We at Belmar Pharma Solutions are here to share a concern with you: women who take birth control are taking hormones in one form or another.
Did you know that? If not, you aren’t alone!
The hormone conversation should not begin with your menopausal journey (but it’s ok if it has, we understand it’s not a talked about enough topic!). Awareness and education should start as a teen or young adult, so please keep reading to learn more so you can share with your friends and family.
The FYI On Birth Control
Hormonal contraceptives are made from estrogen and progestin (a synthetic form of progesterone) which are hormones that occur naturally in each woman’s body.
Both hormones stop ovaries from releasing an egg during the menstrual cycle by changing the natural hormone levels. Progestins also make it difficult for sperm to enter the uterus by making the mucus around the cervix sticky and thick.
While birth control is effective at preventing pregnancy, let’s also consider that it may throw off a woman’s natural balance of hormones, a concern that can greatly affect how a female’s body later journeys through menopause. We can’t stress this enough because often undiagnosed imbalances can negatively affect a woman’s body both today and well into the future.
How Birth Control Affects Hormones
Did you know that birth control is not personalized for your unique body?
Prescriptions contain the same mix of hormones for everyone. But the actual truth is, there’s no one size fits all solution when it comes to birth control. Maintaining the best balance of hormones for your unique body can become an issue which is why so many women experience a variety of symptoms or reactions when on birth control. In fact, birth control can make a woman’s hormones fluctuate even more than if she wasn’t taking them at all.
Can you believe this?
In “A Woman’s Hormonal Health Survival Guide: How to Prevent Your Doctor from Slowly Killing You,” Dr. Angela DeRosa, DO, MBA, CPE, and Belmar Pharma Solutions Advisor, explains that most hormonal birth control methods stop your ovaries from making the hormones our body needs. While oral birth control pills provide estrogen and progesterone, they don’t replace missing (and much needed) testosterone. DeRosa goes on to explain that every woman is different, and not every birth control pill is created equal.
“Low-estrogen pills can have benefits for some women, like those with heavy bleeding. If you are at risk for breast cancer or for clots that can cause heart attacks and stroke — especially if you’re over 35 and a smoker — then you should not take oral birth control pills at all.”Dr. Angela DeRosa
When it comes to a woman’s health and well-being, having the proper balance of estrogen and progesterone is important. Note: every female’s hormones can be affected by diet, weight, lifestyle choices and of course birth control medications as we have mentioned.
Here’s the bottom line: it’s wise to learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance. Once you are aware, the next step is scheduling an appointment with a doctor who can help find the right treatments that will support you in getting back to feeling more yourself.
Understanding and Managing a Hormonal Imbalance
Women with a hormonal imbalance can experience a wide range of symptoms, including the following:
- Anxiety and depression
- Breast tenderness
- Hot flashes/sweating
- Increase in body fat
- Irregular periods
- Mood swings
- Unexplained weight gain
These symptoms, of course, can deeply affect a woman’s overall health and well-being. The good news is there are ways to manage hormonal imbalances and relieve symptoms naturally. Let’s take a look at the role of vitamin D and B vitamins in balancing hormones as well as DHEA.
As mentioned, all women have natural levels of estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen is responsible for developing sex characteristics in females, while progesterone prepares a woman’s body for pregnancy while helping to maintain regular periods. With that said, B vitamins, vitamin D and DHEA play major roles in managing hormone levels as it relates to estrogen.
B vitamins – B vitamins play an essential role in creating and activating estrogen, making it especially important for women with low hormone levels which can be a sign of approaching menopause.
Vitamin D – Here is a little secret. Vitamin D is a hormone! And something pretty cool: one study found that those who took birth control containing estrogen had 20% higher vitamin D levels. Also, Vitamin D’s role in estrogen synthesis indicates it may be a beneficial supplement for women with low estrogen levels.
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) may also help increase hormone levels in women. DHEA is a hormone found in many women’s bodies that helps naturally balance out-of-whack hormones. It’s produced from cholesterol by the outer layer of the adrenal glands. The ovaries produce it in small amounts. It’s a fact that our bodies change as we age. DHEA levels naturally rise to their peak in early adulthood and steadily decline with age.
Taking DHEA supplements, which are made from plant sources, is an effective way to increase those levels. This is great news for menopausal women. While the hormone roller coaster may not be a ride we enjoy (understatement!), DHEA may help relieve the following:
- Brittle bones
- Decreased libido
- Hot flashes
- Thinning of vaginal tissues
- Vaginal dryness
But that’s not all. DHEA may also improve skin texture and appearance in women. While DHEA can be found naturally occurring in your body as mentioned, it can also be customized by compounding pharmacies like Belmar Pharma Solutions, which offer personalized prescription solutions for your hormonal health.
Remember, birth control prevents pregnancy, but it also affects our hormones. In a perfect world, birth control should sync with a woman’s innate biology — not against it. As a priority for every female and her doctor, awareness, conversation, and education are the first steps toward ensuring hormones are balanced. We want nothing more than for every woman to feel confident in her body. Period.
If comfortable, share in the comments below your hormone story: frustration, dealing with doctors, your education, stories of success….anything that comes to mind. We can all learn from each other!
Angela DeRosa, DO, MBA, CPE is the founder of the Hormonal Health Institute and serves as a paid consultant to Belmar Pharmacy. However, Dr. DeRosa is not an employee of Belmar Pharmacy and nothing herein should be construed as the promotion of Belmar’s compounded products over other hormone replacement therapies. Patients interested in hormone therapy are encouraged to speak to a medical professional about their medical options and before seeking treatment. Nothing herein should be construed as making a claim about the safety or effectiveness of compounded products, which includes compounded hormone pellet therapy. All information provided herein is based on Dr. DeRosa’s own clinical experience in her capacity as a board-certified internist.