I know I wrote up a blogpost on my opinions on birth control two years ago, but recently, I have learned so much more shocking information regarding birth control that I feel compelled to share on my platform. The reason why I run this blog is not just to talk about what to eat, or what workouts to do, but the main purpose is to give you guys ways to love yourself and ultimately, show your body the utmost respect. Our bodies do so much for us on a day to day basis that we don’t even realize or think twice about. But we really owe our bodies, well, everything. And so I want to talk about birth control because so many women are on birth control, and experience all these horrible symptoms but don’t put the two and two together.
Oh, and one more thing that is VERY important to say. I am not a doctor in any way shape or form, and you should NOT stop taking your medication after reading this post. It is an informed decision that should take time and discussion with your doctor, ESPECIALLY if you are using the pill to not get pregnant-because I’m going to assume most of you don’t want babies at this stage of your life.
So without further ado, let’s get into it.
What exactly did birth control pills do to me?
As I mentioned in my previous post on birth control, I first started taking the pill in September of 2015 when I had a serious boyfriend. Literally, the only reason I was prescribed the pill was because I didn’t want to get pregnant. Babies at 17? No thanks. But I never had acne, cramps, bloating, nothing. In fact, my periods were pretty perfect and regular before getting on the pill. The conversation with my doctor took about five minutes, and I walked out with a three month prescription of Lutera. Within just a few DAYS of taking this pill, I started to get acne. I got big pimples on my cheeks which freaked me out, because nothing about my lifestyle choices or diet had changed. I knew immediately it was the medication. I immediately went back to my doctor and got switched to Reclipsen, which contains more estrogen than Lutera does. My doctor told me it would help my skin, but she didn’t tell me what taking pills with estrogen would do to my health long term.
Sure enough, my skin got better with this pill. And no babies. So I was relatively content. But here’s the thing…I really wasn’t.
It’s crazy looking back on this time period of my life because when I think about it, I picture myself as a happy, young women with her whole life ahead of her. But when I talk to my mom and my friends now about that time, they tell me I was not who I am now. My mom said I was moody and seemed constantly irritated or on edge. My current best friend told me that the reason we weren’t as close is because she didn’t see me as how she sees me now… a loyal, warm and compassionate person. This is all shocking to me, but when I really consider this, it makes a whole lot of sense. Birth control pills can literally CHANGE you. They can affect your mood greatly. They can even lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. I have OCD tendencies that I developed from a young age, but while taking this pill, my OCD skyrocketed out of control, to the point where I had to go see a therapist. It was all really scary and hard to cope with. That summer, on top of my OCD worsening, I had the stress of breaking up with my boyfriend, and leaving my family and friends behind to go to college. Needless to say, I was an emotional mess.
My first semester of college comes around, and I noticed I was breaking out in what looked like hives around my nose and mouth. I later found out this condition is called perioral dermatitis, which is basically acne, rosacea, and eczema all formed into one monster. On your face. This trifecta pretty much destroys any confidence and motivation you have to go out or be social. This sent me over the edge.
After two rounds of antibiotics to get rid of this damn thing, I finally decided to cut ties with birth control. In March of 2016, I threw away my last nasty pack. And dang, did that feel good.
A lot of people say it’s best to taper off birth control slowly, but I said screw it and just stopped. What I did was take Estroblock for three months to get rid of the excess estrogen in my body and help with my skin, because usually when you get off the pill your skin goes crazy (side note: you can still take Estroblock to eliminate excess estrogen, even if you are taking BC pills!) I dealt with dermatitis for the next YEAR of my life because of those little pills. But I am happy to say that now, my skin has never been in better condition.
So besides the skin problems, mood issues, mental health deterioration…what ELSE did birth control do to make my life horrible?
Would you believe me if I told you there was more? Oh yes. This just goes to show how powerful and detrimental these tiny pills can be. The birth control pill shot up my immune system. The thing is, I now know WHY birth control pills are detrimental to the immune system. Birth control pills deplete B vitamins, folic acid and iron from your body. In addition, they mess up your gut health. We know that good gut health is linked directly to having a strong immune system. So, it makes sense that I was constantly getting sick. I once had a sinus infection that literally didn’t go away for a month. It seemed that every virus that was going around, I would contract. I also had a UTI, paronychia, staph, and a bunch of other crap that all required antibiotics. My poor gut would be begging for help if it could talk. And to this day, I still struggle with gut issues.
So that was a lot of depressing talk about birth control, but what about now since being off the pill?
My gut health is in much better condition. I’ve been very good about taking tons of probiotics, drinking bone broth, drinking apple cider vinegar, and eating probiotic rich foods such as kimchi and kefir.
I rarely get sick. I mean, I get the common cold every now and again, but that happens maybe 2 or three times a year (knock on wood).
Im generally a much more positive person. My OCD is a million times better than what it was before. I can talk about this in a separate post as I think it deserves one, but it definitely does not affect me as much as it used to. (UPDATE: I wrote a post on this topic, which can be found here)
In summary, here is why birth control is not a healthy choice (in my eyes)
- Leaches essential vitamins and minerals from your body (namely folic acid, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc)…side note: Vitamin C and zinc are the two main vitamins that keep the immune system strong…no wonder I was ill all the time.
- Messes up your gut health, causing all sorts of problems down the road.
- Yeast infections: Birth control make your lady parts unhappy. The only time I have ever gotten yeast infections is when I was taking the pill.
- Increased risk of blood clots.
- Mood disorders (or can exacerbate existing mental health issues, like in my case)
- Reduced sex drive (isn’t that ironic!)
- Breast cancer (oh my…this just gets worse and worse doesn’t it?)
- Can change who you find attractive…This one I find mind boggling. Birth control has the power to change who you are attracted to. This means if you are on the pill you could be attracted to someone who you WOULDN’T find attractive off the pill. Here’s more info.
If you are reading this and you’re like okay, yes, I want to get off birth control but I don’t want to get pregnant…I totally understand. And this must be discussed, because the last thing we want is young girls getting pregnant and not being able to take care of little babies, or needing an abortion which can cause emotional turmoil for the rest of your life. We must be responsible about sex. So here is my biggest piece of advice: CONDOMS. I know I know, groan, eye roll but they are really not so bad. And you really should be using them, especially if you’re having sex with someone new. We really don’t need an STD on top of everything, do we? These ones are my favorite.
However, I recognize that some people are in committed relationships and don’t want to use condoms all the time. Another good option are theseEncare spermicidecapsules that are pretty easy to use in my experience.
Secondly, there are IUDs. IUD’s are going to be better than taking pills because hormonal IUD’s only release hormones into that concentrated area of your uterus, rather than having them infiltrate throughout your whole body and go into your blood stream. There is also the Copper IUD which is entirely no hormones, although I am hesitant to recommend this option, because there have been many stories about women having ectopic pregnancies, heavier periods, cramping and it also raises the issue of copper toxicity. But again, this is for you guys to digest the information; I’m not trying to say you need to get an IUD over something else.
There is also something called Natural Family Planning. What you do is measure your basal body temperature each and every morning, your cervical mucus and you write everything down and figure out what days you are actually fertile. An interesting fact not many women know is that you are only fertile five out of the twenty one days of your cycle. So, if you can pinpoint those days and not have sex or use condoms, pregnancy cannot happen. And this method is about as effective as birth control when done correctly.
I use the Daysyto track my temperature which is much easier, because it gives you a green light when its okay to have sex and a red light when its not. I love this device.
And of course lastly, you could just not have sex. But that’s no fun.
I’m sorry this post was so long, but I have quite a complicated history with birth control and therefore have a lot of opinions on it. If you want to know more, be sure to check out the links I am providing here, and also feel free to drop me an email or reach out to me on Instagram. My handle is holisticallykatie.