29. The Dangers of Birth Control

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podcast transcript

Today I wanted to talk to you guys about birth control. Before I go into any of the details that I want to talk about today, I wanted to first let you know that I support whatever birth control option you choose, and the most important thing is to practice safe sex. Regardless of what you’re doing, having some form of birth control is essential.

I’m going to talk a little bit about why I was so hesitant about birth control in the first place. Birth control is very commonly given out here in the United States. They’ll just give it to kids, 13, 14, 15, maybe even younger, to help them with their acne and to help them with heavy periods. Doctors will prescribe this to mask hormonal issues that are happening in the body rather than actually deal with the issues at hand. A lot of these issues about having extreme, heavy periods or a lot of intense acne, these are hormonally based and triggered throughout environment and what we put on our bodies. If we’re sleeping very little, and we’re eating a lot of foods that produce a lot of acidity in the body, it’s very likely going to make our hormones rise and fall very quickly. When we eat very sugary foods, or foods that produce acidity in the body, it requires our body to use hormones in order to maintain the normal levels that we have in our body. The food that we eat really affects how hormones are distributed into our body.

By covering up hormonal issues with birth control, it really turns the other cheek on the issue instead of dealing with what’s going on. My first problem with birth control is that we’re giving it to people that are way too young who are not even having sex for the purpose of controlling bodily functions that are going haywire because of environmental factors and because of how we’re treating our bodies. My first recommendation would be to look at what you eat and how that affects your cycle before you go on birth control to change bad periods or to change acne.

What are birth control pills anyway? I’m specifically talking about the pills when I’m talking about birth control in this episode, and I’m really referring to combination pills, which are the most common. What that means is it’s a combination of two hormones, synthetic hormones, estrogen and progesterone. These are hormones that we naturally have in our body, but the birth control has a synthetic or fake version. It basically prevents ovulation. It prevents the egg from leaving the follicle, and if the egg doesn’t ever release, there’s nothing to fertilize.

It also helps thicken the cervical mucus. This is actually one of the most important things for conception to take place. If you want to get pregnant, you have to have good cervical mucus. The cervical mucus will change throughout your cycle, making you able or not able to have children depending on its consistency.

What we do with birth control by preventing ovulation and by having always this thick cervical mucus, what we’re really doing is we’re making ourselves be flatlined. We no longer have these cycles that I was talking about in the last podcast episode. Normally we have these seasons and these cycles throughout the month that mirror nature, but by taking this synthetic, or fake, hormone, we’re keeping our body stabilized in this one state. It’s almost like tricking our body into thinking that we’re pregnant all of the time.

As you can imagine, this is something that seems quite unnatural, and that sort of makes me a little bit nervous. I wanted to research a little bit more about this to determine what was going on in the body and what are the risks of taking birth control for years, like many women do. I think my mom took birth control for over a decade, and while she has never had any issues, that doesn’t leave me comforted because I know plenty of people have had issues from taking these pills for prolonged periods of time.

Do you even have your period when you’re on the pill? Most women think that you do because you still bleed. This is actually, technically not your period. It’s called withdrawal bleeding, and it means that the hormones are withdrawing from your body. THey’re slightly lowering, and then you do have a little bit of uterine lining coming out. It’s going to be much, much, much lighter than it would be otherwise. The uterine lining is what you bleed out basically, and it’s much lighter this time because it never really had a chance to build up in the first place because that’s what the hormones prevent. You’re never really having a full, normal period. You’re having something else.

By flat-lining our bodies, eliminating periods, eliminating ovulation, this is a wonderful thing to prevent pregnancy, but by doing this, we’re also putting ourselves at risk for other health issues. Most importantly, birth control hormonal pills are linked to higher rates in breast cancer, cervical cancer, and autoimmune diseases. One of the most alarming and I think least addressed issues with birth control is that it severely affects the gut. It has the possibility to really impact the way that material travels through your gut wall and into the rest of your body. The gut is actually known as the second brain of the body. Good gut health is essential in order to have good overall health. If you want a healthy body, you have to have a healthy gut. Hormones like estrogen from these birth control pills can increase inflammation and can affect the gut negatively. These are the types of things that lead to diseases. When you have increased inflammation for a long period of time, this is what leads to disease. You’re at a higher risk to develop things like Crohn’s disease because of these synthetic hormones.

I don’t want to just sit here and spout out negativity and say, “Don’t ever take birth control. It’s not good for you,” because I have personally taken birth control. I stopped it, and I might start again one day. I don’t know, but I think the most important thing is to be entirely aware of the side effects and of what will happen to your body if you take this. You at least should know that it’s going to impact your gut health so that maybe you can make other decisions that will improve your gut health. Getting your standard exam at the gynecologist, your pap smear, to check for HPV, to make sure that you don’t develop cervical cancer, that’s an important step that you can take knowing that birth control does lead to risk in cervical cancer. The same thing goes for breast cancer.

If you really want to avoid these hormones, these synthetic hormones, there are non-hormonal birth control options. Obviously, everyone knows about condoms, but there are also other things for example like diaphragms and copper IUDs. A copper IUD can be inserted by a doctor and can stay for a very long time in your body. They have no hormones, so they won’t have any of those risks that I just talked about. However, they do cause you to have heavier periods. If you already have a heavy period, you don’t want to go on a copper IUD.

The reason I wanted to make this podcast episode is because I really just wanted men and women alike to know what is happening to the body when it’s affected by birth control. My biggest recommendation would be to consult the internet and your doctor in order to find the best possible option for you.

 

Vocabulary

HesitantUnsure, slow to act or speak.
TriggeredTo cause an event or situation to happen. We also say that we are triggered by something when something bothers us.
AcidityAcid is a chemical substance that neutralizes alkalis in the body.
CombinationA joining or merging of different parts.
Synthetic
Unnatural, made of chemicals.
EstrogenSteroid hormones which promote the development and maintenance of female characteristics of the body. Such hormones are also produced artificially for use in oral contraceptives or to treat menopausal and menstrual disorders.
ProgesteroneA steroid hormone that prepares the uterus for pregnancy.
OvulationWhen eggs are released from ovaries in the female body.
FollicleA sac that holds the egg within the ovaries.
Fertilize
When the egg and the sperm join, they become fertilized.
DeliberateDeliberate means on purpose. Doing something consciously or intentionally.
Copper IUDA little, t-shaped piece of plastic inserted into the uterus to provide birth control. A copper IUD lasts up to 12 years.
Cervical mucusMucus is a type of liquid that is thick and slimy. The cervix is in the female’s body and it is the narrow passage forming the lower end of the uterus. So this mucus lives in that area and allows the sperm to travel to meet the egg and fertilize it.
ConceptionWhen a woman becomes pregnant, she conceives a child.
Consistency (of a liquid)The way in which a liquid holds together or the thickness of it. For example, the consistency of soup is a lot thicker than milk.
FlatlinedWhen a person’s heart stops and the heart rate no longer beats, you say they flatlined. Here, I use it in a different way to explain that we have no cycles on the hormonal pill. Instead, we have a flat line without fluctuations.
Withdrawal The act of removing something or taking something away.
Uterine liningThe uterus is the organ in the female that hosts the baby. The lining is the tissue on the inside of it that sheds every time a woman has her period.
Cervical cancerCancer of the cervix. The cervix is the narrow passage forming the lower end of the uterus.
Autoimmune diseasesDiseases where the body somehow sabotages or attacks itself.
Gut (wall)Your stomach and the digestive enzymes inside of it.
Crohn’s diseaseCrohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes inflammation of your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition.
HPVHPV stands for human papillomavirus. It’s the most common sexually transmitted infection. HPV is usually harmless and goes away by itself, but some types can lead to cancer or genital warts.
Gynecologist Doctors for women’s reproductive organs.
Pap smearA Pap smear, also called a Pap test, is a procedure to test for cervical cancer in women. A Pap smear involves collecting cells from your cervix — the lower, narrow end of your uterus that’s at the top of your vagina.
DiaphragmA diaphragm is a dome-shaped, silicone cup that’s inserted in the vagina hours before sex to prevent pregnancy. To work effectively, it needs to be used with spermicide to block sperm from reaching eggs.
Consult (someone)To go to someone for information or advice. We always say “consult your doctor” in English.

Idioms and Collocations

 

To mask somethingTo hide or cover something up. You wear a mask over your face for a masquerade or halloween party.
(The issues) at hand

This is a phrase that we use often and it has a meaning of “right now” or “of immediate concern”. So the issue “at hand” is an issue that is “of immediate concern right now”.

Turn the other cheek

To look the other way. This is an idiom to mean that you do not address the issue, but you look away from it.

To go haywire

Prolonged means continuing for a long time or longer than usual; lengthy.

Prolonged periods of timeTo give your agreement to do something or support something. You often use this when you want to go in the same way or direction as someone or something; you don’t want to oppose it or cause conflict. For example, “My wife wanted to eat out for dinner and I didn’t care so I just went along with it.”
Spout out (negativity) – or spout off

To talk a lot about something in a boring, annoying way, or negative way.

Questions

1. How popular is birth control in your country?

2. Did you know birth control had these side effects?

3. Tell me about a time when someone was spouting off/out negativity at you? 

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