Hormonal birth control has long been a one-size-fits-all solution for doctors and their female patients. Whether patients are looking to prevent pregnancy or are complaining of hormonal imbalances, birth control always seems to be the answer. So much so that doctors often don't go through the effort of understanding what hormonal imbalances are happening to women because it won't affect what they prescribe in the end - hormonal birth control.
Got acne? The doctor will prescribe hormonal birth control. Irregular periods? Hormonal birth control. Endometriosis? Hormonal birth control. PMS? Hormonal birth control. PMDD? Hormonal birth control. Are you between the ages of 13-50 and have a uterus? Hormonal birth control!
In fact, if women aren't trying to get pregnant their hormonal imbalances will rarely receive any attention from doctors. It's as if the only purpose our hormones serve is getting pregnant (not true!)
Not only that, but the women who take these pills rarely understand what is happening in their bodies when they consume them.
So I'm here to shed some light on what birth control is really about! Without further delay, here are some of biggest misconceptions about hormonal birth control.
MYTH: Hormonal birth control balances your hormones - Hormonal birth control does not bring your body into hormonal balance. It actually shuts down your own hormone production and puts you into a fake chemical menopause. That way your body doesn't have a chance to express it's hormonal imbalances. But once you come off the hormonal birth control your body will go back to expressing it's old imbalances and perhaps some new ones it picked up while you were using hormonal birth control.
MYTH: Hormonal birth control regulates your period - The "periods" you get while on hormonal birth control are not really periods. They are withdrawal bleeds that happen when you stop taking the fake hormones and your body is left without any of your own natural sex hormones, or fake hormones circulating in your body. "Withdrawal periods" actually don't serve a purpose because your body has not been busy creating a uterine lining for follicle implantation because your real hormones are inactive. The reason hormonal birth control has "withdrawal periods" is because it was invented in the 1950's when it could only be prescribed to help "regulate periods" because preventing pregnancy was not considered a part of women's healthcare. So they created these fake period withdrawal bleeds to justify prescribing the pill to women to "help regulate their periods".... *cough cough*.... (but really they were actually taking them to prevent baby making).
MYTH: Hormonal birth control contains estrogen and progesterone - Birth control doesn't contain any actual hormones. It does contain chemicals that sort of act like your hormones while causing other side effects your hormones normally wouldn't. Many women would be shocked to know that most progestins (the chemicals pharmaceutical companies claim behave like progesterone) are actually synthesized in a lab from testosterone. And while they may "sort of" behave like progesterone, they are still made of testosterone and they can have unwanted side effects.
MYTH: Hormonal birth control is empowering - While some women may feel more in control of their bodies when they are using hormonal birth control, that certainly doesn't reflect everyone's experience. Synthetic hormonal birth control began in the 1950's, not exactly a golden era for women by today's standards. Shutting down the period was viewed as an empowering experience whereby women could "rise above" their female bodies and emancipate themselves from mother nature. However, most of the women I speak to today do not feel empowered by their hormonal birth control. They have unwanted side effects, are stuck taking daily medication and are afraid of how their bodies will react once they stop taking it. Manipulating our bodies and shutting down our hormones no longer seems to match the "female empowerment" story we were once told.
So maybe it's time we upgrade the way we think about our bodies, our fertility, our periods and our hormones to a more modern view.
I love the way my hormones make me feel. They make me feel juicy, social and alive. But it wasn't always that way. I used to have periods so painful I would beg my parents to take me to the hospital and I even lost jobs for missing days at work. After some short, disappointing stints on hormonal birth control, I chose to take a less obvious path and rebalanced my hormones using medicinal plants. It changed my life and gave me true control of my body. So much so that I chose to start teaching other women to do the same.
What many women don't know is that there are actually a lot of benefits to having a period.
- Having a period reduces your risk of osteoporosis, breast cancer and heart disease according to the Centre of Ovulation and Menstrual Research.
- Your period releases bacteria and toxins that are found in your uterus.
- Studies have shows that women enjoy sex more and feel more turned on during their period.
- Your period also makes your health imbalances more obvious which is one reason women have learned to hate their periods so much. But without our cycles indicating to us that our bodies are imbalanced, our health problems could otherwise go years undetected.
- Your period can make you feel connected to nature. The moon cycle is 28 days long, the same as an average period. Tracking your cycle with the phases of the moon can be a beautiful and spiritual experience.
When I talk to women about their periods, most of them know deep down that blocking their hormones just doesn't feel right. But how can women prevent pregnancy without the undesirable side effects of birth control?
For any women who are looking to prevent pregnancy, I highly recommend using Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) to prevent pregnancy (or get pregnant for that matter!). FAM uses the cues your body gives you about fertility and when you are most likely to get pregnant. Because you can only get pregnant for about 72 hours of every menstrual cycle!
Taking Charge of Your Fertility is the go-to bible for learning FAM and will answer every question you've ever had about preventing pregnancy without pharmaceutical drugs.
FAM can be 75%-98% effective in preventing pregnancy. It can also be combined with other methods like condoms or pull out method to increase effectiveness.