Before being diagnosed with PCOS I was on birth control for many years due to irregular periods and cysts. When I first started taking the pill I did gain some weight, however I was able to lose it quickly again. I had no other noticeable side effects until I went off the pill and it took my body over 3 years to start producing its own hormones again. The birth control only covers up PCOS symptoms and does not solve the actual root cause, which results in bigger issues long-term.
Even though this post is primarily written for women with PCOS, all women should know about the dangerous side effects of taking the birth control pill. The pill destroys healthy gut bacteria, which leads to digestive problems and may even cause candida. In order to keep my gut healthy I take probiotics daily. Taking the pill also lowers levels of nutrients like B-vitamins, folic acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, magnesium and zinc. All of which are incredibly important to balance hormones. Women with PCOS already have an increased risk for heart disease and the pill increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes even more.
To understand what taking the birth control pill does to the body, it is important to understand the basics of the female hormone system. Without the birth control pill women (usually) ovulate once a month. A new egg ripens, which goes down to a fallopian tube, where it may implant if fertilised. If no fertilisation occurs the lining of the uterus that built up starts shedding and both the uterine lining and the egg leave the body in preparation for the next month.
However the birth control pill prevents a woman from ovulation and therefore getting pregnant by maintaining consistent hormone levels. The pill is a synthetic form of two sex hormones called oestrogen and progesterone. After a 21 day cycle of pills, the placebos are taken and with this sudden stop of synthetic hormones the period is induced.
There are several reasons why doctors prescribe the birth control pill to women with PCOS. Most women with PCOS have very irregular periods due to irregular ovulation. When the uterine lining does not shed regularly, it grows a lot thicker and heavy bleeding with incredibly painful periods occur. Taking synthetic hormones helps to regulate periods temporarily, but does not treat the root cause of irregular periods. Once the body is not provided with synthetic hormones anymore, it may take months or years for the endocrine disorder to produce hormones on its own again.
The disadvantages of taking the birth control pill definitely outweigh the advantages. As mentioned above the pill destroys healthy gut bacteria, decreases nutrient levels and increases the risk of heart disease and strokes. PCOS is an endocrine disorder, which means that the body’s natural hormonal balance does not work. By adding synthetic hormones, all the symptoms are suppressed and the root causes of infertility and irregular cycles is not treated leading to bigger issues long-term.
For me personally the birth control pill is one of the worst treatments for women with PCOS who want to conceive a baby one day and do not want to stay on it for the rest of their lives. There are so many great treatments that can help balancing hormones naturally, however eating a healthy diet and regular exercise are the first steps. Once I stopped taking the birth control pill my journey of healing and getting my body back on track started, because I finally addressed the root causes of my disease.
If the pill is only taken to prevent pregnancy and not to minimise other symptoms, I highly suggest reading the book Fertility Awareness Method.