Let’s talk about hormonal birth control. Many of my clients come to me with symptoms that actually correlate with their hormonal birth control.
Side effects of hormonal birth control include:
Bloating and cramps
Increased risk of blood clots and stroke
Low thyroid function
Headaches and migraines
There are so many different types of hormonal birth control, such as the patch, pill, implant, shot, ring, and IUD.
Let's go into detail about each one:
Birth control pills are one of the most common ones I see my clients use. The pill can either be combined (contains synthetic estrogen and progestin) or the mini pill (contains only synthetic progestin). The pill shuts down communication between the brain to the ovaries and prevents ovulation.
The hormonal IUD, such as the Mirena IUD, is inserted into the uterus and gives synthetic progestin. It prevents pregnancy by thinning the uterine lining and changing cervical mucus.
Nuvaring contains synthetic progestin and estrogen and prevents pregnancy similarly to the pill, but has a higher blood clot risk than the pill.
The patch contains both estrogen and progestin and prevents pregnancy similarly to the pill. The patch also has a higher blood clot risk than the pill.
The arm implant provides a steady dose of just synthetic progestin and indirectly suppresses ovulation. It prevents pregnancy by thinning the uterine lining and changing cervical fluid.
The shot provides synthetic progestin and also thins the uterine lining and changes cervical fluid. It prevents pregnancy by preventing ovulation.
I wanted to share the different birth control types and their side effects so that you can decide if your symptoms are related to birth control or other outside factors.
I took the pill throughout all of college to “get my period,” and I was losing a lot of hair and had crazy amount of gut issues. I had chronic yeast infections and had no idea that this was even related to the pill. I also had no idea that birth control had impacted my thyroid.
How does birth control affect your thyroid?
It increases a protein called Thyroid Binding Globulin, or TBG, that can bind to the thyroid hormone and make it inactive. This leads to less thyroid hormone available and causes more work for your thyroid to function. The pill can also increase another protein called Sex Hormone Binding Globulin, or SHBG, which can bind to your thyroid hormone.
The pill depletes many nutrients, but specifically crucial nutrients for your thyroid hormone such as selenium, zinc, and B vitamins. Selenium and zinc are especially important for taking the inactive form of thyroid hormone, T4, and converting it to the active form, T3. We need B vitamins to make thyroid hormone but also for other functions in our bodies.
The pill can increase inflammation by increasing an inflammatory marker called CRP. This can create more stress on the body and impact our adrenals, leading to thyroid issues.
Lastly, birth control can cause gut dysbiosis by creating an imbalance of our gut bacteria. This creates an environment for bacterial overgrowth, pathogens, parasites, and yeast to grow. Gut dysbiosis is a stressor on our bodies and can impact our thyroid health.
I know that birth control might be something you are on right now, and I do not want you to stress out even further. It is just important to understand what taking birth control might do to your health. Whenever my clients come to me with hormone imbalances, I always address gut health and diet first. We must also be taking into consideration mineral balance and how that can impact hormones.
I'm not here to tell you to stop taking birth control. It's your decision and I think there is a time and place for it. However, I think it's also important to understand what you're putting in your body and how it might affect you long term.
Although hormonal birth control might not be an issue for everyone, it is just important to understand what you are putting into your body and to see if your health issues might be related.