The Cost of Convenience

There are few things better out there than spontaneous sex with the one that you love. Unfortunately there is often a price to pay for such spontaneity. Birth control pills, shots, patches and rings can often leave you with a lot of trouble on your hands. So I ask those of you currently using the pill, what price are you willing to pay for such convenience?

My goal for this blog entry is not to make anyone feel bad for their choices, but to help you better understand the choices that you have made. As a practitioner who deals quite a lot with hormone related problems, and fertility in particular I feel it is only right to tell you what I see come through my door.

To start I want to go over some basic physiology which describe how birth control pills work. Before a woman actually produces her sex hormones the ovaries must first be stimulated by the pituitary or “master gland.” The major stimulating hormones which are affected here are Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Lutenizing Hormone (LH). Without these two hormones the ovaries would be dysfunctional and there would be no menses, among other problems. In essence, the pill works to shut down these stimulating hormones and replace the hormones which would have otherwise been produced by the ovaries. By controlling exactly what hormones are working on the body the pill can stop the eggs from maturing and a period from occurring.

The first thing that you should know about taking hormones like the pill is that it can work to make a woman’s natural hormone system “lazy” so to speak. Once off of the pill it can take up to 5 years sometimes for her natural cycle to return to normal. And in some women a normal cycle may not return at all, though this is rare. But it isn’t uncommon for true fertility to return a year or so after stopping the pill. This is actually a known syndrome called “Birth Control Syndrome.” It is due to the pituitary gland not being able to recover from being suppressed while on the hormones. Treatment needs to be aimed squarely at stimulating the pituitary to secrete FSH and LH again to stimulate the ovaries to do their job. Once proper pituitary/ovary communication is regained normal periods should start again and fertility is now possible.

Lastly there is a known drug/nutrient interaction with birth control pills and what are called methyl donors. These methyl donors are vital for proper detox pathways to occur in the liver. If there isn’t a clear detoxification pathway all kinds of problems can start such as acne, PMS, painful and erratic periods for example. And then let’s go a step further with increased cancer risk and neurological decline. Breast cancer risk goes up 2% per year while a woman is on birth control pills. So if you have been on the pill for 10 years you can enjoy a 20% increased risk of breast cancer.

If you must use birth control please consider supplementing with methyl donors like folic acid and B-12 for example. These compounds will help keep your detox pathways running smoother while on the hormone.

As much as I hate to be the bearer of bad news when it comes to people’s sex lives I feel obligated to do so here. Infertility, cancer, and general ill health are certainly on the rise and we need to be armed with everything that we can to keep healthy. If you are using birth control pills or exogenous hormones of any kind perhaps it is time to reconsider. I would be more than happy to help you detect and/or avoid any risk factors that you are not aware about. Believe me, hormones are powerful things and can make your life a living hell. And if that ends up being the case, you might end up asking yourself if the convenience was worth the cost?