effecting women’s digestive systems. Previous research has linked hormonal birth control to ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and gastroenteritis. A 2014 study also linked the pill to painful gallstones. In addition, nausea is one of the most common side effects of the Pill and many women have reported changes in their bowel movements, stomach cramp,s and food aversions while on the Pill, particularly when first starting it or switching types.
This isn’t surprising to Hamed Khalili, M.D., a Harvard gastroenterologist and lead author of the study, who noted in his findings that estrogen is known to increase the permeability of the gut. (Increased permeability can lead to a range of digestive issues ranging from mild nausea to extreme malfunction.) “Younger women on oral contraceptives do need to be told that there is an increased risk,” he explained in the press release. (Should the Pill Be Available OTC?)
Should you be worried about your pill pack? Not necessarily. Researchers can’t yet say there is a direct causal link. If you’re not experiencing any stomach problems, you’re probably fine, but Khalili says if you have a personal or family history of any kind of inflammatory bowel disease, you should talk to your doctor about alternatives.
- By Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Is the Pill wrecking your gut?
Antibiotics get a lot of attention as a disruptor of the diverse ecosystem of bacteria, yeast and other microorganisms that serve incredibly important functions in our bodies, aka our very important but rather delicate gut microbiome. Recent studies have found that even “short courses of antibiotics can leave normal gut bacteria harbouring antibiotic resistance genes for up to two years after treatment.” Two years! Jeepers! That sounds a little counterproductive, doesn’t it?
Despite their long-lasting effects on our gut bacteria, antibiotics are still seen as a necessary evil. We need them sometimes to combat the really bad, pathogenic bacteria that make us miserable and put us at risk for more serious conditions. They are meant to treat a disease, fix a problem, prevent bigger problems.
Pic courtesy of James Palisad http://bit.ly/1SEyrul
Now, what if I told you that birth control pills are just as bad as antibiotics for your gut? Well, they are.
These estrogen-digesting bacteria, affectionately called the “estrobolome,” are just starting to be studied in greater detail. However, many health experts are already attributing conditions of hormonal imbalance like PMS, PCOS, heavy bleeding, and even infertility to a disruption in how our gut processes hormones at the microbial level.
The Pill disrupts your estrobolome.
An end-point manifestation of this hormonal-bacterial disruption is Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory condition that affects the colon and large and small intestines. In a landmark study out of Harvard University, Dr. Hamed Khalili linked use of oral contraceptives to a 300% increase in risk of Crohn’s disease.
Rachel Callaghan is a UK teen who started an education campaign about Crohn Disease
For some reason, Crohn’s disease is more prevalent in women, while men with an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) usually develop colitis. The above-mentioned study may have uncovered why—and Dr. Khalili is not the first person to look into it.
From a 1999 article in Gut, the monthly peer-reviewed medical journal of the British Society of Gastroenterology:
Patients with active inflammatory bowel disease are at increased risk of developing thromboembolic disease and there are also theoretical reasons to suppose that the pill might precipitate or exacerbate Crohn’s disease. High dose oral contraceptives, containing more than 50 μg ethyloestradiol, may induce prothrombotic changes in both coagulation and fibrinolytic enzyme systems, thereby predisposing to the formation of microthrombi. This would fit with the microvascular hypothesis of the pathogenesis of Crohn’s disease. Early reports that the withdrawal of oral contraception was associated with long term remission in patients with Crohn’s colitis could be used to support this hypothesis.
In plain English, if you have IBD, use of high-dose synthetic estrogen for birth control will likely make your condition worse by increasing your risk of forming tiny clots in your gut’s network of blood vessels.
Blood clots? Hey, wait – we already know that the Pill is a potentially fatal risk factor for blood clots in other areas of the body. Go figure that it seems to be a systemic effect.
Quit the Pill and your gut problems have a strong chance of improving, the article indicates.
Use the Pill and triple your risk of wrecking your gut.
Triple your risk of having bowels that are angry and either imploding or exploding (yes, I’ve had clients describe their IBD to me)—on top of the risk of “cardiovascular accidents” (blood clots leading to stroke, heart attack, etc.), certain hormone-dependent cancers (breast, cervical), weight gain and conditions associated with excess weight.
for the comprehensive “Risks video.”
I am all for responsible parenthood and deciding if we want to make another baby tonight but I would not consciously ingest something that compromises my health just to ensure that we don’t add on to our family. It just doesn’t seem worth it – especially because there are better ways to plan parenthood.
Our guts are essential to our health. There’s no doubt about it; all of modern medicine seems to be headed in the direction of the gut, its bacteria and its bacteria’s genome.
In the future maybe antibiotics will be replaced with something that works with the body’s natural defenses. Luckily, with Pill alternatives we don’t have to wait. Many effective alternatives are already available. And, unlike antibiotics, the Pill is not essential to curing any disease, so why not go for it?
Posted by Emily Kennedy
Emily Kennedy, MSc is a nutritionist health coach and fertility educator in Raleigh, NC. She loves all things natural and evidence-based, especially if it leads to something good to eat.
7 Reasons to Go Off The Pill: The Truth About Birth Control Pill Side Effects
April 22, 2018 posted by Kate Kordsmeier — in Health
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7 Reasons to Go Off The Pill. This inside look into hormonal birth control uncovers the scary truth about birth control pills and the serious side effects, like increased cancer risk, digestion disorders, and fertility issues.
The Truth About Birth Control Pills
I get it–hormonal birth control (also known as The Pill) is easy and effective. Not only does it accomplish the job its name implies (preventing pregnancy), but some doctors also prescribe the pill to treat things like irregular periods, acne, PMS, and cramps.
But here’s the thing–the Pill doesn’t treat those things. It’s a band-aid.
It simply masks the symptoms by synthetically altering your hormones, and as soon as you stop taking birth control, all of those awful symptoms will come screaming back, and likely worse than they were before.
Birth control pills aren’t about listening to your body and treating the root cause… they’re about immediate gratification of “fixing” problems. Much like caffeine “fixes” energy or Ambien “fixes” insomnia or duct tape “fixes” a leaky pipe.
It’s what we do when we just want the problem solved… when we’d rather ignore signs that our bodies are out of whack, than actually deal with what’s really causing the problem in the first place.
I’ll admit, I used to be like this. I ignored the signs my body was giving me, hoped for my doctor to just prescribe a pill, something easy… it had never before occurred to me to do my homework about these powerful drugs.
Did you know hormonal birth control may mask substantial medical issues such as ovarian cysts, PCOS, or endometriosis? In some cases taking birth control pills can even compound the existing hormonal problem and cause worsened symptoms.
And the Pill actually comes with some pretty scary and very serious side effects. We’ve likely all heard about breast tenderness, headaches, nausea, or breakthrough bleeding. Some women gain weight, some lose weight. Some women feel better on the Pill, others experience crazy mood swings and feel like they’re in a fog.
But keep reading to learn about the even more serious side effects of hormonal birth control, like increased cancer risk, digestion disorders and fertility issues.
How Do Birth Control Pills Work?
Ever wondered how the pill even prevents pregnancy in the first place?
Here’s the skinny: a woman’s natural menstrual cycle is composed of rising and falling levels of estrogen and progesterone throughout the month. But hormonal birth control pills, patches and shots keep estrogen at an unnaturally high level all month long in order to trick your body into thinking you’re already pregnant, which stops ovulation, and so another pregnancy cannot occur.
As you can imagine, these super high estrogen levels are neither natural nor safe. The estrogen in hormonal birth control is much stronger than natural estrogen, which can result in fibroids and other hormonal disorders like PCOS and endometriosis. In fact, researchers have now gathered evidence regarding significant problems associated with the effects of synthetic hormones and now some suggest women should not take them at all.
And yes, birth control pills contain synthetic hormones, which don’t have the same effect as our body’s natural systems and also cause other imbalances, like an increase in thyroid and sex hormone binding globulin, which then decreases the available testosterone and thyroid hormone in circulation, which can then cause a whole host of other issues.
Take a look:
7 Reasons to Go Off The Pill: Birth Control Pill Side Effects
- The Pill Increases Your Risk of Cancer: Perhaps one of the only good things about taking birth control pills: it can reduce your risks of endometrial cancer and ovarian cancer. But did you know that scientists have questions about the Pill’s link to breast cancer, cervical cancer, and liver cancer? In fact, the pill is actually classified as a carcinogen, putting it in the same class as toxins like tobacco and asbestos, according to the World Health Organization. Not exactly something I want to put into my body every day!
- The Pill Screws Up Your Gut. We all know how badly antibiotics can affect our digestive tracts. But did you know birth control pills are just as bad as antibiotics for your gut? It’s true: the pill is throwing your gut out of whack, and in the process impairing your overall wellbeing. Take a look: first of all, you have hormone receptors everywhere in your digestive tract and the added hormones in your body from the pill can affect those receptors, often leading to candida. In fact, yeast overgrowth has been closely linked to estrogen dominance in a woman’s body, which as we’ve learned, the Pill makes all women. So if you’re using hormonal birth control, you may have more yeast infections, which can lead to other problems like migraines, infertility, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, psoriasis, PMS, depression and digestive disorders. What’s more? Oral contraceptives impact gut flora, adversely affecting estrogen metabolism, which can increase your risk for inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease, and cause weight-loss resistance. A recent Harvard study linked use of oral contraceptives to a 300% increase risk for Crohn’s disease. AND if you have IBD, use of high-dose synthetic estrogen for birth control will likely make your condition worse by increasing your risk of forming tiny clots in your gut’s network of blood vessels. This is really serious! These estrogen-digesting bacteria, known as “estrobolome,” have already been attributed to conditions like PMS, PCOS, heavy bleeding, and even infertility, not to mention gas, bloating, and constipation, acne, and eczema. Plus, your gut health also alters hormone regulation and detoxification, meaning that long-term birth control use can lead to a build-up of those excess hormones. Bad all around!
- The Pill Lowers Testosterone: Maybe your doc put you on birth control to help you treat your acne. But the same reason this works is because birth control suppresses the male hormones, called androgens, like testosterone. Why is this a bad thing? Other than it being unnatural, it can cause a decrease in libido, energy, and muscle tone, meaning if you’re on the pill, you’ll likely be less interested in sex (and enjoy it less when you actually do have it due to less lubrication, pelvic pain and trouble orgasming). Not only that but this lowered testosterone level can actually prevent you from gaining muscle effectively and can make you retain water weight through bloating. Pass.
- The Pill Causes Mood Disorders: Although your PMS could potentially be relieved with birth control pills, most women actually experience an increase in mood swings, depression and/or anxiety when on the Pill. There’s evidence that with estrogen and progesterone levels in the body out of their natural equilibrium, the brain’s response system is altered, leading many to experience psychological side effects.
- The Pill Increases Your Risk of Blood Clotting, Heart Attack, and Stroke. It’s likely not news to you that blood clot risks have long been associated with the birth control pills, especially if you are a smoker, overweight, or over 35. But did you know that Estrogen-Progestin birth control pills have shown a higher correlation with increased blood pressure, heart attack and stroke, too? That’s some pretty serious stuff!
- The Pill Contributes to Nutrient Deficiencies. You know what else can cause digestion problem? Nutrient deficiencies. And you know what else can cause nutrient deficiencies? The Pill. Yep, in order for the body to metabolize the pill, the liver requires extra amounts vitamins (including vitamin Vitamins B2, B6, B12, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Selenium, and Zinc), so long-term use depletes these vitamins. Not only can this disrupt your gut function, but these deficiencies are also primary contributors to disease, and are highly linked with healthy brain function (our neuroendocrine system). I definitely dealt with this, as when I first came off the pill I was extremely deficient in Vitamin B, D, and Magnesium. These deficiencies explained a lot of my hormonal imbalances, digestion problems, and thyroid dysfunction. What’s even worse? If you become deficient in certain nutrients from hormonal birth control pill use, your period may be irregular or even nonexistent even after you come off the pill. Which brings us to…
- The Pill Can Delay Fertility: Without a period, you don’t ovulate. And without ovulation, you can’t get pregnant. So it stands to reason that if you can’t get your period back after going off the Pill, you’ll have issues with fertility. And even if you can get it back, but it’s irregular, it’s going to make conceiving that much more difficult. Why is this? Well, our monthly cycles are our bodies way of telling us that our hormones are balanced, in-sync and doing what they’re supposed to. Since your period when you’re on the pill is synthetic, you’re missing the signs that everything is (or in many cases, isn’t) working correctly. So it can take some time for your body to regulate, which can be really difficult if you’re ready to get pregnant right away. With less time available to heal your body than if you had discovered these issues earlier (when you weren’t masking what your hormones were doing with the Pill), there can be a significant delay before fertility returns. I know for me, it took over a year for my cycle to re-regulate and ovulation to resume. Fortunately, I wasn’t trying to conceive, but it was stressful enough working to heal my body without the added pressure of making of baby. Doctors will often tell you that your cycle should resume in 1-2 months–and while some women do find that to be true, anecdotally, it seems most do not. Of course, a lot of this will depend on how long you’ve been on the Pill, what kind you were taking (combination, progestin-only, or extended-cycle), your dosage, etc. And whether or not you had signs of hormonal imbalance before you went on the Pill. So if you went on it to treat acne or irregular periods, get ready for those issues to come back in full force!
A word of caution: For some women, the adjustment period after going off the Pill can be a complicated ride of emotions and symptoms. I recommend following an anti-inflammatory diet and practicing self-care during this time–I promise, it will work wonders as your body is re-regulating.
Ready to Get Off Birth Control Pills?
Hopefully, all the reasons above resonated with you and convinced you to get off hormonal birth control.
I personally will never go back on the Pill. The risks are just too great. But what works for me, may not work for you. And the point of this post isn’t to tell you what to do.
It’s to give you all the information, the facts, the science, so that YOU can make an informed decision about what is best for YOU.
As you’re weighing your options, be sure to get the right people on your team to help (which might mean switching OB-GYN’s to someone less conventional), and read some credible literature on the subject. I recommend Woman Code and The Hormone Cure.
Natural Birth Control Alternatives
If you’re ready to ditch the Pill, but aren’t ready to start a family, here are some natural birth control alternatives to consider:
- condoms (both male and female)
- Cervical Cap
- Natural Family Planning, or Fertility Awareness (this can include calendar, temperature, Cervix position and mucus methods)
- Daysy, a hormone-free birth control fertility tracker
If none of those options will work for you, consider a non-hormonal IUD, which is generally a better bet than the Pill when it comes to gut health, partly because it’s not ingested directly.
Sources: Daysy; MindBodyGreen; MBG again; Dr. Axe; Natural Womanhood; Well and Good; Dr. Kelly Brogan
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.
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Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.
posted by Kate Kordsmeier on April 22, 2018
I have yet to meet a single woman who has taken birth control without experiencing any side effects at all. When I meet women who say they don’t experience any ill effects, I usually ask some specific questions. Things like:
- How is your digestive health?
- Do you experience restful nights of sleep on a consistent basis?
- How is your sex drive?
- Do you have regular periods? Or do you even have a period?
- Do you have acne?
I can guarantee these ladies have health issues and likely have no idea they are being caused by their birth control “frienemy”. Now I know that there are women who would swear by their birth control and that’s totally cool (everyone has to make their own decision), but the reality is that not all women are created equal. While the pill might be a good experience for some, it can be equally awful for others because we all have different kinds of hormone receptors. Women with less sensitive hormone receptors tend to have a lot more birth control side effects. I wrote about the “hormone receptor problem” here.
What I do know for sure is that birth control does not allow our beautiful bodies to function optimally. In fact, one study found that 32 percent of 1,657 women who started taking oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) discontinued them within six months; 46 percent of the discontinuations were due to side effects. Yes, almost half!
Below I’ll answer some of the most common questions regarding birth control side effects:
Is your birth control giving you headaches?
Some women experience migraines when they first begin taking birth control pills. Basically a drop in estrogen levels can trigger migraines, and if you’re on a low dose pill, your estrogen will likely be lower than what your body is accustomed to making naturally. What is frightening to me is that if you are experiencing migraines while on the pill the majority of doctors will start adjusting your hormone dosages to figure out a way to balance out your hormones chemically, which can only cause additional health issues down the road. If the source of the migraines is the synthetic hormones in birth control, then the only solution is to eliminate the culprit and figure out a healthier alternative to prevent pregnancy.
Could your spotting be due to the pill?
As if bleeding during “that week” isn’t bad enough for many women, some forms of birth control actually cause spotting or breakthrough bleeding throughout the month. This is usually caused by an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone. Progestin-only methods like the Mirena IUD, Depo-Provera shot, and Nexplanon implant are the most common offenders. Additionally, progestin-only pills need to be taken at the exact same time every day and even a little deviation can cause irregular bleeding.
You can read my full blog post on spotting and irregular bleeding here.
Can the pill cause sore breasts?
Since most birth control methods are created to make your body feel “as if” it were pregnant it shouldn’t be a big surprise that your body will feel pregnancy-like symptoms. Anything from mild breast tenderness to don’t-touch-me sore boobs may occur as a side effect of birth control.
Can birth control cause constipation, diarrhea, gas and bloating?
Do you know that the birth control pill actually messes with your gut bacteria? Yup, many women become estrogen dominant while taking hormonal birth control which can lead to an overgrowth of yeast. This overgrowth can cause constipation, diarrhea, gas/bloating – all of which are commonly diagnosed as IBS. I was plagued with horrible digestive problems for the four years I was on the pill and it took me ages to reverse the damage. And I see women on a daily basis whose gut problems all began while on the pill.
Could your birth control be the cause of your yeast infection?
I was also plagued by chronic yeast infections when I was on the pill because of the imbalance in my gut bacteria. Unfortunately for women, that bacteria can easily travel from the anus to the vagina, especially if you’re wiping in the wrong direction. No fun! Quitting the BC usually puts an end to these bacterial infections and just FYI, these kinds of infections can mess with your ability to get pregnant.
Does taking hormonal birth control lead to nutrient deficiencies?
What is not usually discussed is the fact that in order for the liver to metabolize birth control pills, it requires extra amounts of B-complex vitamins (especially B2, B6 and B12), vitamin C, magnesium and zinc. If you’re taking birth control for years on end, as are most women, you’re creating serious deficiencies of these crucial nutrients. Most women don’t realize this until after they have come off they pill and they’re contending with bouts of cystic acne, mood disorders, weight gain, sporadic periods and infertility.
Can the pill cause weight gain?
Ever had a PMS-fueled late night munchies session? Yeah, I know, who hasn’t right? While studies show that hormonal birth control does not cause weight gain, I’ve seen enough women in my practice who say otherwise! I don’t think most women take the pill and suddenly put on 15lbs, but it definitely seems to have a more indirect effect on appetite and weight gain.
Women who use a combination of estrogen and progesterone show lower levels of ghrelin (“I’m hungry” hormone) and higher levels of leptin (“I’m full” hormone) than do women who use estrogen-only birth control. Which means that combination pills might mean less weight gain than estrogen-only pills or progestin-only birth control options.
It appears the biggest offender of birth control-induced weight gain is the Depo-Provera shot with some women gaining 11 pounds and going up 2 dress sizes!
Can hormonal birth control reduce your sex drive?
In most cases you went on the pill to not get pregnant. Well, there’s no better way to not get pregnant than to not have sex. It is widely known that birth control pills can lower your libido but it can also have other unpleasant effects. First, birth control pills thicken and dry up your cervical fluid creating the dreaded “dry down there” issue. This eventually leads to painful sex…And we all know if it’s painful we ain’t gonna’ do it.
Testosterone is almost entirely responsible for our sex drive and vaginal lubrication. And guess what? The pill causes the liver to increase production of a protein called Sex-Hormone Binding Globulin which binds to testosterone and makes it inactive. This is a no-no for your libido my friends. The only solution is to get OFF the pill. And post haste for you and your relationship’s sake. You can read more about this issue here and sign up for my Fix Your Birth Control Protocol here.
Can your birth control be causing your mood swings?
Nothing drives me more insane than hearing someone suggest that it must be “her time of the month.” Uggggh! I know from my own personal experience – and from my experience with countless clients – that depression and anxiety can be balanced out naturally with diet and lifestyle changes in conjunction with coming off hormonal birth control. This is because estrogen is intricately linked with serotonin (that feel-good brain transmitter) so when estrogen drops (on low dose BC pills for instance) it takes down serotonin and your mood with it.
By using natural birth control methods you will not only ease the dreaded mood swings but you can communicate with your body in a new and exciting way. And I guarantee you will be able to say that you’ve never been happier or more even-keeled.
Does the pill cause acne?
Aren’t breakouts supposed to be for teenagers? It turns out that even as an adult the hormonal ups and downs over the course of your cycle can cause unwanted zits. Many women go on birth control to reduce acne but the only reason their acne goes away is because the BC has a testosterone-lowering effect. Once they come off, their testosterone and other androgenic hormones begin to rise again and the acne comes back. The best way to help over-production of androgens is through food and supplements. I highly recommend making food and lifestyle changes about 4-8 weeks before going off the pill the ease the transition. Remember, your body can go into a frenzy trying to balance things out so a little patience goes a long way.
Can your period stop coming on the pill?
Taking your birth control pills correctly, every day, at the exact time, doesn’t guarantee that everything will go perfectly. In fact, some women on birth control will not get their period at all.
While you might rejoice at the thought of experiencing no period, it is no laughing matter. Amenorrhea is caused by too little estrogen and progesterone and if a doctor just prescribes a different birth control, it will just mask the issue instead of fixing it. The only way to address birth control-related amenorrhea is to come off the birth control and begin beefing up your diet and supplement regimen.
If you want to learn more about how the pill and other hormonal birth control methods damage your amazing body, read this post.
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Information in this post and on this web site is provided for informational purposes only. The information is a result of practice experience and research by the author. This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem.
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Why is My Birth Control Making Me Sick? Experts Say These Symptoms Are Totally Normal
When my husband and I started dating in college, I decided to go back on birth control after being off the pill for about a year or so. I knew it would take some time before my body got used to the medication again, but I never could have imagined just how awful it would feel every time that tiny little pill made its way through my digestive system. Unfortunately, I’m not alone in wondering why birth control makes you sick. Apparently, nausea is a common side effect of hormonal birth control — something women on the pill are often just expected to wait out until it subsides, or seek medical help if it doesn’t.
According to Planned Parenthood’s fact sheet on the history of birth control, the very first clinical trials (like, ever) of the pill found that 17 percent of women taking oral contraception reported “unpleasant side effects, including dizziness and nausea, as well as headaches and vomiting.” Fast-forward to the birth control pills of today, and the nonprofit organization says nausea and headaches are still possible side effects that typically last “only the first three months.”
Personally, I find it a little hard to believe that the words “only” and “three months” are used in the same sentence here. I speak from experience when I say that three months of nausea washing over you every single night you take the damn stuff is rough. What’s more, according to Ann Mullen, director of Health Education at Cycle Technologies, it’s because of these types of side effects that women often stop using female contraception altogether, switch methods, or begin using them inconsistently.
So what is it about birth control that can make you feel so sick?
Before we get into why birth control can make you feel so crummy, it’s important that we define what it means to feel “sick” on the pill. Basically, it all comes down to how your individual body responds to the medication.
Alisa Vitti, author of WomanCode and a women’s hormone and functional nutrition expert, tells Elite Daily that short-term side effects of birth control can include nausea, vomiting, constipation, or bloating, in addition to headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Long-term effects can include more serious health issues, she says, like gallbladder disease, gallstones, resistance to insulin, immune system suppression, blood clots, and potential links to certain cancers.
I know that sounds like a lot, and it is, but here’s what you need to keep in mind: Hormonal birth control is a strong medication comprised of synthetic variations of progesterone and estrogen, which all work together to prevent ovulation. You might only think of birth control in terms of the female reproductive system, but the medication really does have a whole-body effect — which is exactly why Holly Grigg-Spall, ambassador for Daysy and author of Sweetening The Pill, says your birth control can make you feel sick.
Think of it this way: The medications that your doctor prescribes you often come with a laundry list of side effects, right? That’s simply because of how the medication does its thing, and how it’s working in your individual body. Grigg-Spall tells Elite Daily there are four main reasons why side effects from hormonal birth control may happen: suppression of ovulation, vitamin deficiency, poor gut health, and flattening hormone levels.
“Combined hormonal contraceptives (with synthetic estrogen and progestin) repress the body’s own hormone production and replace it with a synthetic stream of hormones,” she explains. “What was once an ebb-and-flow dance of hormones across the cycle becomes a flat line of synthetic hormone. As such, you have very low hormone levels overall, and this can bring about many symptoms, from depression to irritable bowel issues to hair loss.”
Feeling sick is a common side effect of birth control, but rest assured, it won’t last forever.
Allow me to set the scene for you: You take your pill every night before bed with a tall glass of water, just after a bit of dessert or a late dinner so there’s food in your stomach to digest along with it. You pop the pill, swallow it whole, and, like clockwork, an hour passes, and you’re in fetal position on your partner’s bed, swearing off any kind of physical activity, let alone sex. That was my hell for about three months before I made an appointment with my gynecologist to switch to a lower dosage of hormones ASAP.
It sounds like a long time, I know, but according to clinical assistant professor and OBGYN, Dr. Ira Jaffe, DO, FACOG, it might take up to three months before your body gets used to the hormonal changes it’s experiencing.
“Many of the negative side effects will diminish over this breaking-in period,” he tells Elite Daily. “If after three months, side effects remain unacceptable, another pill or an alternative method of contraception should be considered.”
Luckily, hormonal birth control isn’t your only option, ladies. For example, according to Dr. Ryan Pasternak, an associate professor of clinical pediatrics at Louisiana State University Health, the most common side effect of progesterone-only methods (like the Depo-Provera shot and the implant) is “irregular bleeding,” so they may be worth considering, instead.
Overall, the best thing you can do when experiencing these side effects is to talk to your doctor about your options, because no one should have to endure unnecessary sickness if they don’t have to.