We’ve all heard a story about someone going to their doctor complaining of PMS or irregular cycles only to be prescribed with birth control pills. Perhaps you’ve been there personally!
Birth control pills serve a purpose, especially when it comes to preventing pregnancy. But should they be our first line of defense against bad periods?
According to one study, only 42% of women use oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy, which means that over half of women use the pill for symptoms like bad cramps, acne, migraines, and other side effects of menstruation.
If it works, what’s the harm?
It turns out, there can be major side effects from taking the pill long term. This is not to say everyone should stop the pill immediately. Some individuals need it. But what if we explored other ways to balance hormones naturally before prescribing the pill?
One study found that using birth control pills increased the risk for antidepressant use. Teens in particular are at a significantly higher risk of developing depression after using oral contraceptives.
Birth control pills also increase the risk of blood clotting, migraines, cardiovascular changes, and more.
Instead of jumping to a potentially harmful band aid that does not provide a long term solution, why not get to the root of hormonal imbalances?
For example, birth control pills are often prescribed for PCOS to help with cycle irregularities and symptoms like hirsutism and acne. We now know that insulin resistance is a key factor in 30-95% of women with PCOS. Insulin resistance occurs when our body becomes numb to the effects of insulin due to overconsumption of sugary, starchy foods, and sometimes even stress. Here’s the kicker. Insulin resistance is completely reversible with the right diet and lifestyle.
Research shows that implementing a lower carbohydrate diet for PCOS reduces fasting insulin and can improve reproductive outcomes over time.
For one person, it might be reducing processed and refined carbohydrates that holds the key. For another, it could be optimizing the gut microbiome that helps to reduce debilitating PMS. For yet another, it could be stress management that is needed.
The bottom line: there is no one size fits all approach to tackling hormonal imbalance. While the pill might offer temporary relief, it does not target the individual root cause, which could be many.
Understanding your cycle, dialing in on your personal needs, and getting in alignment with your body’s natural rhythms holds the long term solution to tackling period problems and hormonal imbalances.
One method that can support the process of hormonal balance is seed cycling. Seed cycling is a method that uses the power of key nutrients and our menstrual cycle rhythm to tackle symptoms such as cramping, bloating, breast tenderness, and headaches.
The nutrients seed cycling have been shown to help regulate gut bacteria, reduce inflammation, support the balance of estrogen and progesterone, and more.
When combined with a whole foods diet and targeted lifestyle changes, seed cycling can support your body’s ability to reach homeostasis.
To learn more about seed cycling and how it can support your hormones, click here.
Jones RK, Beyond Birth Control: The
Overlooked Benefits of Oral Contraceptive Pills, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2011
Skovlund CW, Mørch LS, Kessing LV, Lidegaard Ø. Association of Hormonal Contraception With Depression. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(11):1154–1162. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.2387
Douglas CC, Gower BA, Darnell BE, Ovalle F, Oster RA, Azziz R. Role of diet in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome. Fertil Steril. 2006;85(3):679-688. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2005.08.045