Hello, how’s it going? I’m Kendra Perry from Kendra Kendra Perry Nutrition, and I’m coming to you from my very cold house.
It’s getting into October now and I didn’t feel like making a fire because I was lazy so I’ve got my toque on I got my … jacket on and I even got my booties on, those are my favorite little booties, but anyways, today we’re going to be talking about a very very important topic and also maybe a bit of a controversial topic because I know a lot of you ladies out there take the birth control pill and you’re getting a lot of benefits from it
You know you don’t have to think much and you’re not getting pregnant you don’t have to worry about that which is awesome.
But of course that does come with some side effects, and that’s what we’re going to be talking about today; three unknown very very commonly unknown side effects that are very long-term and these side effects can affect you even if you were on the birth control years ago and you’ve been off it for years, so maybe it’s something you took in your 20s and it’s been five or ten years since you’ve been off of it.
Unfortunately, some of these side effects can still be affecting you and I’m going to get into that a little bit today. So if this is your first time joining in for one of my videos. Welcome, I’m Kendra Perry from Kendra Perry Nutrition like I mentioned before and I’m a functional diagnostic nutritionist and what I do is I help women generally in their 30s and 40s.
I help them balance their hormones so they can stop feeling fatigued, crazy overweight and super unsexy and they can start feeling awesome, so that’s what I do and if you haven’t already I have an awesome freebie right now if you are wondering what’s up with your hormones? If maybe you suspect your hormones have to do some of the symptoms that you’re experiencing lately,
I have a free self-test it’s pinned to the top of this page and you can use that to get a good idea if you might be at risk for a specific hormone imbalance and which imbalance that might be, okay.
So let’s get into it, but before we get started, I just want to ask you guys a question and please answer even if you’re just watching this video if even if you’re just watching the replay of this video.
I know there’s a bunch of you guys with me live today but even if you’re watching the replay I come back and look at these comments for weeks, so please answer so I just want to know and this is a bit of a personal question but sometimes
I like to get personal, let me know if you are currently taking the birth control pill and if so, what’s the reason that you are taking it is it to avoid pregnancy, or is it some other reason?
Maybe you’re taking it to regulate a hormone imbalance that your doctor said you have or maybe it’s to regulate a very irregular cycle?
Just let me know drop it in the comments box below, and that would be great, okay? So let’s first kind of talk about the birth control what’s actually kind of happening in the body so of course this like starts with what the female cycle is really supposed to look like okay, so in a woman who’s not taking any hormone, so no birth control typically what happens is estrogen is very dominant in the first half of the cycle so days 1 to 14.
Estrogen is what’s considered, it’s a growth hormone so it makes things grow and what it does is it grows the lining of the uterus it starts to grow that lining and basically, that’s your body preparing for pregnancy because if you were to say get pregnant or if there was a sperm and it connected with that egg in your body which is terrifying, but anyway is that they connect that egg will go into your uterus and implant on the wall, and that’s where it’ll start to grow and eventually turn into a baby.
So that’s what happens in day 1 to 14 is estrogen is pumping and then at some point around ovulation so that usually happens around day 14 middle of the cycle an egg is released from the ovaries and that ovary or that that egg basically is looking for a sperm to fertilize it and if it doesn’t get fertilized it actually starts to break down and degrade because we don’t need it anymore so your body gets rid of it.
And as that egg breaks down and degrades it actually releases a significant amount of progesterone, and that’s why progesterone is very important in the second half of the menstrual cycle, so estrogen goes down progesterone goes up as that a starts to degrade and then when it comes up to your period that’s actually when hormones drop super low so they’re at their lowest and that’s actually what triggers the menstrual cycle is a drop in both estrogen and progesterone, okay.
So what happens when you were on the pill? So basically the pill kind of hijacks your hormone control, so it dumps a bunch of synthetic estrogen and progesterone into the body in really high amounts which actually mimics pregnancy so when you’re pregnant your hormones are just pumping right, these things help maintain the pregnancy and keep a fetus healthy so the hormones are just kind of going off the radar they’re super high and that’s what hormonal birth control does is it lets these hormones become super high with synthetic hormones.
And it actually tricks the body into thinking that you’re pregnant so that’s why if you end up with another sperm inside your body because you’re still having sex there’s not going to be any eggs released because the body thinks you’re already pregnant.
So that’s what happens when you take that pill every single day and the same is true for IUD’s and also the patch or the ring I know there’s a lot of different types of birth control methods out there right now, but basically, they are pumping hormones and hijacking control of your hormones.
And then what happens when you get the period so that’s when you start taking those sugar pills, right? So what happens is you’re not actually getting a real period you’re actually getting what’s called sort of breakthrough bleeding. So you’re stopping those pills and that basically causes your hormones to drop and suddenly the body can’t maintain that lining anymore, so it starts to shed it so you’re kind of getting I guess what’s more like an artificial period you’re not actually getting a real period okay.
And this is a big reason why a lot of women take birth control pills even if it has nothing to do with preventing pregnancy so I know a lot of women take them because you know they have a very heavy period or maybe they have a very irregular cycle, maybe they have severe period cramps those are a lot of reasons people or women take birth control pills that really has nothing to do with actually not being, not getting pregnant, okay.
And the reason and so you know being on the pill is going to alleviate a lot of those symptoms because it does hijack hormone control and regulate things but it doesn’t actually fix the root cause so what a lot of women find is they feel really good on the pill.
But at some point they’re gonna want to go off it maybe because they want to get pregnant or they’ve just been on it. Too long and those hormone issues will come back and often with a vengeance because it’s basically just masking hormonal issues, so I think you know and that that I find quite unnerving.
You know I was like you I was on birth control for a really long time I think from the time I was 16 she about 23, so I guess what’s that 7 years? Maybe even longer than that and you know I got a ton of hormonal issues when I got off the pill and you know it’s because it sort of masks these hormonal issues, and they continue to persist in your body but unknown to you because you feel great while you’re on the pill, okay.
Anyways, I’m getting a bit off-track here But I want to get into those 3 reasons why? Or those 3 long-term side effects of birth control pills and again use can affect you even if you’ve been off the birth control pill for many years, even 10 or 15 years, and I’m gonna give you one bonus piece of info at the end.
So if you stay till the end, I’m gonna give you one complete and total shocker, it’s gonna blow your fucking head off! Seriously. It’s crazy when I learned about this I was completely shocked. Ok, so number one is it disrupts your gut flora, so the pill you know it doesn’t only have synthetic hormones in there, but it also has a lot of other synthetic additives and you take the pill in your mouth orally, and it actually kills your gut flora ok
And if you are someone who knows about gut health and knows the importance of the microbiome we know, this is a big problem so the microbiome is basically a bacterial community that you have living in your gut andwe have billions and billions and billions of these species in our gut and they play a huge role in our digestion our mood and pretty much a lot of our internal gut physiology and beyond. So it’s very very important to have healthy gut flora but you are taking a pill every single day that is killing the gut flora okay?
And this is probably one of the big reasons that women who are on birth control pills are significantly more likely to have issues with Candida.
Okay, so Candida is a yeast that naturally lives in the large intestine, and it’s always naturally there but when the gut floor is healthy it’s largely kept in check and it kind of just exists in those dark dark like deep corners of the large intestine but when that gut flora gets imbalance then the Candida can over grow and it can thrive and that can cause a lot of issues.
You know a lot of people are pretty familiar with the issues associated with Candida, but you know weight gain, fatigue, sugar cravings can be a really big one. It can cause a lot of issues because it causes a lot of inflammation it secretes a lot of toxins and it really does reduce your ability to digest and absorb nutrients.
So that’s a really big one so the way that it damages your gut flora and when your gut flora is not a good place so you just don’t have those healthy communities it puts you at risk for not only candida but also a lot of other gut infections so things like parasites and also other nasty bacteria because we are exposed to these things all the time, you know we don’t have to go to a third world country to get exposed to something like a parasite.
But when your gut flora is healthy it’s not a big deal because your immune system kind of deals with it it gets out you know overcrowded by the other healthy communities around it, so these things can tend to just get flushed out or at least kept …
There we go, sorry my timer, I need to put the turkey in the oven it’s Thanksgiving here in Canada. And I had to set myself a timer so i got to get that turkey and we’re having a big big dinner probably tonight and my boyfriend will kill me if I forget anyways, okay, so talking about yeah, so you just put risk for a lot of infections when your gut flora is disrupted and once your gut flora is disrupted you know a lot of things can happen and it can really set the stage for you know long-term chronic health problems specifically mood and digestive problems.
So a lot of women you know they were on birth control pills in their 20s and they find in their 30s; they have a ton of GI symptoms, and they don’t really know what’s going on and a big part of that is the fact that they’ve spent many years depleting their incredibly important and sensitive gut flora.
So that’s the first way that birth control can really harm you for the long term.
Number two is relatively unknown, but this one is insane. Okay, so I see so I’m going to tell you about copper toxicity so birth controls really push up copper in your body, okay, and copper toxicity is something that I see in almost every woman is crazy and so when I work with women
I always want a hair mineral analysis. I’m really big into remineralizing the body right now. And so when I do this I tend to see in the results that their copper is completely imbalanced. It’s through the roof and copper toxicity can cause a significant amount of issues.
I’m just going to read you off some of the symptoms here because you might be able to relate to this but hypothyroid, mind racing, mood swing, diet, dry skin, depression, feeling of loss of control, chocolate cravings, constipation, adverse reaction to vitamin and minerals b12 deficiency, iron deficiency,haemorrhoids, osteoporosis, fatigue, anemia, decrease in white blood cells, problems of concentration, memory, acne, paranoia, arthritis it goes on and on and on and these are all issues of copper imbalance.
And it is crazy how much birth control pills can dis regulate your copper, and there are people out there so one of the experts that trained under for hair mineral analysis his name’s Rick Mulder it’s his opinion, and I mean he’s been doing this for 30 to 40 years, he’s tested tens of thousands of people and it’s his opinion that copper imbalance is the main cause of the majority of the health problems that we experienced because copper really needs to be tightly controlled in the body.
You don’t want too much, but you don’t want too little you have too much or too little you’re going to have health problems and so it’s really interesting, so sometimes so what happened so sorry I’m getting a little off track here, but I really want to tell you about this, it’s really interesting, so the birth control pill can put a lot of stress on the adrenals on the thyroid and when the adrenals and the thyroid are sluggish this actually reduces your body’s ability to make something called ceruloplasmin and ceruloplasmin is basically a compound in the body that allows you to use copper so you get into the situation where you know your thyroid and adrenal are sluggish from you know maybe they’ve always been a bit sluggish and now the birth control is making them more sluggish.
So and then on top of this the birth control pill is also pushing up copper so you end up in a situation where you’re totally copper toxic!
Because the birth control is pushing up copper but you’re also copper deficient because you have now a limited ability to produce ceruloplasmin and which means you have a limited ability to use copper and this is actually the most common situation i’ve seen and women who’ve been on birth control even if it was like 15 years ago is they have this severe copper imbalance where they’re totally copper toxic the body is storing copper in the tissues in the organs especially the liver and the kidneys and then because they can’t use it they’re completely copper deficient, so they have symptoms of both.
And it takes years to detox copper from the body it can take a really long time so I’ve seen this in women who have only been on birth control for a year and now we’re doing this test ten years later, but it’s gonna be even more crazy in women who’ve been on birth control pills for multiple years because it pushes up your copper and then another really interesting thing about copper is copper pushes up estrogen levels so when your copper is high your estrogen will be high, so taking birth control pills pushes up copper which can then push up your estrogen which leads to estrogen dominance.
And I’ve talked a lot about estrogen dominance I’ve written about a lot of it on my website Kendraperry.net but this is one of the nastiest hormone imbalances that you can have and it’s also one of the most common I see in women over 30 and even some women over 25 between like 25 and 30.
And so when your estrogen dominant it really does predispose you for estrogen dominant cancers things like cervical cancer, endometrial cancer, breast cancer, it also gives you crazy PMS, tender breast, bloating, acne, irritability, insomnia around your period, it just kind of makes you miserable.
And it’s just really crazy how much birth control pill can really lead to a long-term copper issue and thus estrogen dominant issue and sometimes this estrogen dominance won’t show up on a test and I’ve seen this again where we won’t see it in the test, but because it’s the copper that’s pushing up estrogen during certain times of the month we actually will never find the estrogen so we just have to go with the copper toxicity and assume estrogen dominance.
And I think another way that birth control can really affect your copper level is the fact that actually depletes a zinc so zinc is a very important mineral for the immune system, so when zinc goes down you start to have more issues with infections you get sick all the time and of course that does put you a bigger risk for things like parasites and candida as well.
But zinc and copper are antagonists so as one goes up the other goes down. So as zinc goes down copper goes up. So not only is birth control pushing more copper into your system but it’s also depleting zinc which naturally will make your copper levels more high and unless you address copper toxicity directly and you start to detox copper from the body. These issues and these symptoms and that list that I mentioned can affect you for the rest of your life
It’s crazy, so that’s a really big one, okay. So number three is magnesium deficiency so birth control pills deplete magnesium. It’s well known it’s been shown in a ton of research and magnesium and you might know that it’s super important, so it’s involved in over 300 different enzyme reactions in the entire body, you need it to relax the entire nervous system you need sleep you need it to feel calm and not totally crazy and stressed out and birth control pills actually deplete magnesium and so this is a really big issue as well.
Another thing that happens is because magnesium is an antagonist with cut with calcium so as magnesium goes down calcium goes up and if calcium gets too high in your system your body does start to store it in different parts of the body and it can lead to a lot of joint pain, and it can actually really change your personality and lead to a lot of mood disorders as well, so magnesium is huge. We’re already deficient in it, and then if you’re taking birth control pills. You’re gonna be even more magnesium deficient okay, so that’s number three is in the way that magnesium causes or sorry birth control causes magnesium deficiency.
So I just want to quickly recap and then I’m gonna give you the bonus side effect the one that’s gonna just like blow your head off. It’s crazy! I can’t even believe this is a thing but anyways, So number one is birth control pills will deplete your gut flora so it does lead to long-term mood disorders and GI problems, does increase your likelihood for getting a parasite or candida.
Number two is that birth control will cause copper imbalance so it can make you deficient and toxic at the same time that leads to a ton of symptoms, very hard to get out of the body if your body can’t use it, it can’t move it out and then you are just copper toxic and dealing with so many health problems that you can’t connect to anything for the rest of your life.
And number three is magnesium deficiency, so it does push down your magnesium, okay. And now for the bonus so the bonus so I heard this from dr.
Sarah Gottfried so she is an MD who does a lot of work with hormones, but more for women who are postmenopausal, But she said in a podcast that I was listening to that birth control pills reduce the size of clitores by twenty to thirty percent.
They shrink your clit. That’s crazy. It’s crazy, and I was pretty skeptical about this, so I looked it up, and I did find a research study on PubMed that did indicate that the birth control pill can actually shrink your clitoris.
Which is shocking, it’s just shocking like that is horrible right? I mean the reason we have sex is for pleasure and enjoyment and being on the birth control pillcan actually shrink your clitoris, and you know I was on the birth control pill for probably seven or eight years
I wish I had measured. I have no idea if mine is smaller than it used to be but I think that’s pretty significant and these are side effects that nobody is talking about and your you will never hear this from your doctor when you go on the pill they will tell you that maybe you have a higher risk for blood clots, but that you have a lower risk for certain types of cancer, and you know nobody’s gonna tell you about deficient gut flora, no one’s going to tell you about copper imbalance and nobody’s gonna tell you about magnesium deficiency, and I know nobody is gonna tell you about clit shrinkage, okay, so you know you really need to take these things into consideration when making a decision to go on the pill.
You know I understand that there’s times in your life where you absolutely do not want to get pregnant and I get that but you know 60 to 70 percent of women go on the pill for reasons that have nothing to do with avoiding pregnancy and they are not told about these side-effects.
They have no idea and you know as someone who works with women’s health, I mean it is crazy how often I work with women who have come off the birth control pill, and they are a mess. You know, it’s just it’s crazy, and we’re just not being given the proper information.
You know if you want to make the decision to go on birth control knowing those side effects that’s good, because you’re making an informed decision but most of us aren’t even making informed decisions because we never get the information to begin with okay, so I hope you found this video helpful
I love bringing you these live videos. I love hanging out with you, so if you like this video give me the hearts give me the likes
I love these, it shows Facebook that you like my content and it will help me reach more women because my mission is to help as many women as possible heal from hormonal imbalance, so they can take control of their bodies again because when your hormones are out of whack you feel like you have no control, it changes your personality
You’re on edge and you know you’re fatigued you’re gaining weight and you just can’t live that incredible life that you absolutely deserve to live so give me a like and let me know if you’d like this video if you have any questions even if you’re not with me live today
I will answer them. I keep checking these comments for weeks and weeks and weeks and if you haven’t done so already pick up my freebie is pinned to the top of this page
It’s my hormone imbalance self-test cheat sheet, and you can learn in five minutes or less if you might have a hormone imbalance and which imbalance you might be at risk for one more thing join my group. I have a free Facebook group called hormonal Imbalance with Kendra Perry
I give free weekly master classes. I answer all your questions. There are a ton of women in there we’re growing every day, and if you want to connect and get some support this is a great place
I know when my hormones were a mess I felt super alone I felt that nobody cared or understood what I was going through but in this group everyone understands what you’re going through so make sure to join my group as well.
That’s it for me. I hope you guys, if you’re in Canada Happy Thanksgiving!
I hope you have a delicious turkey dinner, and if you’re elsewhere. I hope you just have a fantastic weekend
I will see you next week.
I’m going to be coming to you live four times next week Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday.
So I’m gonna be talking about lots of hot topics so I will see you guys all next week. Bye!
Have you been struggling with extremely painful periods, chronic pelvis pain or pain during sex? There are a number of reasons why periods can cause painful cramping, but endometriosis is a common culprit.
During the first half of the menstrual cycle, estrogen is the dominant hormone.Estrogen is a growth hormone and stimulates the growth of the uterine lining. Once an egg is released and not fertilized, estrogen starts to decline and progesterone becomes the dominant hormone in the second half of the menstrual cycle.
As the egg breaks down and becomes the corpus luteum, progesterone is given off. Both estrogen and progesterone reach their lowest levels just before the beginning of menstruation. This is what signals the start of bleeding where the lining of the uterus is shed for the next 3-7 days.
Endometriosis is a condition which tissue that normally grows inside the uterus instead grows outside it. The most common places in the body this tissue can grow is the abdominal cavity where it can land on the peritoneum, the thin layer that covers the inside of the abdomen, the ovaries, and fallopian tubes. This tissue has also been found in the knee and the nose, strangely enough. The body in it’s ultimate wisdom attempts to contain the growth by forming a cyst around the tissue. Then every time a woman has a period, this tissue proliferates and may lead to a ruptured cyst.
Like the lining of the uterus, the misplaced endometrial tissue is triggered by the same hormonal shift that begins the menstrual cycle (ie. low estrogen and progesterone). This tissue will then also shed and bleed. The blood, which is trapped in the abdomen, is irritating to the nerves in the abdomen, causing much of the pain associated with endometriosis. Some women experience chronic pelvic pain while others only experience pain during their periods. In certain cases, women experience no pain at all. The latter case can delay diagnosis and likely accounts for many undiagnosed cases. Statistics say 10% of women suffer from endometriosis but this is likely lower than the reality.
Over time the abnormal shedding can cause chronic inflammation and lead to scar tissue development. This abnormal cell growth will also instigate an immune response that can perpetuate the problem.
There is no concrete answer but there are many theories. In my experience, this condition is largely related to excess estrogen production. Since estrogen is involved in the growth of endometrial tissue, when it occurs in excess it can stimulate the over growth of the tissue.
Other factors that are likely involved in endometriosis are:
Dr, Stacey Roberts, natural fertility expert, mentioned that endometriosis may actually be an autoimmune process. According to this study, among 59 women who had a laparoscopy indicating endometriosis, 28.8% tested positive for antinuclear antibodies (a marker for autoimmunity).
The autoimmune connection is explored in detail in this scientific review. The authors conclude that endometriosis fits most of the criteria for autoimmune disease including blood markers of inflammatory cytokines and tissue specific autoantibodies. It seems endometriosis occurs with other autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and inflammatory bowel disease.
Typically it is diagnosed through an ultrasound but this technique can often miss tissue growth that is hidden and lying deeper in the body. Some experienced physicians can find it using a physical examination, where they can pinpoint the adhesions and lesions in the abdomen. Laparoscopy, a surgical procedure, can also be used to identify lesions.
Unfortunately, endometriosis can lead to infertility issues. It can lead to scarring and damage of the filopian tubes which can make it incredibly difficult for a woman to become pregnant naturally.
If the fallopian tubes are damaged or altered in their function then this can set the stage for an atopic pregnancy. Up to 30-50% of women who have endometriosis may experience infertility, according to American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
In extreme situations it can perorate the bowel and lead to complications with digestion. This only occurs in very severe cases.
1. Surgerical Excision – This involves going in and removing overgrown tissue. This can be extremely helpful in removing adhesions and lesions but does little to address the root cause. If this is the only treatment used, adhesions may develop again. Surgery works best if it is used with natural therapies to prevent future tissue proliferation.
2. Progesterone Cream – Progesterone opposes estrogen and inhibits the growth of endometrial tissue growth. Lesions can be resistant to progesterone so typically high doses are needed. This treatment does not generally work on its own.
3. Hormonal Birth Control – This is the standard treatment as it suppresses ovulation and prevents the growth of the uterine lining. Again, this treatment fails to address the root cause and can mask other hormonal conditions. A woman cannot be on the pill indefinitely, so once she comes off it, she is likely to experience other hormone disorders that have been left untreated over the years.
4. NSAIDS OR Naproxen – This can help reduce pain associated with endometriosis but does nothing to deal with the problem. These drugs can cause many issues when used long term. They are known to stress the liver and thin the lining of the gut, even when only used once a month.
The good news is that there is a lot you can do to prevent endometriosis from continuing to occur. One of the most important starting points is to have your hormones tested via saliva or urine. I am not a huge fan of blood testing as it gives you a very limited piece of the overall picture.
In next few week’s blog posts, I will discuss some of the most effective diet, lifestyle and supplements therapies for dealing with endometriosis and preventing it from messing with your fertility. If you would like to learn more about the hormone testing I do and how it can help optimize your menstrual cycle and fertility, please book a free 20 minute consultation to speak with me directly. You can do that here.
Listen to me discuss this article in the video below!
What is PCOS? PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and to be diagnosed you must have at least two of the following criteria;
• Irregular or absent menstrual periods
• Elevated testosterone or other androgens
• Cystic ovaries
Up to 15% of women suffer from this condition. It is considered the leading cause of infertility in women in the Western world.
This condition is not very fun and I truly feel for every woman who is struggling with it. According to conventional medicine there is no cure for PCOS. Generally a physician will prescribe birth control pills to regulate sex hormone production. Birth control pills can also reduce free testosterone which can alleviate symptoms from increased androgen production.
If the woman is attempting to become pregnant, she may be referred to a fertility specialist.
Some women may undergo surgery to remove ovarian cysts. While this process may reduce testosterone levels and regulate ovulation, it may leave damaging scar tissue and many times the effects of the surgery only last a few months.
Unfortunately, none of these options addresses the root cause of the condition and the progression of the disease will continue if no interventions are made.
While testosterone and other male hormones are a huge driver of PCOS, estrogen and progesterone are important as well. They need to be in proper balance with testosterone in order to effectively regulate the menstrual cycle.
Common symptoms associated with PCOS include;
• Irregular or Absent periods
• Scalp hair loss
• Facial hair growth
• Inability to lose weight
• Oily skin and/or hair
• Irritability and/or anger
In order to understand how this condition affects a woman’s cycle, it is important to understand how a normal, healthy cycle progresses throughout the month.
The first day of the menstrual cycle is the bleeding phase. During a woman’s period, estrogen and progesterone are at their lowest levels. During this time, the lining of the uterus is shed for the first 3-7 days of the first half of the menstrual cycle. The first half of the menstrual cycle, from Day 1-14, is called the Follicular Phase.
After bleeding stops, estrogen begins to rise. Estrogen, which is a growth hormone, begins to build and thicken the uterine lining. During this phase the Pituitary gland secretes the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) which causes the growth of between 3 and 30 follicles, each of which contains an egg.
Eventually FSH starts to decline and only one of the follicles continues to grow. The other follicles decay and breakdown.
When the Pituitary detects this shift, it secretes Lutenizing Hormone (LH), which causes the follicle to rupture and release the egg inside. This occurs at day 14 and is called Ovulation. During ovulation, testosterone surges and estrogen begins to drop.
If that egg is not fertilized after 24 hours then the egg turns into the corpus luteum and begins to break down. As it breaks down, it secretes progesterone, making it the dominant hormone of the second half of the menstrual cycle. This phase is called the luteal phase. As progesterone levels begin to fall, this triggers the shedding of the lining and the cycle starts over again.
The cycle generally lasts 28 days but can be up to 35 days in some women.
It’s not completely clear how this occurs but there are a few ways depending on the woman in question.
1. Women with PCOS typically have low levels of Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG). SHBG is responsible for binding to hormones and making them inactive. This could result in increased levels of testosterone. Low levels of SHBG decrease the rate of conversion from testosterone to estrogen. Low levels of estrogen may result in poor signalling to the Pituitary gland leading to irregular cycles.
2. High levels of testosterone can also block the effects of progesterone and estrogen, disrupting the cycle.
3. If there is a Pituitary problem present, FSH and LH may not be secreted as they normally should. Typically, the ratio of FSH to LH is 1:2 but in women with PCOS it is 2:1.
The mechanism driving PCOS likely varies for each woman. What we do know is that insulin resistance plays a large role in PCOS. Whether the PCOS causes the insulin resistance or insulin resistance drives PCOS is unclear.
Insulin resistance plays a huge role in androgen metabolism, causing a women to prefer androgen production over estrogen production. Anytime I see elevated DHEA or testosterone in a woman on a hormone panel, I always focus on blood sugar control.
70% of women diagnosed with PCOS are also insulin resistant according to this study. PCOS needs to be taken seriously as it predisposes women for coronary artery disease later in life.
Insulin is a hormone made in the beta cells of the pancreas. Although it has many jobs, it is known for its ability to manage blood sugar levels. When you eat a meal, sugar levels rise in your blood. Insulin is then secreted to usher sugar into the cells where it can be used for energy.
Without insulin, you would die. Insulin is the only way for sugar in your blood to get into the cells where it can be used. Insulin becomes an issue when you continually eat foods that push the blood sugar too high. Refined sugar and processed carbohydrates require little breakdown and go straight into the blood, elevating blood sugar levels higher than what the body likes. The body overcompensates by pushing out extra insulin which can then drop blood sugar levels too low, causing you to crash and crave more sugar and carbs, starting the cycle over again.
If a person continues to consume sugar and carbs, the cells are constantly being bombarded by insulin knocking on the door trying to push sugar in. At some point, the cells stop listening to insulin knocking and become resistant. This means sugar levels rise in the blood and the cells don’t receive it for energy.
So that sugar levels don’t get dangerously high, sugar is then sent to the liver to be converted in triglycerides. That can lead to increased weight gain, especially around the abdomen.
A sign that you might have insulin resistance is getting sleepy after a meal. The conversion of sugar into triglycerides uses a lot of resources and the result is your energy levels crashing.
Any treatment plan for PCOS needs to involve careful attention to blood sugar levels and unwinding insulin resistance. How do you do this?
I plan to discuss solutions for PCOS in next week’s blog post. See you then!
This week I’m continuing with the theme of alternatives to hormonal birth control. I work with so many women who are dealing with hormonal hell after years of being on birth control pills and other hormonal forms of contraception.
As I discussed in this earlier post, the pill has been great for women’s rights to sexual freedom, but it has not come without its consequences. For many women this means mood swings, fertility issues, weight gain, digestive issues and irregular periods.
It seems that oral contraceptives are the most advertised form of birth control and few women are offered alternatives. I feel that we need more options.
In my last post, I discussed the copper IUD, which has quickly become a popular alternative to the pill. In today’s post I want to discuss the Fertility Awareness Method. This is by far my favorite contraception method as it is 100% natural and requires no pills patches, needles or rings.
This method involves preventing pregnancy by paying attention to the body’s natural hormonal cues. Basically a women can track signals that she is ovulating which she can then use to prevent the likelihood of pregnancy. Please note that this should not be confused with the rhythm method (aka the wish, pray and hope method). This technique involves careful attention to detail and cautious tracking.
There are certain markers that a women can track to know when she is ovulating. These include basal body temperature, cervical mucus and cramping. Using these markers, along with the time in her cycle, she can know when she is ovulating and then either abstain from sex during this time or use a backup form of birth control like condoms.
Ovulation is the time when a ripened egg passes down the fallopian tubes and into the uterus. This is the short window in which a woman can become pregnant. Ovulation only lasts 24 hours. So if the average month has around 732 hours, there is only a 24 hour window when a women is fertile and can become pregnant. This means there is a 4% chance a woman can become pregnant each month.
Knowing this you may be wondering, “Well WTF is all the hype about? 4%! pppssshhhfffff…” Well this isn’t exactly true. A woman can actually be fertile for up to 6 days a month. How is this possible?
The male sperm has the ability to survive for up to 5 days (sneaky little sperm!). These little guys are built to survive. This means that if you have unprotected sex 5 days before ovulation, you can still become pregnant. This takes the chances of getting pregnant up to 17% which is a little too high for comfort.
Basal Body Temperature
A woman can measure her waking body temperature before she gets out of bed in the morning. When the egg is released from the fallopian tube, her body temperature will rise about 0.4 – 1 degree Fahrenheit. This rise in body temperature marks the start of ovulation. Her temperature will remain at this level for the rest of her cycle until she begins her period
Cervical mucus is controlled by estrogen and will change at the time of ovulation. When estrogen is at its highest and you are the most fertile and the cervical mucus will be stretchy and resemble a raw egg white.
Typically cervical mucus is scant or minimal right after menstruation. As time goes on the mucus will first become sticky and pasty and then creamy right before ovulation. The egg white like mucus is what signals ovulation. After ovulation cervical mucus is scant again.
The ovulation cervical mucus is more alkaline and facilitates the movement of sperm. It contains nourishment for the sperm and is what allows the sperm to survive in the woman’s body for the few days before ovulation.
When the eggs is released, some women may experience some minor cramping that lasts a day or possibly even a moment. It’s hard to understand how a tiny little egg, probably smaller than the period at the end of this sentence, could cause cramping, but in some women it can. Cramping can be another indicator of ovulation.
All of these markers can be used together to track when ovulation is occurring. This method works best, of course, in a women with a regular cycle. This method is not something that becomes effective immediately.
But over time, after some careful tracking, you can start to predict which days in a month you are fertile and abstain from sex during those times. You can also use a backup method of protection during these fertile times is you wish to continue having sex. Or you can get creative and have some outercourse. I won’t go into detail here but think of all those fun things that don’t involve penetration.
The best way to track is to download an app to your phone. There are a number of apps that allow you to track your fertility markers and can calculate your predicted ovulation date each month.
Here are my top picks:
The OvaCue Fertility Monitor
Ok, so this thing is pretty cool. I actually had no idea this thing existed until I wrote this article. The OvaCue works using the patented Electrolyte Method. This method is 98.3% effective in clinical trials as overseen by the National Institute of Health.
Here is how it works. Throughout your monthly cycle, your body retains or throws away certain electrolytes, like sodium and potassium. This monitor tracks the changes in sodium and potassium to determine when you are ovulating. This device has the ability to predict ovulation up to 7 days before hand.
I think the Fertility Awareness Method is a fantastic option for non-hormonal birth control. Of course, it does take some time and attention. It should only be used by women who have a good attention to detail and who want to be connected and in tune with their bodies. When used correctly, this method can range from 95-99% effective.
And if you want to be extra cautious, you can use some of these cool techy gadgets that help you better predict ovulation and stay baby free.
In last week’s blog post, I talked about the downside of hormonal birth control, specifically the pill. While the pill provides awesome sexual freedom, it does not come without its consequences and side effects. Finding a good form of non-hormonal birth control can be challenging. And sometimes it feel like there are tons of options out there. One form of non-hormonal contraception that has been gaining a lot of popularity these days is the copper IUD.
The Copper IUD is an intrauterine device that is inserted by a doctor into the uterus. A copper wire is wound around the stem of the t-shaped device. The device can stay in place for up to 10 years and has an effectiveness of 99.8%.
The copper that is woven into the device interferes with sperm movement and prevents the sperm from fertilizing the egg. The IUD increases the amount of copper ions, prostaglandins and white blood cells in the uterus which interferes with fertilization. If fertilization cannot happen then pregnancy cannot happen.
The copper also affects the transport of the egg out of the Fallopian tube and the copper that leaches out of the IUD makes the uterus less suitable for implantation and pregnancy.
The IUD does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.
The following are a list of contraindications for the use of any IUD:
This is one aspect of the copper IUD that is not often discussed among the medical community. As a nutrition practitioner who has run many Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis’ on women using this form of contraception, I have seen excessively high copper levels in many women using the copper IUD.
The copper IUD may not cause copper toxicity in itself but if you are also exposed to copper from other sources then it can build up and cause an excess in your system. Other sources that can contribute to copper toxicity include: public swimming pools. copper pipes, copper cookware, inorganic mineral supplements, dental crowns, beer and a vegan/vegetarian diet that is high in copper containing foods.
If your liver is congested or struggling to deal with other toxins, it may be inefficient at removing excess copper from the body. This can lead to a buildup of copper.
While copper is needed in certain amounts it can cause negative symptoms if it builds up.
Another way that too much copper can affect the body has to do with zinc. Zinc and copper compete for absorption in the body. Too much zinc can drive copper down and too much copper can cause zinc deficiency. Zinc is a crucial nutrient needed for immune system function, cell division, cell growth and the healing of wounds. Zinc deficiency can cause weak immunity, diarrhea, acne, leaky gut and thinning hair. Excess copper can also lower iron levels, increase vitamin A levels, aggregate B vitamin metabolism and increase estrogen levels. High estrogen levels can also cause the body to retain copper.
While the risks are small with the copper IUD, these are still risks that need to be considered. The chances are you will have a relatively good experience with this form of contraception. But the bottom line is that any small changes to your delicate hormone balance can cause symptoms.
The important thing is to be aware of any new symptoms that pop up. While many doctors will tell you there are no emotional symptoms involved (since the copper IUD does not emit hormones), this is not true. There are many stories of women who experience feelings of doom, depression and moodiness while using the copper IUD.
If you do decide to use the copper IUD, take steps to improve your nutrition, prevent copper toxicity and improve your zinc status.
And more importantly, make an informed decision and decide whether the risks are worth the benefits. And if you have any experiences using the copper IUD, please feel free to share them below!
Oral contraceptive (OC) pills have become one of the main forms of birth control being used today. According to a National Canadian Contraception survey, 66.6% of women aged 15-19, 58.3% of women aged 20-29, 31.5 % of women aged 30-40 and 17.1% of women over 40 are using oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy.
In the United States, 12 million women are using the pill as their main form of pregnancy prevention.
While OC can be an excellent way to prevent becoming pregnant (up to 99.9% effective when used correctly), many women are using the pill for other reasons than preventing pregnancy.
According to a 2011 study by the Guttmacher Institute, based on US government data from the National Survey of Family Growth, 58% of women using the pill are using it for reasons other than birth control.
The problem is that OC does not actually cure any of these problems. The pill simply manipulates hormone levels so that the user no longer experiences the symptom. This means the root cause of the hormonal issue continues despite oral contraceptive use.
So while you go about your life, symptom free, your underlying issue continues and gets worse without your knowledge.
The majority of women do not want to be on the pill long term. Most women, at some point, decide to become pregnant and go off the pill. Many women will find that it’s not as easy as they thought to become pregnant. This is because the hormonal issues they originally attempted to “cure” by using the pill, have now been going on for a long time (maybe over a decade or more for some women) and have never been addressed.
The longer these problem has been going on for, the more difficult it is to deal with. Unfortunately, many women who go off OC in their 30’s hoping to become pregnant find themselves struggling to conceive against the ticking internal clock.
A women’s cycle is ruled by the falling and rising of progesterone and estrogen. The first day of your period is day one of your cycle. This is called the Follicular Phase. It lasts until ovulation starts. The length of this phase will be different for every women. In a 28 day cycle, this will last from day 1-14.
The menstrual cycle is characterized by the shedding of the uterine wall. It’s usually lasts 3-7 days. During this phase, the pituitary gland secretes the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) which causes the follicle to ripen an egg. Estrogen is at its highest during this time.
At ovulation, the egg is released. As the level of estrogen rises in the body, it will eventually cause the release of the Luteinizing Hormone (LH). LH causes the follicle to rupture and releases the egg down the Fallopian tube.
This is the time in a women’s cycle when she is able to become pregnant. She will be fertile the first day of ovulation and for 24 hours afterwards. Keep in mind that sperm can survive for up 4-6 days in a woman’s body which means that she is fertile on the first day of ovulation and for those 4-6 days before hand.
The egg eventually becomes the corpus luteum which results in a huge release of progesterone. The progesterone maintains the lining of the uterus and prepares for implantation. This phase is call the Luteal phase. Estrogen and progesterone are strongest at this time.
If fertilization does not occur than the corpus luteum degrades and breaks down. Progesterone and estrogen begin to decrease. Decreasing hormone levels mean that the lining of the uterus cannot be maintained. When the two hormones are at their lowest, the lining begins to shed which marks the beginning of a women’s period.
When a women takes OC, estrogen and/or progesterone levels are kept high which “tricks” her body into thinking she’s pregnant. This mean that pregnancy cannot occur because ovulation will not occur.
Some pills work differently. Some pills prevent ovulation all together while others prevent implantation of the egg into the uterine wall or make the cervical mucus so thick that a sperm cannot make it through.
The problem is that the pill has many side effects that are not discussed with women upon prescription. I can attest to this. I began taking the pill when I was 16 years old. I was not having sex at that point. But I was thinking about it and my doctor encouraged me to go on it “just in case.”
The result was me taking OC for a year and a half for absolutely no reason. I had no idea that what I was doing was affecting my health. Other than an increased risk of clots, no other risk was discussed with me.
Taking the pill for contraception is an individual choice. But I believe that in order to make an well informed choice, a woman needs to have all the proper information in their hands.
Here is a list of side effects your doctor may not have told you about.
In order for the liver to metabolize birth control pills properly, it needs extra amounts of nutrients including B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc.With this increased need, a women is susceptible to becoming deficient in these important nutrients. Nutritional deficiencies can lead to weight gain, fluid retention, mood changes, depression and heart disease.
This study showed the decrease in 6 nutrients including riboflavin, pyridoxine, folacin, vitamin B12, ascorbic acid and zinc, in women who were using oral contraception. B-vitamins, for example are critical for every energy reaction in your body. A deficiency in B vitamins can cause a wide range of issues including anemia, chronic fatigue, acne, depression and fatigue
Zinc, on the other hand, controls many of the reactions of the immune system. This means that a zinc deficiency can cause immune system dysfunction leading to excess inflammation.
Magnesium is important for over 300 different enzymatic reactions in the body. For example, magnesium is a precursor for your happy hormone, serotonin. It also aids in the digestion of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Without enough magnesium you are susceptible to depression, insomnia, anxiety and panic attacks.
As humans, we have 10 times as many bacterial cells in our body than we do actual human cells. Cutting edge research has found that the microflora in our body is important not only for digestion but for brain health, immune health and hormone balance.
The pill devastates gut microflora. Studies have shown that women who take long term OC have altered gut flora. According to digestive health expert Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, “The effect of contraceptive pills on the composition of bacteria in the gut is devastating. The longer the lady is on the contraceptive pill, the deeper will be the damage on her gut flora.”
Candida Albicans is a yeast that naturally lives in your large intestine. When a woman’s body is healthy, her gut flora colonies keep this opportunistic yeast in check. Once gut flora is impacted by OC, Candida, which can be aggressive if the opportunity arises, can spread from the large intestine to other places in the body.
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, up to 75% of women will experience Candida overgrowth in their lifetime. Women often experience this as yeast infections. But yeast can affect the body in a number of other ways.
This includes: headaches, sugar cravings, weight gain, hyperactivity, chronic fatigue and digestive dysfunction. Inappropriate gut flora can also lead to bacterial and parasitic infection.
In The Breast Cancer Prevention Program, Sam Epstein, MD, writes,
“more than 20 well-controlled studies have demonstrated the clear risk of premenopausal breast cancer with the use of oral contraceptives. These estimates indicate that a young woman who uses oral contraceptives has up to ten times the risk for developing breast cancer as does a non-user, particularly if she uses the Pill during her teens or early twenties; if she uses the Pill for two years or more; if she uses the Pill before her first full-term pregnancy; if she has a family history of breast cancer.”
Human and animal studies have shown that a group of genes called the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) can influence odor. In general, females prefer the odor of mates with a dissimilar MHC. This means that naturally, we are meant to be attracted to men that are the least genetically similar to us.
Obviously this is a positive advantage on an evolutionary standpoint. When we choose partners that are the least genetically similar to us, we increase the likelihood or creating healthy, strong offspring.
A study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, however, suggests that women on the pill tend to prefer mates who are more genetically similar to them. Basically the pill makes women choose mates who are more like a brother than a partner.
There are many stories of women who choose a partner while taking OC, get married and then go off OC to become pregnant. Suddenly they find themselves no longer attracted to their husbands.
The vagina is a hormone dependent organ – meaning it needs adequate amounts of hormones to function and grow. Studies have shown that taking the pill for just 2 years has the ability to shrink the size of your clitoris. According to women’s health expert, Dr. Sara Gottfried, taking the pill can shrink your clitoris up to 20%. Um whaaaaat?
Since taking the pill will decrease your free testosterone, which controls sexual function in women, taking the pill can not only result in a shrunken clitoris but has the ability to completely squash your sex drive as well.
Many women take oral contraceptives so they can have sex more freely, but after a couple of years of being on the pill, they may have little desire to have sex anymore.
Taking the pill is not a decision to be taken lightly. It should take some serious thought that involves weighing the pros against the cons. Unfortunately, some doctors readily prescribe the pill to teenage girls, who have little ability make informed decisions.
The pill can be a wonderful thing that allows women to have sex without the fear of becoming pregnant. But truth be told, the freedom of the pill does not come without consequences. I believe that women should know what they are getting themselves into.
This is something you will have to decide for yourself. While providing sexual freedom, it does not come without its side effects. And these side effects may have far reaching consequences that can seriously affect your life in the future.
Something to important to remember is that the pill will not fix your hormonal issues. So if you are considering taking OC to reduce nasty symptoms, understand that you are likely only making your symptoms worse in the long term.
If you do decide to take oral contraceptives, take steps to reduce some of the side effects. Supplement with magnesium, zinc, B vitamins and Vitamin C. Take a high quality probiotic, digestive enzymes and increase your consumption of homemade fermented foods.
And if you are considering getting married to your partner while taking OC, go off it for a while to make sure you are making a good choice.