Birth control is widely used by women of all ages, including women in the perimenopause phase, which prepares the body to enter into the menopause.
During perimenopause, symptoms such as night sweats, hot flushes, irregular periods, and disturbed sleep patterns can occur. Birth control is used to suppress some of these symptoms, which makes it challenging to recognise if a woman has entered into the menopause, or not.
Why do birth control pills suppress symptoms in the menopause?
Birth control contains synthetic chemicals that act as a replacement for oestrogen and progesterone hormones that fluctuate and fall in the menopause. For this reason, the symptoms that a woman would normally experience in the perimenopause phase, cease to be exist or become less frequent or intense, if birth control pills are taken.
The only exception to this, is if a woman takes the ‘mini-pill’ as it only contains a synthetic version of progesterone, which does not prevent symptoms such as irregular bleeding and hot flushes during perimenopause.
Will I still experience regular menopause symptoms?
The hormones contained in birth control pills imitate the hormones that the body would usually make naturally, with the intention to forcibly regulate the menstrual cycle and hormonal production, which prevents or significantly suppresses symptoms in the menopause.
However, there are adverse side effects that come with artificially replacing hormones in the body, this can include mood swings, decreased libido, changes in appetite, estrogen-dependent cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, blood clots.
Another side effect is irregular periods or spotting between cycles, especially if the mini-pill is taken.
It is menopause or birth control causing the symptoms?
When a woman decides that she wishes to gradually taper down her dosage to eventually stop taking it altogether, it may take a few months or longer for a natural hormone production to kick start again.
It can be hard to distinguish if the symptoms experienced from stopping birth control, is the body re-adjusting from the synthetic hormones or the body’s own natural hormone fluctuations coming back.
It will take time for the body to find its own natural rhythm again and if symptoms such as irregular bleeding persist, it can hint towards entering into the menopause. It is important to be patient with the body, and give it time to breathe and adapt.
How do I treat the menopause without birth control?
- Consume wholesome food little and often, including some of the plant based foods that contain naturally occurring hormones like soya and flaxseeds
- Reduce your intake of ‘heating’ foods such spicy food, caffeine and alcohol
- Avoid/severely limit smoking and secondary smoke
- Wear clothing that best supports hot flushes
- Keep your body hydrated
- Meditation can help to manage stress levels; stress is a big contributing factor for hot flushes
- Take some exercise as this can help rid the body of excess heat; why not try dancing, yoga, walking or pilates?
If you need further support and guidance for the menopause symptoms, make an appointment to have a discussion with your doctor. If you would prefer to manage your menopause naturally, you are welcome to try a phytoestrogen supplement to mimic the natural oestrogen hormone, if your levels have started to decline. Neither will provide contraception.
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