While hormonal birth control may seem like a relatively harmless medication, the truth is, it is far from harmless. While 9.7 million women take “the pill” to alleviate an array of ailments--from regulating one’s cycle to managing acne--it can have a detrimental effect on one’s health. Gut health is especially compromised as potential side effects include leaky gut, yeast overgrowth, and SIBO.
The effect birth control can have on one’s gut is so profound, researchers have likened it to the same damaging effect antibiotics have on the body. Here’s what you need to know...
The Pill and Your Gut
Birth control pills contain synthetic hormones that disrupt one’s natural hormonal cycle in an effort to stop ovulation. While this is beneficial in preventing pregnancy, it is anything but beneficial for our gut health.
Birth control pills can cause “leaky gut” (aka intestinal hyperpermeability). Unfortunately, when undigested proteins begin leaking through the gut, the immune system reacts. As such, a connection has been made between taking “the pill” and being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.
Another potential side effect is yeast overgrowth (candida) caused by estrogen dominance. Studies show that birth control can double one’s risk of developing candida. And the gut isn’t the only place susceptible to yeast, “the pill” can also cause chronic vaginal yeast infections as well as oral infections.
Birth control can also impact gallbladder function which may lead to issues with digestion. Gas, bloating, and alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation are other frequently reported symptoms; however, these symptoms may often be mistaken for (and may sometimes actually be caused by) IBS.
While birth control may be a quick fix for one’s hormone-related issues, it’s important to get to the root cause of the problem instead of treating the symptoms.
The first, and most obvious, step to healing one’s birth control-related side effects is to stop taking “the pill,” other steps may also aid in repairing the damage:
Repair leaky gut
Take a daily probiotic
Feed your microbiome--increase beneficial fibers and incorporate foods rich in prebiotics
And if you’re taking hormonal birth control to prevent pregnancy, it’s important to start exploring other contraceptive measures such as a non-hormonal copper IUD.
If you’re currently experiencing any symptoms of hormonal imbalance such as acne, painful or irregular periods, or menopause, Total Body Health can determine and treat the root cause of the issue.
And if you are currently taking hormonal birth control, Total Body Health can help reverse the damage and help you start feeling your best.