Guest Blog: The Pill

I am so stinkin’ excited about this week’s blog post from guest blogger and fellow acupuncturist Daria. Whether you are a woman currently on the pill, you have a daughter, you have a granddaughter, basically if you know a woman--this post is for you. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a strong supporter of a more natural means to regulate a woman’s cycle as opposed to the pill, but when I read Daria’s blog, I was overcome with her knowledge and her eloquence in explaining a tough, usually controversial subject. I loved her work so much, I tracked her down and asked her to be a guest on my sweet, little blog! I hope you enjoy her spirit and knowledge as much as I do. My interview with Daria follows:

1. Daria, briefly tell us about you and what you do for a living:

Hey Holly! I am an full-time Acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner from Sydney, Australia and a part-time health educator through my posts on Instagram.

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2. Ohh, what is living in Australia like?! (color me jealous)

It’s absolutely incredible! Australia is my favourite country on earth, and I wasn’t even born here either! We have beautiful clean air and white sandy beaches. It’s anything anyone can ask for to call a place home.

3. What made you personally get into acupuncture?

Since a young age, my mum has always encouraged me to live healthily. We always had nourishing, home-cooked meals and I was always out and about exploring the outdoors. This really resonated with me and inspired me to help and educate the public about their own health. Acupuncture and TCM is based on thousands of years of knowledge and I think that it really offers that holistic understanding of the body that I crave to learn and spread to the world.

4. I love that! After reading your blog post about the pill, I was really impressed with how you explained this somewhat complicated topic. Can you tell us, how does “the pill” work in our bodies?

Thank you! And of course. The pill is made up of synthetic hormones slightly resembling our own estrogen (estradiol) and progesterone. Our natural hormones are of significant benefit to our health like bone development, healthy hair growth, brain health, cognition & metabolism. The common hormones used in “the pill” are ethinylestradiol (synthetic estradiol), drospirenone and levonorgestrel (synthetic progesterones, called progestins, which are the complete opposite of our own progesterone and actually resemble the function of testosterone).

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When taking these synthetic hormones, our bodies become reliant on them and the natural production of our own wonderful hormones is shut down. At the end of each cycle, we experience something called withdrawal bleeds or pill bleeds, which makes us think that everything is OK and our cycle is regular. However, this is not our real period as the delicate dance between our natural estradiol and progesterone has been suppressed. A clever trick designed decades ago to make sure women believe their irregular cycles have been restored and they are healthy. Depending on how long you were taking the pill, it may take months if not years to re-teach your body how to make its own hormones again.

5. In your opinion, why are young girls prescribed the pill so frequently?

Because it’s an easy, quick-fix solution. I also don’t think that doctors get taught much about women’s health and the implications of taking the pill. It takes a few years for a young girl’s cycle to regulate. Her hormone receptors are still trying to figure themselves out and may sometimes seem like everything is out of whack. It can actually take a few years before it all settles and starts functioning like it should. So what happens when a teenager goes to the doctor about her irregular cycle/painful periods or PCOS-type symptoms and gets prescribed the pill? The pill puts a complete stop to the delicate process of the body figuring itself out. And what happens when this same girl is now in her 20’s or 30’s and wants to start a family? She comes off the pill and her cycles are the same as they were, if not worse. Her body never got a chance to develop! When I was younger, I remember so many of my peers being on the pill. It’s really sad and frustrating to think about it now.

6. I completely agree! Are there side effects?

Yes! And this is the biggest problem. These side effects are not discussed enough and definitely not told to women in the doctor’s office. If they are not told, how can the women possibly be making an informed decision?

Some side effects include:

• Depression

• Low libido

• Hair loss

• Weight gain

• High blood pressure

• Blood clots

• Nutrient deficiency (folic acid, vitamins B2, B6 & B12, magnesium, selenium & zinc)

• Reduced thyroid function

• Alters the intestinal and vaginal bacteria

• Poor bone development

7. How effective have you found acupuncture and Chinese medicine for cycle regulation?

Acupuncture is great for regulating the cycle! Just recently I had a patient who had her first period in five months! I usually recommend my clients stick to regular weekly treatments for at least three cycles (as it takes roughly 100 days for the follicles to mature).

So how does acupuncture help regulate the cycle? It has an impact on hypothalamic function, which affects gonadotropin-releasing hormone secretion, positively influencing ovulation, thus cycle regularity. Acupuncture reduces the levels of stress hormones (cortisol and prolactin), thus positively influencing menstrual health. There was a study done on PCOS patients, where luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone ratio was improved.

Acupuncture can also reduce period pain!  It does this by increasing blood flow to the uterus, inhibiting sympathetic nerve activity to stimulate production of endogenous opioids and increase the production serotonin and dopamine, which have an analgesic and sedative effect on the human body.

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A big thanks for Daria for contributing her incredible knowledge; I highly recommend checking out her own blog and her Instagram where she gives similar tips accompanied by beautiful images (@dariashep). We only wish she was closer!

There you have it friends, share the knowledge… this is a serious matter and we are prescribing it to really young girls who develop terrible issues later on as a result. As always, please reach out with any further questions.

Here’s to healthy hormones,

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