Problems of the pill


by Kasey Wilson

For many women, taking the small oral contraceptive pill is very convenient. It so called ‘regulates’ cycles, protects against unwanted pregnancy and allows for a sporadic sex life. But is it worth it?

Although the information of contraceptive pill side effect use is well known in the medical industry, it is not diligently communicated to the public. If you read the fine print, warnings are included with prescriptions, however time and time again I see friends, family and patients who are blissfully unaware of the potential dangers of their daily pill. Many tell me  their doctors never mentioned the risks involved!

I went down this same path (you can read about ‘My Personal Journey’ here), starting on the pill in my mid teens, leading to a roller coaster of health challenges.  Luckily I was later  well educated through my Naturopathic studies about the dangers this small tablet was having on my body and I began searching for other options.

Thankfully recent media coverage is  exposing  this crucial information, so women can be informed of the  many chronic health side effects synthetic hormone pill use, pose for women.

Lets start with what naturally occurs in a woman’s reproductive cycle:

The menstrual cycle varies from woman to woman and month to month. Day 1 of the cycle starts from the first day of the bleeding and the cycle continues up until the first day of bleeding of the next menstrual period. The first half of the cycle is called the follicular phase (menstruation up until ovulation). Problems such as stress, coming off of synthetic hormones, menopause, travel (this happened to me), breastfeeding, sickness, drugs, dieting and excessive exercise, can delay ovulation and the length of the follicular phase.

The second half of the cycle is called the luteal phase, which is from ovulation up until the day before menstruation begins. This phase lasts from 11-16 days in a fertile cycle. The timing of the menstrual cycle, along with other bodily functions is controlled by the master hormone regulator in the brain, called the Hypothalamus. Throughout the cycle, the hypothalamus stimulates particular endocrine glands (ovaries and pituitary gland) to produce hormones such as Follicular Stimulating Hormone, Luteinising Hormone, Progesterone and Oestrogen, at different levels and times. These hormones cause changes in the woman’s body, to ultimately either support or prevent conception.

Enter synthetic hormones such as the pill and other implants…

When you take synthetichormones for contraceptive purposes, they are working to disrupt this natural cycle, resulting in infertility. Menstruation does not occur, but instead a ‘withdrawl bleed’ due to the 7 day use of replacement sugar pills (used after 21 days of taking the hormone containing pills).
Unfortunately, the convenient pill use does come at a cost – your health.

Specific health conditions associated with Oral Contraceptive Pill use:

• Fatigue
• Blood clots
• Anaemia
• Miscarriages and Birth Defects
• Cardiovascular Disease (increased arterial plaque)
• High Blood Pressure
• Heart Attacks
• Cancer (Breast, Uterine, Colon, Cervical)
• Weakened Immune system
• Depression and and changes
• Sleep problems
• Fluid retention and weight gain
• Increased free radical damage and therefore early ageing
• Reproductive Cycle irregularities
• Lower bone density and Osteoporosis
• Headaches and migraines
• Cramps, irregular bleeding and other cycle irregularities
• Bloating
• Nausea
• Breast tenderness
• Yeast overgrowth and vaginal infections
• Gallbladder disease
• Loss of libido
• Liver dysfunction
• Allergies (1)

Dr Joseph Mercola explains “…long-term use of oral contraceptives will invariably increase a woman’s risk of developing a serious chronic illness. Yet they are passed out like expensive candy at most physicians’ offices, with little regard for the known dangers”.
Dr Sherrill Sellman refers to the oral contraceptive pill as chemical castration. In her book ‘Hormone Heresy, What Women Must Know About Their Hormones’, she warns women “…it is important to recognise that the pill is a potent artificial steroid drug which carries serious risks to a woman’s health.”
The oral contraceptive pill also depletes the body of many crucial nutrients, including:

• Vitamin B1
• Vitamin B2
• Vitamin B3
• Vitamin B6 (and the B6 dependant neurotransmitter Serotonin)
• Vitamin B12
• Folic Acid
• Vitamin C
• Magnesium
• Selenium
• Zinc
• Essential fatty acids
• Amino Acid Tyrosine
• Antioxidant CoQ10 (2)

If you are taking the pill, care should be taken to at least supplement your diet with the above nutrients, together with liver support herbs,  a nutrient rich diet and regular exercise.

As much as medical authorities reassure you that these synthetic hormones are safe, at the end of the day it is your body and you will be the one who has to deal with the consequences of any side effects.You have the right to treat your body well.

Less invasive alternatives to the oral contraceptive pill and other synthetic hormone devices are available, which do not put such a strain on the body. In the blog posts to come, I will introduce you to those which I use personally and recommend in clinic.

(1)     Ross Pelton, R.Ph.,CCN, The Pill Problem
(2)     Ross Pelton, R.Ph.,CCN, The Pill Problem
(3)     John Nurtagh, General Practise 5th ed, McGraw-Hill, 20