The Long Term Side Effects of Birth Control Use

Before jumping into some of the long-term side effects of hormonal birth control, let’s look at a few statistics. In the United States:

  • 98% of women have used birth control at some point in time
  • 62% of those of reproductive age are currently using hormonal birth control
  • The pill has been one of the most popular hormonal methods of birth control since 1982

Curious About Your Fertility? Do This!

While most people associate the term “hormonal birth control” with the Pill, there are a variety of hormone-releasing birth control methods:

  • Birth Control Implant (99% effective): The birth control implant (AKA Nexplanon) is a tiny, thin rod about the size of a matchstick. The implant releases hormones into your body that prevent you from getting pregnant.
  • Birth Control IUD (99% effective): The Mirena, Kyleena, Skyla, and Liletta IUDs use the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy.
  • Birth Control Shot (94% effective): The birth control shot (sometimes called Depo-Provera, the Depo shot, or DMPA) contains the hormone progestin. Progestin stops you from getting pregnant by preventing ovulation. When there’s no egg in the tube, pregnancy can’t happen. It also works by making cervical mucus thicker. When the mucus on the cervix is thicker, the sperm can’t get through.
  • Birth Control Patch (91% effective): The transdermal contraceptive patch is worn on the skin of your belly, upper arm, butt, or back. Put a new patch on every week 3 weeks, and it releases hormones that prevent pregnancy. Then you take the patch off for a week before you repeat the cycle.
  • Birth Control Vaginal Ring (91% effective): The NuvaRing) is worn inside your vagina. The small, flexible ring prevents pregnancy by releasing hormones into your body.
  • Birth Control Pill (91% effective): The hormones in the pill stop ovulation. No ovulation means there’s no egg hanging around for sperm to fertilize, so pregnancy can’t happen. The pill’s hormones also thicken the mucus on the cervix. Thicker cervical mucus makes it hard for the sperm to swim to an egg.

Birth control is prescribed for preventing pregnancy and to control acne, but also for a variety of fertility issues such as endometriosis, PCOS, ovarian cysts, pain associated with fertility issues, PMS, and irregular menstrual cycles.

Side Effects of Birth Control Use

If you’ve ever taken any hormone-based birth control methods, you know that they come with an assortment of short term side effects:

  • mood swings
  • headaches
  • acne
  • bloating and weight gain
  • irregular bleeding or spotting
  • breast tenderness
  • yeast overgrowth and infection
  • nausea
  • aches and pains in your legs
  • low libido
  • the list goes on and on …

But did you know that some of the long term side effects can actually impact your overall health for a lot longer than just the first few months you’ve come off them? And don’t even get me started on the long term side effects to your fertility health …

Gut Health

Hormonal birth control acts like an antibiotic in your gut, destroying the essential microbiome balance. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, GUT HEALTH IS SO IMPORTANT TO YOUR HEALTH. It quite literally affects all aspects of your life – from your physical health right on up to your psychological health. So when your gut flora is out of whack and imbalanced, you could be struggling with inflammation, weight gain, gastrointestinal discomfort, leaky gut, etc. Unfortunately, the impact of the hormone-releasing birth control on the microbiome will last long after you stop taking it, and while it is possible to rebalance your microbiome, it takes a lot of work!

Inflammation

Besides preventing pregnancy, there are two main reasons that women are prescribed birth control – to ease PMS symptoms, and to regulate an irregular cycle. Here’s the thing – these issues are a result of a hormonal imbalance and can be cured with diet and lifestyle choices! Birth control treats these symptoms in that it masks them, instead of treating the root cause. This puts you at higher risk of the big diseases of inflammation – heart disease, cancer, and dementia – later in life.

Changes the Uterine Lining

Hormonal birth control changes the uterine lining to make it unreceptive to the implantation of a fertilized egg. By controlling the body’s estrogen and progesterone levels with synthetic hormones, birth control does not allow for the proper levels of progesterone to build a healthy uterine lining for implantation. Many women begin taking birth control at a very young age and don’t stop until they want to begin trying to conceive. While hormonal birth control doesn’t cause infertility, it DOES impact long-term fertility by “silencing a woman’s biological clock for so long that, in some cases, they forget it’s ticking away.”

Micronutrient Deficiency

Hormonal birth control can prevent the absorption of micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals. It doesn’t allow for the absorption of B vitamins, magnesium, and vitamin C in particular, which can lead to short and long term impacts on your health. These micronutrients are essential for hormonal balance and a deficiency can lead to infertility issues, even after you’ve stopped taking birth control. When you’re micronutrient deficient, and unable to absorb what you need even from additional supplementation, you are set up for poor physical and mental health.

Depression

New research from the University of Copenhagen has revealed that the birth control pill and other hormonal contraceptives (including the hormonal IUD, patch, and ring) could be causing depression for some women. The new study tracked over 1 million Danish women between the ages of 15 to 34 over the course of 13 years. None of the women had a history of depression, but upon starting with the birth control pill, hormonal IUD, patch or ring, developed depression at significant rates. The women who were diagnosed with depression were prescribed antidepressants – adding more synthetic hormones into the body which further interrupt your delicate hormonal balance.

Hormonal Birth Control Alternatives

So, what are some alternatives to hormonal birth control when trying to avoid pregnancy? First and foremost, getting in tune with your cycle, recognizing your fertile cues and using ovulation predictor tests to know exactly WHEN you’re ovulating (and therefore very fertile) is my top recommendation. For those of you with irregular cycles, chronic anovulatory cycles or another issue that prevents your cycles from being reliable and desire a non-hormonal birth control method – my top pick would be the Hormone-Free Copper IUD. Because it doesn’t contain synthetic hormones, you can still treat and resolve hormone imbalances and cycle issues with diet and lifestyle changes because there are no synthetic hormones interfering.

You can read more about it here: Hormone-Free Copper IUD : Pros and Cons.

In a Nutshell

1. Birth control is prescribed for preventing pregnancy and to control acne, but also for a variety of fertility issues such as endometriosis, PCOS, ovarian cysts, pain associated with fertility issues, PMS, and irregular menstrual cycles … most of which can be treated naturally, without hormonal birth control.

2. Gut health, inflammation, changes in your uterine lining, micronutrient deficiency, and depression are just a FEW of the long term side effects associated with hormonal birth control use.

3. If you are using birth control as a method to prevent pregnancy, I encourage you to explore non-hormonal methods – like tracking your cycle and fertile cues, using ovulation predictor testing, or looking into the Hormone-Free Copper IUD!

Let’s Talk!

What is the main reason you are taking birth control?

If you’ve stopped taking a hormonal birth control method to get pregnant, have you found yourself struggling with your fertility?

Have you tried both hormone and hormone-free birth control methods? If yes, how does your experience compare between the two?

Spread some Birth Control lovin’! Sharing is caring, and I bet you have some friends who would love to read this too :).

Looking for more hormone help?

Start HERE! Click here to get my Top Ten Tips to Improve Fertility, Have Easier Periods, and Supercharge Your Sex Drive!

Let’s Meet!

Looking to have a more in-depth conversation about optimizing your fertility health after getting off hormonal birth control? Schedule a consultation with me!

Facebook Comments
 
Hormones out of whack?!
Get my top tips to heal your hormones, improve fertility, decrease PMS, and feel sexy & amazing in your body!
Yes, Send it Over!
No Thanks!
close-link
 
HOW FERTILE ARE YOU?
Curious about your fertility health? Take this simple
quiz to find out  what factors may be harming your
fertility, and learn what you can do about it! 
Take The Quiz
close-link