A Birth Control Nation

Disclaimer: we want to emphasize that birth control serving as a means of contraception cannot be replaced with seed balancing. Seed balancing serves as a way to help regulate your hormones, not prevent pregnancy. 

 

Taking birth control has become a right of passage for young women - let’s face it, we are a birth control nation. Traditionally thinking, birth control was used to do exactly what it sounds like - prevent pregnancy. Now, almost any woman nearing reproductive age (or even earlier) has sought out birth control (BC) as a means to regulate her period. Reasons vary, but let’s be real, the main headliners were: because your doctor told you to, your friends were doing it, or you secretly wanted to have sex but blamed it on your period (uh, yea). We’re big believers in every woman knowing exactly what’s happening to her body when she takes birth control, and that the science behind “preventing pregnancy” can actually influence your body’s ability to naturally regulate itself in the future. We hope to inform young women of the risks associated with hormonal contraception so they can make educated decisions. Reality is, if you’re taking hormonal contraception to cope with underlying hormonal balances such as endometriosis, PCOS, PMS, etc, you need to understand that synthetic birth control only masks the symptoms, rather than work to heal them. 

Our goal is not to sway one way or the other, and certainly not to be a substitute for medical opinions. Our goal is to empower you.

99% or 53 million women aged between 15 and 44 have used at least one contraceptive in their lifetime. 88% of those have used a highly effective, reversible method such as birth control pills, an injectable method (Depo shot), the patch or an IUD. With the pill coming in at a hot 83%, it’s pretty obvious why some people refer to this generation of reproductive women as the birth control generation.

 

BC in all shapes and sizes

There are two different types of hormonal contraception:

  1. Progesterone Only - IUD (not the copper one), injection (Depo), implant, progesterone only pills

    1. These forms of hormonal contraception utilize progestin (a synthetic version of progesterone) which essentially works to make you infertile. This hormone thickens your cervical fluid (so sperm can’t go swimming), thins your uterine lining (so fertilized eggs don't implant), suppresses FSH and LH (the hormones that work in tandem to encourage ovulation), and lowers sperm mobility. Long story short, progestin causes your natural progesterone to be suppressed and your cervical mucus to be thickened so no babies come along.

  2. Combination (Progesterone + Oestrogen) - The pill (combined and most prevalent), the patch or the ring

    1. Synthetic forms of progesterone and oestrogen work together to prevent pregnancy by prohibiting ovulation. When you take a combined form of hormonal contraception, you are suppressing your natural hormones and thus your normal “fluctuations'' that occur in a traditional cycle, do not occur. The longer your body is trained to go without regulating hormones on it’s own, the easier it is for it to forget how. And to confuse things more, the period you experience on these hormonal contraceptives isn’t even a real period. While taking active pills, your endometrial lining develops and when taking placebo pills, your lining is shed resulting in what is known as withdrawal bleed (AKA what you think is a period).

 

BC usage types

Young women’s bodies take serious time to adjust when they first start menstruating. From irregular bleeding, heavy flow to painful cramps, it can take a few years after that first period for the body to fall into a predictable menstrual pattern. Modern doctors use birth control to help manage those symptoms by introducing hormones (some artificial) at a regulated and steady pace.

Some contraceptive uses of hormonal birth control include: irregular periods, excessive menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia), frequent and painful menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea), migraines, acne and PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Additionally, hormonal birth control can also be helpful in treating: PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and Endometriosis. 

 

BC’s true colors

So why does BC suck? Well, you’re pumping your body full of the synthetic versions of the real sh*t on a daily basis. Anything synthetic is lesser than the real thing (looking at you pb2). The long term effects of hormonal contraceptives can also lead to changes in your mood, sex drive, weight, psychology and behavior. Women report feeling more alive, clear, and more like themselves when they go off hormonal contraception. 

It takes women in their mid-20’s to early 30’s an average of four months to get pregnant once they have stopped (with no underlying conditions). Given that hormonal contraception influences the way our body naturally produces hormones, our normal cycle can be temporarily delayed once we stop using it. This length of time varies depending on which type of hormonal contraception you use. 

 

Combination BC

The combined form of hormonal contraception is a double whammy - progesterone and oestrogen. It works to release synthetic versions of the two hormones into your bloodstream, causing your natural hormones to be suppressed and no ovulation to occur. F*ing with your body’s ability to naturally produce adequate amounts of reproductive hormones is scary, and something we doubt many young women understand. Not to mention, remember that piece of paper the doc made you sign asking if you understood all the risks? Neither do we, because who actually reads those. In addition to a whole slew of risks (nausea, vomiting, constipation, bloating, breast swelling, decreased libido, weight gain, headaches, dizziness, high blood pressure, etc), the synthetic estrogen in birth control also puts you at risk for long term complications like blood clots, especially if you’re using the patch.

 

Progestin-only BC

The progestin-only BC is not overflowing with pros either. At least with the combo contraceptive you have a withdraw bleed. For progesterone-only BC, only progestin is released, causing your natural progesterone to be suppressed and your cervical mucus to be thickened. This ultimately prohibits sperm from traveling up your fallopian tube and fertilizing an egg (again, no babies). This tic-tac has to be taken at the same time, every day (setting you up for failure) and if you opt for the implant, you can be more susceptible to raging headaches. 

 

Life after BC

Point blank - your body is F’ed after coming off birth control. As we start to think about the varying reasons for BC and coming off of it, let’s all be mindful of the trauma your body experiences during this time. WIth women starting birth control at a younger age, and remaining in the workforce for longer periods of time, it’s no surprise women are getting pregnant later (hello BC for longer periods of time). For the first time ever in 2016, more women in their early 30s were having babies than younger moms, according to data gathered by the government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released last year. 

Being mindful of what you’re putting in your body is easy when you think about food, so why not birth control? Empowering women to seek out other forms of hormone balancing besides birth control is one easy way to help them realize BC is just a quick, temporary fix to irregular periods. 

 

Sources:

https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/tw9513

https://helloclue.com/articles/sex/when-to-stop-taking-hormonal-birth-control-if-you-want-to-get-pregnant

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr062.pdf

https://www.chop.edu/news/health-tip/managing-menstruation-hormonal-contraceptives

https://helloclue.com/articles/sex/when-to-stop-taking-hormonal-birth-control-if-you-want-to-get-pregnant

https://www.sakara.com/blogs/mag/115695749-how-harmful-is-your-birth-control-really

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/american-women-are-having-babies-later-and-are-still-conflicted-about-it-2017-05-19