Birth control pills aren’t just used to prevent pregnancy. They’re also often prescribed for acne and irregular menstrual cycles. They’re advertised as safe, easy to use, and they’re extremely common among women. After a quick check-up, a woman is handed her prescription, possibly along with a small pamphlet about safe sex and reproductive health, and the rest is history.
The problem lies in the side effects of birth control pills that are not commonly discussed.
Birth control pills are made up of synthetic estrogen and progestogen, which are synthetic hormones that override the body’s natural hormonal rhythm. Before deciding to take birth control pills, make sure you have all the information in front of you. It’s important to understand the downsides and side effects of birth control pills.
1. Birth Control Pills Don’t Address the Root Cause of Symptoms
Birth control pills help to suppress symptoms, which sounds great, but symptoms are your body’s way of telling you when somethings up. An irregular cycle could mean that your health and nutrition are suffering, as the body naturally produces lower progesterone at times of malnutrition and stress.
2. Birth Control Pills May Increase Breast Cancer Risk
According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, “A pooled analysis of data from more than 50 studies found that while women were taking birth control pills (and shortly thereafter), they had a 10 to 30 percent higher risk of breast cancer than women who had never used the pill. Once women stopped taking the pill, their risk began to decrease and after about 10 years, returned to that of women who have never taken the pill.”
3. Birth Control Pills May Cause Nutrient Deficiencies
Oral contraceptives can result in many nutrient deficiencies, including zinc, magnesium, selenium, Vitamin C, Vitamins B2, B3, B6, B12 and folate. The liver uses more of these nutrients to metabolize the estrogen from birth control pills and flush it out of the body.
4. Birth Control Pills May Increase the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Synthetic estrogen has been shown to create cardiovascular risks in some women, including increased potential for life-threatening blood clots, as well as a higher risk of stroke and heart disease, because of the substance’s negative effect on the body’s clotting system.
5. Birth Control Pills Have Added Side Effects
While weight gain, bloating, breast tenderness, moodiness and decreased libido are all often listed as side effects of birth control pills, there are plenty of other side effects that aren’t shown on the label. Birth control can cause headaches, migraines, fluid retention and may even worsen emotional disorders such as depression.
Deciding whether or not to take birth control is a personal choice. Being informed is an important part of making the right decision for your health and your body. Remember that birth control pills do not protect against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. A prescription is needed to begin taking birth control, and remembering to take the pills is the only way to ensure efficient (but not entirely foolproof) pregnancy prevention. Of 100 women who use birth control pills this year, around nine may get pregnant.