I took the contraceptive pill for years—8/9 years on a continuous basis. My gynecologist suggested it would alleviate my Endometriosis symptoms and slow down the growth of the Endometriosis cells. To me, it felt like there was very little other choice—well… from the flyers on the doctor’s wall this seemed the least extreme or painful. I didn’t really know what it did but I trusted in him and the pill somehow seemed fairly harmless. After years of following my gynecologists’ methods of taking the pill continuously, my body eventually rejected it. It started to react to every side effect on the label and somehow it didn’t seem to matter which brand I tried, they all gave me a bad reaction. I had to give it up… and eventually discovered natural methods.
Now, perhaps you are lucky and your body doesn’t react to the side effects at the moment and it somehow feels “safe” as after all it is just “the pill.” Perhaps the idea of combining the pill with natural options seems like a perfect combination—western medicine with holistic medicine… right? That’s what I thought for years. I combined all sorts of holistic methods with the pill and I think it did more for my “feeling like I was doing something good” than for my actual health.
So, let me explain what the pill does and how it actually affects your body and ultimately your healing with Endometriosis.
Here is an explanation by Sister Zeuss: http://www.sisterzeus.com/Pill.htm
Birth control pills are made of synthetic estrogen, the egg needs estrogen to develop, the pill supplies just enough estrogen to keep estrogen levels in the bloodstream high enough to fool the pituitary gland so it doesn’t release the estrogen tropin, preventing the egg from maturing, thus preventing ovulation.
In a normal, natural cycle (without hormonal influence) estrogen rises in the body causing eggs to develop in the ovaries. When estrogen levels reach a certain point it triggers the pituitary gland to release a follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) which causes the most developed egg to ripen, and leave the ovary.
With a pill cycle this process is disrupted. Estrogen levels never reach the level needed to trigger ovulation. If something within this fails, and by chance an egg does ripen, and gets fertilized, the pill has a secondary feature which protects against this happening by supplying the body with just enough synthetic progesterone to trick it into thinking progesterone production is adequate so the body does not produce its own progesterone either. There isn’t enough progesterone circulating to allow the uterus to develop the uterine lining like it would in a natural cycle. This makes it very difficult for a fertilized egg to implant. This is why the pill is 98–99% effective, because no egg is ever released.
Because the uterine lining doesn’t develop with the low levels of progesterone circulating, many women who are on the pill notice their pill period is much lighter in flow, often dark red or brownish in color, fewer cramps and has a shorter duration than their regular natural flow. When on the pill, bleeding during the sugar pill week is caused by the withdrawal of the hormones. The underdeveloped uterine lining is shed, and the next pack of pills begun on schedule.
I hope that made sense. Basically, what we need to know out of this is that we are essentially fooling the body into believing it has more estrogen and progesterone in the body than it really has. This “fooling” the body actually creates a number of imbalances that don’t just relate to our Endometriosis.
The pill dramatically lowers the following minerals and vitamins in the body:
- Vitamin B6: this is an incredibly important vitamin for healing Endometriosis. Vitamin B6 creates prostaglandins and hormones within the body. When we don’t have enough good prostaglandins in the body, we have more bloating, blood clotting and inflammation.
- Folic Acid: this is crucial if you wish to have a baby and it prevents serious DNA related birth defects. It also helps us to avoid depression. It has also been proven that low levels of folic acid can cause breast cancer. Hence the high statistics in high breast cancer statistics for women on the contraceptive pill. According to Australia’s ABC News in 2003, there are findings in a ten-year Norwegian study involving over 10,000 women—you are 25% more likely to develop breast cancer if you use the contraceptive pill! If you take it over the age of 45, your risk of developing breast cancer is doubled!
- Riboflavin: riboflavin helps with the repair and maintenance of the body, namely your skin, hair and eyes. It is a necessary vitamin to metabolize fats, carbohydrates and proteins into energy for use in the body. It also helps absorb other vitamins for the body.
- B12: we need B12 to form red blood cells. This is one we are likely lacking if we feel tired, get a cold easily, breathlessness, numbness, menstrual problems, headaches, weak pulse… sounds kinda familiar to the symptoms of Endo?? Do we really want to put something in our bodies that decreases this even further?
- Vitamin C: we know this one! Great for the immune system and fighting off infections and disease. Once again, we want this one!
- Vitamin A: we know it is good for our vision—do you know why though? It helps with mucous linings in the body. That includes our uterus and the intestinal tract, the secondary side effect of endometriosis.
- Copper: this one repairs damaged cells, amongst many other things.
- Iron: helps the blood flow better and purer. Lack of it will make you feel tired and listless—oh, how familiar that sounds!
- Zinc: controls the release of hormones and creates a circle of replacement of cell generation. Helps with blood sugar levels. This reduces stress and inflammation in the body. A deficiency in this one causes period pain.
Now, I know what you’re thinking… can’t I just take all these supplements and make up for the deficiencies the pill causes? Thing is, there is a reason the pill causes deficiencies in these minerals—it blocks absorption. This is because it is sending a message to your pituitary gland which is wrong! False message! Little liars…
The pill causes imbalances which are not just within the uterus, which relates to Endometriosis but throughout the whole body. We need all these vitamins and minerals to do heaps of other things besides what I have mentioned in this one article. They all do heaps of different things and work together to make the body work, including healing.
I know it is scary to go off the pill. I know I found it scary. What is scarier to me is what it is really doing to your body and your health. Do you really know?
Here is an article published about Public Citizens petitioning about the Contraceptive Pill
I know you don’t want to hear all this stuff and you want to believe you are doing okay on the contraceptive pill. I know, because I was just like you. Unfortunately, every year that you take it, it will alter your body’s natural balance further and further and repairing the imbalances later becomes harder and harder.
Going natural means committing 100% to doing the best you can for your body. Do you really think the pill is giving you the best? Don’t agree with me? Feel free to share your thoughts!
This Post Has 14 Comments
Thanks so much for your reply Melissa! I watched the video– very interesting. I definitely understand the feeling of losing your “self” when on the pill. And the fact that my father died from a double pulmonary aneurism doesn’t reassure me when it comes to the risk of thrombosis. I have zero interest in taking it to be honest, but I am still navigating how this all works. Your website has been really helpful and reassuring. Thank you times a million!
P.S. Jane looks just like Meryl Streep in that video!
Yes, I personally think the pill could be a contributor. It has many nasty side-effects and I am so sorry I took it for as long as I did as it saps the body of vital nutrients like Vitamin B & Zinc. It also alters the digestive system.
Maybe reconsider it?
I did an awesome interview with Jane Bennett about the pill and it’s effects. You can check it out here: http://www.getoffthepill.com
I know this post was a while ago but I am giving commenting a shot anyhow in case someone else comes across it late like I did.
Thank you for this post; I did not know any of this information.
I was diagnosed State IV early March after Laparoscopy. Three weeks ago, my new specialist saw two more cysts already– two months to the day of surgery. She suggested birth control or another surgery, so I am trying the birth control. It’s a combo pill.
My question is– have you ever heard of birth control actually worsening Endo? Yesterday I had an entire day of unbearable pain, barely able to walk, couldn’t eat, was faint, etc. I’ve felt that before but never for more than an hour. Since there were no other variables, I am questioning if the pill caused this reaction.
I’m vegan and soy free, no caffeine, minimal sugar, and eat mostly whole foods. This diet is all new since the surgery, but I’ve been a vegetarian for over 20 years. I was feeling GREAT before starting the pill.
Would love to hear if you think this is a possibility.
Unfortunately the pain came back in such an extreme sense because the pill threw out the natural oestrogen balance within your body. The only way to come off the pill and not experience these extremes is through estrogen and liver balancing. Look at taking MSM and Calcium D Glucarate which work at the liver and also lowering the excess estrogens in the body. Hormone balancing is more about cleansing the liver than anything else 🙂 Try researching more about the liver and how to cleanse it to really get the true benefits 🙂
I successfully got off the pill over a year ago and started getting regular periods. Then, the periods became more painful and then the pain was signfiicant and constant. It was so bad that I desparetely went back on the pill. It helped significantly but its not what I want. Its been 4 months and barely any pain. However, I feel like a mess in other ways. My body is telling me not to take it right now.
Considering that I have a good grasp on other areas of endo management, I want to focus on hormone balancing. I really dont know where to start. It seems so overwhelming. Any direction you can point me?
The pill will reduce the growth of endometriosis by controlling the level of estrogen in the body. There are however natural ways to do this. The first one is to cut down on animal products as they tend to contain high levels of estrogen in the meat. The key is to focus on the liver, which flushes out excess estrogen and to ensure you lose any excess body weight.
Diet and lifestyle changes will do far more for your healing than the pill, which will throw out the naturla balance within your digestion and your hormones. Keep reading and you will find the answers 🙂
I just had a question about endo & the pill. I currently don’t have any pain because of endo (I’m 20) so that could be why but the doctor I went to that is pretty sure I have it, keeps saying that I need to go on the pill to stop the progression of the disease. I really would rather stick to natural alternatives & am trying to alter my diet & such instead. I’m just not wanting to deal with all the added side effects & problems long term with the pill.
Does the pill slow the progression of the disease? What can I do naturally to slow it instead? I’m paranoid to go either way because I want to make the right decision.
Thank you so much for your time!
Thanks for the support Helen and I am glad I offer inspiration 🙂
Focusing on the colon and detoxing the liver are fabulous and definitely is a great program! That acupuncturist sounds fabulous!
I guess it depends on a few things. Naturally, where your period is at. If you have large clots and black yucky stuff coming out – then I would go with the Exclzyme/Serrapeptase combined with the Ghu Zhi Fu Ling Wan. If you are having more of the hormonal imbalance, then Maca might be good or alternatively there is also Progesterone Cream – I am still researching this one for now. The other supplement which is really good when you go off the pill is DIM. Maybe ask your acupuncturist about all of these as they might not combine well with the work she is doing.
Diet and detoxing does actually do amazing things 🙂 I was surprised at how much my hormone levels were normalised just by changing that 🙂
Hi Melissa, thank you very much for your amazing blog, it’s very helpfull. I thought I knew a little about the endo diet and natural healing, but you provide so much information I’ve never heard of before. I’m from the Netherlands and the information here is very poor.
Anyway, I’m on the endo diet for a while know, and I’m also treated by a acupunturist who has been focusing on detoxing my colon and liver. But she’s no endo expert. I’m still on the pill, but I really want to stop taking it. Since I’m really strict on the diet, I feel a little more confident to stop, but I’m looking for some sort of natural alternative (beside the diet) to take, to help my body. I haven’t been able to find any alternative doctor here in the Netherlands who knows about this stuff when it comes to endometrioses. So wonder if you can recommend me a herb or something to take when I quit taking the pill. I was thinking about maybe taking Maca powder and the enzymes you’ve written about.
I’m already taking fish oil and some herbs my acupuncturist gave me for digestion and to support my liver. I’m also taking magnesium and glutamin. Hope you have any ideas and keep up the good work! You’re really inspiring me!
I don’t know where to start! Wow! So many questions!
To start with I learnt yesterday that the pill is actually one of the main contributors to developing Fungal overgrowth in our bodies. I know that sounds foreign but really it is the reason so many of us suffer with poor digestion. Most of us have Candida or some kind of fungal problem. Check out my blog I did yesterday and the story of Carly who had no period for 4 years! It was amazing to make the connection.
Cutting out gluten, sugar and dairy will help with this incredibly as it stops the “feeding” of these nasties. I did a Colonic which has been the best thing I ever did for my endo. It was amazing at alleviating all the pain with going to the toilet! It also gave me a much clearer head!
The pill can have it’s place with endo but personally I am not a fan of it. I would first look at your digestion and getting that all sorted cos you can’t flush out anything toxic or any oversupply of hormones if you don’t have a good excretion process.
Then look at doing a liver flush or even just get onto some Bupleurum which is a herb that stimulates the liver.
Once you have these two sorted, look at getting a Saliva hormone test and determine where your hormones are at. If you have oestrogen dominance – which most of us have, then get some progesterone cream to regulate that. You can get totally natural progesterone creams and they work wonders. I am awaiting my test results today 🙂
If you follow my journey backwards from the homepage you can see that these are the things that I have or am doing 🙂
The pill or hormonal treatments are just focusing on symptoms. You can get to the juicy stuff and heal the real imbalance – focus on the liver hun!
Let me know your thoughts and if you have any other questions
Hey Melissa. I have been following your blog for the last month. I only found out I had endometriosis with a surgery a week ago, but had suspicions a few months back and found this amazing blog. I am still recovering from it, quite tender. But overall I think I am healing up pretty good. My gyno left me a post-it note saying he did find endo and that he removed what he find. But other then that I have no idea where it was, how much there was etc. I know it was affecting my digestive system given my extreme cramping, diarreah/constipation, extreme nausea and pain during defication (EVERYDAY). I have had all of these symptoms since I was 7 years old, started my period at 9, but they were not on an everyday basis, they were managable. I have never made the connection to my period, though these symptoms always got worse around that time of the month (and ovulation), they weren’t typical mentral cramps and just thought it was just IBS. My symptoms have been day to day for the last few months and its nice to finally know a bit more to what is going on. I am going in for a colonoscopy and gastroscopy in 2 months to make sure nothing else is going on. I have given up dairy a year ago, and eat extremely healthy. Since I have given up gluten a month ago I have noticed a difference, but still am in pain everyday. I have cut out all sugars except for some maple syrup and honey, and coffee which is BIG deal for me, still have organic dark chocolate (don’t think I could ever fully give that up). I only allow myself a bit of meat and its always hormone free, have been a on and off vegetarian for many years. I still treat myself to a glass of wine here and there (organic and all natural wine). I do notice a difference, but I guess it will be some time before I start really feeling better, and I hope after I heal from this surgery I will have less pelvic pain. I plan on doing a liver cleanse after I heal fully.
Anywho, my question is that I am going for a follow-up appointment in 3 weeks, and I guess it is then I will find out where it was etc. But in the post-it he suggested thinking about some form of hormonal treatment (BC pill/Mirena). But I was on the pill for a few years in high school and remember my periods being much worse then when I was off it. I also hate the thought of taking anything like that. As well, as for the Mirena, I had a copper IUD put in in August, from day one my pain was extreme. I thought I was just getting used to it, but it was actually aggrevating dormant endo. My IUD was taken out in December and pain has increased since I got it. The thought of something going in me again freaks me right out. I have dabbled in FAM a bit, and am going to start taking it VERY seriously with my next cycle (as I am in a long-term relationship, and wish to wait to get pregnant). I want to practice FAM and be completely natural, I cannot do that with hormones. I have the book “Taking charge of your fertility” and LOVE it. However, I know the doctor is going to insist on the pill or Mirena being the best options for me. What should I tell him? Sometime doctor’s just don’t take your opinon seriously, I only trust most of them as far as I can throw them. This is all very new to me, and I didn’t think I would have to go back on the pill. Right now I am going to stand strong with my choices and get a new doctor is he doesn’t understand. However, I am scared that the endo could come back and I am only 22 and want to have many a’ baby later on.
I am just scared I will regret the decsion not to go the hormone root. Please, if you have any advice let me know 🙂 This is all new to me, I have found releif that my symptoms have a “name” is you will, but am still a bit anxious about it all. If you have an websites that can show concrete evidence it is not the route to go down that would great.
You’re awesome! Thanks so much!
Cool blog by the way 🙂
Hi Christina. I can see the benefits of the pill from that point of view but to me it just wasn’t worth the damage it was doing to me – never mind my moodiness affecting my relationship, making sex a less likely event anyways :). I use the Ovulation Calender now – bottom left of this blog – which tells me exactly what my body is doing and when. It also helps me to know why I might be sore (ovulation), grumpy and when my period is coming. We are only fertile for about 5 days a month and to me, I am happy to abstain or use condoms if I really want to. It is kinda ironic in a way because we are so scared to fall pregnant, that we take something that has the potential of ruining our chances of falling pregnant…. just because we can’t abstain for 5days a month….. hmmmm 🙂
I have to say I am neutral on the subject. I remember what life was like before the pill and I have tried various times to stop it. Even with the ultimate will power, it was very difficult. I do hate that I depend on it, but I also dont want to get pregnant and condoms are not a prefered option. Ideas?