Hormonal Birth Control
Updated: Oct 21
Our first healthy period came after 10+ years taking hormonal birth control pill and 1 year using the copper IUD. We are two women helping other women with period problems! We are here to inspire you to be your own health advocate by sharing our own personal birth control journeys with you along with some health knowledge. So lets dive in!! Some types of birth control pills come with a black box warning. What the heck is that?! It's a warning label required by the FDA for any drug that comes with potential life threatening side effects. Yikes that's scary!!! So lets dive deeper into the pill so you feel good about whatever decision you make when it comes to birth control.
To start, periods on the pill are considered to be fake periods. They are not real periods because no egg is released from the ovaries that needs to be excreted by the body through shedding of the uterus. Pill periods were added by the drug companies to help women wrap their minds around taking a drug everyday when we aren't actually sick. Because back in the day people only took drugs if they were sick. It helps us to be more complaint and comfortable with the pill if we think it's natural by mimicking a real cycle. I think we can all agree our periods are a very natural part of our life as women. In fact our periods and the ability to ovulate is actually very healthy and essential for long term hormone health!
It wasn't until after I quit hormonal birth control that I realized I had many of the common side effects. I experienced major mood swings, depression, low sex drive, weight gain, vitamin and nutrient deficiencies, and my lady parts were super dry!! I literally didn't know vaginas are supposed to be wet until I came off the pill. Now many years down the road I realize just how important cervical mucus really is. It plays a huge role in fertility and pregnancy. From weeding out weak sperm to protecting our vagina from harmful bacterial infections. It even alerts us when it's ovulation week and so much more! Let's just say that cervical mucus is pure gold and certainly nothing to be ashamed of ladies!
Aside from the side effects of hormonal birth control, it depletes nutrients from our body. Actually all pharmaceuticals have been known to cause some kind of nutrient deficiencies. So if you take drugs of any kind it's super important to get your vitamin and minerals checked regularly. The pill is known to deplete many B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and more. I can’t urge you enough to take a high quality Prenatal Vitamin or Multivitamin if you are on hormonal birth control! Also extra Zinc, Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), B Complex, Calcium with Magnesium. Simply to replenish the nutrients depleted by the pill. Many of these are also depleted by stress so if you have a high stress job and are taking hormonal birth control you may be in even higher need of these supplements! The pill also comes with a warning for blood clots which can lead to death. So we recommend taking a good quality Omega 3 which has natural blood thinning properties and also lowers inflammation in the body.
The pill also contributes to leaky gut and bacterial imbalance in the gut. So it’s wise to eat lots of gut loving foods like bone broth and cooked veggies. Also consider adding a high quality collagen powder and aloe juice to your smoothies. Smoothies are wonderful because they are easy to digest and will take some stress off your digestive tract. Smoothies also help to replenish some of the nutrient deficiencies through real food. We also recommend adding this multi vitamin/ electrolyte/ protein/ detoxing blend to your smoothie as well. It will help keep you hydrated, create mineral balance, and naturally help your liver flush out extra hormones and toxins.
Natural liver detoxification is vital while currently taking or quitting the pill. Our liver is responsible for processing all of the synthetic hormones from our body. The liver is also working over time to filter our bodies from the many 80,000+ man made environmental toxins we are exposed to. We highly encourage our private wellness clients on the pill or coming off it to complete a functional medicine liver detox every 3-4 months to unclog the liver, purge toxins, and flush out excess hormones.
Most importantly, the pill is full of synthetic hormones and completely shuts off communication between our brain and ovaries. Basically, it completely shuts down a perfectly natural healthy system in the body. So it's common to have fertility issues following hormonal birth control and that's partly because it takes the body time to reestablish communication pathways between the brain and ovaries to release an egg for baby making. Unfortunately many main stream OBGYN doctors do not accept that connection between infertility and hormonal birth control use. So if you have plans of starting a family some day, do yourself a favor and come off the pill at least 6-12 months before trying to conceive. See this blog post to learn more! Because of the synthetic hormones of the pill, it also contributes to hormonal imbalances due to flooding the body with unnatural hormones vs our bodies making their own hormones. If your body has a surplus of hormones, it no longer has a reason to make it's own. So it can take time for the body to naturally start making hormones again. We typically notice that this requires functional medicine lab testing (unfortunately western medicine labs tend to miss this and come back normal), supplementation, dietary, and lifestyle changes to help rebalance the hormone levels. Both of us at Balanced Friends have worked through hormonal imbalances coming off birth control so we are here to help guide you and give you hope that the body will find balance with a little boost.
After both Alyssa & I came off the pill, we wanted a hormone free birth control option. So we decided to give the copper IUD a try. At this time we were unaware of the risks of copper toxicity and the possibility of throwing off our copper to zinc ratio which can lead to chronic health issues (a conversation for another day). We both had the copper IUD for about a year and ended up ditching it due to horrible side effects. My periods were super heavy, crampy, painful, and very long (lasted 7-8 days with additional spotting). I actually thought this was my bodies normal flow since I wasn't taking any synthetic hormones anymore. It wasn't until I educated myself about copper IUD that I learned the IUD is not recommended for women with a heavy flow. Due to the extra heavy periods, I ended up with low iron on my blood work! I didn't know any of this when I decided on getting the IUD and there was no real information given to me by my gynecologist. This is why we can't encourage you enough to familiarize yourself with risks, benefits, side effects of any treatment/drug you are considering. This empowers you to ask the doctor questions and to work together to find the right fit for you. It also allows you to be on the look out for side effects so you know it's the drug/device and not YOU that's malfunctioning. It's something I wish I would have done to save myself from years of period problems.
Alyssa on the other hand experienced a constant dull achy cramp close to her stomach. Once she had the copper IUD removed, her pain was gone for good. Her gynecologist refused to believe that there was a connection between the pain and the copper IUD. I think it goes without saying that we both found a new provider and choose to work with a midwife in the future for our lady care since they take a more holistic approach to women's health. We refuse to let any health care professional make us feel crazy (or what we are feeling is all in our head). You are your best health detective/advocate because only you live inside your body and truly know what you are feeling.
After the pill for 10+ years and the copper IUD journey, the Balanced Friends said ENOUGH! We dove deep into period and fertility research and we both decided to ditch birth control all together and let our bodies function 100% on their own. The way nature intended! Of course it helped to learn that it's impossible to get pregnant every day of the month. In fact there is only a chance to get pregnant about 5 days out of the whole month and that's if you're lucky! We couldn't believe that at age 25 we were learning for the first time how our cycles worked. The only comforting part was that we were in it together and supporting each other along the way. Thank goodness for friends right?! The upsetting part was that so many women are just like us. We were failed by our western medical system. Encouraged to take the pill and copper IUD with no questions asked and was given no information about common side effects or how to properly support our bodies while taking the drug. We were completely unaware of what it was actually doing to our bodies. It also shed some light on how little we are taught about our bodies natural cycle when we are younger. It's our mission to help empower women to make an informed decision about birth control. We hope by sharing our own personal journeys with you, and giving some recommendations on what to do while taking the pill and coming off the pill, that you feel motivated to be your own health advocate and to make the best choice for YOU!
We currently both choose to use an app called My Flo and/or the Daysy Fertility Tracker as our hormone free birth control. It has been the best fit for both of us. I got pregnant naturally and on my own time for many reasons but the main reason was quitting the hormones, learning about my cycle, and supporting my body naturally to rebalance my hormones. Before pregnancy, both Alyssa and I had/have very healthy easy pain free short periods. Period pain, irregularity, mood swings, weight gain, etc. is common but not normal. If you need help supporting your body while on the pill, rebalancing your hormones, or want to dive deeper into prepping your body for fertility we want to work with you! We are women naturally helping women to get through what we have been through!
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