My (paleo) nutritionist kind of negatively huffed at my answer to taking the birth control pill, mentioning that it could cause a disruption in sexual drive. Though that's not my main concern, obviously BC isn't paleo, and I'm wondering what kind of influence this is having on my primal lifestyle. Let's say I was to ix-nay the pill, would I see a dramatic difference in anything (besides the usual "lady effects")? I truly want to get my body into a great place, and am considering taking this out if it's necessary.
If I could do my life over (I'm 49) I would avoid the Pill and any other hormonal birth control at all costs. I never had any side-effects on the Pill, but the longer-term consequences are starting to become apparent.
Using synthetic hormones like Progestin that mimic some of the effects of natural Progesterone, really screwed up my system. BCPs can lead to zinc & B6 depletion, among other things.
If you ever want to get pregnant, then knowing your body & its natural cycles is great preparation, in any case.
Recommend reading this book. The beginning explains how hormones work in the body: http://www.amazon.com/John-Lees-Hormone-Balance-Simple/dp/044669438X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339432053&sr=1-1
If you want to take control of your fertility & understand your body better, I recommend reading this book: http://www.amazon.com/Taking-Charge-Fertility-Anniversary-Edition/dp/0060881909/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339432181&sr=1-1&keywords=taking+charge+of+your+fertility
Also, a great site for fertility awareness is www.fertilityfriend.com
I was on the pill for a looooooong time and finally went off it last year (ironically shortly after I started eating Paleo, but the plans were to go off it long before I went Paleo). Here's what I know about it:
1) There is evidence that hormonal birth control will destroy your gall bladder. My gall bladder went bad. I was on the pill for probably 12 or 13 years when it went bad. Could be a coincidence...but maybe not.
2) Birth control makes your body think it's pregnant all the time. We aren't meant to be non-stop pregnant!
3) Because your body thinks it is pregnant, it also traps your libido in a pregnancy state - usually in the state of low libido. (I think I heard this on Robb Wolf's podcast, but it's also mentioned in a great book that I'm reading - It's called "The Sex Drive Solution" and covers women's hormones in depth, including these kinds of side effects from the pill).
4) There is at least one study that says women would choose a different mate had they not been influenced by being on birth control when they chose their mate. Can't tell you for sure if I believe this to be true, but I can tell you that I barely know who I am anymore since going off the pill. I do know that it had some kind of influence on who I felt like I was, because now I kind of feel like I don't know who I am.
5) After going off the pill, my periods were a mess. They are finally starting to become normal. It takes at least 6 months for the hormones to leave your system.
6) I can't find any info on this, so it's my working theory - I had 2 pretty bad injuries during the past year that I feel could be related to the changes my body was going through purging that crap from my system. It makes sense to me and I've even suggested the idea to medical professionals who feel my theory is reasonable. One issue was bone related and the other tendon related. It is known that women are more prone to these kinds of injuries because of hormones. I had a DXA scan and was told that I have exceptionally great bone density for someone of very low bodyfat, so my SAD or Paleo diet wasn't to blame for the bone issue. I really believe that the hormonal changes predisposed my body to a greater potential for injury.
7) I NEVER had an acne problem and my skin went crazy after I went off the pill. Now that periods have normalized, I no longer have acne. Also, it may have been diet or some other factor, but I did lose body fat or water weight or something after going off the pill. I became quite a bit leaner (without much exercise because there's not much one can do with a broken foot and severe triceps tendinitis).
8) Another interesting fact from the book - most women aren't depressed because they lack serotonin. They are depressed because their hormones are imbalanced. It's yet another reason why the writer (a medical doc) is anti-hormonal intervention unless ab-so-lute-ly necessary. We use hormonal interventions for convenience and it ends up really messing up what's meant to naturally happen with our bodies.
I went off the pill 2 years ago and was on it for 5 years! I was only 15 years old when I started taking it.
When I went off it, I didn't have my period for 5 months. I guess that says it all. It destroys your natural hormone balance so bad and your body needs a lot of time to restore it fully.
I feel so much better without my body thinking that I'm pregnant all the time. Wish I could turn back time and listen to my mum when she told me: " do you actually know what you're taking there? hormones that some grouchy, horny old man developed in his lab."
I went off the pill about 15 years ago (at 22ish), not liking the fact that I was pumping hormones into my body. Immediate benefits that I remember are increased sex drive and weight loss (I was finally able to lose the weight I'd put on at university). I would never go back to the pill now as I think allowing my body to cycle naturally is vastly preferential. I had an IUD for 10 years (copper, no hormones) and got on with that fine. It gave me heavier, longer periods, but nothing unbearable.
I guess I offer a different perspective here: I was on the Pill for several years and really, they were awesome. My periods were like clockwork, I had no bad side effects (at least at the time) and I didn't gain weight, etc.
I won't go back on them, unless for some crazy unforseen reason. While I had no negative side effects, I just prefer to not be on them anymore and really, don't see the point in them for us. We plan on having children until we decide we are done, using breastfeeding and natural family planning along the way (though we don't mind if we get pregnant one bit) and then my husband will make a special trip to the doctor and that will be that. :-)
Bottom line: use some very reliable form of birth control if you're having sex and don't want to get pregnant. Regardless of if it's 100% Paleo or not.
Like dragonfly, I wish I never went on the pill in the first place, but anyhoo its a waste of energy to have regrets.
~ Went on the pill at 16 to control horrible cystic acne. Acne went away, but moods and depression got worse.
~ Went off the pill at 27 because I felt it was messing with my body.
~ I've been off the pill since Feb 2010 and my periods still aren't regular. Sometimes 27 days, sometimes 35 days, 40 days or a few months between each one!
~ I feel that I developed terrible IBS while on the pill. This has since disappeared after going off it and taking care of my gut.
~ I think my thyroid is in the crapper because my free T3 is really low at the moment. Going to get more tests done. Not sure if this is pill related.
~ Lost about half my hair when I stopped the pill and it hasn't really grown back. This is a downer and sometimes I feel like I have homer simpson's hairstyle.
~ When I was on the pill I tried to exercise like a fiend to try and lose the weight. Did Body for Life intensely, HIIT - ing 3 times a week and lifting heavy until I thought my bones would break. But I saw absolutely 0 changes in my body and lost 0 weight. Followed their food plan religiously (pre paleo, everything that went in my mouth was weighed) - didn't lose weight or improved body comp. The pill gave me 30 extra pounds of flab that did not want to budge.
~ Since going off the pill I managed to lose the 30 pounds slowly over the course of 2 years ( I lose weight at a glacial pace) But I recently put them back on over the last couple of months. Due to experimenting with "safe starches" - it will take me another 2 years to get this weight off again, lol!
~ Still having terrible PMS with my cycle - moodiness and cravings around ovulation. HORRIBLE fluid retention that plagues me every day, especially around my midsection. Shoes and rings always fit differently every day.
~ It totally killed my sex drive while on it, so I guess that's effective birth control.
In hindsight, I do not think that it was worth ever going on the pill. I am managing my fertility fine right now even with erratic cycles, with charting morning temps, and monitoring cervical mucus and position. I keep my skin acne free now with copious amounts of green tea.
However I know some women who have had absolutely 0 issues with the pill and came off it with no effects. YMMV.
I stopped taking BC pills last May and have felt better ever since. My periods are actually lighter (the way they were before the pill, my last bought on the pill was about 7 years). My hair started growing in more thickly (head hair, eye lashes and eyebrows) and after a few months I was able to really pay attention to my body and know when I was ovulating, etc.
I have read that even the low dose pills (like ortho tri cyclen lo) have 7 times the amounts of hormones than needed. There is a ton of research out there - google away and find out what you feel most comfortable with, though I have to say, I am glad to be off and I am never going back.
Any health professional who HUFFS at the very mention of conventional birth control needs a privilege reality check and a smack upside the head. Talk about being one of those big picture issues. Does he or she know your sex life, specific hormonal panel, family history of cancer, abortion history if any, yada yada yada yada? I'm not saying that a paleo nutritionist shouldn't be allowed to point out the downsides of conventional BCPs, but criminy. What a missed opportunity for both of you.
I've done years off and on the pill/ring for endometriosis. Didn't affect my sex drive and in fact helped because less endo = less pain = more interest in physical activity. Also, my period went from sheer inundation to manageable, while I actually had one. The pill can also let you skip having periods, which I've done for about the past 4 years. But hey, I'm also happy to get off of conventional BCPs (giving my uterus the heave-ho this week!). Sure, they're not ideal, but neither is a bunch of urchins at my ankles or unremitting pain.
I really liked the Mirena when I had it. Localized hormones mean less crap circulating in your system. I don't know much about the copper IUD. I do think IUDs are probably underrated. NOTE: Mine fell out. It can happen.
The most friendly natural option I have found is a diaphragm with spermicide/sperm blocker, combined with awareness of your natural cycles. We use the diaphragm with sperm blocker every time. During my fertile time, we also use a condom.
I am SEVERELY allergic to nonoxynol-9 based spermicides. So we make sure the condoms don't have any, and I use two different alternatives with the diaphragm (this is why I use the term sperm blocker). One is CONTRAGEL, a lactic acid based spermicide available in Canada and Europe. It is very difficult to obtain in the US, but sometimes I can find a source. If not, I use MANUKA HONEY. Just put a teaspoon of the sperm blocker in the diaphragm, and spread it around the edge of the seal before inserting. Some people also use a combo of aloe vera gel, lemon juice, etc ... there is a yahoo group called "Diaphragms and Caps" that has a lot of useful info.
I have 4 kids, and have been dealing with birth control for more than 20 years ... I WISH I had found this sooner! My holistic gyn talked me into this method, telling me that she used it exclusively for 20 years with only 1 planned pregnancy. I've been using it for 2 years, no pregnancy ... and I am Fertile Myrtle. My 4th child was conceived using just a condom...
I love the pill!!!! I actually feel like it's easier to lose weight when I am on it because I don't have raging PMS and want to eat everything in sight. I feel more balanced and I love having lighter periods. I also love not getting pregnant (right now) and being able to be spontaneous. Since going paleo my sex drive has increased (it was already pretty normal, I'd say). I skip a few periods a year as well on purpose if I have a big event. My gyno's explanation was very paleo and said women have more periods now than they ever have in history! Also, it's hard to lose weight when you are pregnant!
As the above stated, if you aren't going to use BC, please find another birth control method!!!
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