In our modern society, taking birth control pills is a no brainer. Whether you start them to protect yourself against unwanted pregnancy, manage your acne, or to regulate your periods; over 12 million women in the U.S. are currently on birth control. Over 90 percent of college-educated, sexually active women have taken it at some time in their life. Many women start taking the pill in their teens and stay on it well past their 30s.
But is that okay? What kind of damage can that do to the body? You may be surprised to know that birth control pills are not as safe as many believe. First, let’s start with how they work.
Birth control pills work by using synthetic chemicals that increase the amount of estrogen in the body. This increase in estrogen fools the body into thinking it’s pregnant and therefore stops it from releasing an egg. After three weeks of increased estrogen, the woman takes seven days’ worth of “sugar pills,” which contain no estrogen, and her body resumes its normal cycle and she menstruates.
While this works and does prevent a whole lot of pregnancies, the pill is only 99 percent effective when taken correctly. And very few women take it correctly. To get the maximum benefit from birth control pills, each pill must be taken at the same time every day. If you take it on Monday at 7:30 am, but forget Tuesday until noon, you’ve just dropped the effectiveness.
Because of the synthetic nature of the pill, it interacts with other drugs. Certain antibiotics, antifungals, anti-depressants, and even some herbs, such as St. John’s Wort, can lower the effectiveness of birth control and increase the likelihood of pregnancy. Although there are rumors that grapefruit and grapefruit juice reduce the effectiveness of the pill, that’s not quite true. There is a chemical in the fruit that can increase the amount of chemical in the pill that is absorbed by the body. This means there is a possibility of being more susceptible of side effects, especially for those with pre-existing conditions.
We now know that some of the chemicals in birth control pills are known to cause cancer. Women who use the pill have an increased risk of cervical and liver cancers and it is listed by the World Health Organization as a carcinogen.
Women who are on the pill are over twice as likely to experience blood clots while taking the medication. If you are a smoker, overweight, or merely over 35 years old, it becomes more risky and most doctors recommend finding an alternative method of birth control.
For women with a history of heart disease, the pill can be exceptionally dangerous. It increases blood pressure and gives users an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Due to the increase of estrogen, many women experience a significant decrease in libido while taking the pill. In fact, some prisons have been known to use Depo-Provera (the birth control shot) on sex offenders with hyper-sexual tendencies. The drug helps keep the prisoners’ sex drive in check and makes them easier to deal with.
Recent studies have shown that women who are on birth control tend to be attracted to men with distinct masculine features. Basically, the pill makes women want manly men. While this is fine in some cases, the pill may interfere with you finding a man you’re compatible with once you’re off the pill and are no longer chemically driven to want those things.
– Messes with the body’s natural chemistry, making you more prone to yeast infections
– Depletes B vitamins, which help us stay happy and healthy
– Inflammation in the gall bladder
– Can cause benign liver tumors
– Weight gain or loss
– Decrease in bone density