Women's health is a topic that I not only care about but champion. One of my goals is to give my clients the kind of support they need to make beneficial choices when it comes to their individual health and wellness. Our menstrual cycles play a crucial role in our health so, we are going to dive right into uncomfortable conversations (i.e., birth control and menstruation) to promote women’s health!
Our menstrual cycle is a helpful indicator of the state of our bodies. When women express to me that they are feeling "off," I always ask them,"What is your menstrual cycle like?" Their answer gives me helpful insights into the state of their body as an irregular, painful or absent period can signify a greater health issue for us to investigate.
One of the most important choices that women make is whether to take birth control or not. Birth control has a relationship with your menstrual cycle as it can regulate it or stop it altogether. Before making any big decisions, let's keep in mind that menstrual cycles and birth control affect everyone differently.
It is important to me to provide a safe space to have candid conversations about our health. I aim to de-stigmatize discussions of our bodies and what they naturally do. Let's keep shame out of the picture and discuss the pros and cons of birth control.
A Little More About Birth Control
Women take birth control for a number of reasons including wanting to prevent pregnancy or regulate their periods. If you are considering taking birth control you might be wondering what kinds are out there. Whether the pill, shot, IUD, implant, ring, or patch interests you, do your research before committing to one. If birth control does not appeal to you, try looking into the fertility awareness method or natural family planning.
There are key facts to note before choosing a birth control. For example, if you opt for the pill, forgetting a day or not taking it at same time every day will cause the medication to lose its effectiveness from about 99% to 85%. Learning more about each option will help you to make an informed, thoughtful decision.
How Does Birth Control Work?
Birth control contains man-made versions of the two hormones, estrogen and progestin. These hormones naturally occur in women's ovaries. The amount of high estrogen in your body will essentially trick it into believing that you are pregnant. When you move to the placebo pills, the estrogen drops suddenly and the uterine lining sheds during your period. All of this prevents you from ovulating (producing an egg). The progesterone creates mucus that prevents the sperm from finding the egg.
Side Effects of Birth Control
Some women choose to take birth control because it can lead to lighter periods, reduce cramps, clear acne, and address menstrual issues.
As with most medication, some people's bodies do not respond favorably to birth control. Women's bodies can respond negatively to an excess of estrogen that some forms of birth control contain. These symptoms can include weight gain, depression, loss of libido, and water retention. Additionally, there is research that suggests birth control may increase risk of breast cancer.
Let's Talk About Fertility
Do you remember what your parents and teachers would tell you about pregnancy in high school? I know that many of us got the "you'll get pregnant if he even touches you" warning. Here's the thing though, women are not fertile all day every day. We are most likely to get pregnant during ovulation (12-14 days before our next period), which is a 12-24-hour window. Then you have the sperm, which can survive inside of a woman for 3-5 days. It is important to keep ourselves informed about pregnancy and conception.
If you decide that birth control is not for you and do not want to have children at this moment, understanding your cycle will help you with natural family planning. Many women do not want to add excess hormones and engage in natural birth control methods. If this resonates, I urge you to get to know your menstrual cycle. You can easily do so using a calendar or an app on your phone.
Is Birth Control Healthy or Harmful?
This is a complicated question as everyone's body is different. If you decide to take birth control, there may be a trial and error period where you figure out how your body responds to it.
I always suggest considering your reasons for taking birth control. Are you on birth control for the sole reason of preventing pregnancy? Great - monitor your body to see if you experience some of the more detrimental side effects.
Are you taking birth control due to a medical condition? Then you might want to work closely with a health care professional. In some cases, birth control masks unpleasant symptoms while the root of the health problem continues to persist. If this is the case, once you stop taking birth control, your symptoms could flare up again. If this occurs, it might be time to consider diet and lifestyle changes to address the core health issue.
Learn About Your Options
When it comes to birth control, it is important to be aware of all of your options and take the time to learn about your body. For some people, the pill works just fine. For others, the IUD is the best move for them. You might also use the fertility awareness method as I do. Whether you decide to take birth control or not, Gaining insight into all phases of your cycle will help you better advocate for yourself.
Are interested in learning more about natural family planning? Have you been considering incorporating Ayurveda into your health practices? Schedule your free breakthrough session and we can come up with a plan together.