I find it so frustrating that most doctors feel that the first line of defense against PCOS is the birth control pill. Just the other day I went to the Endocrinologist for a thyroid check. When the Dr. sat down and looked at my chart she saw that I had PCOS and asked if I was trying to conceive. I explained that I have 3 children and am not. So her next question was why I wasn’t taking oral contraceptives for my PCOS?
For years I was on the Pill to control my PCOS symptoms. I admit, it did regulate my cycle and help lower testosterone levels but at what cost? The pill was merely masking my symptoms and in turn, was making the underlying cause (insulin resistance) worse. I can also attest that I never felt well while taking it. My hypoglycemia was out of control, I gained weight, had no sex drive. I don’t want to discount the value of having a regular monthly cycle to help prevent uterine cancer, but I now can regulate my cycles with diet, exercise and supplements and when I need a little help I use natural progesterone cream.
If you are currently taking the Pill or are thinking about it, here are some risk factors to consider:
- Increased insulin resistance A 2006 study in the journal Fertility and Sterility showed that birth control pills may exacerbate insulin resistance.
- Increase risk of heart attack or stroke U.S.-Canadian study has found that even low-dose oral contraceptives appear to increase women’s risk of a heart attack or stroke. Dr. John Nestler and Dr. Paulina Essah of Virginia Commonwealth University and Dr. Jean-Patrice Baillargeon of the Universite de Sherbrooke determined that women using low-dose contraceptives have approximately twice the risk of stroke or heart disease.Women with polycystic ovary syndrome or metabolic syndrome already have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
- The Pill lowers levels of valuable nutrients like B-vitamins, folic acid, Vitamin C and E, magnesium and zinc. You need sufficient levels of zinc to maintain a healthy hormone balance. Weight gain, fluid retention, mood changes, depression and even heart disease can all arise from nutrient imbalance.
- The Pill lowers libido Irwin Goldstein, Claudia Panzer and their colleagues at Boston University studied 125 young women who attended a sexual dysfunction clinic. Sixty-two of them were taking oral contraceptives, 40 had previously taken them and 23 had never taken them. The team measured levels of SHBG in the women every three months for a year, and found that in pill users they were seven times as high as in women who had never taken them. SHBG lowers libido.
- The Pill can kill off friendly bacteria in your gut which can lead to digestive problems and candida (yeast). Estrogen, the major ingredient in the Pill, is known to promote the growth of yeast. Too much yeast causes sugar and carb cravings among many other problems.
It is important to remember that there is no instant pill to make the PCOS symptoms go away.
If you want to come off the pill but still need a contraceptive, I highly recommend the Creighton Model Fertility Care System (CrM). It uses the science-based modality of NaPro Technology (NaPro), a women’s health science that evolved from interpreting the biomarkers of the menstrual and fertility cycle, mainly, all the stages of cervical mucus and the length and intensity of the menstrual flow. For more info visit http://www.naprotechnology.com/index.html
(1) Mastorakos G et al, Effects of two forms of combined oral contraceptives on carbohydrate metabolism in adolescents with polycystic ovary syndrome, Fertil Steril. 2006 Feb;85(2):420-7
(2) Source: Baillargeon, JP et al, Association between the current use of low-dose oral contraceptives and cardiovascular arterial disease: a meta-analysis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Jul;90(7):3863-70
(3) Nutrition and The Pill J Reprod Med. 1984 Jul;29(7 Suppl):547-50.
(4) New Scientist May 27 2005
Note: I am not a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor on your health care to find out what is right for you.