I encourage most of my patients to get off of birth control.
Yet I consider myself a modern-day feminist, and I believe that women have the right to choose what happens to their bodies.
The problem is, there is a serious lack of information about the consequences that often come with the choices we’re encouraged to make, especially when it comes to birth control.
To help you understand how I arrived at this conclusion, let me begin by sharing my own experience with birth control.
I am a woman, and I have been on hormonal birth control twice.
I wasn’t even sexually active at the time.
The first time I tried birth control I was a freshman in college and was under the impression that birth control was just the cool, empowered thing to do.
Plus, according to the advertisements the pill I was taking was supposed to help clear up my skin, and what teenage girl doesn’t want clear skin?
But instead of enjoying a beautiful pimple-free complexion I ended up with severe anxiety.
The doctor put me on a pill with a different hormonal ratio, and that glorious concoction sent me straight over the edge into Panic-Attack Land.
When I got off the pill the anxiety quickly went away.
But because of the positive messages I kept hearing about birth control all around me, I still thought it was something I should have in my life.
So I went back to the doctor and they encouraged me to try the ring, and that sounded great to me, because I wouldn’t have to remember to take a pill every day.
After just one month of those synthetic hormones leaching into my body from this foreign object I had stuck inside my lady parts, well, to be frank, I went bat-sh** crazy.
Everyday situations that I would normally navigate with ease became insurmountable obstacles.
I burst into sobbing, violent tears with the slightest bit of stress.
I stuck it out for a few more months before I finally realized that maybe I just wasn’t cut out for hormonal birth control.
So that’s me, but why do I encourage other women, who might not be as sensitive, to reconsider their options?
Because I believe that messing with a woman’s natural hormonal cycles, which are the foundation of a woman’s physiology, can have long-term unintended consequences.
And there’s a good chance my hunch is right.
There haven’t been adequate studies on the effects or safety of birth control in terms of long-term health or fertility outcomes.
And as with most pharmaceutical drugs, the powers-that-be have giving no consideration to very likely potential that birth control interacts with different women’s physiology in different ways.
Some women’s bodies simply aren’t cut out for birth control, having more sensitive hormone binding globulin receptors, for example, but research assumes that women’s bodies are all the same.
To make matters worse, women are not empowered to give full informed-consent when it comes to birth control.
Because birth-control advocacy is so pervasive in modern society, women are rarely told that birth control often comes with side effects like vaginal dryness, lowered libido, impeded muscle-building capacity, and the increased potential for blood clots, to name a few.
Nor are women told that their hormonal cycles may have a hard time recovering after coming off of birth control, and that there is a very real chance that their fertility may be impaired for months or even years after they’ve stopped using internal forms of birth control.
And finally, most women don’t realize that even when taken as directed, birth control is never 100% effective.
Aside from putting women at risk for STI’s and inflammation, many women still become pregnant when taking pharmaceutical birth control.
Unfortunately, instead of telling women all of these facts, many health care professionals push women to get on some form of birth control.
I myself experienced this when I went in for an annual exam at Planned Parenthood a few years ago.
The doctor spent a good 5 minutes trying to convince me to try another pill or and IUD, despite my insistence that I had tried enough and didn’t care to put any more unnatural substances in my body unless absolutely necessary.
I understand why she did it.
As a public health organization, Planned Parenthood wants to prevent as many unplanned pregnancies as they can.
But I left that appointment feeling like I had done something wrong, even though my intuition and experience told me that I was right.
If I hadn’t had the medical training that I have I might not have felt empowered to stand my ground, and that’s a problem.
Now I want to make something clear.
I know that many women are not in a safe enough environment to have the luxury of a choice.
If you find yourself in a situation in which birth control is the only control you have over your body, then by all means, please protect yourself and do what you have to do.
But if sexual threats are not part of your life, I urge you to take a few more things into consideration.
Women’s lives are based on cycles.
There is the big overarching cycle of life, the smaller annual cycles of the seasons within a year, the even smaller cycles of the day, and then of course there are the monthly cycles, which is what we’re most concerned with here.
These cycles are a natural, in-built part of every woman’s physiology, and thus her overall natural health is dependent on the presence of cyclical patterns.
Women are supposed to be more active and social during their ovulation phase.
Ovulation reflects summer, and everyone is supposed to be more active and social during the warmer months.
Similarly, women are supposed to retreat, reflect, and rest during their menstrual phase, just as nature encourages us all to during the colder months.
Of course, the lifestyle modifications needed to truly live in line with one’s cycles do not fit into many women’s interpretation of a modern lifestyle, but it can be done, and women who do tend feel a whole lot better overall.
Hormonal birth control methods usurp a woman’s natural cycles by imposing artificial hormone flows on a woman’s body.
The hormones work by forcing her body to react as though she were pregnant all the time by stifling ovulation.
This means that when you’re on the pill you don’t have a natural inclination to thrive and connect with others as you would during ovulation, and you’re never given the internal cue to rest and refurbish your inner resources as you would during regular menstruation.
In fact, you never actually have your period because your uterine lining was never given a chance to thicken.
Any bleeding you do experience is just a consequence of going hormone-free once a month (most pills on the market are designed to contain a week’s worth of sugar-pills).
While this may sound good in theory, from a Chinese medicine standpoint it can have a serious long-term impact on your health, vitality, and longevity.
You know how important sleep is, right?
A good night’s sleep helps to reduce overall stress on your body and gives you the energy you need to thrive during the day.
Well, you also need a designated time every month when you retreat, relax, and let go of what is no longer needed, so you have the space and capacity to embrace and fully participate in the more active parts of your life throughout the rest of the month.
You may be thinking that a non-hormonal option like the copper-IUD is a better way to go, but it has problems too.
Copper has natural growth-inhibiting properties, so it prevents the uterine lining from thickening, rendering the uterus incapable of carrying and nourishing a baby.
The copper also prevents the egg’s ability to travel down the fallopian tubes and prevents sperm from fertilizing an egg.
IUD’s carry the risk of infection, of puncturing the uterus, and may actually increase vaginal bleeding and cramping, which isn’t just uncomfortable but can lead to anemia when it goes unchecked.
And again, although IUD’s are purported to be safe by conventional doctors, there have been no studies regarding long-term effects on health and fertility.
Many women are put on birth control in an attempt to rectify hormonal imbalance, but this notion is misguided.
All forms of birth control that affect a woman’s fertility dis-empower the woman’s body from doing what it is meant to do.
Doctors may recommend the use of hormones to try to “teach” the body how to rectify its hormonal imbalance, but more often than not the woman’s natural physiological responses are just being covered up and silenced, meaning the old patterns reemerge once the artificial hormones are removed.
This is especially true when women are not simultaneously taught the tools and strategies which they need in order to encourage healthy hormonal cycles within their body.
If doctors had the time to teach and guide women to use a hormone-supporting diet, stress-management techniques, and how to incorporate more movement into their lives, most women’s hormones would re-balance themselves on their own.
Unfortunately, most doctors haven’t even been educated in how to do this, so they just push the pills and call it a day, without any regard for potential negative consequences.
So what are you supposed to do about birth control?
Empower yourself by forming an intimate relationship with your monthly cycle and learn to monitor the signs and symptoms of ovulation so you know when you are more or less likely to become pregnant throughout the month.
Use condoms when you’re afraid you might get pregnant.
Have sex responsibly, when sober, and only use methods like pulling-out with a partner you trust.
Enjoy other forms of intimacy beyond intercourse.
No form of intercourse is ever 100% pregnancy-proof for women of child-bearing age unless they’ve had surgical intervention, so I encourage you to consider the most natural options whenever possible.
Now I’d love to hear from you.
What positive and negative experiences have you had with birth control? Leave a comment in the comments section and join the conversation!
Until next time, Love, hugs, and cherry-tree blossoms,
P.S. Do you have PCOS or suspect that you have a hormonal imbalance? Do you want to learn natural ways to re-balance your hormones and increase your fertility?
Then I’ve got a program just for you.