It is thought that more than 300 million women have used the contraceptive pill and that around 100 million women are currently taking it, this may be to control a variety of hormonal issues, not just for birth control.
But how is this hormonal drug affecting our bodies and minds?
The contraceptive pill contains synthetic hormones which
mimic naturally occurring hormones in the body.
This alters the hormonal balance in the body and induces a biochemical
state which temporarily makes you infertile.
The synthetic hormones role is to stop ovulation and make the uterus
unreceptive to the implantation of an embryo.
Our bodies naturally produce hormones as part of the function of the endocrine system, which is made up of various glands in the body. These glands work together to regulate mood, growth, tissue function, metabolism and development. They are also responsible for sexual function and the reproductive process. As you can imagine, the health of our endocrine system is paramount in our bodies ability to function optimally!
Many women note side effects from taking the contraceptive pill:
- Weight gain or loss
- Reduced or increased acne
- Mood swings
- Irregular bleeding
- Breast tenderness
- Lower libido
- Higher blood pressure
- Gallbladder disease
- Decreased bone density
- Yeast overgrowth
- Blood clots
These side effects may be enough to deter some women from taking the pill, but for others the side effects may not be extreme enough to warrant stopping the prescribed medication, but they should still be seen as a side effect or a sign that your body is trying to adjust to the imbalance from the synthetic hormone. In some cases, the side effect can be extreme and a second drug is prescribed to counteract the original side effects. Quite often this is as a result of the pill making women feel depressed, leading to a prescription for anti-depressants being prescribed.
These physical and emotional symptoms are noticeable to most women who are in tune to their bodies, but what is also worth considering is the nutritional deficiencies caused by taking the pill. It is not so well known that the pill affects the mineral, vitamin and fatty acid levels in the body. This balance of minerals etc is vital for good health and normal body functions in our bodies. Alas, many women either currently on the pill or who have previously taken the pill for a number of years are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals.
Some signs of deficiency may be obvious, such as vitamin B1,
which when reduced can lead to fatigue, weakness, insomnia, oversensitivity to
noise, muscle aches, loss of appetite, sugar cravings and circulation
issues. If vitamin B6 is deficient
symptoms will include nausea, feeling easily stressed, anxiety, depression,
skin eruptions and lethargy.
Minerals such as magnesium are also affected, which can cause symptoms of premenstrual cramps, anxiety, insomnia and craving for sugar and chocolate. The pill will also affect the bodies stores of potassium, zinc and selenium, all of which result in additional physical and emotional symptoms.
The contraceptive pill is prescribed for a number of hormonal problems
Doctors prescribe the contraceptive pill for various hormonal problems – polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, acne, period problems, anaemia. All these symptoms are signs that the hormonal system is already out of balance, and many women find that when they stop taking the contraceptive pill, the symptoms then return as the pill has not dealt with the underlying imbalance. In addition to this, the liver and kidneys are put under additional stress to process and eliminate the toxins of drugs in the body. Another organ of elimination is the skin, so many women will experience skin breakouts and acne after they stop taking the contraceptive pill. This is particularly the case if the liver is under strain as when this organ is struggling to process toxins through the natural channels (bowels and kidneys) toxins are released through the skin.
Symptoms are messages and signs that your body isn’t happy
Acne may indicate that your colon, lymph and liver need support and cleansing. It may be as a result of intolerances to food, that your life is stressful or that your thyroid and adrenals are fatigued. Acne is also a sign of the presence of yeast infections such as candida. Long term use of the pill often leads to candida overgrowth, which amongst other things, affects the quality of the cervical mucus.
How can I help support my body?
It is essential to replace the nutrients the pill depletes your body of, either in your diet or by including a supplement in your daily routine.
- Vitamin B6:
Fish, poultry, whole grains, potatoes
- Folic acid: Dark green leafy veg, dried beans
- Riboflavin: meat, poultry, fish, green veg,
grains and cereals
- Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, juices, broccoli,
peppers, spinach, cabbage
- Vitamin A: Green veg, yellow veg and yellow
- Iron: Red meat, poultry, fish, cereal products,
dried beans, green veg, prunes
- Zinc: Seafood, nuts, whole grains
What supplements should I consider taking?
Eating a balanced diet would be the first choice for accessing the essential vitamins and minerals, but sometimes we need additional support from good quality supplements, my preferred range is from Cytoplan, a UK based company which uses mainly organic and vegan products.
The following products are helpful for supporting hormonal
- A multi vitamin: A good all-rounder vitamin will contain all the major vitamins and minerals we require on a daily basis.
- Vitamin B Complex: B vitamins are important for the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates and fats in the body. They are also important for energy production, digestion and hormone imbalances.
- Omega 3 oils: founds in oily fish and flaxseeds or as a supplement, these oils are helpful for dry skin, fatigue, depression and lack of motivation. They are also helpful for blood sugar imbalances and weight problems.
- Evening Primrose oil: helpful for breast tenderness, dry skin and vaginal dryness.
What can Homeopathy do to help?
The aim of Homeopathy is to address the reason behind why
you became ill in the first place, finding the right remedy to create an
improvement in your health. This may be
with just remedies or with the additional support of herbs, supplements or
small changes to diet. Each person is
seen as an individual, so the remedies and support offered varies for each
Let me know if you’d
like to learn more about how homeopathy could help you.
Virginia Satir, a famous family therapist, once said:
“We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”
There are moments in time when no present in the world could boost the sense of belonging, of being accepted and appreciated for what you are. Hugs are designed for that, as they are simple and pure manifestations of empathy.
So what’s the science behind it?
Hugs improve levels of oxytocin, promoting feelings of contentment, reducing anxiety and stress,
allowing you to restore your emotional balance. Oxytocin also helps by lowering both our heart rates and our cortisol levels
(cortisol is the hormone responsible for stress, high blood pressure, and heart
A hug is one of the easiest ways to show appreciation and acknowledgment of another person.
Think about it, how many times have you just felt better from a good hug?!
Affection also helps
in the reduction of stress which prevents many diseases. The University
of Miami School of Medicine has carried out more than 100 studies into touch
and found evidence of significant positive effects, including faster growth in
premature babies, reduced pain, decreased autoimmune disease symptoms, lowered
glucose levels in children with diabetes, and improved immune systems in people
Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the solar plexus chakra which stimulates the thymus gland, regulating the body’s production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.
With almost 70% of
communication being nonverbal, the interpretation of body language can be based
on a single gesture and hugging is an excellent method of expressing yourself
nonverbally to another human being or animal.
Hugs stimulate the brain
to release dopamine, the pleasure hormone. Low dopamine levels play a
role in the neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s as well as mood
disorders such as depression. Dopamine is responsible for giving us that
feel-good feeling, and it’s also responsible for self-motivation!
Hugging releases endorphins and serotonin into the blood vessels. When released, these improve feelings of pleasure and negate pain and sadness. They also decrease the chances of getting heart problems, help fight excess weight and prolong life.
Even the cuddling of pets has a soothing effect that reduces the stress levels. Anyone with a pet will know this already!
Hugging for an extended time lifts our serotonin levels, lifting our mood and creating feelings of happiness.
But as we became more and more confined in our in our own lives, with stress for jobs, worries and social norms, we also got uneasy to ask or to offer hugs, despite their health enhancing effects.
So don’t hold back, give a someone a hug today, it’s good for their health and yours
would your response to that question be?
Is your daily medication, which you take to reduce your blood pressure,
stop your menopausal symptoms, reduce your asthma symptoms, whatever the
medication is for, could it be undermining your healthy diet, by depleting your
body of the vitamins and minerals it needs.
The answer is yes!
of whether they are prescription drugs or over the counter medication, without
hesitation, they will be stripping the body of what it requires on a daily
basis to maintain a level of health and wellbeing.
So, now not only do we need to think about eating enough fruit and veg every day, we also need to think about what shortfalls there may be as a result of medication. Enough already!
Let’s look at a few examples of this
Antibiotics are widely taken across the world and it is commonly known as a medication which depletes the body of beneficial gut flora, the friendly bacteria in our guts. In addition to this, antibiotics will also steal from our body’s stores of B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and iron.
Blood pressure medication will remove a large number of vitamins and minerals from the body. Vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, potassium, melatonin and zinc.
How about HRT and other hormonal medications? These will deplete the body of beneficial gut flora, magnesium, zinc, vitamins C and B.
A simple pain relief pill, taken for a headache perhaps, will deplete the bodies’ stores of vitamin C, Folic acid and iron.
Regardless of what the medication is for, the effects will be a shortfall of essential nutrients.
But what does this mean to our general health? The symptoms of these shortfalls in vitamins and minerals are varied.
Vitamin C, which we all think to take when we need to boost our immune system, is responsible for the integrity of connective tissue in the body. A lack of the vitamin will result in frequent infections, lack of energy, bleeding gums, slow wound healing and poor skin.
Vitamin D, helps to support bone health. A shortfall will lead to muscle cramps, arthritic pains, tooth decay, hair loss, excessive sweating and a lack of energy.
A lack of Zinc in the diet will cause infertility issues, poor sense of taste and smell, skin issues, frequent infections, poor appetite and depression. A sure sign that you have a Zinc deficiency are white marks on your nails.
The big one, which the majority of us are short on regardless of what medication we take, is magnesium. Magnesium is a natural tranquiliser, soothing and cooling the nervous system and brain. A lack of this mineral causes muscle weakness and pain, insomnia, depression, high blood pressure and an irregular heart beat. It can also lead to constipation as it is a natural laxative.
Can I just nip to the shops and buy a cheap multivitamin?
When clients come to see me for nutritional advice, I always suggest they buy the most expensive vitamins they can afford (such as those made by Cytoplan). It’s the one area that I advise not trying to scrimp and save on. Vitamins from the supermarket may seem good value, because they are inexpensive, but this is because they are full of cheap fillers such as corn starch and chalk, which in themselves cause problems in the body.
Our bodies are literally under attack every day. From the environments we live in, our stressful and busy schedules, the pesticides used for foods and the chemicals added to foods and water. It would be a tall order to try and remove all of these from our diets and eat clean, organic foods, avoid medications and pollutants every day for the rest of our lives. However, making a few small conscious changes to your everyday life will have long term benefits for our body’s various organs and our quality of life.
And of course, I’m here to help