Looking for Hormone Balance? The Pill Is Not the Answer

Pill can never balance hormonesWhen 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 fix acne?

The Pill may clear up acne, but that does not therefore mean that the acne was a symptom of hormone deficiency or Pill-deficiency. More likely, the acne was a symptom of dairy sensitivity or sugar consumption or zinc deficiency or stress hormones. (See my latest Acne post.)  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.

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.

Common conditions such as PCOS, acne, PMS, and period pain never justify Pill use. Those conditions respond very well to natural hormone balancing treatments.

What about contraception?

In my view, the best contraceptive methods are condoms, IUD and fertility awareness method. Fertility awareness requires some planning, but when done properly, it can be as effective as the Pill at preventing pregnancy.

My other more recent posts about hormonal birth control:

Yours in Health,

Lara

59 thoughts on “Looking for Hormone Balance? The Pill Is Not the Answer”

  1. Dear Dr. Am Faith , for mi it seems I hv PCOS with all its symptoms of irregular PS,off and on cysts, mood swings , not conceiving, etc. coz since 2015 hv been treating ovarian cysts but even now they still came bck , I was told that I hv hormonal imbalance and hv been given microgynone for quite a while. I hv tried conceiving all in vine I was prescribed with Clomid , still I didn’t conceive upto date . wat should I do .

    And the other thing is if I take pill can’t they refuse from conceiving coz its wat I want most.

    Thanks

  2. Hello, Dr. Briden,

    I am curious to know if your book discusses alternatives to birth control for treating Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding (DUB).
    I have been taking birth control ever since I was 14 years old (I am currently 17, almost 18 years old), to manage my DUB. My period was very regular for the first 3 years I had it, until the extremely sudden onset of DUB, which left me deathly anemic before I got treatment and a diagnosis for it.
    I have forgotten to take pills sometimes, which has lead to the unfortunate discovery that I still have horrible DUB; Bright red, excessively heavy “periods” can start any time of month and will not stop until I take another pill (or until I, unideally, die from blood loss).
    To be frank, I’m scared to get off the pill because I don’t want to experience another period that won’t stop until it’s almost killed me. But I know, long-term, that taking birth control is detrimental to my health. That’s how I found this website in the first place; looking for ways to stop relying on birth control.
    If your book does not cover DUB, do you have any words of advice about how I might be able to regulate it? And, if your book does cover it, I will be sure to check it out.

    Sorry for the big ramble, and thank you for your time. Also, thank you for helping so many people become independent from their pills!
    -Evilina Saeger

  3. What about using birth control to control menstrual migraine when supplements like Magnesium and Riboflavin have not helped?

  4. I’m 15 and really petite, and although I got my period when I was 12, I’ve only had eight or ten in total, none of which were natural, normal periods. As a side note, I’ve suffered from debilitating migraines since I was very little, so my doctor sought to kill two birds with one stone with bcp. Therefore, I was put on birth control for irregular cycles right when I turned 14, noting that they did put me on the second lowest dose, and not only did I immediately gained 10 pounds of pure water weight, my migraines also worsened, and I felt utterly terrible and bloated. I stopped the birth control after five months because I had to get knee surgery, and right away I started to lose weight and felt incredibly better. It’s been a year since I last took birth control, and I’ve yet to get a real period, twice during the summer I had spotting, but other than that there has been no sign, almost as if I’m pre-pubescent again. We went to the doctor, and I was diagnosed with the fact that I super low estrogen, that of a kid, and so I naturally don’t produce a period. My migraines have also recently started to worsen, even to the fact that they’re chronic, daily and draining. I’m not sure that the migraines are related to my lack of period, but I am hesitant to try birth control again to see if the lack of estrogen is making my migraines worse.

  5. You mention in your post that even for migraines you think there is a better long term solution than a hormonal pill, but I can’t find any reference in your posts to what you think this is. Can you elaborate?

    I want to know because currently I get a two week migraine when I ovulate and a one week migraine when I menstruate. On a four week cycle I am bedridden for nearly three week out of every four. The pill that I was on to stop these migraines had started giving me a different migraine for three days every three weeks. So, I am very curious to know what your long-term suggestions for migraine treatment include.

    • I discuss hormonal migraines in Chapter 8 of my book. I hope to write future post about them. Magnesium is the first treatment to consider.

      • my problem with the pill started when my mom forced me to go to the doctor, because my periods were always irregular. The doctor just did an ultrasound, no blood tests and gave the pill. The first time I took them, I started having pains that lasted for 3 days. I continued to take for 2 months. In the last 2 weeks of the 2nd month, I start feeling a stimulation in my breasts. After I stopped taking the pill, breast milk started coming off my breasts, causing abnormal acne and headaches. I know that some people have good experiences (my mom) . I personally wouldn’t recommend it.

  6. Hello Dr. Lara ,

    I hope you can help me sort through things a little … Here is my story … When I was 36 , I’m now 51 I started peri menopause , hot flashes , abnormal periods , etc … I was placed on birth control at that time . The spotting became a problem … I had a couple of D&C’s and later an ablation at 42 years of age . Endometrial biopsies were done prior for hyperplasia and blood work performed which confirmed hormone levels nearing menopause. I went to an endocrinologist at that time wanting to get off birth control but still needing something for hot flashes and insomnia … She gave me vivelle dot and testosterone … I have been on estrogen since then and I desperately want to be done with it … I have tried to go off on my own several times by weening myself slowly only to be right back where I started …. I do not sleep well at all and still have hot flashes …. My dose is 0.5 mg …. I have decided to ween off again and try femenessence macapause … Wanted to know your thoughts ….

    Thank you so very much for your time .
    Kindest Wishes,
    Natalie

  7. Hello,
    After reading this post I wanted to ask you some questions but in order to get an answer I need to explain a little about myself. I am 26 years old and over weight, which is strange. I’ve always been over weight despite being insanely sporty and excercising on a daily basis. But yet ive never been able to lose weight but maintain it… its the only way I can best describe my situation because I’ve never truely gained weight or lost it. You could call my pubity phase as gaining weight but I cant look at it that way because my body shape stayed the way it is only my general fiqure changed(got wider hip wise etc). By the time I was 18 I had only had my period twice and now at 26 ive only had my period a half a dozen times since then. I know this is abnormal and the advice I was given by a male doctor wasnt sufficient. He sujested going on the pill, after talking to my mother however she didnt want me going on the pill because of the high rate of cancer that runs in my family. I then saught help from dietitians. All the diets they put me on seemed to do more harm then good. I was breaking out in pimples where I had previously had none. I was getting sick regularly where I had been previously healthy. None of these people associated that I had a hormonal imbalance… until I changed my gp after my old one passed away. This doctor is an asian doctor and he knows the topic to am extent and spotted the issue however apart from using chinese medicine he has no idea how to really fix my issue.
    My question now is, do you have any way to help me get the right balance?

    Thanks
    Samantha

  8. Hi, i had an unusual experience when i decided to take myself off birth control and try the implanon. i was on birth control pills since i was 17 years old now i am 23. when i went for the implanon it didn’t take long for my body to notice the changes. right away i got side effects from the inplanon. i felt depress, headaches like never before, irregular periods and the saddest part is that i lost so much hair through this horrible experience. i believe that changing birth controls cause all this horrible changes. after i notice this side effects i talk to my doctor and put me back on the birth control pills but the shedding of my hair and headaches have not stop! i don’t know what else to do ? any suggestion on what can i do to try to balance my hormones back to normal ;( ? please

  9. Hello, I am very confused with all different opinions and web pages and stuff. I have been off birth control for 10 months now, after being on and off for years. Now I have breakouts throughout the month. I have checked my hormone levels, my Estrogen and Testosterone are extremely low, with Estrogen being 41, menopausal level. I am 37 and don’t have any other signs of menopause. Now I would like to balance my hormones again but, don’t know which way to go. Should I go back on the pill or should I maybe go with Maca powder and see if that helps? What do you think of Maca?

    Please help!

    • The key to hormone balance is ovulation and progesterone. If you have regular 30 day cycles, then you are probably ovulating, but you can know for sure with a day 21 progesterone test.

      Most acne-sufferers also need to avoid sugar and dairy. (see my acne post). This is true regardless of underlying hormone balance.

      • Hi,
        You are saying the pill is not the way to hormone balance, but you are not replying to a number of people who need help. What is the route to hormone imbalance if trying to avoid using the pill?

        • she only cares about her stupid book. I wouldn’t even listen to her, this is just a way to shake money out of desperate people. I think I’ll listen to my doctor.

  10. Hello, thanks for the great information! But I have a question: if the pill doesn’t help you regulate your period, what does? I understand this might not be a simple answer. I stopped getting my period 6 months ago; I’m not pregnant or sexually active, and I’m 19 years old. My gynecologist put me on the pill to regulate my period, but I really don’t feel comfortable taking it, especially now that I’ve read up on its dangerous side effects. Please help! Thank you!

  11. Hello, I have been on bc for over 10 years now. I have asked my gp and my gyno to come off the pills cuz I want to regulate my body and get my system up and working again. My ? Is that one doc says not to come off the pull until I want to have a baby that the best time to concieve is right after coming off the pill while the other doc is saying come off it and let your body regulate it self it will take usually 3-4 months for your body to starting showing signs of regulation! Which way is right ??? I don’t want to conceive at this time but want to get my body regulated ? Please help !!

  12. HI Lara,

    I was on the pill last summer and felt amazing! I lost weight and had a great out look on life. Fast forward a few months and my MD put me on antibiotics for a bad cold. I had a really bad reaction to taking the pill and antibiotics at the same time and my hormones haven’t been balanced since. I feel light headed, anxious, have a hard time concentrating and have gained about 20 pounds. I’ve been considering taking Femmenessence Maca Harmony to balance my hormones. Do you have any other suggestions to balancing hormones naturally? I do take Vitex but don’t feel like it’s enough. Thanks!

    • Vitex won’t do anything if you are also on the Pill. Vitex and other natural hormone strategies work to improve ovulation, which I discuss in a later post.

  13. Hi I had a very bad experience using diane35 and other hormonal pill.. First I start using it for my acne.. I had clear skin before but after giving birth and breastfeeding for almost 5 years it became bad.. I decided to use pills for it and also for contraception.. But after using it for almost 8 months I started to have health problems.. It so worst that I have 2 doctors checking me for lupus.. Because that my symptoms are telling them.. After checking my test result.. They found nothing.. I get so prostrated that I stop going to the doctor.. I stop using pills because my guts telling me its the cause of all my problem but my doctors dismiss it always and tell me it is not connected.. I seek oriental medicine instead and it help me a lot with all my symptoms.. Sadly I still suffer acne but I take that rather than joint pain, nausea, headaches, feeling weak, brain fog etc.. I may have an undetected autoimmune disease bec it runs in my family.. I also may have lupus but for sure the pills makes it worst.. Though test result is negative but lupus comes and go without warning.. It is really hard to get diagnose specially here in my country the philippines..

  14. Hi Lara;

    My niece has gotten off the pill almost 2 months ago as well as Spironolactone and has been taking some homeopathy, we also ordered the Progesta All cream , she did all testing and her testosterone levels are higher now, is it due because she stopped the pills, and what could help with lowering those levels? Can she also include Maca, or only the cream? Will she get her body back to normal, as she never had a normal period anyway. Hair loss is slapping her hard in her face and we don’t know how to help her. Neither do the doctors. That’s why I am writing to you again, for more advice. What`s the best alternative? Very concerned. Thanks and Happy New Year!!

    Jackie

  15. Hello, When I was 23 is had my last C- section.So I decided to get my tubes cut instead of tied. Reality is I was pushed by my doctor more than me deciding. Problem began right after. At this moment I’m struggling with my hormones. I had heavy periods and lots of facial hair growth. So my doc put me on Birth Control to balance my hormones. It made me worse cause now, I have this feeling were I just want to cry every moment and I have nothing to be sad about. My doc suggested to remove my ovaries not to produce hormones. I’m so confused. I only had heavy periods before the pill. But wanting to cry every second. Is confusing how the pill would switch my body that way.

    • Hi Yvette,
      I know exactly how you feel. I have the same story, c-section, heavy periods, bouts of sadness, since my tubal ligation. I had my daughter 2012 via c-section and got my tubes tied at the same time, it was my choice. But had I known what the effects were, I would have never done it. So here I am today 2014, finally saw the doctor, he put me on Marvelon 28. I have not started the pill just yet, However, I was on the pill years ago but choose to stop because of its effect on my mood, which caused me to feel sad for nothing. Feeling reluctant about the pill. I already know 100% what it will do to me. My feelings of sadness are so bad, I don’t remember how it feels to be excited. My periods are so irregular, I’ll be late 2 weeks sometimes and PMSing right up until I finally get my period. I think the only solution to our problem is, to untie our tubes. I’m currently saving up money. And if you read all the reviews, we have what is called PTLS- post tubal ligation syndrome, which blood flow from ovaries to the uterus is restricted which can cause pre-menopause. I am only 30 years old and I have ALL classic signs of premenopause. I have news for you. IT CAN BE FIXED. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I wanted to share that with you because I know what your feeling and what your going through.
      Best of luck to you.

  16. I have been on the nuvaring for about 4 years now and have never really had any problems except about a year and a half ago I started having heart palpitations. I went to my family doctor who referred me to a cardiologist. I did all of the tests, heart monitor, EKG, stress test , and they found no problems with my heart. The cardiologist wanted to put me on beta blockers and I said no thanks. I kind of have up at that point that no one would listen to me. I returned to my family doctorAafter some research in my birth control and asked for alternatives. He basically told me it wasn’t my birth contronebecause hormones don’t cause heart palpitations and I should just learn to live with it If I wasn’t going to take the beta blockers. I haven’t been back since.. Could this be an issue with my birth control? The heart palps don’t hurt it is just really bothersome and not normal. I am 28 and never been on BC before nuvaring. Are there better options?

  17. Hi Lara, Do you have any suggestions for PMDD? I have been on several b.c. methods and what a nightmare. I can see how my hormones have been affected greatly. I start having the PMDD symptoms anywhere from 10-14 days before my menstrual cycle. I’m tired, no energy, lack of interest, moody, irritable, and just not myself. It has and continues to affect my live and those around me.

  18. Thank you s much for your answer. I read everywhere as here that natural progesterone cream helps in small doses. She is 26, we already ordered ProgesterAll, from Dr, John Lee’s pharmacy. She is taking homeopathic and ayurvedic medicine. Do you think she should do the cream, because in Macedonia are no professionals who can give her answers abut this.
    Jackie

    • Hi Jackie, As much as I’d like to help, I’m not permitted to provide individualised health advice online. I will say – in a very general sense- that yes, a 26yo can use low-dose natural progesterone. As for dose, she should really try to get some advice from her own doctors. Also, let me say this: until she can correct the underlying cause of her low body weight (whether it’s eating disorder or gluten sensitivity), the progesterone will not be able to do very much for her.

  19. Hi Dr.Lara; I have a question about my niece who is very thin. Her gynecologist and homeopath told her she needs to gain weight in order to ovulate. She is now off the pills. What should she eat to gain weight? My family is forcing her to eat everything, even though thin, I think she should continue with the healthy diet she started , but eat larger portions, They suggest dairy, and I think she should stay away from it. Please advise what to eat. She also has hair loss and is progesterone cream going to help with the hormones since she is off the BC pill. Also since she never had a period, how does she know, when is her first day of her period?
    Thank you, JJ

    • If she’s eating normal calories, but not easily gaining weight, then she should ask her doctors to rule out gluten-sensitivity. (she’ll need a blood test for this.) A problem with gluten is a common cause of abnormal low body weight and lack of periods. And in answer to your other questions, I would be cautious about introducing progesterone to a young woman. Much better to get her ovulating and making her own progesterone. And if she’s not having periods, then no, there is no relevance for “day of her cycle” or “first day of her period”.

  20. HI Doctor,

    I have acne and hair loss problem. I could manage to treat both by taking Diane 35 for almost one year. Then I stopped it because of some spots on my face. Now it has been four months that I do not take that medicine. I again have that acne and hair loss problem.

    I appreciate your advice and I really need it.

    In fact, I want to go back on Diane 35 but I have concern about breast cancer.

    • The first 4-5 months off the Pill are the worst, and are often associated with ‘Pill-withdrawal’ symptoms of skin and hair loss. Most women find that things will settle down after that. You can read more in my Hair Loss post.

  21. Hi lara

    I was put on the mini pill back in 2011 for 8 month’s. During this time I started to get allergy reactions a couple anaphylaxis to an unknown allergen. I later fell pregnant feb 2012 where I hadxa huge reaction. Since then I am on anti histamines day and night as they think my body mimics reactions.. so one day I may react the next not to say purfume or pollen etc. The theory at the moment is my hormones are so unbalanced making the reactions happen along with bad depression and fatigue etc especially just before my period with the progesterone drop I guess. My little one is now 11 months and I am scared to go out most days.. either that or I am crying with hormones or I have a bad acid stomach. They are suggestiong the pill here for me but I am convinced it will make matters worse 🙁 any suggestions ie I noticed the marena coil etc. Many thanks in advance ps. I have always suffered wiyh excess hair but since baby its really bad.. hormones?

  22. Hi Lara

    I am a PCOS and my endocrinologist put me on Aldactone and my periods are regular. Is this dangerous too? plz reply.

  23. Hi Lara,

    I was on birth control for 5 years and started to feel emotionally numb, had heart palpitations, extreme fatigue and anxiety. In April I went to the Dr for my symptoms and got a blood tests done and nothing was found. That month I became extremely depressed before my period and decided to go off. I’ve been off for 3.5 months and still feel extremely depressed and emotionally detached the week before my period (as well as feeling generally unexcited about everything all the time). I began taking B6, B12, Magnesium and Zinc pills (from CVS) to try and curb the symptoms but I haven’t been taking them for very long. Do you think these will help and is the pill form of vitamins effective? My Dr. told me to wait 6 months to see if the symptoms go away on their own.

    Thanks,

    Shelley

  24. Hi Lara
    Do you do online consultations at all? I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 13 and was put on Dianne 35, long story short, always had battle with acne and weight gain. I recently conceived naturally and had a beautiful girl. Now all my pcos symptoms are back, worse than before. I am putting on weight fast. I am having period every 21 days, extremely light. What would you suggest me to do before I can visit our clinic end of the year?

    • Hi Lisa, As much as I’d love to, I cannot offer distance or online consults. I look forward to seeing you in Sydney later this year. (I have a fairly long wait-list for new patients, so please contact my assistant Lisa as soon as you know your dates.)

  25. Hi, I came off bcp’s about 2 and a half years ago after experiencing a bad case of heart palpitations and after having all the checks done on my heart and speaking with a cardiologist who said my heart is very healthy, but suggested its a hormonal problem. Unfortunately my gp didn’t suggest anything else. A couple of months ago I had another bad case of palpitations, and after speaking to another gp, who had all my previous info, she suggested going back on the pill to regulate my hormones. I was on the pill for just over a week but decided to stop taking them as I am still having palps and feeling constantly nauseous and headachy. Have you any suggestions for treating hormone related palpitations? I am extremely healthy, exercise daily, eat well, relatively stress free life and am generally very happy.
    Thanks
    Amanda

    • Magnesium supplements are the first thing to try for hormonal heart palpitations. Magnesium is generally safe to try, (but it can interact with some blood pressure medications, so if you’re not sure, then you should check with your clinician). Another natural approach is to support your body’s production of progesterone and adrenal hormones with herbal medicine.

  26. Hi! I would like to know if you can suggest natural alternatives to the pill for heavy menstrual bleeding? A few years back, I visited two different ob-gynes and they both prescribed contraceptive pills. My period has been regular (albeit heavy) for some time. But lately it’s getting heavy for longer periods of time and I’m afraid to be anemic again. What do you advise regarding my situation? Thanks

    • Choice of natural treatment for heavy periods depends on the underlying cause. Fibroids, estrogen dominance, under-active thyroid can all contribute to heavy bleeding. Insulin resistance also drives endometrial hyperplasia, so cutting out sugar can be critical. If thyroid is under-active, that is also priority to be addressed. Estrogen-clearing supplements like indole-3-carbinol can be helpful, and so can natural progesterone. It’s best to consult a clinician about the best choice for you, and remember that natural treatments take a few months to work. If all else fails, then I support progestin IUD rather than Pill. The IUD is still synthetic hormone, but at least it is much lower dose (a lesser evil).

  27. Hi,
    I have major break outs during my periods and my scars don’t go away that easily at all. I have been thinking of using hormone regulating pills as topical creams and face washes don’t do it for me. I do get irregular periods even now.. and i feel like taking the pill would be the only option for me now? any suggestions?
    Thank you so much in advance. I appreciate your help.

    • The Pill masks symptoms, but doesn’t solve the problem. Acne usually improves when dairy and sugar are removed from the diet, but it takes about 3 months. Zinc supplements can also help (but should only be used short-term). Also, it’s important to be aware that acne often worsens in the first few months off the Pill as the skin goes through synthetic-estrogen withdrawal. I really must do an acne post. Stay tuned!

      • I am a male and I believe you when you say dairy cause acne cause when I drink milk it makes my face get extra oilier and I break out more. But when you talk about the sugar, do you mean every kind of sugar or just the bad processed sugar.

  28. What is your preference when it comes to IUD? The copper coil or Mirena? I’m under the impression that Mirena also releases hormones, whereas copper does not. Is that true?

    • yes, Mirena does release a small amount of progestin, which is not ideal. It’s supposed to be localised to the uterus, but some women do report mood problems with it. I still think that Mirena is preferable to the Pill. Evidence is that the modern copper IUDs are effective and safe (even for women who have not yet had children). But they can make for heavier periods. There’s no perfect solution for contraception because we’re working against what the body naturally wants to do (become pregnant). Fertility awareness combined with condoms is the most natural.

  29. Thank you for this post. I was put on birth control for my cystic acne when I was 21. It was a last resort after trying everything except Acutane. I never intended to be on it for very long, but when I tried to get off it at 24, the acne came back. I’m Catholic and never wanted to use it as a contraceptive because of the possible abortificiant side-effect, so when I got married, my husband and I decided that I would stop using the pill and we are currently learning the Creighton Model (Natural Family Planning) to avoid pregnancy until we’re ready to have kids. Here’s my question: I’ve been off the pill for 3 months now and I have struggled with severe anxiety ever since. It’s worse in some parts of my cycle than others. For instance, I started my period today and I feel 100% better than how I felt a few days ago. I went to my doctor today to talk about getting my hormones tested to see if I have a hormone imbalance and her only solution was to “go back on the pill” or to put me on anxiety medication. She refused to get my hormones tested. I do not want to mask my symptoms anymore. I want to deal with them. As a teen, I struggled with anxiety and depression and I have a feeling that the pill has been masking an underlying hormonal imbalance. I would like to deal with the problem but what can I do if my doctor won’t work with me? Are there some doctors who will test for hormonal imbalanes and treat the problem instead of just masking the symptoms with a drug?

  30. Hi Lara.

    I was sorry to have missed you when you came to Sydney, but I looked up your schedule too late!

    Thanks for posting info like this. I can vouch, having been on the combined estrogen/progestin pill for many years, that it does some bad things, and takes about 2 years to get out of your system, at which time you find out what is really going on with your body, and that is a scary thing in itself, when you realize it’s probably just been masking symptoms of problems that you could have dealt with earlier, had you known!

    As you know, after much to-ing and fro-ing about going back onto a synthetic hormone, and not having much success with the natural progesterone creams, I bit the bullet and got the Mirena IUD. It may not be bioidentical to natural progesterone, but for someone with my issues, it has been a godsend.

    As we discussed, it is a very low dose, equivalent of about 2 mini-pills per week. For me, due to uterine polyps, super-heavy bleeding, and ultimately endometrial hyperplasia, my remaining choices were the IUD or hysterectomy, so there was really no contest.

    The IUD sorted out all of the above, with little noticeable impact such as migraines (which I had on The Pill) or mood swings.

    There has been one downside, which goes along with all synthetic hormones… I have developed a bit of tooth bone loss and gum disease. I suspect the hormones plus my predisposition to insulin resistance put me over the top a bit in the bone-loss department, so this is a new thing to deal with.

    Would I consider removing the IUD on the off-chance it is having a larger impact than I suspect? No way! Would I recommend the Mirena to others, as a good, reliable alternative birth control… with the bonus that there’s nothing to remember and it is VERY effective? Absolutely!

    • Hi Sharon,
      Thank you so much for sharing your personal experience.
      Your comments will be very helpful for the many women out there who are struggling with the same questions.
      I’m glad that the hormonal IUD has been mostly a success for you, although I am concerned to learn about the dental issues.
      A topic for future discussion. I’ll be back in Sydney October 2012.
      Dr Lara

  31. Thanks for the great post! It is really insightful to hear the other side of the pill which we are never informed about! I just have one question….

    Two years ago i was diagnosed with PCOS after not getting my period for a year after i stopped the pill. My endocrinologist put me back on the pill after waiting that year because she said my estrogen levels were really low. When i questioned her about the dangers of the pill, she said that it was far more dangerous not to get my period than be on the pill. I consequently went back on the pill for about 6 months but stopped again because i decided i wanted to find an alternative means to regulate my hormones. Again i have not got a period for 8 months. Are there any other options you can recommend for someone like me who has the pill as their only means of regulating hormones?

    Thanks again!

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