As a teenager that found my period an annoyance. Rather than part of an amazing process, that creates the be all and end all; life. I was excited to take synthetic hormones as a way to gain control over my bodily functions. Oh, how naive was I! The pill changed my menstrual cycle for the worse, and for the first time in my life I had acne on my face, neck and chest. After several months, I decided that the miraculous pills were not so miraculous after all. And the remaining pills ended up in the bin. Since then, I have been curious as to why the pill caused such side effects.
What are steroids?
Scientifically the word steroid is a name used for large organic compounds; which have a molecular structure containing four rings of carbon atoms. Commonly, the steroids you hear about are illegal anabolic steroids used by body builders. This kind of steroid mimics the male hormone testosterone and is used to gain major amounts of muscle. Anabolic steroids are a class C drug because they give many nasty side effects and cause severe addiction.
Another example of steroids is corticosteroids. These are used frequently for a number of health problems due to its anti-inflammatory uses. Individuals are only prescribed for corticosteroids if the benefits of the treatment outweigh the risks. And are always given at the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time. This brings up the question why it is considered normal for women to take synthetic steroids for the majority of their lives, when other steroids are only used for the short term.
Synthetic female steroid hormones
The steroid hormones oestrogen and progesterone are naturally produced from cholesterol in the ovaries. When needed, these signalling hormones are released into the bloodstream to search for the target cells. The hormones are able to penetrate the cell membrane because they are lipid soluble; can pass through the hydrophobic fatty acid chains. This allows them to gain entry into the cytoplasm of the target cell and create changes to the expression of the genes. Alerting the cell to produce proteins.
The pill contains synthetic versions of the steroid hormones oestrogen and progesterone. The synthetic hormones will prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation. Fortunately, if this doesn’t quite go to plan and a mature egg has been released, there are 2 other routes of prevention. Which are to thicken the mucus from the cervix to prohibit sperm from travelling into the uterus. And to thin the lining of the womb to discourage any fertile eggs from implanting. The synthetic hormones in the pill act exactly the same as the natural hormones. However, research suggests that the body does not recognise synthetic hormones exactly the same. Which can account for the numerous side effects.
Negatives of synthetic hormones
When a woman is prescribed for the contraceptive pill she has to be warned of the side effects. There are a lot, and as you may know some aren’t too worrisome such breast tenderness, acne and spotting. Whereas others are extremely serious such various cancers, increased blood pressure and blood clots. Personally, I think the pill is considered a safe medication because it’s become the norm and side effects are brushed under the carpet. However, it is not the swinging sixties any-more! And in this day and age safer alternatives should be more popular.
Cancer Research UK states that the pill can increase the risk of cervical and breast cancer. And can decrease the risk of ovarian, womb and bowel cancer. They also say any increase risk of cancer from the pill will disappear within 10 years after you stop taking it. In 2013 they carried out a report to find out the most common cancers in females. Breast cancer is the most common cancer by far! Questioning, how many of those cases came from taking the pill.
Belinder Pletzer did some research to see the effects the pill has on the brain. She used MRI and VBM to observe the differences between the brains of men, women on the pill and women not on the pill. The study showed an increase of grey matter for women that were on the pill. Unfortunately, the study didn’t go further and establish why these changes happened, hopefully this research is just the beginning.
The long list of side effects should be taken seriously if you are on the pill or are even considering taking it. Also, the pill is not the only solution for contraception as there are completely natural and effective products out there. Such as the Lady Comp.
P.S. The discount code ‘maria-luisa’ still applies for all our readers when purchasing Lady Comp!