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Be Well

WHAT THEY DON'T Tell You About Birth Control

What They Don’t Tell You About Birth Control

We are so blessed and privileged to be sharing this piece from a place where we have agency over our bodies. To decide when and how we’d like to conceive is an honor in the history of the female body —and the men governing them. The fact that we can choose to take oral contraceptives or other forms of contraception, or simply say it’s-not-for-me-thank-you-very-much, is a beautiful, empowering thing.

However, it’s come to our attention that many women getting off of birth control these days are doing so because of enlightening information. At the time of that initial prescription, we were promised that birth control would help ease our cramps, clear our skin, make our boobs bigger, and soothe PMS mood swings — all while having a sexy time ruckus sans risk of procreation.

What we were not told, however, is what birth control really does, and can do, to our still youthful, developing bodies and reproductive system. It has seemed to be a sort of don’t-ask-don’t-tell scenario, which we find infuriating. If we don’t know, how do we know to ask? Shouldn’t we be able to trust our healthcare providers to give us all of the necessary information before consuming a prescription drug that alters the very essence of our beings as women?

We absolutely respect if oral contraception is the right call for you and your body. It is for many, and it’s also not for many. The risk/reward analysis is up to your personal judgement, but we do think everyone should know what can, and does, happen when we alter the state of our bodies, especially our hormones.

Depletes Vitamins and Minerals in the Body

Oral contraceptives can deplete many B vitamins, like riboflavin, B6, B12, and folic acid. They can also deplete vitamins C and E, and minerals like magnesium, selenium, and zinc. The side effects of these deficiencies, when unknown and unchecked, can cause very serious long term issues like anemia and hematologic and neurological symptoms.

Impaired Microbiome

Oral contraceptives are hormonal, and act like antibiotics when it comes to our gut. By killing off our beneficial flora, we put ourselves at risk of malabsorption of vital nutrients, weight gain, insulin sensitivity, and afflictions like Irritable Bowel Disease, as well as increased gut inflammation, which can trigger Crohn’s Disease.

Major Side Effects of Suppressed Ovulation

One of the biggest misconceptions about the pill is that when we take the placebo week, we are having our period. Doctors typically refer to this as such, which makes things feel all good and normal — but in actuality, it’s a false bleed. We can’t have a period if we never ovulate, and oral contraceptives prevent ovulation. Studies show that ovulation is a vital part of women’s health. That’s because during this time, we produce progesterone, which is necessary for optimal development and function of several physiological systems in women’s bodies — think bone health, heart health, and breast health.

Permanent Inhibitor to Libido and Self-Lubrication

One of the major pitfalls of oral contraceptives feels totally counterproductive: It can suppress our libido. Due to the plasma levels of our sexual hormones that are affected by oral contraceptives, female sexual dysfunction is prevalent. We are designed to have a boosted libido, especially during time of ovulation — so it makes sense that no ovulation equals no boost in sexy moods. Some studies even suggest that in some cases, even after discontinuing the pill, the libido may never bounce back to its original vigor.

Heightened Inflammation

Oral contraceptives can raise inflammation in the body, and over time, this can be very damaging. Of course, many women are prescribed the pill in order to treat inflammatory symptoms of PMS and PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome), but the pill does not cure these issues — it just nearly masks them by suppressing our hormones. When left unchecked or properly treated at the root, severe PMS or PCOS can harbor chronic, prolonged inflammation, leading to inflammatory diseases later in life. Our tip: Always treat the root, and not the symptom.

We want to echo that contraceptives are a choice, and an excellent step in liberating female sexuality. We merely want to highlight the risks that are not typically made so clear-cut when prescribed, and give all the knowledge and know-how to move forward. As always, please consult the doctor you trust before deciding on a major plan, like oral contraception.