The United States Supreme Court (I say Senate in the video and I meant to say Supreme Court!) ruled Monday that some companies with religious objections can avoid the contraceptives requirement in President Obama’s health care bill. This is the first time ever that businesses can hold religious views under federal law. This means the Obama administration must look for a new, different way to provide free contraception to women who are covered under the health insurance plans of companies who object to birth control.
In this article, I will talk about oral contraceptives (referred to generally as the pill in this article), the health implications of taking the pill, what to do instead and how to ensure your body is healthy, no matter which contraceptive method you choose. I will also discuss the pill in light of this new decision by the US government and discuss yogic and Vedic influences on this subject.
Let me start off by saying that I was on the pill for the last 7 years of my life because my periods were very painful and my hormones were out of control (a problem in itself). Of those who use oral contraceptives, 58% of them use it to reduce menstrual cramps, migraines, acne and PMS.
I recently decided (with a bit of apprehension because I had tried to go off before without success) to stop taking it. I decided this because after being more educated than I was when I was making that choice initially, I thoroughly understand the true effects of the pill.
When I expressed concern about being on the pill years ago, my OBGYN insisted that it was healthy so I believed her because I was young and didn’t know any better. Now I do know better and am going to tell you about it and help you understand what to do instead.
So let’s clarify what hormonal contraceptives are actually doing to your body, and what your gynecologist isn’t telling you:
- Being on the pill alters your natural ability to attract and be attracted to a genetically compatible partner (and you could end up marrying/partnering with the wrong person).
With a BA in Anthropology, I’ve known for a while that this is a ubiquitous fact in the field. Our attraction to men is not only emotional, it’s very much chemical as well. As women, we can instinctually, when our hormones are healthy and natural, be attracted to men who are genetically different from ourselves, so that when we procreate, we will have genetically healthy offspring.
The pill reverses our hormones (even low doses) so that we’re attracted to men who are more genetically similar to ourselves. This is because we evolved to have our brothers and family around us when we were pregnant.
Being on the pill is like being pregnant all the time because we’re not ovulating. So we are naturally inclined, hormonally, to surround ourselves with family- those genetically similar to us – when pregnant. Being on the pill replicates this need to be around genetically similar people, possibly attracting the wrong man because pheromones are directly related to hormones and genetic code.
I know women who were on the pill when they were dating and getting married and then went off the pill after they were married to be able to have kids (more about fertility in a bit), and hated the way their husbands smelled and didn’t feel attracted to him as much! So if you’re engaged, get off the pill to test this out! Imagine a sex-less life with your partner because you can’t stand his smell (pheromones).
For more information read this Time article.
- The pill compromises your immune system and strips your body of nutrients: The pill robs your body of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, which can manifest as fatigue, IBS, bloating, migraines and acne. The effects build up over time, compounding what is essentially malnourishment. Malnourishment happens when people eat a diet rich in animal products, processed food and sugar and low in fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds. When we get sick, there’s a problem with our nutrition because when we’re eating the right foods, we get more than enough protection from disease and illness. No supplements required (usually). The pill inhibits your body’s ability to absorb much needed nutrients. More information here.
A book that I recommend to all my clients that will help you understand how to maximize nutrient absorption: Eat To Live.
- It dampens your sex drive.
Because it’s chemically altering your hormones and stopping ovulation, it’s also lowering your desire for sex. Libido is directly correlated with your body wanting to make a baby! The pill reduces the amount of testosterone running through your system. Testosterone (as we understand from our male counterparts who tend to be much more sexually driven, on average, than women) is vital to libido. Less testosterone = lower libido = lame. More information here.
- It can severely affect your fertility later in life. When I went to my OBGYN with concerns about the pill affecting my fertility later in life, she told me, as most OBGYNs will, that it would be fine. This is not true. A study done in the UK, among others, showed that women who were on the pill had twice as much trouble conceiving later on than women who had used condoms and non hormonal birth control. When I went off the pill the first time I tried, I didn’t get my period (didn’t ovulate) for six months. And then my OBGYN convinced me, again because I didn’t know better then, to go back on. I never ended up getting my period off the pill that time. I also wasn’t vegan then (more on this in a bit). More information here.
5. It puts you in danger of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, blood clots and stroke. Cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other lifestyle related diseases all have roots in the body’s absorption of nutrients, the amount of animal protein and fat in the diet and estrogen. The genetic component plays much less of a role than you think. Along with animal products, the pill, by increasing the amount of estrogen and reducing the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, sets you up for these diseases. And cancer especially takes root at a very young age, depending on the quality of your diet and how much animal protein and fat you’ve consumed, along with processed foods and refined sugars.
- It keeps your body in a constant state of stress. Excess estrogen in the body gives us motivation, drive and ambition. Estrogen and progesterone work together during our cycle to naturally balance each other out. If estrogen runs in excess, it irritates our nervous system. This keeps you in a constant state of ambition without allowing your body to rest as it would if progesterone were more present to balance the estrogen. This hormonal imbalance can result in many other symptoms.
So. What to do, what to do. I suggest getting off the pill. It is, of course, your choice. Do so safely and with awareness.
Alternatives to hormonal contraceptives:
Fertility Awareness Method. Effectiveness with perfect use: 98-99%.
Very effective if you are highly motivated to do it right. This is taking charge of your health and contraception at it’s best. This also depends on which barrier method you choose when you are in your fertile period. Some studies have shown that FAM can be 98% effective when abstaining from sex during your fertile period and 99% effective when used in conjunction with coaching. If you choose this method, it is critical that you receive proper coaching and training.
Barrier methods to be used in conjunction with FAM:
Condoms. Effectiveness with perfect use: 98%
Diaphragms. Effectiveness with perfect use: 94%
Today Sponge. Effectiveness with perfect use: 91%
Pill: Effectiveness with perfect use: 99%.
Elle Griffin is a holistic health coach and colleague of mine who specializes in women’s fertility and teaching FAM to women. Visit her website here.
Some tips on balancing your hormones after going off the pill and retraining your body to ovulate again:
- Go vegan– for a while at least. When I went off the pill more recently, because I was vegan, my hormones regulated themselves perfectly. I got my period exactly a month after having a pill-induced period a month before. This was a perfect example of how wise and intelligent the body is when we feed it the right foods. Animal products, including organic meat and dairy, have disastrous effects on our hormones. Read Eat to Live to understand this further. I’m sure it will take my body a while to continue to heal itself.
- Eat hormone regulating foods like maca and avocado.
- Cut out the crappy processed foods. I can help you do this.
- Exercise and stay active.
- Drink a ton of water. (3-4 L per day is ideal).
- Reduce soy, which contains a lot of estrogen.
- If you don’t go vegan, drastically reduce your intake of animal products.
- Take time for R&R. Rest. Let your body heal. It will literally have to heal itself after being on the pill, so let it.
In part two, I discuss the religious, political and spiritual implications of oral contraception, with a focus on the yogic tradition and what the Vedas say about human conception. Stay tuned!
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