When asked to give women one single piece of hormonal advice, I say: do not take the Pill.
Why? Because hormonal birth control profoundly disrupts hormone balance. It causes weight gain, depression, bladder infections, and abnormal PAP tests. The Pill suppresses the body’s own hormones and kills libido. To state it plainly, the Pill is chemical castration.
And yet the idea that the Pill can be used to balance hormones is entrenched with many patients and doctors. The Pill’s hormone-like drugs are not the same as the body’s own hormones.
The synthetic chemicals in the Pill are molecularly similar to human hormones, but they are not identical. To an exquisitely fine-tuned hormone receptor, similar is not good enough. Even the tiniest discrepancy in hormone structure can make a big difference in the body’s response.
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 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 fixing the engine light on your car dashboard by covering it over with a piece of black tape. Out of sight—out of mind.
Can the pill regulate periods?
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 35 days or 43 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 up to 2 years 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.
Why does the pill work for acne?
The pill clears up acne because of the anti-androgen or anti-testosterone drugs drospirenone or cyproterone. Unfortunately, as soon as the drugs are stopped, acne will come back even worse than it was before.
The better plan for skin is to treat the underlying cause of high IGF-1 hormone by avoiding dairy and sugar.
What about contraception?
The best natural methods of birth control include condoms, IUD and fertility awareness-based methods.