What are birth control pills?
They use hormones to prevent pregnancy by preventing the fertilisation of the egg. The pill puts your natural hormones to sleep and introduces new chemical hormones in your body that will control the functioning of the uterus and ovaries. It is currently one of the most common type of contraception.
Birth control pills usually contain a mix of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone in order to prevent ovulation (the release of an egg during the monthly cycle). A woman cannot become pregnant if she does not ovulate. The pill will also thicken the mucus around the cervix, which will make it difficult for the sperm to enter the uterus and reach any eggs that may have been released.
What birth control pills do to your body?
Your period on the pill is called withdrawal bleeding. This is because your hormones “withdraw” from functioning. If you take a 21-day pack of combined pills, your withdrawal bleeding will normally occur on the week when you do not take the pill. Much as with normal menstruation, the bleeding is caused by a drop in hormones. The bleeding you have is not a natural one. The pill stops your body from producing progesterone and oestrogen. This will have an impact on your body although you might not notice anything. However, ovulation, for instance, makes the body produces progesterone, which is very important for women’s health. Instead, the pill suppresses progesterone production. The chemical hormones that the pill introduces in your body do not have the same positive effects. In contrast, in long term they put women at risk of developing cancer or having cardiovascular problems.
- irregular menstrual bleeding
- nausea, migraines, dizziness, breast tenderness
- mood changes
- blood clots
- weight gain
- heart attack
- lighter periods
- diminution of cramps
- it prevents acne
They are usually prescribed as a main problem solver for anything related to menstrual problems. If you have an irregular cycle, your doctor might prescribe you the pill. If you have heavy periods, same, if you do not have your period for at least three months, the solution is the pill again. However, I strongly recommend you to read and ask for some extra advice before giving your consent and take the pill because:
- the pill stops the activity of your natural hormones, which will prevent your body from many positive effects that hormones do naturally to the body
- you are at risk of experiencing depression, research on the topic shows that women on the pill have more chances to experience depression than those that do not take it
- you might need more time to get pregnant. After stopping the pill, your body will need months or even years to find balance again and to return to a natural pattern. This means that your ovulation will highly be affected during this period, which will make pregnancy difficult. About 50% of women need to wait at least one year after stopping the pill before managing to get pregnant (Mikkelsen, et al., 2013).
- the vaginal introitus area decreases in size, which makes orgasm more difficult (Battaglia et al., 2011)
Altnernative contraception methods:
- Menstrual cycle monitoring/Period Trackers
- Intrauterine devices
Later, I will talk more about how you can sync naturally with your body in order to prevent pregnancy. Monitoring your menstrual cycle might be the only method you need to use in order to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. It comes with many other positive effects on your wellbeing. Despite all the adverts from the pharmaceutical companies and everything they say around “safety” etc. and how good their pills are, in reality a woman is fertile only a couple of days per month. Knowing which days are those means you can easily avoid having a baby. Respecting your body natural functioning is just so much better for your physical and mental health. This includes your physical appearance, emotional health, EVERYTHING!
Battaglia C, Battaglia B, Mancini F, Busacchi P, Paganotto MC, Morotti E, Venturoli S. Sexual behavior and oral contraception: a pilot study. J Sex Med. 2012 Feb;9(2):550-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2011.02597.x. Epub 2011 Dec 21. PMID: 22188640.
Ellen M. Mikkelsen, Anders H. Riis, Lauren A. Wise, Elizabeth E. Hatch, Kenneth J. Rothman, Henrik Toft Sørensen, Pre-gravid oral contraceptive use and time to pregnancy: a Danish prospective cohort study, Human Reproduction, Volume 28, Issue 5, May 2013, Pages 1398–1405, https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/det023