Millions of women take oral contraceptives. While most women take them as a form of birth control, others take them to “regulate” their cycle. Other women take “The Pill” to help manage their PMS symptoms”. In any case, taking oral contraceptives can lead to numerous health issues over the long term, and can without question affect anyone with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
To better understand this it’s a good idea to discuss how oral contraceptives work. In menstruating women, in the first half of their cycle the hormone estrogen is dominant. In the second half of the cycle, progesterone is the dominant hormone. Sufficient progesterone is necessary to carry a pregnancy full term. What oral contraceptives do is suppress ovulation, and this will have an impact on these hormones.
Taking Oral Contraceptives Can Lead To Estrogen Dominance
By taking oral contraceptives, this will result in a progesterone deficiency, which is great for preventing a woman from becoming pregnant most of the time, but it can lead to a condition know as estrogen dominance. This is a condition which leads to many different symptoms, and is common in people with both hypothyroid and hyperthyroid conditions.
In fact, whenever I consult with a patient who has a history of taking oral contraceptives, I suspect that estrogen dominance could be a factor. Although I don’t always recommend a female hormone panel right off the bat, for many people I do. If they have certain accompanying symptoms then usually I will recommend such a test to be obtained. And the reason for this not only has to do with relieving these symptoms, but if someone has estrogen dominance and the cause isn’t addressed, it will be extremely difficult to restore their thyroid health back to normal.
Can Thyroid Health Be Restored While Taking Oral Contraceptives?
It’s not uncommon for me to consult with a patient who is currently taking “The Pill” and wants to follow a natural treatment protocol. While these people can still benefit from following a natural treatment protocol, it is definitely more challenging. In order to counterbalance the effects of the oral contraceptives, these people need to be put on a specific type of natural protocol. And while I’m not a big fan of bioidentical hormones, many women who insist on taking oral contraceptives and at the same time want to follow a natural treatment protocol will need to take natural progesterone.
However, those women who take a more aggressive form of birth control which stops them from menstruating probably won’t receive much benefit from following a natural treatment protocol. These types of birth control really do create much more havoc with the endocrine system than “The Pill”. So while I would prefer for women to not be taking any type of oral contraceptives, I realize that many women will be taking them regardless of what I recommend, and those taking “The Pill” can still benefit, while those women taking a more aggressive form of oral contraceptives most likely won’t receive satisfactory results.
IUDs and Copper Toxicity
Some people reading this might wonder whether a different form of birth control might be better, such as an IUD. There are consequences to taking just about any type of birth control. There are a few different types of IUDs, and the ones which use the hormones can also potentially cause a hormone imbalance. On the other hand, the copper IUDs can lead to a copper toxicity, which without question can impact thyroid health. So it really is a no-win situation when it comes to deciding between taking oral contraceptives and using an IUD.
Plus, let’s not forget that many people take oral contraceptives for reasons other than birth control. So while an IUD might be another option for birth control (which comes with its own set of risks), as mentioned earlier, some people take oral contraceptives to help “regulate their cycle”, help with PMS symptoms, etc. Of course the goal of a natural treatment protocol is to correct these problems without the need to take synthetic hormones.
In summary, taking “The Pill” and other oral contraceptives without question can affect your thyroid health. And for anyone looking to restore their health by following a natural treatment protocol, continuing to take oral contraceptives will make it more difficult to receive optimal results. For more information on the risks associated with oral contraceptives, along with natural alternatives, I highly recommend reading the book “The Pill…Are You Sure It’s For You”, which was written by Jane Bennett and Alexandria Pope. This is an excellent book that anyone who is taking oral contraceptives really needs to read, even if they have no intentions of following a natural treatment protocol.