You’re 13 years old, and you’re nervous. You were up all night thinking about it, and now it’s here — your first gynecologist appointment.
The doctor steps in and walks you through all the routines, finally asking about your period, delving into the details. “How are your cramps? Severe? How about flow? Are you having breakouts? Are you in a relationship? What about sex?”
Most likely, you answered yes to at least one of these questions, and so did your friends. But even if you didn’t, your gynecologist then introduces you to modern medicine’s “catch-all” solution for women. The pill. It decreases period pain, limits acne, and wipes out your chances of unplanned pregnancy. It sounds like the perfect solution, right?
That’s what I thought too, until I started to research the side effects of birth control and learned what I wish someone had told me when I was younger.
The Pill Depletes Your Body of Essential Minerals and Vitamins
First of all, and I know this might not sound like a big deal initially, but the pill depletes your body of nutrients such as folic acid, magnesium, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc. Do a quick Google search, and you’ll see all sorts of issues that can arise from these deficiencies.
The pill reduces vitamin B6, which your body needs to make serotonin.
For example, vitamin B6 enables the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for feelings of satisfaction and happiness. Is it a coincidence that women who take the pill are 23% more likely to be prescribed antidepressants? That’s almost 1 in 4 women who would otherwise not need to take another prescription, only this time it’s for mental health rather than reproductive. In addition, vitamin B6 deficiency contributes to an increased risk of blood clots by 3-4 times in women who take the pill.
Women who take the pill are 23% more likely to be prescribed antidepressants.
The pill reduces zinc, which in turn decreases your sex drive.
Let’s talk about zinc deficiency. It turns out that zinc is one of the most important minerals contributing to the production of testosterone which is essential for a healthy sex drive. Women on the pill report higher rates of issues with arousal, desire, and ability to orgasm. When you look at the science behind what the pill does both emotionally and hormonally, there’s little wonder as to why these dysfunctions can be common complaints for women on the pill.
The pill can negatively impact your brain, thyroid, and gut.
Taking oral birth control can alter the physical structure of your brain. Recent studies from the National Institutes of Health shows birth control having a measurable effect on cortical thickness and grey matter in the parts of the brain responsible for processing emotions.
Birth control physically changes your brain, impacting how you process emotions.
On top of this, the pill can disrupt your thyroid, increase your risk of breast, cervical, and liver cancer, increase your risk of diabetes, and has been shown to trigger autoimmune diseases. It also negatively affects gut health, potentially leading to IBS, leaky gut, and even inflammatory bowel disease. Now, if your doctor had told you all that, would you have still wanted to go on the pill?
The Pill Can Change Who You Pick for a Long-term Partner
Your ability to choose a long-term partner can also be significantly affected. The pill puts your body in an artificial state mimicking post-pregnancy. It could be drawing you to a genetically incompatible mate without you even knowing it.
Let me explain: Women are naturally drawn to the body odor of men who have different immune systems than their own, as their potential children would benefit from the two immune systems coming together. Especially during ovulation, women prefer these “different” men.
Couples with dissimilar MHC genes are more satisfied emotionally and sexually.
Studies have shown that couples with dissimilar MHC genes (the genes responsible for body odor) are more satisfied emotionally and sexually, and are even more likely to be faithful. Women preferentially select men who have MHC genes that are complementary and different from their own, giving their children a stronger immune system. Research shows that once a woman starts taking the pill, her scent preference shifts towards men who are more similar to her, yet MHC similarity can lead to fertility problems.
The Pill’s Relationship to Declining Marriage Rates
Another question I had was how the pill has impacted marriage and relationships over the years. The pill was introduced in the 1960s. Looking at a Pew Research Study, those who had never married among 21-36 year olds was 17% of the population in 1965. The same group of those who never married in 2017 was 57%. Could the steep decline of marriage have something to do with the pill? It’s been argued that the pill enables men to be noncommittal in ways they previously weren’t able to be (because, pregnancy) and helps contribute to the current hookup culture we see today.
The Pill Ignores How Sex Affects Women
Women and men experience sex in very different ways. When women have sex, they form a chemical bond with the man. John Townsend, an evolutionary anthropologist, studied how sex produces specific feelings of vulnerability for women that lead to her feeling “used” when they don’t receive emotional investment back from their sexual partner. Generally speaking, this makes it very difficult for many women to enjoy casual sex even though the pill makes them feel like they can have sex with “no consequences.”
Having more sexual partners is associated with poorer emotional states in women more than in men.
In the book Premarital Sex in America, the authors report that having more sexual partners is associated with poorer emotional states in women more so than men. The more partners women have, the more likely they are to be depressed and also report a lower satisfaction with life. Birth control has allowed women to gain sexual liberation, yet this may have led to more damage than anyone could have anticipated.
After reading this, there are many things you may be feeling. When I first read Beyond the Pill by Dr. Jolene Brighten, which discusses many of the issues above, I felt denial, anger, and confusion. How did I let this happen to my body for seven years? How did I not know the impact the pill could have on my body? Then I started to think about how I can improve my current situation and what I can do to inform other women of the risks and how they can free themselves from the pill.
Coming off the pill was one of the best decisions I have made. Being able to get back in tune with my body and no longer be controlled by the pill, I’ve been able to embrace my femininity and I feel more connected to my body and mind than ever before. I want to empower other women and inform them there are natural alternatives to eliminate acne, period pain, and prevent pregnancy. Through diet, exercise, and supplements, you can get your body back on track.
There are many natural alternatives to the pill. I personally use the Natural Cycles app that uses a basal thermometer and LH tests to track ovulation.
You can find the Twitter thread that inspired this article here.