Your doctor recommends it, all your friends take it, it doesn’t really seem like there are any effective alternatives… So what’s the problem?
The problem with hormonal birth control
Our bodies are meant to operate in a specific manner. You have certain bodily processes that happen when we are in a state of health, and one of those processes for women is cyclic fertility. When you take a hormonal contraceptive you are purposely destroying one of your bodies healthy processes willingly.
This often creates many side effects such as low libido, mood swings, depression, weight gain, headaches/migraines, malnutrition, lethargy, and loss in bone mineral density, just to name a few. In addition there are many long term risks that don’t necessarily happen to you while taking the pill, but have been correlated in studies to be more prevalent if you have taken hormonal contraception, especially for a long time. These include blood clots (those things that can cause strokes, heat attack, pulmonary embolism, etc.) and cancer. These lists could be extended, but for the sake of brevity I am just listing a few things that are strongly correlated with hormonal contraceptive use.
Fertility and hormonal contraception
In addition, something you may not consider much when choosing a hormonal contraceptive is fertility. What if the pill fails and you end up getting pregnant? The embryo gets those artificial hormones in the first few weeks of development, which seems terrifying to me.
What if, if you do want to get pregnant, your body has a hard time eliminating the synthetic hormones (or perhaps, if you started taking it while you were young enough, your own hormonal processes were not able to form properly)? Or what if you go off the hormonal contraception in anticipation of having a baby, are unfamiliar with other forms of birth control, and have an “oops” before you are able to build back up your nutrient stores and eliminate all of the old hormones? These are questions that need too be considered by anyone wishing to use hormonal contraception.
When you are taking the pill to “fix” a hormonal problem
Got cramps? Acne? PCOS? Endometriosis? These are all examples of conditions that doctors will prescribe hormonal contraceptives for. What most patients (and doctors) don’t realize is that the hormonal contraceptives are not fixing their problem. The hormones are simply making your body run off of different hormones than your own (which need to be balanced).
Imagine the case of a young woman who has acne and bad cramps associate with her period. She realizes that something is amiss and visits her doctor for help. The doctor suggests hormonal contraceptives to “get rid of” her cramps and acne, rather than figuring out what causes her cramps and acne. This seems to help so she stays on these hormones for years, and is happy that she has the added benefit of contraception. When she is older, she decides to have a kid and comes of the hormones, only to find that her hormones are out of balance and that the years of synthetic hormone usage has thrown them off more.
This scenario is all too common, but unfortunately our medicinal system is meant to fix symptoms and not the underlying problems creating those symptoms. Many people are happy for the quick fix, but when contraceptives start to interfere with their desires for a family, rather than an aide for not getting pregnant, many women find themselves lost.
While the pill may be popularly accepted, it’s often not the best option for you. Some people may choose to take the risks, but armed with all of the facts, you may not choose for your body and mind to endure so much adversity. Make sure you have all of the information about a birth control method before embarking on it and that you are happy about the pros and cons offered by it.