How Birth Control Pills Are Causing Your Stress

We live in a world that is constantly on the go. We're over-stressed, over-taxed, and over-committed. But what if your birth control is behind all that? 

Birth control pills increase estrogen and suppress progesterone, setting your body up for a chronic state of stress. And if you’re using the pill as a means of healing a hormonal imbalance, that excess stress is only exacerbating the problem.

High Levels of Estrogen mean High Levels of Stress

In a natural menstrual cycle, estrogen and progesterone work together to naturally balance each other. Estrogen gives us our creativity, ambition, and most importantly, ovulation! But soon after ovulation, progesterone steps in to counter that drive with tranquility and serenity.

If unopposed by progesterone, estrogen irritates your nervous system and keeps you in a constant state of drive without allowing your cycle the rest a natural progesterone increase would provide.

Not only that, but birth control-based synthetic estrogen is four times higher than the stuff naturally produced by your body. Talk about an energy high!

It’s awesome that you have that go-go-go attitude, but ... all month long?

It’s like the yang without the yin, the stress and anxiety without the rest and relaxation. It’s a constant state of energy-high, you-can-sleep-when-you’re-dead mentality without the benefits of a progesterone-induced rest. Exhausting!

There’s a reason our bodies were meant to hit that phase only one week per month.

Low Levels of Progesterone Mean Low Levels of Rest

You might know progesterone as the pregnancy hormone. Progesterone is there to keep any new babies in place while sending tender support and care to both you and your fetus. It’s what’s responsible for giving you that sweet little nesting period and that happy, settled feeling. But while progesterone has big responsibilities for your belly, it also has quite the job in your typical (non-pregnant) cycle.

Progesterone preps for baby even if you didn’t so happen to conceive in a particular cycle. After ovulation, progesterone sends its love and support anyway. It’s what makes you feel supported, loved, and content in the weeks leading up to menstruation. The crazy thing is, that whole second half of the cycle doesn’t happen at all if you're on birth control pills. The pill keeps your body from producing progesterone and keeps that content feeling at bay.

Chronic Stress After the Pill

So where does that leave you after the pill? Well, for starters, stuck. There’s a reason why so many women struggle with post-pill infertility and I believe there’s more to it that the simple matter that your body has to remember how to create those precious hormones that have been suppressed for years.

Used to high levels of estrogen, you stay in drive mode. You stay over-stressed, over-taxed, and over-committed, and that does nothing but tax your already struggling endocrine system. The stress overload puts your adrenal glands in overdrive, which is a slippery slope to irregular menstrual cycles, hormonal imbalance, or even infertility.

Healing Hormonal Imbalances After the Pill

I believe it’s a two way street when it comes to birth control pills. We stress ourselves and that results in hormonal imbalance, but I also believe that our hormones are imbalanced—and that that may be the cause of our stress.

Chronic stress both during and after the pill means your body gets a hefty dose of increased cortisol. Great when in danger, not so much in everyday life. The associated cortisol backlash of elevated blood sugar and suppressed immune system mean you are a prime candidate for menstrual disturbances and hormonal imbalance.

This is why it’s so crucial to build a couple hours of R&R into every day when getting off the pill. Your adrenals need the reset in order to get your endocrine system back to operating smoothly. And if you’re dealing with a hormonal disturbance already (like PCOS or endometriosis) you’ll need that first step to get you on the road to healing.

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