by Dr. Sarah Kotzur
Oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) are prescribed to 27% of women seeking birth control every year in the US (1). For those 10 million women, this medication poses significant risks, some of which can be prevented.
Taking OCPs can cause B vitamin deficiencies associated with common problems such as migraine headaches and mood changes as well as cause potential side effects including high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack (2, 3). Lack of vitamin B-6 and folate are associated with depression and birth defects. These important nutrients are also important in lowering homocysteine, a well-established marker for cardiovascular disease risk.
Here are some helpful tips that could prevent disease and help boost energy and vitality in just a few simple steps:
Treat the real problem, don't Band-Aid it with birth control
- Many women are put on OCPs to treat hormone-related problems such as acnes and heavy or irregular or painful periods and not necessarily for birth control. Often, women are told to take the pill indefinitely and some are on it for decades. A safer approach would be to get off of these medications and address the underlying problem of hormonal dysregulation, or imbalance. With the help of a Naturopathic doctor, who understands how to rebalance hormones naturally, many find effective treatments using nutrition, vitamins, botanical medicines (herbal medicine) and lifestyle changes.
- For women still needing birth control to prevent pregnancy, there are other non-hormonal options such as barrier methods (condoms, cervical caps, sponges and diaphragms) and the non-hormonal IUD (intrauterine device) made of copper, called ParaGard in the US. You can check the comparisons of how effective these methods are here.
Eat your medicine:
- Replace vitamins you may be deficient in using these foods and supplements
- B-vitamins are commonly found in fish, meats, nuts, seeds, dark, leafy greens and some fruits like watermelon and banana
- Consider taking a high-potency B-Complex supplement with between 50 - 100 mg daily of B-1 (thiamine), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3 (niacin), B-5 (pantothenic acid), B-6 (pyridoxine) and 400 - 800 mcg of folate. Taken in the morning with food, these nutrients can correct deficiencies over time as well as boost energy and stabilize mood.
Given our widespread problems with cardiovascular disease and depression in the US, we should be eliminating known risk factors with responsible use of hormonal birth control. Using a common sense approach, we can prevent disease, return to balanced health naturally and live our happiest, most vital lives!
~ Dr. Kotzur
- Current contraceptive use in the US, 2006 - 2010, and changes to patterns of use since 1995 http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr060.pdf
- RxList.com side effects of birth control pills http://www.rxlist.com/birth_control_pills-page3/drugs-condition.htm
- Oral contraceptive use: impact on folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 status http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21967158
Dr. Sarah Kotzur is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) and vitality expert who just released her new Self-Paced Lifestyle Makeover Program The Vitality Prescription: 100+ Simple Strategies for Better Energy and Radiant Well-being.
Get your free "Top 10 Vitality Strategies" 15-page mini-workbook now at http://thevitalityprescriotion.com.
Her private practice in Portland, Maine is currently taking new patients at http://sarahkotzur.com.