Be wary of the Birth Control Pill
Across the country, birth control prescriptions are on the rise – and it’s not just to prevent pregnancy. The pill is also being used to treat mid-cycle pain and excess bleeding. Young women are being encouraged to take the pill as a precautionary measure as soon as they’re sexually active, or in some cases, when parents are concerned that their daughters may even consider becoming sexually active. It sounds simple – take a pill, banish menstrual pain and prevent pregnancy. But in reality, the side effects of this medication can lead to many more detrimental situations later in life.
The most commonly known and listed side effects of the birth control pill include:
- Tenderness of the breasts
- Weight gain
- Irregular bleeding
- Mood changes
However, there’s much more that we should be concerned about. It’s time for women to arm themselves with education. We deserve to know what’s happening to our bodies and to make our decisions based on this knowledge.
Effects on the Liver
The birth control pill is metabolized in the liver and can result in liver damage. Our liver helps to regulate estrogen levels in our bodies, allowing our hormones to be in balance. If you decide to take the pill, you should take care to support the liver. Food that have great nutritional value for your liver include dandelion root, beets, carrots and milk thistle.
Increased Risks of Yeast and Vaginal Infections
The birth control pill can also increase the pH of the vagina, increasing the risk of contracting yeast infections and other vaginal infections. Lactobacillus acidophilus is a probiotic bacterium that helps balance the good and bad bacteria while also maintaining a proper pH throughout your body. Taking Lactobacillus acidophilus while on the birth control pill will help to prevent these infections from occurring.
Drug-induced Nutrient Depletion
The birth control pill depletes many nutrients from our bodies, resulting in symptoms that most people would never associate with it – a significant issue considering that the birth control pill is one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the world for women. Some of the nutrients that the pill depletes include:
- Vitamin B6:Without adequate amounts of this essential vitamin, we are at high risk of developing depression. Vitamin B6 can also help protect us against anemia as it aids the production of our body’s red blood cells. This vitamin is also important to help us ward off heart disease and stroke as it helps to metabolize homocysteine.
- Vitamin B12:Vitamin B12 is necessary for the maintenance of healthy nerve cells, red blood cell production, and iron function. It also decreases homocysteine levels, and is important in maintaining energy levels.
- Folic Acid: When our bodies are low in folic acid, we are at an increased risk of developing anemia, depression, and breast and colon cancer. The depletion of folic acid associated with the birth control pill is leading to the diagnosis of cervical dysplasia and the need for hysterectomies in many women. But that’s not all – folic acid is also needed in the production of infant DNA and RNA. As a result, some women who get pregnant after taking the birth control pill without building their folic acid stores may have children with birth defects. (Nlm.nih.gov)
- Vitamin C, Vitamin B, selenium and zinc: These nutrients are all required to maintain a healthy immune system.
- Magnesium: Our bodies need magnesium to keep our blood flowing smoothly. and our bones require it to help with calcium absorption. Depletion can lead to increased risk of blood clots, heart attacks and even osteoporosis.
- Tyrosine: Depleted levels lead to depression.
- CoQ10: CoQ10 is needed to maintain energy and maintain a healthy functioning heart. Depletion increases the risks of high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.
- Supplemental Recommendations
- Take a high quality multi-vitamin
- Take additional folic acid
Supplement with Omega 3 fatty acids. The depletion of nutrients can lead to an increased risk of blood clots. Taking omega 3 supplements will help provide anti-inflammatory effects to decrease inflammation in the body, which can eventually lead to heart disease. Additional anti-inflammatory foods include bromelain, curcumin, ginger and chamomile.
Regardless of the measures you take to protect yourself from the side effects of the birth control pill, it’s important to realize that you cannot be 100% certain that you’ve been effective. To prevent complications with your children or your own fertility down the road, consider alternative methods of birth control. If you do continue to take the pill, be sure to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Follow the supplementary recommendations listed above, and make sure to stop taking the pill for at least one year before attempting to get pregnant.