Besides contraception, hormone based Birth Control Pills (BCPs) are prescribed for a range of women health disorders that originate in hormone imbalances. However, birth control pills side effects are not just limited to a complete dependency on them.
There are some serious health issues that usually accompany these hormone based pills. And these only come as user warning signs, which is also often ignored by the women who end up taking them. And when your body starts to suffer, then you desperately try to find out possible solutions and causes.
Birth control methods became necessary as part of a revolution to control population. They also came about as part of a desire of women to reduce the rate at which they produce offspring. Women refused to be hyperactive baby factories. And of course, regulating birth was necessary to slow down the population explosion of the past century.
Birth Control Methods and Options for Women
As the awareness grew, more and more women sought to have an option over their own procreation. They needed to have a choice if they would still enjoy intimacy with their spouses without necessarily having to bear protruding bellies for the next nine months and adding to their numbers of mouths to feed.
With time, many birth control options have been made available, and they include:
- Fertility Awareness: Women who use this method attempt to keep track of their menstrual cycles. They can do this by:
- Calender awareness, i.e. they try to be conscious of the fertile days in their cycles, and practice safe sex in that period, or abstain altogether.
- Cervical mucus: the texture of cervical mucus can be indicative of fertility. Sticky, stretchy cervical mucus indicates period of fertility in the cycle.
- Basal body temperature: some women try to ascertain what stage of the menstrual cycle they are in by their basal temperature. This is best checked in the morning, immediately after waking up.
- Hormonal Contraceptive Methods: These adjust the hormonal balance in a woman to prevent fertilization of egg and further implantation of the fertilized egg in the womb. Some examples of this include the birth control pills(the focus of this article), hormone patches, hormone injections, vaginal rings, hormone-suffused IUDs(intra-uterine devices), etc.
- Barrier Contraception: A barrier is a blockade. This method attempts to block contact between sperm and egg cells to prevent contraception. For example, condoms and diaphragms prevent release of semen into the reproductive tract. Others include spermicides, contraceptive sponge, cervical cap, intrauterine devices(IUDs), etc.
Learn more on how to get off birth control pills safely.
How does the Birth Control Pill work?
Birth control pills are a part of the hormonal method of contraception. These pills actually contain synthetic hormones. The hormones in them are estrogen and progestin. Each of these two hormones has its own role in preventing conception.
Birth control pills basically disrupt the monthly hormonal cycle. They create an artificial hormonal environment where pregnancy and implantation cannot occur. This is how the birth control pills work after they are taken in:
1. Birth Control Pills prevent the release of an Egg
Contraceptive pills prevent the surge of luteinizing hormone (LH). LH is an hormone that induces ovulation, the release of an egg during the menstrual cycle. When there is no egg released, there is nothing to be fertilized. With nothing to fertilize, no conception can take place. However, occasionally, there might be breakthrough ovulation, if the dosage of the hormones is too low.
2. BCP thicken cervical mucus, thus making pregnancy difficult
The cervix is a passageway between the vagina and the uterus. The birth control pill thickens the mucus in this cervix. Consequently, sperm can’t swim effectively through this passageway to the uterus (womb) to fertilize the egg.
3. BCP reduce the movement of egg and sperm cells
Motility is the ability to move. The pills significantly reduces the movement of both the sperm and the egg through the Fallopian tube. This prevents them from coming together, hence lessens the chances of potential fertilization and pregnancy.
4. BCP Prevent Implantation of the fertilized Egg
Changes to the endometrial wall prevent implantation. If at all the egg does get fertilized, then it has little chance of anchoring itself to the wall of the womb to begin gestation.
With all these mechanism to prevent pregnancy, it is no wonder that over a hundred million women trust birth control pills for contraception.
Some Added Bonuses of using Birth Control Pills
Besides their relative effectiveness, birth control pills have actually been shown to:
- Decrease risk of ovarian and uterine cancer;
- Help with the pain of Endometriosis;
- Prevent Hirsutism or male pattern facial hair growth which usually happens in women suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome;
- Eliminate most of the functional ovarian cysts in women using the pills.
These added beneficial effects, among others, are seen in people who have used them consistently for a long time.
But wait a second! Don’t get all so excited yet. When you look at the whole picture, Birth control pills side effects take a toll on a woman’s health. Regular use of BCP makes her prone to serious problems in short term, long term, and also when she tries to get off them!
Birth Control Pills Side Effects and Risks significantly counter their Benefits
The side effects of birth control pills used to be much worse. When they came into widespread use in the 1960s, the significant side effects made their popularity decline. This was because the contraceptive pills then had very high concentrations of the hormones. However, the dosage of the hormones have since been cut down.
Nowadays, the concentration of Estrogen and progestin hormones in the birth control pills is 4 times and 10 times lesser than it used to be in the old days.
In recent times, 20micrograms of estrogen with a proper dosage of progestin is considered to be effective. Progestin-only options are also available.
Still, some notable birth control pills side effects persist! Simply because, you can not make synthetic hormones and expect them to act as a perfect substitute for a woman’s natural hormones There is surely a price to pay, when you start using hormone based pills for contraception and for hormone imbalance related health problem:
Some of the Birth Control Side Effects are:
- Heart Attack: Did that make your heart skip a beat? It is alternatively called myocardial infarction. Rare among young women, but more common among smokers. Studies have shown that 5% of heart attack cases are attributable to the use of birth control pills.
- Deep Vein Thrombosis and Blood Clots: This occurs when there’s a blood clot. This clot obstructs the flow of blood in the deep veins of the leg. It is potentially lethal because it blocks the flow of blood.
- High Blood Pressure: There is an increased risk, particularly if the dosage of estrogen is too high, say around 50mcg (micrograms) or more. The blood pressure can increase by about 6mmHg and 2mmHg systolic and diastolic respectively.
- Increased Risk of Breast Cancer: In a study involving 1.8 million women, those on the pill were found to have a 20% higher risk of developing breast cancer.
- Insulin Resistance and problems with carbohydrate metabolism: People with insulin resistance are unable to effectively regulate the glucose(sugar) levels in their body. Furthermore, they have problems with carbohydrate metabolism, since the end product is glucose. Therefore, it is not recommended that women who are diabetic insulin dependent take birth control pills.
- Compromised Immune System: There is a normal, healthy balance of microbes in the body. This balance is disturbed by the the synthetic hormones in the birth control pills. As a result, there is reduced immunity and consequent increased susceptibility to infections.
- Mood Swings: The artificial tampering with the body’s natural hormonal processes can result in mood swings.
- Frustrated Fitness Goals: If you’re on the pill, your fitness goals are in danger. It has been confirmed that women on birth control pills gain 60% less muscle mass than those who are not.
There are still more:
- Complete hair loss.
- Weight gain.
- Breast tenderness.
- Elevated liver enzyme levels.
- Reduced sex drive.
- Breakthrough bleeding.
- Reaction with other medications.
- Micronutrient deficiency problems, such as deficiency in foliate, riboflavin, vitamin B12, ascorbic acid, zinc, etc.
If you’ve just begun using oral contraceptives and notice any of these symptoms, cry out immediately. If you want to stop, then beware of Post-Birth Control Syndrome (PBCS).
Natural and Non Hormonal Birth Control Options with Ayurveda
With Ayurveda, you are sure to get completely natural options if you so chose. Surely, there are an abundance of Ayurvedic contraceptive options that you can try. Only but a few of them have been listed here for you:
- This method is an emergency contraception method. It can be done immediately after unprotected sex. It involves dipping a piece of rock salt in sesame seed oil. Place this in the vagina for about two minutes. It acts as a spermicide.
- Powder equal parts of rasanjanam, haritaki, and amla. On the fourth day of menstruation, take 5mg of the powder with cold water. Do this through to the sixteenth day to prevent conception. Repeat monthly.
- The paste of hibiscus flower(jaswanti) can be used as a contraceptive together with starch. For effectiveness, take during first three days of menstruation.
- Castor seed can also be used, and it is verified by modern science too. Break open a fresh castor seed to retrieve the white seed contained in it. If consumed within seventy two hours after sex, it acts as an effective contraceptive.
- Vidanga seeds, also known as false pepper, are 83% percent effective as contraceptives.
- Even the common ginger found in every household can be used to achieve contraceptive effects.
Rounding it Up
The method of contraception you use is up to you. However, this must be approved by your health care provider.
Although, birth control pills are agreed to be effective, you want to be sure if it is right for you. Your health care provider will help you evaluate the medications you are on, what conditions you are predisposed to, etc, to ascertain if it is right for you, and which particular one you should best use.
Smokers should stay away from birth control pills. Especially if you are over 35 years and you smoke, then you should explore other contraceptive methods. Smoking and birth control pills have serious health repercussions.