Contraception is a very big topic. There are many aspects to it with opinions galore that are flavoured with women’s rights, empowerment & much dissatisfaction. Many believe that we can do much better when it comes to contraception, particularly with the contraceptive options that alter (mess with) women’s bodies…and then others believe that the pill for example, has revolutionized women’s health.
Let’s take a closer look. Essentially, we could break birth control options up into 2 categories – hormonal and non-hormonal. Hormonal options will alter your own natural hormonal system, thereby affecting you in many ways that will be discussed here and in following posts. And non-hormonal options that don’t alter your hormones and have their own bunch of pros and cons.
Let’s consider hormonal birth control for a moment. What’s interesting about this medication in it’s various forms – yes, it is a medication – is that it is also often prescribed and used for non-contraceptive or medical reasons. Studies have shown that around 14% of women use the oral contraceptive pill solely for non-contraceptive reasons. While 85% of women taking the pill for contraception, also rely on it for reasons other than pregnancy prevention.
Whilst this medication is somewhat ‘fixing’ symptoms and providing relief (in some cases this is very much needed), it is not actually addressing the underlying causes of the problem. The pill essentially masks your symptoms by shutting down your hormonal system and replacing it with synthetic hormones. These synthetic hormones are not (NOT) the same as the natural hormones you make in your body (i.e. the ones that have been shut down). Therefore they don’t provide you with the same 400+ health benefits that you would receive (all necessary for overall health) from your naturally occurring hormones. So things might be seemingly ok on the outside, the acne may have cleared and perhaps period pain has reduced…but so often women will report not feeling quite themselves, or have bouts of anxiety or depression, more frequent headaches and so on. The pill is known as on of the most nutrient depleting medications available – Vitamins B2, B6, B12, Folate, Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, CoQ10, Vitamin C, Vitamin E.
There’s so much to say on this by way of very practical education. We are not informed and educated on the effects of hormonal contraceptives anywhere near enough. There is a common misconception, particularly here in Australia where the pill is our most used hormonal contraceptive, that whether using medically or for contraceptive reasons, that this is our only option. There are no alternatives.
Well in terms of the medical reasons, in some cases I can understand that the pill is used. But I believe it should always be used as part of a treatment plan. And never as the answer where a girl or woman is placed on the pill indefinitely. Yet in many cases, diet, nutrition and lifestyle can play a hugely significant role in supporting women with period problems. See previous blog posts that touch on the lifestyle or quality of living factors.
When it comes to contraceptive reasons, we are not told of the non-hormonal method that has an effectiveness rate for perfect use equal to or more than the contraceptive pill. The Fertility Awareness Method is not only super effective when used correctly, it is empowering and supports a woman to understand her fertility and her body on a whole other level. Now some would argue that this is too much work and they would rather just pop a pill. And that’s ok. I completely understand. FAM asks you to step up to a level of responsibility and knowing of your body that some are just not ready for or can currently undertake. But we should know and be informed that it is a verifiable option yes?! If you’re interested in FAM, I have personal and group programs that teach you how to use the method to get you on track.
As I started with, there is much more to contraception to cover all the options available with all of the pros and cons for each. And underlying all of these practical aspects of contraception, is the quality of our relationship with ourselves. What does it mean for us, when we use natural forms of contraception and likewise, for hormonal contraception? Does the use of hormonal contraception allow us to be more disregarding and less honouring of our body? Or is it the other way around? And is there a whole bunch of other things in between. There are no definitive answers to these questions as everyone is different...just much to consider.