My top 6 birth control questions:
Question #1: What are the potential side effects of using hormonal birth control?
Side effects include:
- Sore breasts
- Yeast infections
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Weight gain
- Low libido
- Mood swings
Read my full post on the side effects of birth control here: Are Birth Control Side Effects Ruining Your Life?
Question #2: Can the birth control pill decrease your sex drive?
Yes, the pill can lower your libido. Here’s how; Testosterone is the hormone responsible for your sex drive. The pill causes the liver to make a protein called Sex-Hormone Binding Globulin. SHBG binds to testosterone and makes it inactive. Therefore, when SHBG goes up in the body, it lowers the amount of free testosterone. Not good for your lovely libido. A woman not on the pill typically has a SHBG level of 20-30, but a woman on the pill can have a SHBG level of 200-300 and even up to 500.
Read more about hormonal birth control and its effects on your sex drive here: The Pill & Your Sex Drive
Question #3: Can the birth control pill cause vaginal dryness?
Yes, it can. When a woman is on the pill, her body will cease to send signals to her cervical crypts (producers of fertile cervical fluid). Extended use of the pill can shrivel these crypts up because they are not being used if a woman is not ovulating. This atrophy can be hard to reverse for many women.
Read more about vaginal dryness and the pill here: 5 Things You Must Know About Hormonal Birth Control
Question #4: Can the birth control pill make you fat?
While weight gain is listed as a side effect of pretty much all types of birth control, progestin-only pills and the Depo-Provera shot are the most common ones that lead to weight gain. Because these forms of hormonal birth control are stopping ovulation, and making your body “think” it is pregnant with those high levels of progesterone, you might have weight gain if you are susceptible (not everyone gains weight). Generally speaking, a side effect of having high progesterone is weight gain – whether you’re on the progestin-only pill or not. Once you come off the pill you’ll likely lose the weight, especially once you start ovulating again and your hormones stabilize.
Read more about the birth control pill and weight gain here: Does the Birth Control Pill Make You Fat?
Question #5: Can the birth control pill cause depression?
A study from the University of Copenhagen confirmed the link between hormonal contraceptives and depression. The researchers found that women taking the combined birth control pill, (estrogen and progesterone), were 23% more likely to be diagnosed with depression and those using the progestin-only pill (also known as the mini pill) were 34% more likely.
You can read more about the study here: Huge Study Links Birth Control to Depression
Question #6: How does the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) work?
The fertility awareness method is a sympto-thermal method meaning that you will be paying attention to three main things each month:
- Your cervical fluid – how it changes throughout the month
- Your basal body temperature – this is your temperature upon awakening
- Your cervical position – this also changes throughout the month but some women are not interested in feeling around for their cervix which I completely understand.
The method is based on the premise that estrogen, which is dominant in the first half of your cycle (the follicular phase), keeps your basal temperature low and increases your cervical fluid. And that progesterone, which is dominant in the second half of your cycle (the luteal phase) raises your basal temperature and decreases your cervical fluid production.
Read more about FAM here: How To Practice FAM: The Fertility Awareness Method