A true menstrual cycle encompasses rising and falling levels of estrogen, progesterone, LH, FSH, and other hormones. In order to have a true menstrual cycle bleed, it requires we ovulate mid-cycle.
If utilizing hormonal birth control, we don’t ovulate, nor produce progesterone (*hormonal IUD being the slight exception, as we sometimes ovulate). The communication between brain and ovaries is also shut down, and ovaries, hormones, and reproductive system are flat-lined and suppresed.
Taking hormonal birth control and still experiencing a monthly bleed? It’s simply a drug-induced bleed as a result of the pseudo-hormones. It could theoretically occur every 30 days, or even 300 days, as it’s not our real hormones at work. Simply the body responding to a drop in prescription drugs.
While utilizing hormonal birth control is not right or wrong, it’s important to discuss that our monthly menstrual cycle is our best indicator of our underlying health. Struggling with super heavy bleeds? Super short and light bleeds? Horrific cramps or bad PMS? No menstrual bleed at all? All the symptoms above should be red flags for further testing and conversations with doctors.
Potential Side Effects of Hormonal Birth Control:
– Changes to mood, depression, anxiety
– Decreased thyroid function pression
– Low or no sex drive
– Gut imbalances, digestive woes, yeast infections
– Insulin resistance, trouble regulating blood sugar
– Nutrient deficiencies
– Difficulty losing fat or gaining muscle
– Hair loss, acne
While hormonal birth control can relieve a variety of symptoms, it can also create entirely new symptoms while utilizing it or after transitioning off it. Hormonal birth control also doesn’t truly “fix” these issues, but simply acts as a bandaid. By making changes to nutrition, exercise, lifestyle, supplement routines, and environmental exposures, we might even be able to remedy symptoms naturally, since we addressed root cause.
But worth mentioning: if hormonal birth control works great for you and your body, that’s worth celebrating too. We all deserve to feel good and comfortable in our skin!
Taking birth control for the sake of avoiding pregnancy?
We’re actually only fertile 5-6 days a month and there’s also plenty of ways to naturally prevent pregnancy outside of hormonal birth control. Consider picking up a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, look into tracking your cycle, check out condom brands like Lola or Sustain, and consider researching fertility devices like @naturalcycles.
As always, check out books like Lara Briden’s Period Repair Manual, Sara Gottfried’s Hormone Cure, Jolene Brighten’s Beyond the Pill, and work with a doctor who’s passionate about helping you feel your best you on terms that work best for you and your body!