The low-down on the contraceptive pill

The pros and cons decoded.

With the oral contraceptive pill being prescribed for a range of health-related reasons other than contraception, DR NAT KRINGOUDIS weighs in on the pros and cons of this tiny capsule.

Around the globe, there has never been a more highly prescribed medication than ‘the pill.’ More specifically described as the oral contraceptive pill (OCP) or hormone birth control, the pill once offered women great hope and a way to reclaim their freedom. It meant women didn’t have to be tied down to the ‘dreaded cycle’ or be worried about falling pregnant.
Over time, health experts have collected data, analysed women and watched on, wondering if the pill could be the reason behind so many women’s health issues. Now we’re beginning to wonder: is it all it’s made out to be?

The greatest issue I see with the pill is not so much that it is used as a means of contraception, but that it’s prescribed to ‘treat’ women’s health issues including polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, period pain, acne, PMS (premenstrual syndrome), missing periods, heavy bleeding and headaches – just to name a few.

If you’re experiencing any of these issues, you’ll be pleased to learn that it’s not your body’s way of punishing you, although it might feel that way at times. These symptoms are, in fact, your body’s unique way of communicating to you that something fishy is going on. Moreover, there’s something – typically within your lifestyle – that is more than likely running the show.

In almost all instances, these health issues are treatable with simple dietary and lifestyle changes – and with great success – but they’re not treatable by the pill. The pill has never been able to treat hormonal imbalance; it simply takes our hormones ‘offline’, which often allows our symptoms to be halted.

For many, the pill has been an absolute life saver; offering much needed relief to a smorgasbord of hormone issues. Sometimes we need a little space and time to get our heads around a diagnosis such as PCOS or endometriosis, especially in times of debilitating pain. But when women stop taking the pill, these problems often make their return, sometimes tenfold.

As with all medications, we must also ask ourselves two questions. Firstly, is it treating the root cause or the symptom? And secondly, what am I doing to support my body while I am taking this medication? Not asking ourselves these questions are simple mistakes to make, because most of us don’t consider the side effects. Most of us don’t pick up the consumer medicine leaflet that comes with the pill packet, which tells us of all the possible implications it may have. We simply trust it’s OK because our doctor prescribed it and so many others are doing it.

Like all medications, the pill upsets our gut health; it has its way with our good gut bacteria and, over time, this can cause a host of health issues including poor immunity, imbalanced hormones and has even been linked to increased chances of developing diseases such as Crohn’s – just to name a few of a bucket load of symptoms.

Here are some other ways that the pill affects our health:

• If the gut can’t adequately assimilate nutrients, the body begins to become robbed of essential vitamins and minerals, which is where hormone imbalance can begin.
• Often hormone imbalance is a result of poor gut health in the first place, meaning that if we take the pill for a long time, the issues may worsen.
• The pill alters our senses, meaning we can make different choices than if we weren’t on it – not necessarily for the better.
• The side effects of the pill are wide and varied; they include depression, anxiety, migraines and headaches, low libido, stomach pain, constipation, low immunity and more.

If you’re currently taking the pill and thinking to yourself, ‘Eeek! What now?’ please don’t despair. It’s important that each woman looks at a few things alongside her healthcare professional to map out the best solution. Firstly, consider why you’re taking it. Is it for contraception or is it to treat a problem? Once you’ve answered that questions, ask yourself if there’s a solution available. When it comes to hormone imbalance, there are some wonderful treatment options on offer to address the root cause.

If you decide to continue taking the pill, it’s imperative to support the body as much as possible, especially if you’ve taken the pill to address issues such as acne, amenorrhea or period pain. If we take the pill and change nothing in our diet and lifestyle, then when we stop taking it, the symptoms are more than likely to make a come back, much like a bad pair of high waisted jeans. But if we begin to support the body, the gut and the nutrient stores, we may begin to address the underlying issues, which means we’ll experience less symptoms when we transition off the pill. It’s all about creating a positive change to that internal landscape, which will help us to flourish.

NEXT: Here are five stress management tips to incorporate in your daily life.

Rate This

No votes yet
The information presented on this website is not intended as specific medical advice and is not a substitute for professional medical treatment or diagnosis. Read our Medical Notice.