A common myth is that birth control pills or hormonal birth control can “regulate” a woman’s menstrual cycle. Since the birth control pill is often prescribed for irregular cycles, one would assume that its purpose would be to make them more regular. But in reality, hormonal birth control works very differently from a normal or “regular” menstrual cycle. Here are two important things to know about hormonal birth control as it relates to women’s menstrual cycles…
A “period” on birth control is not a period
A normal menstrual cycle has two phases. Estrogen predominates in the first half of the cycle (follicular phase), which leads up to ovulation. After ovulation, progesterone is the dominant hormone during the second half of the cycle (luteal phase). In contrast, the Pill provides a steady stream of synthetic versions of both estrogen and progesterone, with the end result of preventing ovulation.
Typically, a woman will have some bleeding if she takes the week of placebo pills that come in most pill packs. But this bleeding is actually the result of hormone withdrawal.
In an actual period, the bleeding is a result of the shedding of the uterine lining, which is directly related to the rise and fall of progesterone. A woman’s cycle may appear “regular” when she is on the birth control pill because every 28 days she will experience bleeding. But this is very different from the hormonal patterns that occur during a normal menstrual cycle, and unfortunately, once the pill is stopped, typically so is the “regulation.”
Birth control does not address the root cause of irregular periods
For women who went on the Pill for irregular cycles in the first place, it can take many months for their actual periods to return after discontinuing the drug. Hormonal birth control is often called a “band-aid fix” because it patches over problems by removing the symptoms without addressing the root cause. In the case of irregular cycles, hormonal imbalances are often in play. Ultimately, treatment of the root cause of those hormonal imbalances is needed – and birth control is not a treatment.
One of the many benefits of fertility awareness methods is that they enable women to observe and document their own signs and symptoms of reproductive health or illness. In the hands of a NaPro Technology provider or other trained healthcare professional, this charting can form the basis for evaluation of what’s wrong and then formation of a treatment plan that addresses root causes. Additionally, fertility awareness methods come with no side effects, unlike the birth control pill. Because the reproductive hormones impact more than just the reproductive system, other body systems can be negatively altered by birth control as well. Fertility awareness methods avoid all of that.
When women are given the tools to understand what is happening (or is supposed to be happening) in their own bodies, they can become truly empowered agents of change who advocate for their own wellness and encourage other women to do the same.
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