It is thought that more than 300 million women have used the contraceptive pill and that around 100 million women are currently taking it, this may be to control a variety of hormonal issues, not just for birth control.
But how is this hormonal drug affecting our bodies and minds?
The contraceptive pill contains synthetic hormones which mimic naturally occurring hormones in the body. This alters the hormonal balance in the body and induces a biochemical state which temporarily makes you infertile. The synthetic hormones role is to stop ovulation and make the uterus unreceptive to the implantation of an embryo.
Our bodies naturally produce hormones as part of the function of the endocrine system, which is made up of various glands in the body. These glands work together to regulate mood, growth, tissue function, metabolism and development. They are also responsible for sexual function and the reproductive process. As you can imagine, the health of our endocrine system is paramount in our bodies ability to function optimally!
Many women note side effects from taking the contraceptive pill:
· Weight gain or loss
· Reduced or increased acne
· Mood swings
· Irregular bleeding
· Breast tenderness
· Lower libido
· Higher blood pressure
· Gallbladder disease
· Decreased bone density
· Yeast overgrowth
· Blood clots
These side effects may be enough to deter some women from taking the pill, but for others the side effects may not be extreme enough to warrant stopping the prescribed medication, but they should still be seen as a side effect or a sign that your body is trying to adjust to the imbalance from the synthetic hormone. In some cases, the side effect can be extreme and a second drug is prescribed to counteract the original side effects. Quite often this is as a result of the pill making women feel depressed, leading to a prescription for anti-depressants being prescribed.
These physical and emotional symptoms are noticeable to most women who are in tune to their bodies, but what is also worth considering is the nutritional deficiencies caused by taking the pill. It is not so well known that the pill affects the mineral, vitamin and fatty acid levels in the body. This balance of minerals etc is vital for good health and normal body functions in our bodies. Alas, many women either currently on the pill or who have previously taken the pill for a number of years are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals.
Some signs of deficiency may be obvious, such as vitamin B1, which when reduced can lead to fatigue, weakness, insomnia, oversensitivity to noise, muscle aches, loss of appetite, sugar cravings and circulation issues. If vitamin B6 is deficient symptoms will include nausea, feeling easily stressed, anxiety, depression, skin eruptions and lethargy.
Minerals such as magnesium are also affected, which can cause symptoms of premenstrual cramps, anxiety, insomnia and craving for sugar and chocolate. The pill will also affect the bodies stores of potassium, zinc and selenium, all of which result in additional physical and emotional symptoms.
The contraceptive pill is prescribed for a number of hormonal problems
Doctors prescribe the contraceptive pill for various hormonal problems – polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, acne, period problems, anaemia. All these symptoms are signs that the hormonal system is already out of balance, and many women find that when they stop taking the contraceptive pill, the symptoms then return as the pill has not dealt with the underlying imbalance. In addition to this, the liver and kidneys are put under additional stress to process and eliminate the toxins of drugs in the body. Another organ of elimination is the skin, so many women will experience skin breakouts and acne after they stop taking the contraceptive pill. This is particularly the case if the liver is under strain as when this organ is struggling to process toxins through the natural channels (bowels and kidneys) toxins are released through the skin.
Symptoms are messages and signs that your body isn’t happy
Acne may indicate that your colon, lymph and liver need support and cleansing. It may be as a result of intolerances to food, that your life is stressful or that your thyroid and adrenals are fatigued. Acne is also a sign of the presence of yeast infections such as candida. Long term use of the pill often leads to candida overgrowth, which amongst other things, affects the quality of the cervical mucus.
How can I help support my body?
It is essential to replace the nutrients the pill depletes your body of, either in your diet or by including a supplement in your daily routine.
· Vitamin B6: Fish, poultry, whole grains, potatoes
· Folic acid: Dark green leafy veg, dried beans
· Riboflavin: meat, poultry, fish, green veg, grains and cereals
· Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, juices, broccoli, peppers, spinach, cabbage
· Vitamin A: Green veg, yellow veg and yellow fruits
· Iron: Red meat, poultry, fish, cereal products, dried beans, green veg, prunes
· Zinc: Seafood, nuts, whole grains
What supplements should I consider taking?
Eating a balanced diet would be the first choice for accessing the essential vitamins and minerals, but sometimes we need additional support from good quality supplements, my preferred range is from Cytoplan, a UK based company which uses mainly organic and vegan products.
The following products are helpful for supporting hormonal health:
· A multi vitamin: A good all-rounder vitamin will contain all the major vitamins and minerals we require on a daily basis.
· Vitamin B Complex: B vitamins are important for the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates and fats in the body. They are also important for energy production, digestion and hormone imbalances.
· Omega 3 oils: founds in oily fish and flaxseeds or as a supplement, these oils are helpful for dry skin, fatigue, depression and lack of motivation. They are also helpful for blood sugar imbalances and weight problems.
· Evening Primrose oil: helpful for breast tenderness, dry skin and vaginal dryness.
What can Homeopathy do to help?
The aim of Homeopathy is to address the reason behind why you became ill in the first place, finding the right remedy to create an improvement in your health. This may be with just remedies or with the additional support of herbs, supplements or small changes to diet. Each person is seen as an individual, so the remedies and support offered varies for each person.
Let me know if you’d like to learn more about how homeopathy could help you.