Is the Pill causing your health problems?
The birth control Pill is the most commonly used drug in the world and the most popular form of birth control around. Right now, there are over 100 million women on the Pill, with millions more using other hormonal birth control methods such as the Patch, Implant or Injection. But just how harmless is the Pill really, and do you know what it's doing to your body, day after day? We reveal 6 things you may not know about the Pill and why it could be behind your health problems.
#1. It makes you constantly pregnant
"But, I'm taking the pill to make sure I don't get pregnant," we can hear you saying. In essence, that's what the pill does - it puts your body into a full-time state of pregnancy. Our natural female cycles are composed of constantly changing oestrogen and progesterone levels; it's a delicate cycle. The Pill mimics pregnancy by keeping your hormone levels constantly high. In fact, taking the Pill makes your oestrogen and progesterone levels up to 4 times higher than at your cycle's natural peak. That can't be a good thing, surely?
#2. It could be the cause of your low libido
Did you know that women taking the Pill produce up to 7 times more globulin, a protein which binds with testosterone, taking it out of circulation? Low testosterone levels can affect your libido, which means less intimacy and fun in the bedroom (1)! The Pill can also affect lubrication produced by the vagina for some women, making sex uncomfortable when they do feel in the mood.
#3. It gives you the blues
Most of us have read through the list of possible side-effects on our pill packets - there are many - and have noticed that depression is listed there. Yet it's unlikely that your GP will warn you off taking the Pill even if you have a family history of depression, and once you have started taking the Pill, no prescription is needed to order further supplies online. A study carried out by women's mental health specialist Professor Jayashri Kulkarni looked at the effects of the pill on a group of woman over 18, all with no history of depression. The results revealed that those on the Pill were twice as likely to suffer from depression as the others. Mood swings, persistent low mood, fatigue and even anxiety could all be linked to your Pill.
#4. It robs your body of nutrients
One thing many of us don't consider when taking hormonal birth control is its effect on our digestion. Taking the Pill places strain on your liver as it struggles to metabolise all those synthetic hormones. Popping the Pill everyday can affect your body's ability to absorb vitamins B12, B6, B2, Thiamine, Folic acid and Riboflavin and can seriously deplete levels of potassium, selenium, copper, zinc and magnesium in the body (2). Those little health problems that have been plaguing you, like recurring thrush, skin rashes, headaches, fatigue, insomnia and even weight gain? They could all be caused by taking the Pill.
#5. It could make you infertile
If you've been on the Pill for years, you could find you struggle to conceive when you stop taking it - whilst this may not be an issue for younger women, older women in their 30s or 40s may find their fertility is significantly affected (3). But it's not just human fertility that's at stake here. In the UK, excretions of Ethinyl estradiol (synthetic oestrogen) in rivers and sewage systems can harm fish. Male fish suffer a reduction in sperm production that could lead to the collapse of whole species of fish.
#6. It could lead to serious illness
The Pill alters 150 bodily functions, so it should come as no surprise that it can lead to serious health risks. Your GP should have warned you of these risks, but sadly not all doctors do. Taking the Pill increases your risk of cervical cancer, breast cancer, blood clots, ovarian cancer, stroke and bone density depletion, but most of us naively think that this won't happen to us. Actually, taking the Pill long-term causes hormonal changes, which can significantly increase your risk over time.
Alternatives to the Pill
Luckily, there are plenty of great alternatives to the Pill and other hormonal methods of birth control - here are your choices:
- Condoms - with a success rate of 97%, condoms are reliable and affordable, and family planning clinics will often give them out for free
- Barrier methods - cervical caps and diaphragms are reuseable and reliable; they can also be used with spermicide
- Natural fertility - With a 97% success rate, careful practice of natural fertility helps you to be more aware of your body's cycles and can prevent pregnancy. New devices such as Bellabeat's Leaf necklace make tracking your cycle and ovulation easier.