Reconsider the birth control pill

I just read this great blog called Birth Control Pill Misconceptions by Shawna Darou, ND that highlights the importance of addressing the root cause behind some of the reasons women use birth control pills.

Fooled by the pill

birth control pillsIn my practice I see a lot of women on the pill and many women who want to conceive after using the pill. I agree whole-heartedly with Shawna that the pill is not a great solution to the hormonal issues many women face (PMS, cramps, ovarian cysts, acne, etc). It is a tool for imposing an artificial cycle on top of your natural cycle, obscuring your true state of health. I think this is a disservice to women, especially those young girls who may never have established a normal menstrual cycle until one day they decide the want to get pregnant.

Most women that come to me for fertility and prenatal support expect to have a healthy period nearly immediately after stopping the pill and do not expect to spend months (or even years!) re-establishing a healthy hormonal balance before conceiving! Many of these women have been on the pill for so many years they don’t even remember what their own period is like anymore! When Shawna says she looks at “the menstrual cycle as a vital sign, as important as blood pressure and heart rate in assessing a woman’s health” she is right on target. Not only is a healthy hormonal balance essential for getting pregnant but it is also important to sustaining a healthy pregnancy and creating a healthy baby! In fact, the mother’s health before conceiving deserves a lot more investment and attention than it seems to get these days, but that is a subject for another blog…

So if you are one of those millions of women wondering “to pill or not to pill,” what should you do? Here are some alternatives to consider – knowledge is power.

Alternatives for hormonal regulation

Nutrition:

Shelly Reitkop, ND recently wrote a great blog called Understanding and Overcoming PMS with some great info on how nutrient intake correlates with PMS symptoms. This is just the tip of the iceberg! Your naturopathic doctor can help you make simple dietary changes to regulate hormones.

Herbs:

There are a wide variety of safe “female herbs.” Herbal prescriptions are individual, so see your naturopathic doctor to find out what herbs can best address your unique symptoms.

Acupuncture:

Acupuncture is a great treatment for a wide variety of female hormonal concerns! I’ve used acupuncture to successfully regulate menstrual cycles, ease period pain and PMS, and for prenatal and postnatal care. Acupuncture is perhaps best known for fertility treatment alone or combined with conventional fertility treatments.

Homeopathy:

Homeopathy is a truly personalized system of treatment that can address many concerns, especially issues surrounding the menstrual cycle and each woman’s unique symptoms. I have lots of info about homeopathy on my site.  Check out my blogs What is homeopathy? and Healing with homeopathy.

Alternatives for contraception

Natural:

The natural family planning method that I know most about and is highly effective is the Justisse Method for Fertility Management. There is a wealth of information on their website and you can order a guide from them to learn how to track your menstrual cycle to determine your fertility (and avoid getting pregnant!). I also sell their guide at Kew Beach Naturopathic Clinic.

For those who are less into charting and more into convenience, there is LadyComp, but apparently this is no longer available in Canada! It seems to have been replaced by Ovacue.

Condoms:

The condom is truly a wonderful invention for both men and women! Condoms are one of the most effective means of birth control (if used correctly) and they are cost-effective, convenient, and safe.

Diaphragm:

Finally, the good old diaphragm. When I asked my doctor for a referral to a gynecologist to get a diaphragm, he told me I was the only women to go from pill to diaphragm in his whole practice! But really, the diaphragm is easy to use, very effective, and affordable. The biggest downside is that the spermicidal gel for use with the diaphragm is no longer available in Canada (but it still available from the US!). However, there is some evidence that use of spermicide does not significantly change the effectiveness of the diaphragm.

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