How does it work? It prevents ovulation, it changes the fertile mucous barrier and if fertilisation still occurs, it affects the uterus lining to prevent implantation. If used as directed the pill is 97-100% effective to prevent pregnancy, though it is not always used as directed. The pill is generally seen to be safe because millions of woman use it every day. Most of these women are unaware of any of the side effects or complications of long term pill use. I have looked after many healthy, intelligent women who never realised or considered the possible effects on their bodies, and after 10+ years on the pill decide that they are ready to have children and find it extremely difficult.
Adverse Effects of the Pill:
BLOOD CLOTS – Women using 2nd Generation Pills are 4 times more likely to develop blood clots (thrombosis) and women using 3rd generation pills are double that again. Hence a higher likelihood of developing a stroke or a heart attack.
BIRTH DEFECTS – Babies conceived straight after coming off the pill have an increased risk of miscarriage due to a birth defect. It is generally recommended to give yourself 3-4 months after coming off the pill to attempt to conceive. I would recommend even longer to get your hormones back into a good cycle and to clean up your internal environment and rebuild your nutrient levels.
VITAMIN and MINERAL STATUS – the pill can deplete iron and folic acid in women which are essential nutrients for pregnancy. Folic acid deficiency is associated with neural tube defects. Low iron will also affect your energy levels.
CANCER of REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS – Cervical cancer was found to have an increased incidence in women the longer they used the pill. The risk increased from 37% higher after 4 years of use, 60% increase after 8 years and 77% after 12 years of use.
BREAST CANCER – some studies show a reduced incidence in pill users, other studies disagree. It has also been found that after stopping use the risk came back down after about 10 years.
POST-PILL INFERTILITY – this is diagnosed after 6 months of coming off the pill with no ovulation. As the pill affects the fertile mucous, it can take a long time to return to normal. Also you probably have not ovulated since you started use of the pill. It can take a while for these intricate hormonal relationships to return to a regular routine (6 months or longer is definitely not uncommon!).
There are also the usual symptoms that most women are aware of – weight gain, loss of libido, depression, skin changes, nausea – and this is by no means a complete list!
So what can you do instead?
There are some natural methods that are as effective as the pill and the other synthetic hormone alternatives – techniques such as Billings (mucous) method, which you could combine with barrier methods while you’re learning or if you were ever unsure. The beauty is that you are learning the rhythms and patterns of your own body so you know when you do or don’t need to be careful. When you do want to conceive you already know your patterns, and then when you are breastfeeding and your cycle may not be regular yet, it is still accurate. There are also no side effects. You may also like to learn temperature methods (which work better when used with the Billings (mucous) methods).
About the Blog
Hands on Health Chiropractic shares with you some helpful information regarding healthy living