Picture this scenario: a 15 year-old girl walks into her doctor’s office complaining of acne and painful, irregular periods. Her doctor is quick to write a prescription for birth control pills. She tells her that it will help balance her hormones and regulate her cycle and stop the acne. While on the medication, her skin clears and her periods are regular and pain-free, she’s thrilled and remains on the pill without a second thought until she’s ready to start a family.
In another case, a woman in her late 30s or early 40s is experiencing perimenopausal symptoms of mood swings, irregular bleeding, hot flashes, and night sweats. Her OB/GYN wants to put her on the birth control pill to alleviate her symptoms instead of working to figure out the root cause of her hot flashes and mood changes.
Almost ten million women taking the pill
These women would hardly be a rarity, in fact, they would be in the company of 9.7 million other women currently taking birth control pills. After all, the birth control pill is so ubiquitous that is is typically referred to simply as just “the pill”. So it must be pretty harmless right?
The truth is that birth control pills are not harmless. For one, when a doctor immediately jumps to birth control pills to alleviate a woman’s symptoms she is not addressing the root cause of the symptoms, but rather masking them with a medication, leaving the root cause untreated. What’s more, birth control pills themselves pose several health risks. In this article, we’ll look at what birth control pills are, how they affect your body, and the Functional Medicine approach to balancing your hormones naturally.
What Are Birth Control Pills?
Birth control pills are a type of hormone replacement therapy. They contain synthetic (man-made) hormones that disrupt the natural hormonal cycle to stop ovulation. In a woman’s natural hormone cycle, estrogen and progesterone fluctuate. Estrogen peaks right before ovulation, and progesterone right after.
Birth control pills work by providing the body with synthetic hormones (either estrogen and progesterone or just progesterone) to keep them consistently high, fooling the body into thinking it’s pregnant to prevent your ovaries from releasing an egg.
The original purpose of birth control pills, of course, was to stop pregnancy, but conventional doctors are all too quick to prescribe the pill for other reasons, such as acne, PMS, painful periods, ovarian cysts, fibroids, mood swings, and perimenopause, just to name a few.
What Are the Problems with Birth Control Pills?
The main problem with birth control pills is that instead of estrogen they contain synthetic hormones, such as ethinyl estridiol and norethindrone, which are not recognized or broken down by the body in the same way natural estrogen is. Birth control pills also disrupt your natural hormone levels, since they keep estrogen levels artificially high, which has a ripple effect across your endocrine system. These factors can cause a whole myriad of health issues.
Increased Risk of Cancer
Synthetic estrogens like the ones found in birth control pills can increase your risk of developing certain types of cancers, such breast, uterine, and cervical cancer. Studies show that women who take birth control pills, and even women who have recently stopped taking the pill, have a 20 to 30% higher risk of developing breast cancer than women who have never used the pill.
As you may already know, most of us are already carrying around Candida in our digestive tract. When we’re in good health – and following a healthy diet and lifestyle – the yeast doesn’t cause any problems; however, when our internal ecosystem becomes imbalanced, it can lead to an overgrowth of Candida and all of the unpleasant symptoms that come along with it. Birth control pills disrupt our internal balance by causing something called estrogen dominance – meaning too much estrogen in the body. In one study, researchers found that the use of birth control pills can double the risk of developing a Candida overgrowth.
Increase in Sex-Binding Hormones
The synthetic hormones in birth control pills increase thyroid and sex hormone binding globulin, mimicking pregnancy. This decreases the amount of testosterone and thyroid hormone available in your blood, which can leave you hypothyroid, constipated, depressed, overweight, foggy, and with an almost non-existent sex drive.
Birth control pills are processed through your liver and go through what is called the first-pass effect or first-pass metabolism. During this process, the pills are metabolized by the liver and the concentration of the medication is greatly reduced before it reaches the bloodstream. This process can significantly tax the liver leading to increased inflammation, tumors of the liver, and a decreased ability to properly detox.
The metabolism of birth control pills by the liver also requires extra amounts of B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, and zinc. If you’re not getting extra amounts of these nutrients, it can lead to nutritional deficiencies that present as weight gain, fluid retention, depression, and changes in mood.
Studies have found that birth control pills (specifically combination pills that contain both synthetic estrogen and progesterone) increase blood pressure, raising your risk for heart attacks, blood clots, and strokes.
The Functional Medicine Approach to Balancing Your Hormones Naturally
While birth control pills may seem like the quick fix to numerous health problems, they are anything but. A functional medicine approach looks at all aspects of your lifestyle – and your individual biochemistry – to get to the root cause of your symptoms, and put you on the path to finding long-term relief. In my own clinic for example, I look at possible food sensitivities and gut issues for women battling acne, and I use functional lab hormone testing to determine if hormonal imbalances are at play in women with early menopause, or painful or irregular periods.
No matter what your underlying cause is, the first step is to make necessary diet and lifestyle changes. I always recommend starting with The Myers Way® Comprehensive Elimination Diet– to identify personal food sensitivities and determine the diet that is best for your individual needs. You’d be amazed at how many issues can be resolved using diet alone. Following The Myers Way® will also allow you to start healing your gut, which contains bacteria and enzymes that help re-circulate estrogens.
Next it’s essential to take a look at the personal care products you’re using. Many personal care products contain parabens and phthalates – chemicals that mimic the activity of synthetic estrogens in your body. You can read more on that here.
While following The Myers Way® program, supplementation can also help reduce symptoms and provide some relief naturally, while working to fix the underlying issue. For women who are going through early menopause, I recommend herbal formulas that help to stimulate progesterone.
One of these is Hormone Balance – the AM formula increases energy, reduces anxiety, and improves mental clarity, while the PM version helps alleviate night sweats, restlessness, and anxiety. Another supplement I often recommend is Femmenessence Pro Peri, which uses maca to stimulate your body’s natural hormone production, rebalancing your hormones and reducing symptoms such as night sweats and hot flashes.
Other Contraception Methods
I’m well aware that in many cases, women turn to birth control pills as a way to avoid unwanted, unplanned pregnancies rather than just for relief of lingering symptoms. While this is one of the most common contraception methods, there are other options available.
My top recommendation is a non-hormonal copper IUD. The copper IUD is approved for 10 years of use, although some studies have shown it to be effective for up to 20 years. You may also want to consider male condoms (if you’re not in a committed relationship definitely always use condoms). You can also use the rhythm method, where you track your cycles and avoid sex on the days you are fertile. There are a number of fertility apps designed to help you conceive via the rhythm method that can be used in the opposite way to prevent pregnancy. Or, if it makes sense for you and your family, your partner can get a vasectomy.
It is important to weigh the pros and cons of different contraception methods to figure out what works best for you for your stage of life and marital status. Keep in mind that the only birth control method that is 100 percent effective is abstinence.
11 pounds in 22 days?
Is it REALLY possible to lose 11 lbs. of fat in 22 days? Actually yes… BUT only when you’re a level 4 fat burner. Unfortunately, most people are stuck as level 1 fat burners. So, how do you become a level 4 fat burner to lose up to 11 lbs. in 22 days? Simply eat these foods daily:
Did you know that one of the best times to stretch is right before bed? However…
What stretches should you do? Here’s a 1-minute stretch routine you can do before bed...
Lisa, Yoga Coach
eatlocalgrown / wisemindhealthybody
...easy, 3-minute exercise that completely cured his horrendous snoring! We can both finally sleep!
Today is a good day. Tonight will be even better. Why?
Because you're about to learn easy throat exercises that cure (not just treated) your stubborn snoring – in 3 minutes – starting TONIGHT!
...even if straps, sprays and even torturing CPAP masks have failed you in the past.
Most people heal their snoring in just a few minutes per day using these powerful throat exercises. And they're so easy, you can do them, regardless of your age or physical shape.
Use them anytime, anywhere... even while stuck in traffic or watching TV.
Plus the results are permanent!
Did you know that your bodyfat can become "calorie-resistant"?
True. And it's completely unaffected by even the strictest diets... and most intense exercises.
However, there's good news- Calorie-resistant bodyfat can be now removed...
It's a little-known, calorie-burning hormone we all have... just waiting for the right spark to come alive. It's not thyroid, leptin, ghrelin, insulin, adiponectin, HGH or any other "fat loss" hormone you may know. Read more to find out precisely how to unleash its calorie-burning power:
To your health!
PS - Studies show that it can also reduce your risk of diabetes by 53.7%, a heart attack by 83.3% and stroke by 51.4%. Here's more of the scientific proof...
I bet you can’t guess which muscle in your body is the #1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat. This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
If this “hidden” most powerful primal muscle is healthy, we are healthy.
d) Hip Flexors
Take the quiz above and see if you got the correct answer!
In April, 2009, researchers stunned the medical community when they reported chronic inflammation as the root cause of several major diseases.
See, every year 610,000 people in the U.S. die of heart disease. Cancer claims another 584,000...stroke 130,000...Alzheimer's disease nearly 85,000 — and the list goes on.
Truth is, we now know... chronic inflammation is responsible for 7 out of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States! Hundreds of studies and scientific reviews prove it.
Fortunately, newer research shows you can prevent-even reverse-most major diseases by "turning off" inflammation. And in our new book, we show you how to do just that.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a debilitating condition-and you"re not sure what the culprit is-now's the time to find out...while you can still do something about it!
--> Grab your FREE copy of this groundbreaking soft cover book today (while supplies still last.)
Over the past year, my friend Dave over at PaleoHacks has been working on a super secret cookbook project with our good friend Peter Servold a Le Cordon Bleu trained Chef and owner of Pete's Paleo...
And today, this new incredible Paleo Cookbook is finally available to be shipped right to your door for FREE!
The cookbook is called Paleo Eats, and it's filled with over 80 chef created, insanely tasty Paleo recipes which means they are free from gluten, soy, dairy, and refined sugar.
Get your FREE copy of Paleo Eats Here. (Grab this today, because they only ordered a small batch of these cookbooks for this freebie promotion, and they will sell out FAST!)
Sponsored Health Resources
In the years that I've been working on this website project I've come across some amazing resources by some very special people. I'd like to share them with you here.
NOTE: I update these links often so please check back to see what's new!
1) Everyone knows green smoothies are healthy right? Have you heard of a “red” smoothie? If not, check out this story…
2) Forget what you've read about 10-day lemonade cleanses, 7-day detoxes with green juices and Gwyneth's gruel. All you need to do, and this is perfect for Saturday or or anytime really, is a simple 1-day cleanse.
3) This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
4) I thought it was virtually impossible for a website to be able to tell me anything even a little bit insightful after only submitting my name and date of birth... I was wrong!
5) Turmeric is amazing. The problem is - It's hard to absorb!
6) Wonder why your stomach still sticks out even though you're hammering the core exercises every day? It's a common myth that bulging belly is due to weak abdominal muscles.
7) Even if you're the most active of athletes, you may still suffer from tight hip flexors due to the amount of time you spend each day planted to a chair.
Enjoy! Let me know how these work out for you. And if you run across anything I've missed please let me know.