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photo by Phalinn on flickr (exposure altered). License: attribution


5. Bone Loss


Studies have shown that long term use of the pill can result in decreased bone density (Source). This could partially be caused by prolonged nutritional deficiencies but also has to do with hormone changes. One study found that women who took the pill were more likely to suffer from bone fractures later in life. Woman who use the birth control shot as opposed to pill are at even higher risk of bone loss (Source). However, the mini-pill contains the same progestin drug as the injectable (Source).


6. Side Effects


Then there are the problems that they do tell you about; such as increased risk of blood clots and strokes. According to WebMD, other serious side effects (which you should see your doctor immediately if you experience) include abdominal pain, chest pain, severe headaches, eye problems such as blurred vision, and swelling and/or aching of the legs or thighs. Less severe side effects include nausea, weight gain, sore/swollen breasts, and mood changes. Birth control also reduces libido, which may decrease your need for birth control in the first place. The less serious symptoms reduce your quality of life to say the least.


photo by soulmuser on flickr (exposure altered). License: attribution


7. Water Contamination


The problem with the pill is that almost all of those synthetic hormones are excreted in our urine. This means that all these hormones are ending up in our water supply. This becomes an issue when a large percentage of the population is using the pill on a daily basis. These hormones go on to affect wildlife, demasculinizing male animals and creating a condition called ‘intersex’ which interferes with the animals ability to reproduce (Source). This may pose more of a problem to humans in the future when we eat animals that have been accumulating these synthetic hormones and other estrogen mimicking contaminants (such as BPA), and then delivering them back to us in a much higher concentration. It is important to remember that our planet is a finite resource and that we should try to do everything we can to reduce our ecological footprint. Avoiding the use of synthetic hormones is one way you can help!

If you are interested in reading more ways the pill affects your health you can check this article out.



Are there better alternatives? Yes!

Best Alternatives


There are quite a few alternatives that are a lot healthier than oral contraceptives. At the top of the list is fertility awareness methods (FAM) which are based on mapping your menstrual cycle and determining which days you are fertile and avoiding sexual intercourse (or using protection) on those days. There are quite a few different ways to track your fertility, some of which include the calendar method, cervical mucous method, and the temperature method. These are the best methods as they are 100% natural, but it takes quite a bit of planning and awareness. This type of method is only suitable if you have a regular menstrual cycle. You can learn more about FAMs here.

It may seem old fashioned, but condoms are also a very effective method of birth control (if used correctly) that are hormone free. Unfortunately, many condoms are not biodegradable. Lambskin condoms are the only condom on the market that is 100% biodegradable but these condoms do not protect against STDs such as HIV so they are only really appropriate for exclusive relationships in which neither partner has an STD (Source).


photo by Mara on flickr. License: Attribution-Noncommercial-noderives


Acceptable Alternatives


Some women use IUDs as an alternative, which is a little T shaped bar that is implanted in the uterus which prevents pregnancy. Women like this method as it requires no preparation directly before sex, allowing sex to be spontaneous. There are two different types of IUDs; hormonal and non-hormonal. The hormonal IUD delivers a small amount of hormones directly to the uterus which reduces the amount of artificial hormones in the body compared to oral contraceptive. However, it is still putting synthetic hormones into the body similar to the pill. The second type of IUD, the non-hormonal one, does not deliver any hormones to the body and has copper wire wrapped around it. It functions by making the uterus and fallopian tubes produce fluid that kills sperm; the copper is toxic to sperm. The non-hormonal/copper IUD is considered to be the better of the two IUDs, but it comes with some unpleasant side effects such as heavier periods and cramping. The copper IUD can also send the copper to zinc ratio out of balance similar to the pill, which leads to copper toxicity. With both types of IUDs there is also a risk of perforation (IUD punctures the uterus) and also expulsion (The uterus pushes IUD out)(Source). Some women really like them, but I don’t consider the IUD to be a great improvement over the pill.


Worst Alternatives


The shot may be worse for your health than the pill. It works through a very similar (synthetic hormone) method as oral contraceptive and the list of side effects for the shot is similar to the pill. However, the shot can have more serious effects on bone and hair loss, and can also stimulate excessive growth of facial and/or body hair (Source). There are also alternatives such as the nuvaring, but this works similarly to the hormonal IUD, which still delivers synthetic hormones to the body. The nuvaring can also cause problems with bacterial imbalance in the vagina such as bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections because of the hormones. It can also cause irritation or pain; making sexual intercourse unpleasant (Source).
Lastly, relying on the withdrawl method alone is not an effective method of birth control. If done correctly it can be effective, but unfortunately most people do not do it correctly making its effectiveness around 70-80% effective (Source).


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