I am often asked by women if the pill is ever a good way to deal with hormone imbalance. My answer is always a resounding no!
Why? Because hormonal birth control profoundly disrupts hormone balance. Some of its side effects include: weight gain, depression, bladder infections, and abnormal PAP tests. The Pill suppresses the body’s own hormones, kills sex drive, and can cause infertility. Many women start out taking birth control to prevent getting pregnant only to find that when they are ready to start a family- their past use of the pill is still preventing them from doing so. To state it plainly, the Pill is a chemical hormone shit-storm that wrecks your hormones.
Despite this fact, the idea that the Pill can be used to balance hormones is still the prevailing opinion of the general public – including doctors. It is important to understand that the Pill’s hormone-like drugs are not the same as the body’s own hormones. And the female body is not easily fooled.
The synthetic chemicals in the Pill are molecularly similar to human hormones, but they are not identical. To your precisely fine-tuned hormone receptors, similar is not good enough. Even the tiniest discrepancy in hormone structure can make a big difference in the body’s response. C’mon – it’s like handing a mother a baby that looks kinda like her child, of course, she is going to adore this cute baby – but not in the same way she would her own son.
Think of it this way. The right hormone is like the right key for a lock. In order to get a smooth response, the fit needs to be exact. With enough force, the wrong key can be jammed into a lock, and it may even elicit a distorted response. Such a response is like the hormonal effect of the Pill. It may be enough to rattle the lock, or even break the lock, but it does not do what the proper key for the lock could do. That’s the difference between the body’s own proper hormones and the pseudo-drug-hormones in the Pill.
My patients tell me that they need take the Pill to “regulate their periods” or to “clear up acne”. Yes, the Pill does mask those hormonal symptoms, but it does nothing to address the imbalance that underlies them. Taking the Pill for hormonal imbalance is like taking the battery out of your smoke alarm when it starts going off. Out of sight—out of mind….until the house burns down. Just like the fire that caused the alarm to go off, the imbalance that caused the acne is still there. Taking the battery out or taking a birth control pill will temporarily solve the problem – but the imbalance (or fire) will eventually do far more damage.
But doesn’t the Pill regulate periods?
What most people (even women on the pill) don’t realize is that the drug-induced bleeds that occur with the Pill are not real periods. They are bleeds that are arbitrarily coordinated into a 28-day cycle for the sole purpose of reassuring women that their bodies are doing something natural. The bleeds could just as easily be coordinated to 33 days or 41 days or any number of days that the drug company chooses. Because the underlying cause of the irregular periods is never addressed by the Pill, the periods will revert to irregularity as soon as the Pill is stopped. In fact, the periods may then be more irregular thanks to the hormonal disruption by the Pill. Some women can take 2 years or longer to resume a normal cycle after stopping the Pill. This is particularly true for sufferers of polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS. The Pill aggravates the insulin imbalance that underlies PCOS, and thereby promotes the condition that it is supposed to treat.
Teenagers are particularly at risk. If a young woman starts the Pill before her own periods have found their rhythm, she could struggle with irregular periods for the rest of her life. It is NORMAL for teenagers to have somewhat irregular periods. It is not a reason to put a 15-year-old on the Pill. Instead, implementing healthy lifestyle practices like removing sugar and processed foods from the diet, increasing omega 3 consumption, staying well hydrated, and getting daily exercise can do so much more for teens period problems.
Why does the Pill fix acne?
The Pill may clear up acne, but only as a band-aid. Often times, the acne is a symptom of dairy sensitivity, sugar consumption, zinc deficiency, stress hormones. The synthetic estrogen in the Pill steamrolls over any such underlying hormonal or nutritional imbalance, and as soon as the Pill is stopped, the acne will return with a vengeance. That is because the hormone receptors in the skin become addicted to the high levels of synthetic estrogen, and they do not adjust easily to normal, human levels of estrogen when the Pill is stopped. It can take months to adjust, and by that time many women return to the Pill, thinking: “my skin must need it”. But the post-Pill skin needs more synthetic estrogen-like an addict needs more heroin. It may feel good temporarily, but it’s not a good choice because the hormone imbalance remains active in the body and will present itself as a different symptom later.
Is the Pill ever justified?
Some medical conditions such as endometriosis, migraines and ovarian cysts may justify temporary use of the Pill. Even then, I think that there are better long-term options.
Seed Cycling For Hormone Balance and more pleasant periods.
Seed Cycling is a powerful tool that I teach to many of my patients to gently and effectively balance their hormones. And the best part is that it works no matter what stage you are at in life— pre-menopause, postpartum, post-menopause or even as a teen in the beginning of their journey through womanhood.
The evidence is stacking up that seed cycling is good for fertility. I’ve witnessed women overcome infertility, resolve their long-standing acne and banish PMS symptoms for good just by employing this “food as medicine” approach. Check out my article on seed cycling for the details.