It’s becoming indisputable that hormonal birth control is damaging to your health and more and more women are making the switch to non-hormonal options. However, a common misconception is that the Copper Coil is free from side-effects. This is not the case. In fact, Copper IUDs can be as bad for your gut as hormonal birth control.
AN INFORMED DECISION?
Birth control options were a huge step for women in terms of having an informed decision of when or if they want to have children. However, with the birth control pill and IUD inserts being the most used methods of birth control and the risks associated with the pill being dismissed as ‘there are risks with all medication’, women aren’t aware of the damaging effect these contraception methods are having on their body and therefore, the decision doesn’t feel that informed.
Additionally, many women are being prescribed the hormonal birth control pill for reasons other than contraception. They are being prescribed for irregular and/or heavy periods, skin issues, cramping and pain and even Endometriosis or PCOS. This ‘solution’ is just masking the symptoms, not finding the root cause of the issue, and inflicting even more damage to the body whilst doing so.
MOST COMMON CONTRACEPTION TECHNIQUES
THE HORMONAL CONTRACEPTIVE PILL
The pill essentially mimics the hormones that you have when you’re pregnant. I.e. the pill tricks your body into thinking you are pregnant, so that you don’t release an egg and have a period. The pill prevents pregnancy and/or treats other symptoms that usually stem from hormonal imbalance such as acne.
The pill makes the female body produce less of its’ own progesterone and estrogen, so that the body doesn’t release the egg. Disrupting the balance of these hormones results in many uncomfortable side effects, which sometimes result in long term damage. But more on that later…
IUD (Intrauterine Device) is a birth control method that is shaped like a ‘T’ and sits inside your uterus. A hormonal IUD releases progesterone which thickens the mucus in your cervix and prevents fertilisation.
This is the same process for the Copper Coil, apart from it releasing small amounts of copper rather than progesterone hormones.
Neither of these coils contains estrogen so they don’t have as many side effects as estrogen rich pills, but they are not absent of side effects.
The implant is usually placed in a woman’s arm. This implant releases progestogen into your bloodstream which prevents ovulation. It also thickens the cervical mucus to prevent fertilisation.
HOW BIRTH CONTROL AFFECTS THE GUT
Women taking the pill are more likely to develop IBDs, dysbiosis and gut bacteria overgrowth.
The increase in progesterone slows intestinal function and inhibits bowel movements, which can result in SIBO. Without regular gastric emptying and bowel movements, there is a build-up of bacteria and toxins. This will build up in the small intestine, resulting in either digestive symptoms (bloating, diarrhea constipation…) or the other symptoms associated with gut dysfunction such as skin issues, fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, allergies, etc.
When any excess substance, toxin, pathogen, or bacteria is added to the body, there is a risk of developing an immune reactivity response. The pill prompts this immune response. No wonder autoimmune issues are on the rise!
IUDs & HORMONAL IMPLANT
Like other medications, hormonal implants can disrupt the gut flora because they can cause inflammation from simply trying to metabolise the medication. Everyone’s body reacts differently but when you mess with hormones, estrogen metabolism, etc. it can cause inflammation and impaired immune function and thus leaky gut…
The Copper IUD is not any better given that it releases copper because it is toxic to sperm. Copper is a heavy metal and therefore a toxin to your body when it starts to build up. Symptoms of heavy metal toxicity include infertility, anxiety, weakened immune system, skin issues, memory loss and headaches.
Check out my previous post on heavy metals here.
Copper also depletes zinc, which is important for digestive function as it helps maintain a strong gut lining And thus avoid leaky gut!
Leaky gut allows more bacteria and toxins to pass in and out of the gut, causing inflammation and an abundance of health issues around the body. This often shows in the skin because toxins are forced to the surface.
ADDITIONAL SIDE EFFECTS OF UNNATURAL BIRTH CONTROL
- Hormonal imbalance & body stops producing its own hormone supply due to medication reliance
- Sugar & caffeine cravings
- Weight gain
- Depletion in nutrients, especially folate, B vitamins, zinc and magnesium
All the above symptoms negatively impact your gut function which, as a result, negatively impacts the entire body. Your gut has a huge influence on your entire health because it controls so much of the body’s function (it is more commonly being known as your ‘second brain’). Therefore, if your gut isn’t happy, your body isn’t happy.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY ON, OR HAVE BEEN USING UNNATURAL BIRTH CONTROL
The first step is to consider natural birth control options. This includes fertility tracking – there are some amazing apps out there now like ‘Flo’ – or using toxic-free condoms which will not irritate either persons’ body.
The next step is to slowly begin to rebuild your gut health, fixing what birth control has damaged. If you have been on birth control in the past and have not made efforts to heal your gut after, then it is likely that you are still suffering from an imbalance That must be corrected.
The best way to understand what the imbalance is, is to take at-home functional lab tests. Blood tests are not in-depth enough and will not show you what you need to know to improve your gut function and return to good health. Tests that I recommend are on my Shop. The organic acid test, and comprehensive hormonal tests will all give insight into potential imbalances.
However, I would also recommend the hair tissue test for those women that had the copper IUD in the past to look at heavy metal toxicity and mineral levels including zinc.
Testing is not financially viable for all. For this reason, I have developed a GI Protocol which helps reset and rebuild your gut health. This has been highly effective for so many women who have previously had their health affected by birth control.
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