The Pill Is Bad Medicine. 7 Ways Hormonal Birth Control Harms Women

The Pill is Bad MedicineThe Pill is chemical castration. We cannot continue to not see this.

Clinicians know it. Women themselves know it because they feel better off the Pill. But researchers mysteriously decline to examine the reality that is right in front of us. They decline to challenge the Pill Gospel and instead waste research money comparing one Pill to another. Why attempt to choose the best of a bad lot?  The real question should be:  “Aren’t women better off without these drugs?”

Challenging the gospel of hormonal birth control

The Pill gospel rests on the delusion that hormonal contraception is a substitute for real human hormones. It is not a substitute. The franken-steroid drugs in the Pill, patch or implant are not even hormones. Pill-bleeds are not periods.

Women and doctors have been duped into believing that Pill progestins (drospirenone and medroxyprogesterone) bear some resemblance to our own progesterone. But they could not be more different. Progestins cause depression, hair loss, abortion and fatal blood clots. Wonderful progesterone does pretty much the opposite of all that. Progestins are about as far from our own progesterone as it is possible to be.

How hormonal birth control harms women

1) Depression. At this stage, the research can only offer a speculation that the pill causes depression. That reminds me very much of the speculation in the 1990s that HRT causes breast cancer. Anyone who treats women knows that hormonal contraception affects mood. Some researchers like Professor Jayashri Kulkarni at Monash university in Melbourne take it seriously. She says that progestins have a depressive effect, and her ongoing study  of Yasmin backs that up. “The onset of depression can happen within a day of taking it or within a year of taking it,” says Professor Kulkarni. “Women often tend to blame themselves for feeling depressed and forget to consider the effect of the daily hormone they are taking.”

2) Low libido. What is sad is how few studies there are on this issue. We know the Pill drastically reduces testosterone and DHEA in women, and we know that this causes women to have fewer sexual thoughts, and less interest in sex. We also know that it can take months – or even years – for testosterone and libido to return to normal after the Pill is stopped . Most doctors do not bother to mention low libido as a side effect, and once again, women are left to blame themselves.

3) Hair loss. Synthetic progesterone (progestin) damages the hair follicle and can cause hair loss. Some progestins are worse than others, and modern pills like Yaz tried using drospirenone to avoid the hair loss side effect. They hoped that drospirenone would be more similar to natural progesterone in terms of its benefit for hair. This is another example of the damage done by franken-hormones. Progesterone is healthy for the cardiovascular system, but unfortunately drospirenone carries an unforeseen 700 percent increased risk of fatal blood clots. Women died over this bungle. The solution for hormonal hair loss is not a different Pill, but to get OFF the Pill. Please see my latest Hair Loss post.

4) Weight gain. The Pill causes insulin resistance, sugar cravings, and prevents the muscle gain that women should expect to see with exercise. My clinical experience is that most women lose weight when they come off the Pill, but some do not. I suspect that is because the metabolic damage has already been done, and is not so easily reversed.

5) Lack of periods and post-pill PCOS. Many women simply cannot get their periods going after stopping the Pill. They are women who had normal periods before starting the Pill for skin or contraception and then had the illusion of regular ‘bleeds’ for years. When they finally do stop the Pill, they find out that their periods do not return. Typically these women are slapped with a PCOS diagnosis and advised to get back on the Pill.

6) Post-pill acne. The synthetic estrogens in the Pill dry up skin oils and dry up acne. It is a solution of sorts for skin, but the synthetic estrogens do nothing to address the underlying causes of acne. The causes like sugar and dairy sensitivity and intestinal dysbiosis are still there, and when the Pill is stopped, there will still be acne. In fact, there may be more because of the skin’s horrid estrogen-withdrawal for the first 3-4 months. Post-Pill acne can be eased with diet and zinc supplements. (Stay tuned for a future post on Zinc and Hormones). The main thing that I ask women to do is to brave the Post-Pill acne and come out the other side. Don’t go back on it, or you will only delay the problem.

7) Fatal blood clots. The newer progestins like drospirenone (Yaz) carry a frighteningly high risk for blood clots, but all hormonal contraception is associated with some risk. A study by France’s Drug Safety agency (ANSM) estimates that there are 20 deaths per year from oral contraceptives in that country.

Need birth control?

There are better ways to prevent pregnancy. The best methods are condoms and fertility awareness and non-hormonal IUDs. Modern IUDs are safe and effective. They are inserted in a doctor’s office and are fully reversible when a woman chooses to become pregnant. The main issue with the copper IUD is that it can cause heavier periods in some women. Fears of other complications are largely unfounded. Dr Eve Espey from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists puts it this way:

Women need to know that today’s IUDs are much improved from earlier versions, and complications are extremely rare. IUDs… are safe for the majority of women, including adolescents and women who have never had children.

For more information about all the different types of birth control, please see Chapter 3 of my book Period Repair Manual and my blog post The 5 Best Types of Natural Birth Control.

Lara Briden, Naturopathic doctor and period revolutionary

34 thoughts on “The Pill Is Bad Medicine. 7 Ways Hormonal Birth Control Harms Women”

  1. Hi Lara, can ALL birth control pills cause “post-pill PCOS” which isn’t true PCOS in that it is temporary (no insulin resistance)? You talk about androgen suppressing pills, but could any pill cause this temporary increase in androgens?

  2. Hello, I know this is an old post, but I’ve been perusing your site and #7 on this list grabbed my attention. My good friend was put on the pill many years ago due to heavy periods as a result of fibroids. Last year, she had a clot that dislodged from her leg into her pulmonary artery. Thank God, she survived, however after a year of various conventional treatments, she just found out that the clot has not dissipated and her fibroids have multiplied. Is there anyway to reverse the ill effects of the pill specifically as it relates to clots? They are proposing a surgery to remove the fibroids which is now very risky because of the clot. Any direction you can point me in would be greatly appreciated as I think she is now open to learning more about natural and alternative options. Thank you.

  3. Hi Lara, I’ve been keen to get off the pill for ages now as I know it is so bad for me. Mentally though, even with the use of condoms I still fear the risk of pregnancy which is silly right?
    The copper IUD won’t work for me as I’m already low in iron and can’t risk heavier periods so I’m considering the hormonal IUD. My question is, would you recommend a break between the pill and the IUD to get your hormones somewhat back on track first (my partner and I are happy to sustain from sex for a while if needed). Or is it ok to go straight from the pill to the IUD?

  4. Had a hysterectomy when 26 used the pill for skin untill 3 months ago went of it. 45 now what can I use for my skin have a underactive thyroid. was on genette

  5. I have talked to my doctor about going off the pill. Off the pill I wasn’t having periods, so we tried Provera but there was a lot of uncomfortable clotting. She’s concerned that I need to have frequent bleeds to decrease my chances of uterine cancer. Is that really a concern if I’m not ovulating?

  6. Lara, what do you think about tubal ligation as a permanent solution to the contraceptive issue? Isn’t this better than the non-hormonal IUD?

    Regards,
    Ashley

    • Well, it’s surgery which of course has risks. In general, I would say the copper IUD is a better option. But I’m not against tubal ligation. I’m holding on for the Vasalgel method of contraception for men as the best option.

  7. What do you recommend to women who still are on the pill, what can they do to lessen the negative effects? Are there any supplements who will help at least a little bit?

    I’m asking because some of my friends are still on the pill and struggle with the decision to look for alternatives. For some it might takes months or even longer until they decide to stop taking the pill. Is there anything they can do in this time to help their bodies?

  8. I am living this post pill nightmare 18 months later!!! Nice to know I’m not totally crazy like the doctors would have me believe!

  9. Hi Lara,

    your articles are so great! They really opened my eyes! I have PCOS and the biggest trouble that affects me is weight gain. Know that I know what Birth control pills are actually doing to my body, I’m a bit ashamed telling you this:

    I’m taking BCP for 6 years right now (with a break of 4 months). In this pause I gained 12 kg (nearly 27 lbs) without changing my habits in eating and exercising. My acne broke through and my mood was miserable. So I started taking BCP again, my acne disappeared and I was finally able to lose some weight. But now – it’s stagnating for 2 years.

    So I changed my habits again: I eat gluten-, dairy-, sugar-, and soy-free, only good foods! And exercising. The supplements I’m taking are:

    – Evening Primrose Oil
    – Chromium
    – Folic Acid
    – Myo-Inositol
    – Metformin
    – Birth Control

    Well, it seems like that Metformin and BCP do not even “fit” in my meal- and nutrition plan. But actually I’m really afraid quitting it because I fear gaining more and more weight without it… I really hope that quitting it will work. Do you have any advices for me?

    Greetings from Germany!

    Lara (great name by the way!)

  10. So happy I’ve found this site. And I’ve just purchased your book. I was on Yasmin for 10+ years. Whilst on it I had perfect skin, but also raging anger, depression, anxiety & zero libido.

    I came off it 10 months ago and struggling massively with acne. Mostly cystic. I currently take zinc & a pro biotic. Have had blood tests which show ‘normal’ for all hormones plus scan which was normal with no sign of PCOS. Periods are regular (average 27-29 days). Do get some spotting a couple of days before full on menstruation.

    The acne is really getting me down & I’m worried about my fertilty – want to try & Concieve towards end of the year.

    Is the acne indicative of a bigger problem?? Should I be taking any more supplements? I have eliminated gluten, cows dairy & sugar.

    Thank you

  11. Ok, so I was on the pill for 3 years, diagnosed with pcos when we couldn’t get pregnant, fertility treatment and 3 years later we had our baby, now we want another but I’ve still got no menstrual cycle. How do I change that?

  12. Hi,

    So happy to have just found this post. I came off the pill last September after 10 years on and off but at least 4 of solid pill use. Have had one period since then fr about 3 days. Blood tests show I am not menopausal. My bad skin that I went on it for has come back. Luckily my back and chest are clear just a lot of whiteheads under the skin on my cheeks and jawline. I’m 30. Was told i don’t fit the mould for PCOS but I’ve been put forward for an ultrasound.

    Will try giving up dairy, although I love cheese and Greek Yogurt – I maybe I;d prefer to have spots 🙂 I have already adopted a clean living diet with minimal sugar – mostly in natural form in honey/agave but it’s also not 100% gluten free.

    Glad I found this website. Thanks

  13. I have stopped the pill and am experiencing extreme anxiety and constant nervousness for the past 4.5 months. What is causing this?

    • Hi Lee, Sorry for my slow reply on this one. Post-Pill anxiety is usually a withdrawal from the pill’s synthetic estrogen. It should settle once your nervous system becomes used to your own milder estrogen (estradiol).

  14. Hi Lara
    I have come off the pill recently and i have started to develop very oily scalp and oily face.Luckily no pimples.
    I try to cleanse and wash my scalp every second day. But it is still oily. Will this ever settle down, or do i have to live with this forever.I am already taking zinc and other supplements.
    Please help.

  15. Hi Lara, i have been on the pill for about 13 years, almost non-stop. I stopped it a year ago with family planning in mind. I observe the post pill syndrom – it took 6 months for the period to kick in and the cycles have been on average 44 days since then. I experience acne although a mild to moderate form. What strikes me a lot though is that when i look in the mirror i feel like i have aged at least 5 years in only 1 year – it’s terrible. Is there an explanation for that?

  16. Three years off the pill & I am still breaking out and even getting body acne. Not related to dairy or gluten, I gave eliminated both. So tempted to go back to the pill because another summer covered up will stink. Any advice?

    • Tamara, you might want to try adding zinc like Lara suggested, but I’ve also been externally taking Nutrisorb A. It’s a form of vitamin A that is readily absorbed by your body (isolated from halibut liver, I believe), and is better than beta carotene. I rub 10 drops per day on my wrists and ankles and my acne greatly improved (your body only absorbs about 20% of the vitamin A through your skin, so its not as much as you think). Thought you might want to give it a try. If you think about people taking Accutane, that is just a synthetic form of vitamin A (though the side effects are super scary), so you might want to try this much more natural alternative…

      • For people using contraception to control acne. Obviously your acne will come back, it is no cure. Acne is produced through the over excretion of oil (genetically determined, not environmentally stimulated). I have tried everything under the sun from face peels, to diet, to led lighting. The ONLY solution to acne and although not always permanent is accutane. Side effects? yes, but the horror stories you hear have no evidence to prove they are a result from accutane. My side effects and pretty much 99.9% of everyone who has posted about accutane is simply dry skin/lips and some joint soreness (I workout), which subsides as soon as you are off the medication. As Christina said, it is simply a concentrated dose of vitamin A. Further research has demonstrated that 20mg accutane is just as effective as 80mg (which was generally previously administered), greatly reducing side effects.

        • Thanks for your comment Frank. I just want to clarify for my readers that Accutane is not just “concentrated vitamin A”. Vitamin A is retinoic acid. Accutane (isotretinoin) is an isomer of that molecule called 13-cis-retinoic acid. They’re similar molecules, but not identical. And both molecules are toxic in high dose. I have, on occasion, given short term high-ish doses of vitamin A for acne, but I’m very careful because too much vitamin A can cause many of the same side effects as as Accutane: dry cracked skin, hair loss, liver damage, and birth defects.

          There are far better treatments for acne including diet, zinc, and berberine. I discuss them in my Insight into Acne post.

  17. I thought the IUD was a non hormonal option, and chose it for that reason, but – as I discovered when I had if removed – it has a definite effect on hormones. I had a long and then short cycle before things settled down, which was unexpected because I’ve been completely regular my entire life. I also went from eight days of bleeding down to two from one cycle to the next, thank goodness. Copper and zinc seem to interact with hormone levels as well as with each other. Even the miniscule amounts of copper from an IUD might have an effect – the amount carried in the blood is so tiny to start with. All that bleeding combined with low grade inflammation eventually gets you into trouble in the iron department too. (I had the IUD for five years). I may have been particularly susceptible to the ill effects because I discovered later that I was chronically zinc deficient… I don’t know what is cause and effect. All I do know was that i got into some serious trouble with the IUD, and I wish someone would give this subject some proper thought instead of promoting it just for being non hormonal. Lara, you seem like the sort of person who could do just that!

    • Hi Pauline, thanks for your comment. The copper IUD does cause heavier bleeding and therefore a possible iron deficiency. And yes, copper and zinc status should be monitored with blood test. Many women are zinc deficient anyway. You’re right to point out that iron and zinc deficiency affect hormone balance. In that sense, IUDs could have an indirect effect on hormones.
      I will definitely monitor the situation, and maybe a future post. 🙂 But at this stage, most of the women that I’ve spoken with are very happy with the IUD. Of course, there are stories like yours where it was not the right thing. Between Pill and IUD, it’s a case of choosing the lesser evil. In my clinical experience, the Pill is the greater evil. (I’m so dismayed by the depression and low libido that the Pill causes)
      But not to lose sight of this truth: The best contraceptive methods are condoms and fertility awareness.

  18. IUDs are not routinely inserted under any sort of sedation. Usually it is recommended to take 800mg of ibuprofen for a first attempt, with the possibilities of cervical dilators/anti anxiety medication/prescription painkillers for 2nd attempts.

    • I just wanted to chime in that I agree with nyltiak. I am an RN and I recently worked in a family practice clinic. Most women do not have sedation for IUD insertion and it is not typically excessively painful. 800 mg ibuprofen about 1 hr before the procedure and try to schedule it during your period if possible.

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