Do YOU Know What's In Your Birth Control?

Kathleen's picture

Ladies, let’s get real for a minute.

I am curious about how many of us are on hormonal birth control. If you are on birth control, do you know what is in that pill you take every morning and what it is doing once it hits your bloodstream?

Let’s moonwalk for a minute. I believe birth control serves in many socio-political ways. Being able to control WHEN and IF we’d like to have children is a fundamental right that we get to exercise. In my own life, I have relied on both hormonal/non-hormonal birth control as well as Plan B and been so grateful that I live in a time and place that a) birth control exists and b) it is fairly simple to gain access to birth control…YES to all of this.

Here’s the other side of it. Having a pill that artificially regulates our natural cycles pulls us away from the “inconvenience” of learning what is actually going on with our bodies. Birth control is prescribed for preventing pregnancy, but also for so many reasons including gynecological conditions like PCOS, endometriosis, cysts, acne or for the simple inconvenience of having a period. An internet search of “birth control effects on fertility”  yielded results that illustrate that hormonal birth control use does NOT have long-term effects on fertility. Paul Blumenthal, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Johns Hopkins University Medical School in Baltimore and advisor to Planned Parenthood says, “With a few notable exceptions, immediately after you stop using birth control, your fertility will go right back to what it was destined to be.” Note that he does not say that your fertility will go back to whatever it was before you started using medication, nor does he say that your fertility will become healthier as a result of being on the pill.

Often, women are put on hormonal birth control to control their menstrual cycle symptoms. When medication is taken in this way, we are not addressing the underlying imbalance that may impact a women’s fertility. For example, Suzy goes to her doctor because she has the common symptoms associated with endometriosis such as extremely heavy bleeding, thick clots, and painful cramps. Her doctor decides that a hormonal birth control would be an effective “treatment”. This is misleading because birth control is not actually a treatment, but rather it is like a band-aid that is being used to mask the underlying issue. When Suzy decides she wants to start a family with her partner and goes off birth control, her endometriosis comes roaring back because it hasn’t actually had a chance to be treated. She now has to start from Step 1 of resolving the endometriosis if she would like to fall pregnant.

For myself, it wasn’t until I was in grad school that a teacher asked me what I thought was in birth control. And it hit me in the gut. I had never even thought about it. And the more I learned about it, I couldn’t unsee it. Now, I’m not saying that my choice of going au natural is the only right choice. But birth control should be an empowered choice. And empowered choices should come with a clear understanding of the pros and cons. So, I am asking you, especially if you are planning on having a child in the near or distant future: do you know what is in your birth control? If not, google your specific drug and look at options. Is this the best one for you? If not, I invite you to make an active & informed decision about your body & your reproductive health.


Kathleen Lee B.S. MTCM, R.TCMP, L.Ac., FABORM

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