The Mini Pill

Very broadly, birth control is anything that aids in preventing pregnancy, ranging from condoms to sponges to contraceptive gels.  One very popular form of birth control is the hormonal contraception referred to as “the pill”, which women take orally.  When taken correctly, the pill is 99.9% effective in preventing pregnancy.

The standard birth control pill typically contains a combination of synthetic estrogen and progestin hormones.  These products work together to inhibit the actions of the body’s natural cyclical hormones by stopping the body from ovulating, changing the cervical mucus to make it more difficult for a sperm to reach the egg, and by making the lining of the womb inhospitable for the implantation of a fertilized egg.

The mini pill works slightly differently.  First, it contains just one hormone, progestin.  The lack of estrogen makes the mini pill ideal for breastfeeding mothers and those who react poorly to estrogen therapy.  The main function of the mini pill is to thicken the cervical mucus so that sperm cannot reach the egg.  It also changes the uterine lining to make implantation unlikely to occur.  In some women, the mini pill will actually prevent the release of an egg altogether.

The downside is that it is less reliable than other types of birth control pills.  When used correctly, it is only 95% effective.  Further, while the health risks are less than the actual pill, women who have certain conditions should consult a doctor or stay away from it entirely.  Those with undiagnosed vaginal bleeding, severe artery disease, liver tumors, porphyria, those with a history of breast cancer and those who have had an ectopic pregnancy should definitely take caution.

Will Hormonal Birth Control Make You Gain Weight?

From the moment you were old enough to consider using hormonal birth control, you’ve probably been told that it will make you gain weight.  Whether this is myth or fact has been a subject of great debate over time.  However, the truth lies somewhere in between. Hormonal Birth Control make me gain weight?

Fact: In a 2009 research study conducted at Texas A&M University, 73 women, 34 of whom were on hormonal birth control, were placed on a supervised ten week weight training program.  At the conclusion, researchers measured the gains in muscle mass in the participants, and discovered that the women on birth control built 60% less lean muscle mass than those who were not.  In addition, those on birth control had higher levels of hormones that actually break down muscle tissue.  Since lean muscle mass increases your metabolism, and thus your ability to burn calories, this would indicate that being on hormonal birth control is directly related to your body burning calories less efficiently.

Fact: Each woman is unique, with her own personal body chemistry.  It’s impossible for anyone to know how your body will react to adding a hormonal birth control method to the mix until you actually do so.

Fact:  According to Planned Parenthood, a very common reaction to hormonal birth control is water retention.  While not fat, water weight is still extra pounds for your body to carry.

Fact: Planned Parenthood also states that progesterone, which is a hormone found in some forms of birth control, is known to increase appetite.  Consuming more calories each day can, of course, lead to weight gain.

Fact: In The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, it was reported that women taking the Depo-Provera birth control shot, which contains synthetic hormones to suppress estrogen levels, are twice as likely to become obese over a three year period than those not taking hormonal birth control, even after diet and exercise were taken into account.

If you are concerned about weight gain, it seems taking hormonal birth control is simply not worth the risk.

What to Expect When You Stop Taking the Pill

If you are considering stopping your hormonal birth control, you could have any number of reasons for doing so. Regardless of if you have decided you are ready to conceive or simply have a desire to switch to a more natural method of family planning, it is important to know what you can expect when your body is no longer subjected to the extra hormones.

What To Expect When you Stop Taking the Pill
First, know that the timing of your first menstrual cycle after you stop taking hormonal birth control can be difficult to predict. It is possible you will suffer from a condition called post-pill amenorrhea, which is a complete absence of your period for several months. This is because the birth control was suppressing your body’s natural ovulation and menstruation hormones, so it can take some time for them to produce normally again. In addition, when your period does resume, the length of your cycle may not be the same as it was before you began birth control. It’s not unusual for it to be shorter/longer or heavier/lighter than before. Because of this variability, if you are not trying to conceive, it is very important to have your new natural birth control plan in place before you stop taking the pill. It’s actually possible to ovulate and conceive immediately after going off the pill, before you even have your first natural period.
Next, remember that your birth control pill may have been doing more to your body than just preventing pregnancy. If the pill was helping to control your acne, you might find your skin becoming oily again. If you were someone who suffered from weight gain as a result of the birth control hormones, you might find that you lose a pound or two as a pleasant side effect. Finally, if the pill was helping to control your premenstrual syndrome symptoms, be prepared for them to return. It is not abnormal to find that they are even worse than usual at first as your body adjusts to the chemical changes. Thankfully, you should find that your hormones regulate themselves within 3-6 months. However, if you are concerned about anything you are experiencing, it is advisable to see your doctor.

Birth Control Side Effects: Are They Permanent?

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birthcontrolTaking any type of hormonal birth control brings an inherent risk of side effects.  While some may fade over time, others are clear indicators that you should investigate other options.  Below are some common side effects of hormonal birth control and information on which could be cause for alarm.

  • Headache, dizziness, and breast tenderness– These side effects should fade over time.  If they remain at the same intensity after three months, consult with your doctor about alternatives.
  • Breakthrough bleeding– This symptom may never go away, even if you diligently take your birth control pill at the same time daily.  While it is not cause for concern, it is most definitely frustrating and inconvenient.
  • Decreased libido– For some women, synthetic estrogen increases their levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). This protein binds to testosterone and makes it less available for the body’s use.  The result is lowered sexual desire, subdued orgasms, and possibly pain during sex.  Even worse, SHBG levels can remain high in the bloodstream for months after going off the pill.
  • Mood swings– The hormones in birth control pills can cause some to become clinically depressed.  In fact, those with a history of depression would be advised to avoid hormonal birth control completely.
  • Your body composition-While the pill will not make you gain weight, a 2009 study conducted at Texas A&M University showed that it can decrease your muscle tissue.  Comparing a group of 73 women on a weight training program, researchers found those on the pill built 60 percent less lean muscle, had lower levels of muscle building hormones, and had higher levels of hormones that break down muscle tissue.

Those seeking an alternative to hormonal birth control should consider Lady-Comp, an easy-to-use system that can predict your fertile days based on your daily morning body temperature and information you input.  To learn more about Lady-Comp, please call 1-877-925-LADY.

Contraception for Women in Perimenopause

All too often, women in their 40’s and 50’s abandon the use of birth control before their periods stop completely, due to an assumption that the risk of pregnancy is much lower with age.  A rule of thumb to follow regarding birth control is that you should continue to use it for one year following your last period if you are 50 or over, and two years following your last period of you are under 50 years old.

One reason women in their 40’s and 50’s may be eager to stop hormonal birth control is that the health risks associated with hormonal birth control increase as a woman gets older.  Examples of this include:

  • Nutrient Absorption– Hormonal birth control can impact the rate at which your body absorbs and utilizes B vitamins, zinc, and beta-carotene, which can cause changes to glucose tolerance, liver function, and insulin sensitivity.
  • Risk of Stroke– The chance of stroke occurring in birth control pill users increases over the age of 35, particularly if the woman is a smoker or a migraine sufferer.
  • Cholesterol Levels– Oral contraceptives can increase total serum cholesterol levels in perimenopausal women.
  • Breast Cancer Risk– Studies have found that women on oral contraceptives have an elevated risk for breast cancer, and that hormones contained in the pill can actually accelerate the growth of malignant cells in the body.
  • Blood Clots– While hormonal birth control increases the risk of blood clots at any age, the risk is higher for women over 50 years old.  Blood clots are frightening in that they can be asymptomatic, meaning you may not know you are developing one, and they can be deadly if they travel to a major organ, such as the lungs or heart.

If you would like to avoid the inherent risks of hormonal birth control, you do have other options, one of which is Lady-Comp.  The Lady-Comp system is a safe, natural way to determine your fertile days based on your previous cycles and morning body temperature.  For more information, please give us a call at 1-877-925-LADY.

Birth Control Pills Increase Risk of Breast Cancer

The World Health Organization officially labels combined oral contraceptives as a Group 1 Carcinogen, on the same list as other more publicized causes of cancer such as asbestos, tobacco, and tanning booths.  Yet, the medical community continues to prescribe the birth control pill for everything from acne to mood swings, with the thought that the benefits outweigh the risks.  At Lady- Comp, we urge you to ask questions and be informed of all of your options before starting a regimen of hormonal contraceptives.

According to the World Health Organization, years of scientific research data has shown the following:

  • The incidents of breast cancer increase proportionately with the length of use of combined oral contraceptives prior to the birth of the first child.
  • Users of combined oral contraceptives have a higher rate of breast cancer prior to age 35 as well as prior to age 45.
  • Women who have used combined oral contraceptives within the previous 5 to 10 years have a higher risk of breast cancer.

Further supporting the World Health Organization’s classification, a 2006 study by the Mayo Clinic revealed that breast cancer risk increases 50% for women taking oral contraceptives four or more years before a full-term pregnancy.  Additionally, a 2009 study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found women starting the pill before age 18 nearly quadruple their risk of breast cancer.

Why is this the case?  As it turns out, the combination of estrogen and progesterone in the birth control pill functions as a genotoxin in the body.  It encourages the multiplication of breast tissue, and can actually irreparably damage the DNA contained within that tissue.  An increased number of cells in the breasts lead to a greater likelihood of mutations in cell division, which can ultimately result in cancer.  Even more frightening, estrogen will cause any cells in the breast tissue that are already cancerous to develop and multiply more rapidly.

If you would like to read more about the oral contraceptive/breast cancer link, you can view the World Health Organization’s full report online at http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol72/index.php.

Negative Effects of Hormonal Birth Control

As mentioned in a previous article, physicians are frequently quick to prescribe hormonal birth control to patients not only for pregnancy prevention, but for a variety of other medical purposes as well.  We would like to encourage women to learn more about the potential side effects of hormonal birth control before starting it.  To that end, we would like to provide you more information on two of those effects: migraines and deep vein thrombosis.

Migraines are a chronic medical condition characterized by severe headaches with intense throbbing pain.  They cause nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.  While not a threat to your health, they can last for days and have a huge impact on your daily life.  While the cause of migraines is not fully understood, researchers link them to abnormal changes in substances that are naturally produced in the body.  The changing levels cause inflammation, which in turn causes the blood vessels in the brain to swell and press on nerves, creating the pain.  In some women, the varying hormone levels that come along with taking birth control can serve as a migraine trigger.  Typically, the migraine will occur during the last week of the cycle, which is the “off” week, when you are taking placebo pills.  During that time, your body goes through hormone withdrawal and your estrogen levels drop sharply, setting off the migraine.  It is an endless and painful cycle.

Deep vein thrombosis is an extremely dangerous type of blood clot that typically forms in the legs.  Clots of this type can be deadly, because they carry the risk of traveling to the lung, creating what is known as a pulmonary embolism.  This is a blockage of an artery in the lung which can cause death.  Doctors have found that the estrogen in hormonal birth control makes the blood more likely to clot.  Therefore, they say that you should absolutely avoid any type of estrogen therapy if you carry any other risk factor for blood clotting.  These include smoking, being overweight, traveling frequently, having high blood pressure, suffering from migraines, or having a family history of blood clots, heart disease, heart defects, or stroke.

Are you ready to let your body return to its natural hormone levels?  If so, you should know that many non-hormonal forms of family planning are available.  For example, you may wish to learn more about Lady-Comp, a personal fertility monitor which learns and adjusts to your individual cycle regardless of irregularities or cycle length.  It is programmed with a database of more than 900,000 cycles and uses bio-mathematical forecasting calculations and computer techniques to predict your fertile days, primarily based on your morning body temperature.   Research shows that Lady-Comp is 99.3% accurate.  To learn more about Lady-Comp, please feel free to call us at 1-877-925-LADY.  We are looking forward to speaking with you.

Plan B

Commonly known as “the morning after pill,” Plan B is a type of emergency contraception that may prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. It is not the same as RU-486, which is an abortion pill.  However, it is controversial in its own right because as of 2009, it became available without a prescription to women aged 17 and over. (Women younger than 17 may still obtain Plan B, but are required to have a prescription.)

Plan B works by delivering a 1.5 milligram dose of a synthetic hormone known as levonorgestrel to your body.  Depending on where you are in your cycle, this hormone may prevent or delay ovulation, interfere with egg fertilization, or prevent implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus by altering the lining, making the environment inhospitable.  Plan B is 95% effective when taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex, and 89% effective when taken within 72 hours.

Plan B does have side effects.  Your body has to work hard to process the high dose of hormones, so you can reasonably expect to experience fatigue, nausea, headaches, abdominal pain, dizziness, breast tenderness, vomiting, and diarrhea.  Additionally, the hormones cause your reproductive system to go through incredibly fast changes in order to prevent pregnancy.  Therefore, you can expect an impact on your menstrual cycle as a result.  You are likely to experience some spotting up until your next period, and you can expect your next period to be earlier or later than what is normal for you, as well as heavier or lighter than usual.  Due to the rapid changes your body must go through to process the hormones in Plan B, you should not rely on Plan B as a primary form of contraception. It is meant to be used only as its name implies- as a backup form of contraception when you are concerned your primary form has failed.

Side Effects of Switching Birth Control

 

One very common form of birth control is oral contraception, also known as the pill.  The birth control pill introduces synthetic hormones (either progestin only or a combination of estrogen and progestin) into your body.  These hormones prevent pregnancy by keeping your ovaries from releasing eggs, thickening your cervical mucus to block sperm, and thinning the lining of your uterus to keep eggs from attaching.

With the wide variety of birth control pills on the market today, it would be easy to assume that there is one that would be a perfect fit for you.  Unfortunately, that perfect fit may not come on the first try, or even the second.  It is not unusual for a woman to switch from one birth control pill to another.  This is due to very frustrating side effects as the hormones of the pill interact with your body chemistry.  Some examples are breakthrough bleeding between cycles, breast tenderness, and nausea.

Unfortunately, it is possible to have side effects as a result of switching pills as well.  In addition to the aforementioned symptoms, women can experience fatigue, weight gain, and depression.  Furthermore, there is a greater risk of pregnancy around the time you switch pills.  It is typically recommended that you use a backup birth control method during your first seven days on a new pill.

All hormonal birth control methods carry the risk of severe side effects that may be fatal in very rare cases.  These include heart attack, stroke, blood clots in the legs, lungs, heart, or brain, high blood pressure, liver tumors, gallstones, or jaundice.

If you feel these potential risks aren’t for you, please consider Lady Comp, a personal fertility monitor which learns and adjusts to your individual cycle.  Lady Comp will predict your cycle with 99.3% accuracy, primarily based on your morning body temperature.   To learn more about Lady Comp, please feel free to call us at 1-877-925-LADY.  We are looking forward to speaking with you.

Megan Elizabeth’s Video Testimonial for Lady-Comp

Megan Elizabeth is a professional mentor who helps women achieve optimal heath through a natural diet and lifestyle. Megan recently added a video to her blog, reviewing Lady-Comp and explaining the benefit of natural birth control and natural family planning. Check out this great explanation from a real Lady-Comp client and learn what makes Lady-Comp the best option for a natural lifestyle!