6 Red Flags Your Birth Control Might Not Be Working For You

mbg Contributor By Alisa Vitti
mbg Contributor
Alisa Vitti is a women's hormone and functional nutrition expert and pioneer in female biohacking. She founded The FLO Living Hormone Center, the world's first menstrual healthcare platform, created the MyFLO period app, the first and only functional medicine period tracker, and is the author of WomanCode.
Medical review by Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz M.D.
OB/GYN and Integrative Women's Health Expert
Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, M.D. is a nationally renowned doctor, expert, speaker and advocate for integrative women’s health. She received her Bachelor's in Psychology from Wesleyan University and her Doctor of Medicine from the University of Southern California.
6 Red Flags Your Birth Control Might Not Be Working For You

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The pill is the most commonly prescribed form of hormonal management - not only for birth control purposes, but for period problems as well.

Girls as young as 14 are missing school and suffering from decreased quality of life due to painful period symptoms. To help alleviate these symptoms, teens and adult women with PCOS, endometriosis, fibroids, cramps, and heavy bleeding are being prescribed the pill.

While the pill has proven benefits, it may not cure all period problems and it might be helpful to consider alternative solutions.

Still unsure if the pill is right for you? Here are six signs your birth control pill might not be working for you:

1. Low Sex Drive

The pill essentially replaces your sex hormones, so it’s not surprising if you’re losing that loving feeling. When you ovulate naturally without the pill, your body makes 50% of the testosterone you’ll have available that month, which is a big part of your sex drive. When you’re taking the pill, however, you don’t ovulate and you’re not making that testosterone. Testosterone is important because it initiates blood flow to your sex organs, which means more sensitivity and lubrication and therefore better orgasms!

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2. Headaches or migraines

If you experience headaches or migraines for the first time after going on the pill, it’s a sign that you’re sensitive to estrogen. The increasing amounts of estrogen delivered by the pill are not going to be your best option.

3. Weight gain or inability to lose weight easily

A small study found that women on the pill gain 60% less muscle mass than women who are not taking oral contraceptives. In a 10-week weight training program, half the participants were on the pill and half were not. By the end of the program, women who were not on the pill had gained significantly more muscle mass, had higher levels of muscle-building hormones, and lower levels of muscle-breaking hormones like cortisol. Women on the pill have a harder time gaining muscle and experience higher levels of cortisol, which makes it harder to lose the pounds.

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4. Depression

Many women on the pill suffer from depression as a result. Estrogen and progesterone affect our brain chemistry, so different pills with different doses can have changing effects on our brain and moods.

5. Low energy

The pill depletes your body’s reserve of B vitamins (especially B6), which can cause fatigue, nausea and mood swings when you first go on the pill. In the long-term, depleting the body of essential vitamins and nutrients puts your whole endocrine system at risk, as many of the glands require B vitamins to function properly.

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6. Being attracted to the wrong guys over and over again

Guess what? The pill may also be wreaking havoc on your relationships. In one small study conducted at the University of Bern in Switzerland, women were asked to smell t-shirts worn by anonymous men and then pick the one that appealed to them most. The results showed that they chose the ones with a certain gene set that were very different from their own, making them genetically compatible. When this set of genes is too similar, the risk of miscarriage increases.

Women who were on the pill in this study chose the t-shirts with genes that were very similar to their own, suggesting that the pill might alter odor preference and disrupt disassortative mating preferences.

What to do instead?

Here’s what I know after 20 years of working with women on these issues:

If you have a hormonal problem, you can begin by addressing the underlying causes through food and lifestyle. The pill is simply not a sustainable answer.

So the solution is two-fold:

  1. If you’re relying on the pill for birth control purposes, start tracking your cycle and looking into highly effective non-hormonal options for birth control. Condoms and the sponge are two of my favorites
  2. Address your diet and lifestyle to heal the root causes of your hormonal issues. What we eat becomes the building blocks of our hormonal chemistry. With increasing amounts of pesticides, sugar, GMOs, and other harmful toxins in our food supply, it is more imperative than ever that we seriously look at how our diet and lifestyle affect our bodies and hormones.

If you’re ready for more support with your hormones and moods, take my Hormonal Evaluation Quiz now and learn exactly what your body and hormones are trying to communicate to you! This quiz is essential if you’re looking to get to the root of your symptoms and overcome your hormonal health issues once and for all.

Alisa Vitti
Alisa Vitti
Alisa Vitti is a women's hormone and functional nutrition expert and pioneer in female biohacking. A...
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Alisa Vitti
Alisa Vitti
Alisa Vitti is a women's hormone and functional nutrition expert and...
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