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natural alternative to birth control pills

Birth Control Pills: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

women's health

In the 1960s, a sexual revolution for women began!

Birth control pills seemed like the answer for decades of repression.  A few years later, with rising rates of breast cancer, menopausal disorder, and hormonal dis-ease, we’d be ignorant to say this isn’t a problem.

Contraceptive medications contain synthetic forms of estrogen and progesterone.  The pills either prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation, or by thickening the lining of the cervix or uterus to prevent sperm from entering or to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg.

A prescription for birth control contains the usual warnings:  risk of blood clotting disorders (stroke, embolism, heart disease), liver disease, gall bladder disease, bloating, moodiness, weight gain, headache, hair loss, and nausea.

But, you think, it’s worth the risk to prevent an unwanted pregnancy!  

The problem is not that you may get one of these side-effects, the problem is why the pill is causing those problems to begin with.


Your reproductive system does’t exist in a vacuum.  Taking factory-made estrogen or progesterone causes system-wide issues.  

Synthetic hormones bind to estrogen receptor sites in your body causing something called “estrogen dominance.”  Too much xeno-estrogens (synthetic estrogens) can cause cancer.  

They can also cause -

(Recommended reading:  “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause” by Dr. John R. Lee, MD)

If you think about it like this, estrogen is designed for growing things.

Birth control pills, even the progesterone-only ones because they still bind to estrogen receptor sites, cause growth and thickening of tissues.  In Chinese medicine, we call this blood stagnation.  


In TCM, potential clotting or cellular congestion is called “blood stasis.”  The “stasis” is coming from two sources:  one is the hormone itself causes actual condensing of the cells and the other is the impairment of your Liver function to circulate blood properly.

The medication is filtered through your Liver.  In order to do this, your Liver needs extra vitamins, in particular B-complex, zinc, magnesium, and C.  This is why most women test for slightly lower blood serum levels of these vitamins when they are on the pill.  

If you cause undue stress on your Liver, your blood flow is impaired, or we say “Liver Qi Stagnation.”  This means you may be more likely to have clots, moodiness (the Liver regulates mood in TCM), irregular periods, and headaches.


Some women choose to take birth control pills to regulate their periods, reduce heavy or painful periods (menorrhagia), or stop PMS or PMDD symptoms.  It’s a choice that’s available, and easy to obtain and use for most. 

However, the side effects and long-term issues that arise may cause you to reconsider natural options for these issues.  Herbal medicines can be very helpful for regulating hormones and may be worth a try.  On average, it takes around 3 months to regulate a non-complicated (as in Auto-Immune-Related, which will take closer to 6-12 months) hormonal problem.  


High estrogen pills are shown to affect future fertility. (Bracken, M.B., Helenbrand, K.G. and Holford, T.R. (1990) Conception delay after oral contraception use: the effect of estrogen dose.)

Sluggish blood flow and thickened tissues can make your cycles irregular or painful and your natural hormone levels “off” as your body tries to readapt to your own hormones.  


To prevent pregnancy, there are other, less-invasive options available:

Cervical cap or diaphragm

Natural family planning

* Condoms

* Tubal ligation

* Male sterilization / vasectomy (why is the onus of fertility solely bore by the females of our species? 🙄)


In my practice, I see women who took birth control years ago suffering with menopausal disorder symptoms more frequently.  Unfortnately, there’s not a lot of research (none that I could find except this on delayed onset of menopause related to the pill) yet.  Unless you actively do something to rebalance, nourish, and regulate blood flow to your Liver after taking the pills, the problems persist and may worsen over time.

Menopause should just be your period stops.  Period.  Hot flashes, night sweats, low libido, etc. are all signs of estrogen deficiency, which could be from the body’s inability to reconnect your own estrogen to its receptor sites.  I imagine it’s something like this:

Estrogen:  “Oh, the pills are going to do this job?  Ok.  I’ll just hang back here and watch.”

…20 years later…

“Hey, where’d that guy go?  The one that was doing my job?  What was my job again?”

Don’t worry, though, these problems are typically fix-able.

I like to use herbs, like Wild Yam, Schisandra, and Rehmannia to regulate hormones and get your own estrogen up to par.


Another side-effect of hormonal birth control happens in our environment.  

Like most pharmaceuticals, we eventually pee out the residue.  All of these drugs (antibiotics, antidepressants, and birth control are among the biggest offenders) are finding their way into our water supply.  To me, this is alarming.  The next thing you know, 5-year-old girls are starting their periods and boys are developing breasts.   


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