Much of the current research about the safety of hormonal contraceptives has been funded by the very pharmaceutical companies that stand to profit from the sale of birth control. Couple this with the political debates surrounding women’s reproduction—at a time when many feminists feel the pill is the answer to women’s liberation—and we have a nation of women in the dark about birth control.
Here are the facts: The pill works by stopping ovulation. When a woman swallows the hormones in birth control, her ovaries stop releasing eggs. This may sound minor, but the monthly release of that tiny egg is responsible for a number of important processes in a woman’s body. While it’s true that hormonal birth control can prevent pregnancy, do you know what else it does?
9 Facts You Need To Know About The Pill
- The hormones in the pill increase your risk of breast cancer, cervical cancer, and liver cancer. If you have a family history of any of these diseases, you are especially at risk. There’s a reason why the World Health Organization classifies hormonal contraceptives—along with tobacco, asbestos, and radium—as carcinogens. According to BreastCancerFund.org, “Numerous studies have demonstrated an increased risk of breast cancer in women using oral contraceptives (Althuis, 2003; Dai, 2009; Delort, 2007; Kumle, 2002; Rosenberg, 2009). This is not surprising….” As one surgeon explained, the birth control pill is a ‘Molotov cocktail’ for breast cancer. The facts are frightening: “A 2006 Mayo Clinic meta-analysis concluded that breast cancer risk rises 50 percent for women taking oral contraceptives four or more years before a full-term pregnancy. In 2009, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that women starting the pill before 18 nearly quadruple their risk of triple negative breast cancer. Even more shocking, Swedish oncologist Hakan Olsson concluded that pill use before the age of 20 increases a young woman’s breast cancer risk by more than 1000 percent,” reported LifeSiteNews.
As one surgeon explained, the birth control pill is a ‘Molotov cocktail’ for breast cancer.
- The pill causes hair loss. According to the American Hair Loss Association, “The AHLA believes that it is imperative for all women, especially those who have a history of hair loss in their family, to be made aware of the potentially devastating effects of birth control pills on normal hair growth.” Of course, this is one of the side effects your doctor might mention after you experience it. If the possibility of losing your hair would be especially upsetting for you, that’s something to take into consideration before taking the pill.
- The pill increases your risk of developing osteoporosis. The correlation between oral contraceptives and brittle bones is so well-established that the New York Times mentions birth control as a known cause of osteoporosis in their basic overview of the disease. The New York Times goes on to recommend that “women who take birth control pills should be sure to get adequate calcium and vitamin D from diet or supplements.” But there’s just one problem with this recommendation…
- The pill depletes your body’s natural stores of vitamins and minerals. Studies confirm that women who take the pill have lower levels of B vitamins like folate, fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), zinc, and iron. Regardless of how much you consume, birth control pills lower the levels of these nutrients in your body. Clinically, it can be nearly impossible to bring these vitamins up to ideal levels while taking the pill. In fact, this is one of many reasons why OBGYNS recommend that women wait several months to get pregnant after going off the pill—to give your body time to replenish those depleted stores and adequately nourish new life.
Clinically, it can be nearly impossible to bring vitamins up to ideal levels while taking the pill.
- The pill increases your risk of blood clots, pulmonary embolism, heart attack, and stroke. While your overall risk may be small, these side effects are deadly. Yet so many doctors write prescriptions for birth control without so much as mentioning these potential side effects to their patients. If you take birth control, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of a blood clot, heart attack, stroke, or pulmonary embolism. Men, is not wearing a condom really worth subjecting your girlfriends and wives to these life-threatening risks?
- The pill increases the likelihood that you will experience anxiety and depression. When you alter a woman’s hormones, you alter her emotions. Here’s just a sampling of the mood-related side effects that women report after taking the pill: mood swings, anxiety, depression, and lowered libido. When woman are fertile, they are healthier, happier, and have a higher sex drive. (It’s all part of nature’s tricky little plan!) That’s why many women who take birth control, which destroys fertility, report a loss of interest in sex. Even worse, these mood-related issues don’t always disappear immediately after a woman stops taking the pill. It can take months to regulate your hormones again after birth control. This is the type of information that good doctors should share with their patients before they begin taking birth control.
- The pill destroys your natural ability to choose a genetically compatible mate. Did you know that beneath the scent of soap, shampoo, or cologne, every man has a natural scent that helps women subconsciously sniff out genetic compatibility? Call it nature’s way of ensuring healthy offspring. In our logic-based, online-dating-obsessed world, many women forget that the process of mate selection is, on some levels, instinctual—and for good reason. From a scientific perspective, the more gene variability between two partners, the healthier their offspring will be. Even better, you don’t have to think about this process; nature takes care of it for you. In a study that asked women to sniff the sweat of male strangers, women expressed strong preferences for the body odor of men with major histocompatibility (MHC) genes that differed from their own. However, this was not the case for women who were taking hormonal contraceptives; women on the pill were unable to identify their genetically-compatible mates. What this means is that women on the pill are, in theory, not attracted to the odor of genetically-compatible strangers, nor are they repulsed by the odor of male family members. Other studies have shown that women on the pill choose less masculine, more feminine mates. These findings have led some scientists to question whether hormonal birth control is impacting the health of future generations. Could women who choose their mates while taking birth control—even if they ultimately stop the pill to conceive a child—have babies with more birth defects, more childhood disorders, lower rates of immunity, and higher susceptibility to illness? And if you don’t find your partners’ natural scent attractive—but you don’t find this out until years into the relationship when you’re ready to conceive a child and stop taking the pill—could that impact whether you feel attracted to your partner for the long haul?
Women on the pill were unable to identify their genetically-compatible mates… These findings have led some scientists to question whether hormonal birth control is impacting the health of future generations. Could women who choose their mates while taking birth control—even if they ultimately stop the pill to conceive a child—have babies with more birth defects, more childhood disorders, lower rates of immunity, and higher susceptibility to illness?
- The pill robs you of your most attractive time of the month: ovulation. As if birth control wasn’t complicating your dating life enough already! When a woman ovulates—that is, the 24-48 hours during which her body releases an egg each month—she becomes more attractive to men. Her face appears more symmetrical and more feminine, her voice sounds more appealing, her pupils dilate, her waist-to-hip ration becomes more attractive, and her vaginal secretions change in taste and scent. Because the pill stops ovulation, the pill robs you of this time. What woman doesn’t want to have a few extra days of the month where she looks and feels her very best? A well-known study of strippers found that au natural strippers made significantly more money overall than their pill-popping sisters ($53 per hour vs. $37 per hour on average) and made twice as much money while ovulating ($70 per hour).
The sad truth is that for some women, taking the pill will mask fertility issues that could have been addressed at a younger age—if only the woman was not taking the pill and knew she was having symptoms… Other women will experience “post-pill amenorrhea,” the term doctors use to describe a lack of periods for 6 months or longer after stopping the pill. Doctors theorize that post-pill amenorrhea is caused by hormonal suppression of the pituitary gland, but it’s not fully understood why some women experience post-pill amenorrhea.
- The pill may impact your future fertility. Did you know that birth control can impair your future fertility? Even well-intentioned organizations that genuinely want to empower women through birth control hide this fact from women. Why? Perhaps they are concerned that women will forego birth control altogether and suffer an unwanted pregnancy. Perhaps they underestimate the number of intelligent, ambitious women who will ultimately want children in the future—even if they don’t right now. Fortunately, there are safe, effective alternatives to hormonal contraceptives and it’s your right to know your options. The sad truth is that for some women, taking the pill will mask fertility issues that could have been addressed at a younger age—if only the woman was not taking the pill and knew she was having symptoms. Unfortunately, many woman stop taking the pill when they want to conceive a child, and by then, it’s sometimes too late to address these issues. While many women will go on to have healthy babies after taking the pill, other women will experience “post-pill amenorrhea,” the term doctors use to describe a lack of periods for 6 months or longer after stopping the pill. Doctors theorize that post-pill amenorrhea is caused by hormonal suppression of the pituitary gland, but it’s not fully understood why some women experience post-pill amenorrhea. The first line of treatment is simply to wait for a “spontaneous” resumption of the menstrual cycle; however, this is dangerous, impractical advice for a woman in her late twenties or early thirties who wants to conceive. For these women, treatment usually involves the fertility drug Clomid, which may or may not work. Here’s what your doctor won’t tell you about birth control: If there’s a chance you may want children in the next few years, stop taking the pill now, track and learn about your cycle, and use a non-hormonal method of birth control for the interim.
Make the choice to take charge of your health. If you have a woman in your life whom you love, please keep her safe by sharing this article with her. There are safe, convenient alternatives to hormonal birth control, from condoms to the Fertility Awareness Method. Before making a decision about birth control, research your options and know the risks.