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“The Pill” – is it a Hormone Band-Aid or Worse?

the pill

It appears that oral contraception is often the "go to" therapy for women of reproductive age when it comes to symptoms that are hormone related.

I have never been a fan of “The Pill” …..but then many of you know that I do have 7 children.

A New Study - http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/Beyond-Birth-Control.pdf

A new study has been published that shows that 42% of the women using “the Pill” are not using it exclusively as a contraceptive to prevent a pregnancy but as a therapy to control symptoms such as painful or heavy menses to acne and migraines.  We also know that younger and younger women are being encouraged to use “The Pill” as a therapy and that is a concern.  The same survey estimated that more than 750,000 women (and girls) use "the pill" even though they have not yet been sexually active.

How “the Pill” Works

Most birth control pills consist of a low dose of an estradiol derivative (ethinyl estradiol) and one of several synthetic progestins, although there are some that do not contain estrogen (progestin only pills). Some of the most common progestins on the market include: medroxyprogesterone, norethindrone, levonorgestrel, norgestimate and drospirenone. These synthetic progestins all have a similar action: they prevent the mid-cycle release of LH and reduce FSH levels, thereby inhibiting ovulation. Of course when ovulation is stopped then the production of progesterone the balancing hormone is also stopped.  By way of its mechanism “the pill” can never bring balance to a woman’s hormones and in fact is more likely to contribute to a hormone imbalance.

The Down Side to using the Pill as a Therapy

Once a woman goes off “the pill” her symptoms usually return with a vengeance.  This is one of the sure signs that “the pill” resolved nothing.

Low Progesterone – another down side of “the Pill”

The primary source of progesterone is the corpus luteum, which is derived from the follicle after the egg is expelled. When ovulation is prohibited, there is no corpus luteum, and therefore no ovarian progesterone is produced. For this reason, you can expect progesterone levels to be very low in women who are currently taking oral contraceptive pills.  Progesterone is the balancing hormone to estrogen in women of all ages.  A deficiency of progesterone leaves women with unopposed estrogen – that is definitely a health risk.

Increased Breast Cancer Risk – another down side of “the Pill

And I quote Dr. John R. Lee from his book “What Your Doctor May Not Tell Your About Breast Cancer” – “when teenage girls take birth control pills, it increases their risk of breast cancer.  It has been well established that when girls between the ages of 13 and 18 – and to a lesser but still significant effect, women up to the age of 21 – use birth control pills, their risk of breast cancer can increase by as much as 600 percent!!”

Testing for Hormone Imbalance

Using a Saliva test to evaluate hormone levels is one of the best ways to determine if the pill has undermined hormone balance in the user. Ideally, sex hormone analysis for those on “the Pill” should occur once ‘the pill” has been discontinued and an ovulatory cycle has returned, although this can vary from 1-6 or more months after discontinuation. We often recommend waiting until after at least one menstrual cycle beyond the withdrawal bleed that occurs when they first stop the pill and then wait until day 19-21, or mid-luteal phase, to collect.

With an estimated 11.2 million women in the United States currently using oral contraceptive pills (OCPs), the question about how these medications affect women's hormone levels is a very important one that every woman who uses them needs to answer.
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