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The Birth Control Pill: skin defender or offender?

On by , Digestive Care Advisor

The Birth Control Pill: skin defender or offender?

You have probably heard that being on the birth control pill can help control some skin problems such as acne. Some studies show that a low-dose birth control pill can be effective for reducing breakouts because it balances hormone levels. However, people should also be informed of the side effects and health risks related to the birth control pill. 

Although lower doses of estrogen are used in today’s birth control pills, thus minimizing side effects, there are still health risks to be aware of.

The pill: positive & negative effects

The main function of the birth control pill is to suppress ovulation - the release of an egg from your ovaries. This is done by increasing the levels of estrogen. However, this method is not 100% effective, hence the possibility of becoming pregnant while on the birth control pill... Although don’t get me wrong, it is a good thing that birth control options are available to women. It is just a matter of being informed of the potential risks and side effects.

Today, birth control pills have some positive effects on health: it can protect against ovarian and uterine cancer, and can relieve in some cases, symptoms of PMS (bleeding, painful and irregular periods, and acne).

Yet, this type of oral contraceptive can also have many negative effects. It does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases and can increase the risk of diseases (breast cancer, heart attack, blood clots).

In some cases, people may experience side effects such as fatigue, nausea, cramping, abdominal bloading, headaches, and even acne or other skin problems! So in terms of controlling acne it works for some and it doesn’t for others. Why? Because the oral contraceptive can also deplete your body of essential skin nutrients and increase the risk of yeast infections.

Vitamins and minerals deficiencies

A long-term use of the birth control pill depletes your body of essential nutrients: mainly vitamin B, folate, zinc, and magnesium. Indeed your skin needs these vitamins and minerals to stay healthy and heal better.

Folate is also very important in trying to conceive, and miscarriage can be due to low levels of folate.

When you are on the birth control pill, it is advisable to eat even more nutritious foods not only for your skin concerns but also to meet the body’s necessary requirements.

Try supplementing your diet with a multivitamin and a B complex and eat foods rich in:
  • vitamin B (like whole grains, lentils and leafy greens),
  • zinc (like oysters, poultry, fish, whole-grain cereals, and pumpkin seeds),
  • magnesium (like spinach, beans, peas, nuts, seeds, and whole, unrefined grains)

Candida yeast

Mineral and vitamin deficiencies are not the only problem caused by the pill. Overgrowth of Candida is another big issue for many skin problems such as hives, athlete’s foot, fungal infections, jock itch, psoriasis, or other skin conditions.

Although the biggest cause of Candida infections is lowered immunity, excessive use of antibiotics, cortisone, the birth control pill and other drugs also stimulate yeast growth.

So do diets rich in sugar, cheese, mushrooms, vinegar (except apple cider vinegar), baked goods, soy sauce, fermented foods, alcohol, and pickles.

As long as you keep on taking such medication mentioned above, or eat foods that feed the yeast, you are prone to an overgrowth of Candida and it is more difficult to get rid of it. It might be worth supplementing your diet with probiotics to rebalance your flora.

It is your personal choice to take the pill or not. However, just keep in mind there are many other natural contraceptives that might be better alternatives for you!

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Comments from the community (2)

"M.E.L.U" on 2010-09-25 at 03:49:07
What are those NATURAL BIRTH CONTROL methods that you didn't know about, S.M. ??
"S.M." on 2009-08-09 at 23:17:13
After taking the pill for the majority of my 20's, my body started to reject it with symptoms of bad acne. It took several years for my hormones to re-balance again, which provided a real education and healing journey involving naturopaths, diet, herbs such as Vitex (chasteberry) and lots of supplements. I believe being on the pill for so long, (and admittadly too much sun in my younger days!) has contributed to melasma on my cheeks and forhead, causing darker discolouration which is caused in part from synthetic hormones. SO - I have mixed feelings about the pill - yes it gave me freedom in one area, but my skin has suffered for it. I believe it's different for everybody, and I've seen women have no problem, and other women completely change while on it. I now use natural birth control methods - which I kinda wish I knew more about earlier~!
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