Beau and I dreamed about having a large family even when we were kids ourselves. I met him at 17 and we were hitched by the time I was 19. I wanted to finish school and work for a few years before we started our family, and so we entertained many different birth control options until we were ready to start having babies.
Here’s a list of birth control methods we’ve tried:
Condoms (no thank you, said we).
Pulling out (don’t judge, you’ve done it too.)
Mirena (I was depressed almost the entire time.)
Copper IUD (I could literally feel it and thus got it removed within a month.)
Mini-Pill (I got pregnant with my third child, Roman.)
Ortho-Tricylen, or “the Pill” (I was on this for over a decade. We will talk more about it below).
Now that I write it out, seven methods of birth control in 20 years seems like an awful lot. But we’ve got four sweet babies in spite of our best efforts to “control” the situation. We also have a miscarriage that brought up a grief-filled, confusing time for us.
Can you relate to any of that?
From a faith-based, practical, endocrinological, and hormonal perspective, you can bet dollars to donuts that I would have done it differently if we had to do it again. But here we are, and all I can do now is share and teach.
All of those methods of birth control come with risks, but the Pill is by far the worst. If you were to ask me for a surefire way to create near-lifelong hormone imbalance, I’d offer you the birth control pill.
But how does it happen? I’ll offer three ways.
The Pill Stops Communication Between your Brain and Your Ovaries
The Pill Stores Fake Estrogen in Your Body
The Pill Depletes your Body of Vitamin B6, Magnesium, and Zinc
The Pill Stops Communication Between Your Brain and Your Ovaries
The Pill gives you fake hormones- a synthetic estrogen and a synthetic progesterone. On top of being unnatural, these hormones tell your brain that the body already has enough estrogen and progesterone and that the body can stop making its own estrogen and progesterone, thank you very much.
The Pill works to suppress two hormones that tell your body to stop making luteinizing hormone (LH). Without LH, you won’t ovulate as LH tells your ovaries to release an egg. When no egg is released, no corpus luteum is created. When no corpus luteum is created, no progesterone is made. This is why so many women on the Pill get weepy, moody, and depressed.
Another hormone that’s affected by the Pill is follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). When FSH is suppressed, as it is with the Pill, the ovarian follicles don’t develop as they ought to. In some cases, the follicles develop, but if the egg is never released because ovulation does not occur, cysts can form on the ovaries. This is why many women develop ovarian cysts after being on the Pill.
It can also take months or even years to re-establish healthy communication between your brain and ovaries. This is why many women don’t have normal cycles for quite some time after going off of the Pill.
Solution: to prevent pregnancy, look into the Fertility Awareness Method. We’ll be talking more about this soon.
For other issues that the Pill claims to “fix”, look into some of the root cause issues that could be leading to the symptoms you’re experiencing. Search my blog for many helpful tips on reversing symptoms that you are experiencing, or book an hour with me to discuss your issues 1:1.
The Pill Stores Fake Estrogen in Your Body
The Pill contains fake (synthetic) estrogen that is actually four times stronger than estradiol, your body’s own natural estrogen. First of all, that estrogen can feel like a stimulating drug in the brain, says Dr. Lara Briden. This is why many women can initially feel more balanced in the first months of taking the Pill.
But when you go off the Pill? It’s like coming off a strongly brain stimulating drug. This is why so many women feel awful when withdrawing from the Pill.
But during your years on the Pill, you’re ingesting little bits of fake estrogen almost every single day. Estrogen is a growth-promoting hormone, which is why women women can suffer from fibrocystic breasts or ovarian or uterine cysts while on the pill or later in life.
Fake estrogen also has none of the protective benefits of real estrogen. Real estrogen is necessary for a healthy cardiovascular system and healthy bones, never mind healthy periods and healthy fertility.
Estrogen is a fat-based hormone, and the body stores it in fat tissue. Fat tissue itself can also make more estrogen. Too much estrogen can also clog the liver, decreasing bile flow. This can make you constipated. When you’re constipated, toxic estrogen that ought to be excreted in the body actually get reabsorbed back into the body, perpetuating this cycle. So if you’re taking fake estrogen every day, and you’re struggling with your weight, and you’re constipated, it’s not wonder you are suffering fro PMS, depression, anxiety, gut issues, sore and hard boobs, and brain fog.
That fake estrogen has nowhere to go, so it sits around, accumulating in your fat. Body fat is a protective mechanism, designed to seal up toxic substances that can’t be excreted by the body in order to protect the body and the brain.
If you take the Pill for a year or 5 years or 2 decades like a lot of us did, you’ve got years and decades of toxicity stored up. You’ve got decreased liver function, which affects the conversion of all sorts of hormones, from thyroid hormone to youth-promoting hormones like DHEA.
Too much estrogen, synthetic or natural, puts you at risk for depression and anxiety, cancer, PMS and PMDD, cysts, and infertility.
This is why stored fake estrogen can lead to worse periods later in life.
Solution: Open up Detoxification Channels in the Body
1. Use Liver-Loving Foods to Increase Bile Flow
Bitter foods are healthy for the liver. Use beet greens, burdock root tea, lemons, and other greens to help your liver do its work of creating and exporting bile to the gallbladder.
I’ve got to caution you to test and not guess before using powerful supplements like these. With data from a DUTCH test or GI Map, we can see exactly what your estrogen levels are and how you are or are not excreting toxic estrogen.
3. Make Sure You’re Pooping Normally
Use my Lemon Gut Shot to help with a one-two punch. It will increase gut motility to help you poop normally, and it will also provide a bitter flavor that will stimulate the liver to do its work. Use 1-3 times a day.
The Pill Depletes your Body of Vitamin B6, Magnesium, and Zinc
Vitamin B6 is a hugely important nutrient for period health. The Pill depletes your body of B vitamins, especially B6. Stress also depletes B6. If you are on the Pill and you live a regular (read: hectic, overworked, and stressed) life these days, you’re at risk for a B6 deficiency.
Normal levels are B6 are needed not only for healthy cycles, but for healthy mood. You need B6 in order to create both progesterone and GABA- two soothing chemicals the body needs. Vitamin B6 also reduces inflammation and helps you get rid of that toxic estrogen. This vitamin is also responsible for keeping your puffiness and bloating to a minimum. It also helps symptoms of food sensitivities and environmental allergies. Damn, B6.
When B6 is depleted, you’ll be a sleepless, anxious, bloated wreck. And since the Pill pushes B6 out of the body, these symptoms can increase exponentially for years while you’re on birth control and also post-birth control. This is why anti-depressants don’t work well for post-pill mood disturbances. You don’t have an anti-depressant deficiency. You have a B6 deficiency.
Eat meat. Lots of it.
Meat, especially red meat, is high in bioavailable B6. This is one of the reasons plant-based women are more susceptible to mood and sleep disturbances.
Take 100 mg of B6 before bed every night for 3 months.
Taking B6 before bed will help you sleep better. It works on progesterone and GABA pathways. These are relaxing, soothing chemicals your body needs.
Some researchers actually think that magnesium deficiency is the leading cause of PMS.
The Pill depletes magnesium in the body. You can’t really measure magnesium levels in blood since it’s bound up in red blood cells. You know you’re deficient if you’re on the Pill and you live a regular (read: hectic, overworked, and stressed) life.
Pushing magnesium out during times of stress makes sense. Less magnesium means your fight or flight response is activated. But since our stressors are not acute- they’re chronic and constant- the body is constantly pushing out magnesium. This amplifies your anxiety and insomnia and panic and restlessness.
You need also magnesium to make progesterone. This is why many women feel calmer when their magnesium levels are restored. Progesterone is your chill hormone. You need magnesium for the chill.
Magnesium also helps with regulating blood sugar and insulin levels. Being on the Pill and having chronically depleted magnesium levels messes with your hunger and fullness cues. This is why many women gain weight on the Pill and have a hard time losing it after getting off the Pill.
Eat magnesium-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Eat meat first and then fill your plate with all of these magnesium rich foods. Repeat, 3 times a day, 7 days a week. You’ll feel better.
2. Take 400-1200 mg of Magnesium Glycinate each night.
When you have diarrhea, back off by 400 mg at a time until you find the right dose for you.
Zinc helps regulate your stress response. It lowers inflammation in the body. Your ovaries need zinc in order to create progesterone, and it prevents symptoms of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).
The Pill depletes zinc. When zinc is low, your ovulation and also your menstruation will be off.
On top of that, many women experiment with cutting out meat, especially red meat. Most of us don’t eat oysters or sardines, which are dietary sources of zinc.
Zinc is needed to create healthy stomach acid When stomach acid is low, you won’t digest your food or assimilate enough of the nutrients you are trying to get from food and supplements.
Eat meat. For the love, eat meat.
You need meat for zinc. Try to get some oysters and sardines into the diet too. Trader Joe’s has cute little tins of smoked oysters packed in olive oil that are delightful on top of a salad or right out of the tin.
Without food, zinc can really upset the tummy. Like, you might barf. With food, you won’t even notice it.