Just Say "No" to Birth Control Pills

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October 27, 2004 | 201,916 views

By Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D.

Some 30 years ago, birth control pills were the be-all and end-all of the sexual revolution. Freed from the worries of pregnancy, women explored their sexuality, perhaps for the first time in history. Only a few years passed before the "magic" pill began to lose its luster. Discoveries that high-estrogen birth control pills contributed to breast cancer, embolisms and stroke made women begin to think twice.

Today, newer lower dosage birth control pills maintain high popularity, despite their continued serious health risks for women.

Let me give you my opinion in a straightforward manner: I don't advocate the use of birth control pills. Yes, they are effective at preventing unwanted pregnancies, but the risks far outweigh those benefits.

If you are currently using birth control pills of any kind, I cannot urge you strongly enough to stop taking them as soon as possible.

Presently, 16 million American women are using birth control pills, fueling a $2.8 billion industry. Many of us became familiar with the Pill in adolescence either because of a desire for sexual intimacy or due to painful or irregular periods. Both reasons are fundamentally flawed. There are numerous safe and effective ways to prevent pregnancy.

Cramping, painful and irregular periods are often due to a deficiency of progesterone and an excess of estrogen. So estrogen-alone birth control pills -- as are the most commonly prescribed pills on the market now -- often compound the problem.

That's why some women have intolerable estrogen-induced side effects when they are on birth control pills like:

What's Wrong With the Pill?

In simple terms, what's wrong with the pill (by the way birth control shots and patches are essentially the same thing) is it promotes continuous high levels of estrogen in a woman's body.

Science tells us this is dangerous.

A woman's natural cycle is composed of rising and falling levels of estrogen and progesterone. Birth control pills work by keeping estrogen at a sufficiently high level that they fool the body into thinking it is pregnant, therefore another pregnancy cannot occur.

They work by one or a combination of methods:

There is even a new brand of birth control pill on the market that boasts woman can safely have a period only four times a year or they can avoid having periods altogether for years at a time without a break from the estrogen blast.

We certainly don't know everything about estrogen or estrogen dominance, as it is called when estrogen levels remain high without being balanced by progesterone, but among the effects we do know are:

  • Increased risk of breast cancer
  • Increased risk of blood clotting,
    heart attack and stroke
  • Migraines
  • Gall bladder disease
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Mood changes
  • Nausea Irregular bleeding or spotting
  • Benign liver tumors
  • Breast tenderness

In addition, the use of antibiotics has been shown to decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills.

What is not usually mentioned, or even known, is the metabolism of birth control pills by the liver requires extra amounts of the B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc. That means if you're taking birth control pills for years at a time, as are most American women, you're creating nutrient deficiencies. Weight gain, fluid retention, mood changes, depression and even heart disease can all arise from nutrient imbalance.

For example, we now know high levels of an amino acid called homocysteine cause heart disease. And high homocysteine occurs when there is a deficiency of B vitamins and magnesium.

In addition to all this misery, the continuous use of birth control pills like the new no-period pill has not been sufficiently studied. Women who use these methods -- that may be you -- are the "test subjects," if you will, for an ongoing experiment. We have no idea what the long-term effects of daily hormones will do to fertility or other aspects of our health.

The Pill and Yeast Overgrowth

The insidious yeast, candida albicans, generally makes its home in the human digestive tract. But, in a modern society where common lifestyle choices for women include birth control pills, antibiotics, a highly refined bread and sugar diet, coupled with high stress levels, candida overgrowth can have wide-ranging effects.

When the right set of risk factors occur, toxins from yeast overgrowth and their byproducts can adversely affect the entire body, causing problems far beyond the common vaginal infection.

Symptoms ranging from migraines to infertility, endometriosis, psoriasis, PMS, depression, fibromyalgia, digestive disorders and many other seemingly unrelated health problems have been attributed to yeast overgrowth. And evidence-based results show that treating the yeast overgrowth often alleviates these symptoms.

These symptoms can be so widespread that it is difficult for patients and most doctors to comprehend that this is a complex of indicators that could be related to one underlying cause.

The use of birth control pills is a major risk factor for developing yeast overgrowth because it promotes estrogen dominance. Because birth control pills give a woman's hormonal system a continual stream of estrogen, an imbalance is created, Science has shown us that there is a close link between estrogen dominance and yeast overgrowth. Visiting The Yeast Connection Web site can help you learn about yeast and decide if you might have an overgrowth and give you tools to treat this condition.

What are the Alternatives?

I'm very aware that women (and their partners) want to avoid unplanned pregnancies. I concede that birth control pills have provided an easy -- but not safe -- way to accomplish this goal. There are numerous safe and effective ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Here are a few options to consider:

Finally, I highly recommend the Creighton Model Fertility Care System (CrM). It uses the science-based modality of NaPro Technology (NaPro), a women's health science that evolved from interpreting the biomarkers of the menstrual and fertility cycle, mainly, all the stages of cervical mucus and the length and intensity of the menstrual flow. (I'll write about this method in the future.)

Working with a trained doctor, a woman has many options with this technology:

  • Identify times of fertility to either get pregnant or avoid pregnancy
  • Identify chronic discharges
  • Evaluate hormones and apply appropriate
    hormonal treatment (with bio-identical hormones)
  • Identify functional ovarian cysts and treat them non-surgically by using the appropriate bio-Identical hormone
  • Evaluate the effects of stress
  • Treat premenstrual syndrome
  • Evaluate, treat and/or prevent reproductive abnormalities such as infertility, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, prematurity
  • Identify and treat perimenopause
  • Evaluate and treat heavy uterine bleeding
  • Help avoid hysterectomy by applying the appropriate hormonal treatment

You can learn more about NaPro Technology at their Web site.

Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., is health advisor to Woman's Health Connection at The Yeast Connection and is featured on the Web site's "Ask A Pro" page. Her latest books are The Miracle of Magnesium and Natural Prescriptions for Common Ailments.

Dr. Dean is a key health advisor to www.yeastconnection.com,a Web site I highly recommend to women based on the pioneering workof the late Dr. William Crook.

Dr. Crook, one of myfirst mentors and a friend was the author of the classic book, TheYeast Connection, and many other bestsellers that helped millionsof women. He was instrumental in helping me recognize that therewas a wide network of physicians who understood the importance ofnutrition. He indirectly helped connect me to this network and Iwill be ever grateful for his guidance in this area as that wasreally the beginning of my journey into high-level natural health.

His great legacy is being carried on at www.yeastconnection.com,where you will find out all the latest insights on how candida yeastcauses problems in your body, and how to alleviate them.

Traditional hormonal birth control methods work by releasingestrogen and progestin into the body, preventing the ovaries fromreleasing eggs. They also thicken cervical mucus, making it harderfor sperm to enter the uterus.

There are a wide variety of hormonal methods on the market.The most important thing to remember about hormonal birth controlsolutions: These contraceptives are SYNTHETIC hormones and it isn'thealthy for a woman to be exposed to them. In fact, their long-termuse will invariably increase a woman's risk of developing seriouschronic illness.

In fact, it is rarely justified to use birth control pills orsynthetic hormones. In addition to increasing serious health riskssuch as blood clots, birth control pills can also deplete the moreimportant nutrients, including vitamins B2, B6 and B12.

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