There is a lot that women don’t know about their hormones and how endocrine disruptors, like birth control, can impact their hormones. Many don’t realize that estrogen is more than one hormone and all of their hormones need to be in delicate balance for a healthy immune response. Oh wait. You didn’t know that birth control pills were an endocrine disruptor? Oh yes, they mess with your hormones and they are making women sick. They can damage your mental health, fertility, long term health and birth control pills can mess with your immune response.
Side Effects of Birth Control Pills
We have talked in the past about how damaging birth controls can be. They come with a long list of common side effects that you can find on the insert of the birth control pills themselves if you read the tiny print. Those side effects include:
- Risk of developing blood clots
- Heart attacks and strokes
- Gall bladder disease
- Liver tumors
- Cancer of the reproductive organs and breasts
- Irregular vaginal bleeding
- Changes in vision
- Change in appetite
- Mental Depression
- Loss of scalp hair
- Vaginal infections
- Allergic reactions
- Gastrointestinal Symptoms
- Weight gain
- Vaginal candidiasis
- Pre-menstrual syndrome
- Changes in libido
What’s not listed on the insert is how birth control pills mess with your immune response because they are an endocrine disruptor. Birth control pills aren’t hormones. They mess with your hormones. They disrupt the processes of how your body creates and balances your hormones which leads to detrimental effects. The EPA even recognizes there is evidence that endocrine disruptors disturb the immune system function. That includes unintentional chemicals found in our water, food and personal care products along with intentional ones like birth control pills. (1) With all the endocrine disruptors we unintentionally come into contact with why are they intentionally being prescribed to women? It’s keeping women sick.
Hormones and Their Role in Immune Response
Men and women are very different and have very different immune responses. What makes men and women, along with their immune responses, different? Hormones! Men and women both have hormones but in very different amounts. There is an important biological reason for this difference being tied to hormones for women. Women are designed to get pregnant and have babies. The immune system is designed to identify self and non-self. Think about the very miracle of pregnancy…the immune response is designed to detect self, from non-self, right? Well…a baby is non-self! So, with pregnancy, the immune response must change, so the woman’s body doesn’t attack the baby. The immune response has to be adaptable for when a woman becomes pregnant. Aren’t hormones amazing?
Women have a complex and delicate balance of hormones that help with their immune response. Some of these hormones are very protective like certain estrogens and then progesterone is very anti-inflammatory. Studies have actually shown that men have a weaker immune response and one study identified that men had higher intensity and prevalence of viral infections. (2) Yes, the man flu is a thing and ladies it is harder on him. It doesn’t mean we have it easier though.
Higher Chance of Illness
Those hormones require a delicate balance and if they aren’t balanced it can lead to a heightened immune response like autoimmune disease or a weakened immune response. Neither of those is good. That means when an endocrine disruptor changes your hormones it can blunt or heighten how your body responds. In fact, 75% of those with autoimmune disease are women -yeah I know, I told you we weren’t getting off easy. When women have autoimmune disease, they have certain hormones that are too high. But you don’t want those hormones too low because that puts you at risk of illness. Like I said, it’s a delicate balance and birth control messes with your immune response!
A study in The Journal of Human Reproduction found that hormonal birth control can induce an increase in markers of chronic inflammation in otherwise healthy women of normal weight. Those markers went up from an average of .7 to over 5. We want to see those markers under 1 and over 3 puts you at high risk of a cardiac event. Did I mention heart disease is the number one killer of women? Chronic inflammation is also so harmful for your immune response because your body is always responding to that chronic inflammation.
Not only does the birth control pill not protect you from STDs, I would argue that it puts you at greater risk because of how birth control messes with your immune response. One study found that women on birth control were at increased risk of contracting HIV and another found women had higher chance of getting herpes. Condoms are sounding a lot better for birth control and for protecting your immune response.
Don’t Let Birth Control Pills Mess with Your Immune Response
This is just the tip of the iceberg, ladies. There are so many ways birth control pills mess with your immune response and your overall health. It’s harmful for women’s fertility, mental health and long-term health outcomes.
I’m just giving you information so you can do your own research and make your own decisions on whether are not it’s worth the risk. I‘m going to keep showing you the research and information because if traditional medicine isn’t going to start thinking differently then women are going to keep getting sicker. You have to look at the information and decide if that prescription is the right choice for your health.
Written by Nicole Saleske, FNP
Learn more about how birth control affects your health in this video: