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Birth Control in Perimenopause: What your doctor doesn't tell you!

Have you been offered birth control as the primary solution to your perimenopausal hormone problems? Have you been told that the pill is “hormone replacement therapy”?  


While the oral birth control pill is 99.9% effective for preventing pregnancy when taken correctly, it also comes with a long list of potential long term side effects many women are not aware of and contributes to many additional chronic conditions. In many cases the current healthcare system in the US still offers birth control as the first line treatment option for perimenopausal symptoms. But the worst part about this is that women are not informed of the potential short and long term side effects birth control causes. As with any medication, it's important to be well informed of the potential benefits and risks so the consumer can decide if the benefits outweigh the risks!

Did you know, synthetic forms of hormones like those found in the oral birth control pill can often cause:  


➡️ Significant nutritional deficiencies including vitamins A & B, folate, zinc, vitamin C, copper, and iron. B vitamins, in particular are necessary to make ALL your hormones so a nutrient deficiency can cause additional hormone deficiencies. Vitamins and minerals are essential if you want to optimize your overall health so a lack of these nutrients or decreased absorption can reek havoc on all systems in the body.        

➡️ An increase in your SHBG level (sex hormone binding globulin) which can bind to other hormones like estrogen and testosterone. This can lower these hormones and lead to low libido. Once stopping BP pills, this drop in T has been shown in research to stay low and for about 25% of women, it NEVER returns to a normal level. High SHBG can also increase your risk for osteoporosis and cancer.

➡️Changes to personality and mood. Several studies show women desire different personal and intimate relationships when on birth control than when off. Maybe this is another reason why you feel like you love your husband one day and hate him the next! The mood swings the pill is supposed to help can sometimes increase or lead to depression, panic or anxiety.             

➡️Digestive imbalances that can lead to an imbalance or overgrowth in the gut. This increases your risk of chronic gut infections, leaky gut and immune conditions not to mention the gas, bloating, constipation and reflux. This one is one of the most significant side effects of the pill. All disease begins in the gut and without a strong gut barrier, anything and everything can go wrong. From chronic gut infections that can lead to digestive symptoms and even gastric cancer to malabsorption to a back up in your detoxification patters in the liver….. this is not something you want to have to deal with. In addition, the gut barrier is what protects and houses your immune system so any hit to the gut barrier will increase your chances of allergies, sensitivities and autoimmune conditions!

➡️In addition to the above side effects, Weight gain, painful menstruation, breast tenderness and water retention are listed on the package insert for most birth control pills. 


Finally, ladies……….  The birth control pill is NOT hormone replacement therapy. Many women are told by their GYN or PCP that the pill is sufficient hormone replacement therapy and they can remain on the pill until they have hit menopause. (PS…. If you’re on the pill, you may not know if you are in menopause). But the longer you are on the pill, the more underlying side  effects can occur. The synthetic hormones contained within the pill are man made, not recognized well by the body and are insufficient to protect your heart, brain and bones because they are such a tiny dose. These hormones shut down the communication between your brain and your ovaries and your become MORE hormone deficient than you were before.


Perimenopause is a time of fluctuating but declining hormones so anything that contributes to further decline will not, in the long run, help a girl out! If you are concerned about birth control coverage there are many other options that don’t interfere or deplete the body of it’s natural production that you can explore.


Let me be clear….. I am not necessarily anti birth control but I want everyone women from age 15 and up to know the facts. I want women to be informed about the benefits and risks associated with the use of these synthetic hormones. I want moms to know that the earlier their daughter starts on BCP, the longer and more detrimental the side effects are.

Our hormones are essential for soooooooooooo many functions in our body. This isn’t just about regulating our monthly bleed! Hormones are essential for love, joy, laughter, motivation, drive, heart/brain/bone health and fertility! For some women, there may be a very specific time and place to use birth control but when you know the potential risks, you can make wise decisions. If you are choosing birth control, make sure to supplement with B vitamins and pay special attention to your diet to get the nutrients you need to maintain a healthy microbiome.


If you are perimenopausal or even further…. Into menopause, bioidentical hormones are much more effective for managing symptoms AND they help get to the root of our issue which is low hormones!


The earlier we learn how to take care of our perimenopausal bodies, the LESS long term chronic heath conditions we will suffer with. If you want to avoid cardiovascular disease, dementia , osteoporosis and cancer, it’s time to learn how to take control of your health and hormones. If you are looking to get to the root of your hormonal symptoms and for more options than antidepressants and birth control, it’s time to educate yourself so you can advocate for yourself.

In my Empowered Hormone Solutions group program, I  empower midlife women with the education they need to become their own hormone health boss, reverse their symptoms and walk into their second half of life strong and confident! If you’re ready for fresh start…. Check it out!

Katie Redding is a Board Certified Holistic Health Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner on a mission to empower midlife women to take control and advocate for hormone health, improve their metabolic health and learn to live life well.

Katie Redding, FDNP, Functional Health Practitioner Hormone Health Boss
Katie Redding, FDN-P

 After over 12 years as a licensed nurse, Katie opened her wellness practice to help rescue her clients from the sick care model and empowered them to improve their metabolic health through weight loss. Thirteen years later she continues to empower her clients with knowledge and resources to take control of their health but has shifted her approach to focus on helping midlife women transition well and have a better "second act". As a functional health practitioner, she blends her 20 years of nursing knowledge, 13 years of coaching experience, and functional medicine training and lab testing to be the personal health detective you've been searching for to discover the root cause of your symptoms and identify healing opportunities to rebalance your hormones naturally! Katie believes every woman can learn to be their own Hormone Health Boss and take control of their body so they can live life well into their 70's and 80's. The body has an amazing capacity to heal when you know how to support it! Katie lives in Maryland with her husband of 23 years and her three teenagers. When Katie isn't helping people take charge of their health, she can be found on the ballroom dance floor or the golf course!

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