Of all the birth control measures available, the ‘pill’ is most commonly used. In fact, about a 100 million women worldwide use the contraceptive pill. Otherwise known as an oral contraceptive, the birth control pill is a relatively easy method of controlling unwanted pregnancies. The pill has caught media attention over the last decade owing to many ethical and medical reasons.
How Does The Pill Work?
Here’s how the contraceptive functions. It affects hormones by slowing down or halting the ovulation process, thereby inhibiting the release of female egg or ovum into the uterus. In other instances, certain combined pills cause the thinning of the uterus walls or thickening of the cervical muscles. And while this method of oral contraception is effective 99% of the time, it doesn’t come without its share of pitfalls.
How Does This Affect Your Mental Health?
It starts with mood swings and can range up to severe depression. According to Dr. Prudence Hall of the Hall Center in Santa Monica, women experience a range of emotions from fatigue to depression. The main reason for this reaction is low estrogen levels that occur as a side-effect of taking the pill. Dr. Hall has been observing the correlation of the pill and depression for many years. The primary function of estrogen is to emulate feminine characteristics such as the development of secondary sexual organs, controlling body fat, reducing muscle bulk, and the like.
But here’s something else you’re probably not aware of.
Estrogen also stimulates the dopamine and serotonin in the brain. And these chemicals released by the neurons is what enables you to ‘feel good’. It’s basically that unexplainable, nice feeling you get when you’re biting into a cupcake or falling in love. With contraceptive pills in the picture, estrogen levels drop, causing frequent mood swings, hostility, helplessness, and other similar emotions which ultimately drive many to find consolation in anti-depressants.
Another side-effect women experience is a nutrient deficiency. The WHO (World Health Organization) has advised physicians to recommend natural health supplements to patients who are on the birth control pill. The pill tends to deplete essential nutrients such as B-complex vitamins, amino acids, magnesium, and others. This is because the body requires extra nutrients to regulate the pill. Therefore, it’s quite possible that any woman who has been on the pill for a few years may be vitamin deficient.
Some women also tend to experience headaches as a result of using the pill. Those subject to migraines should particularly refrain from its use and should consult a doctor in the event that they use the pill. Others may experience nausea, tenderness in the breast, or even weight gain. Another cause of concern among women is spotting or intermittent bleeding. While these symptoms can thankfully be controlled to large extent, the most severe side-effects that continue to plague women are depression and poor health.
What’s The Fix?
Women who are on the pill can regulate the side-effects by choosing to maintain a healthy diet with high intake of proteins such as lentils, fish, spinach, eggs, dairy products, and the like. Those experiencing mild-to-severe signs of poor mental health should be aware of their challenges and consult a doctor immediately.
And while the pill continues to remain the easiest method of contraception, others may forgo the side-effects by considering the use of alternative contraceptives such as IUDs, diaphragm, NuvaRings, and the like. Ultimately, it’s really is a question of ‘the ease of use’ versus one’s mental and physical health.