OCPs help in menstrual irregularities but they also have major long-term side effects. Are there any natural alternatives that you can try? Let’s find out.
Women with PCOS often face various reproductive health complications due to disturbed hormonal balance, like elevated male hormones and the inability to ovulate regularly. This leads to a disturbed menstrual cycle, infertility and other metabolic disorders.
Most women take oral contraceptives or birth control pills to prevent pregnancy, but 14% use them for non-contraceptive reasons.
Let’s learn about OCPs usage, side effects and other natural alternatives for treating PCOS without birth control.
What are birth control pills?
OCPs can be used to address other health conditions, particularly menstrual-related disorders such as menstrual pain, irregular menstruation, fibroids, endometriosis-related pain, and menstrual-related migraines.
Birth control pills are also known as oral contraceptives (OCs) or, just, “the pill.” They are used to prevent pregnancy by blocking egg fertilisation i.e. union of sperm and egg.
Birth control pills contain synthetic forms of female hormones oestrogen and progesterone.
There are 2 types of birth control pills:
- Combined oestrogen-progesterone(also called combined oral contraceptive pill – COC)
- Progesterone-only pill (POP)
When these pills are taken they interact with the hormone-producing glands and work by preventing the release of an egg from an ovary thus inhibiting ovulation.
If no egg is released, there can be no pregnancy.
Stopping ovulation is not the only way birth control pills (COC) can work.
Another type of birth control, POP or progestin (synthetic progesterone) works by delaying ovulation and changing the physical and chemical environment of the female reproductive tract, making it hostile for sperm.
Now, let’s understand how birth control pills, mainly used to prevent pregnancy, are used for PCOS treatment.
How do birth control pills help with PCOS management?
Women have multiple follicles in ovaries that contain eggs. At least one of these eggs is released every month on ovulation day. High androgen levels prevent the monthly release of the egg.
This disturbs the oestrogen, progesterone, LH and FSH levels and results in menstrual irregularities.
LH & FSH are two female hormones responsible for ovulation and follicular development. The lower levels of oestrogen in birth control pills help in suppressing FSH and LH, this makes your body think that it is pregnant which prevents ovulation, thus preventing real pregnancy. On the other hand, this drop in hormones also causes your uterine lining to shed which induces a period.
That’s how these pills help you get regular menstruation.
But contraceptive pills do not cure PCOS and the menstrual irregularities come back after women stop taking them, so these do not provide permanent relief either.
Moreover, birth control pills have several adverse effects like they mess up with your natural hormonal cycle that controls basically every function in your body.
Physical & emotional side effects of birth control pills for PCOS
Since OCPs do not provide long-lasting relief, you have to take them regularly for months and years. Women who take pills have 25-50% more chances of getting Urinary tract infections (UTI). They also have decreased glucose tolerance.
If you have a hereditary tendency for diabetes, latent diabetes, and/or obesity you are more prone to health risks with birth control pills, according to studies.
Some more long-term side-effects of birth control pills are:
This is mid-cycle bleeding which is different from your actual period. It is one of the most common side effects of birth control.
Impaired glucose metabolism
For the first 6 months of usage, progesterone pills can disturb glucose levels.
Multiple studies show that OCs can cause blood clots that may travel to the heart and brain and can be dangerous to health.
OCPs change the balance of healthy flora of your intimate part that making you more prone to dryness, vaginal discomfort and infections like vaginal yeast.
Your mood is controlled by hormones. Due to sensitivity to changes to levels of oestrogen and other hormones women face depressive mood, anger, irritation and severe mood swings.
Women with older age, diabetes, hypertension or smoking should not use OCPs as the risks are increased in such cases.
The severity of these side effects is different for each woman. The risk is greater for women with high BMI, smokers, drinkers and women with heart problems and diabetes.
Treating PCOS naturally
So, contraceptive pills are not for everyone and are not a very healthy way to deal with PCOS, which is already a very complex hormonal disorder. There are other safer and more holistic alternatives for treating PCOS without birth control pills.
The efficacy of natural herbal treatment to cure menstrual irregularities has been proved by multiple studies. In one study on Ayurvedic herbs, it was found that PCOS symptoms are found under various conditions, caused by vitiated Vata and Kapha.
Pathadi kwatha and shatapushpa taila matra basti were studied and found to be effective in regularising menstruation, achieving considerable reduction in body weight, substantial growth of follicles, and thus ovulation.
Since PCOS symptoms vary from person to person, the treatment is highly individualised and different herbal combinations are used, depending on your body’s dosha constitution.
But here are a few things that you can do for treating PCOS without birth control pills:
- Regular exercise
- Diet that balances tridosha
- Low glycemic index foods
- Say no to carbs & sugar
- Avoid over eating
- Reduce weight
- Pranayama to for stress management
- Practice yoga for hormonal balancing
- Avoid trans and saturated fats
- Do not indulge in alcohol, smoking and other harmful pleasures
While the above tips are beneficial in managing PCOS naturally, there are extended treatment procedures used in Ayurveda. Different herbal medicines and kriyas like panchakarma, vamana kriya are used for balancing dosha (the equivalent of hormones) and treating PCOS without birth control pills. These procedures are clinically proven for regulating PCOS irregularities or Oligomenorrhea and increasing fertility.
Advantages of natural PCOS management with Healmeright
Ayurvedic treatment is the best available alternative for treating PCOS without birth control pills with no harmful side effects because,
- It does not suppress symptoms but works holistically by curing the root cause.
- As per ayurveda, the right diet, lifestyle and certain herbal medications can reverse PCOS by balancing the tridosha, Vata, Pitta & Kapha. Tridosha is somewhat ayurvedic equivalent of hormones, an imbalance in which leads to disease.
- There are no side effects and the results are long lasting, if permanent if you continue to live healthily.
- It is easy on your pockets and health.
- The expert consultations are not the end, there are health coaches that will consistently monitor your health that keep you motivated to achieve your health goal.
- You get a customised diet plan that is uniquely designed for you.
- Yoga expert sessions that you can avail at your preferred time.
Though birth control pills help in menstrual regulation they have severe physio-psychological side effects.
Treating PCOS without birth control pills is possible with the help of Ayurveda and yoga. It is free of side effects and leads to improved health and long-lasting benefits. The natural approach may also help reduce dependency on artificial hormonal administration.
Take the control of your health in your hands instead of totally relying on the treatment. Live healthily and avoid bad habits that may cause more metabolic disorders. PCOS is a very serious health condition and if left untreated it could lead to multiple side effects. Finally, doctor consultations are strictly advised, before you choose to do self-treatment even if it is natural.
What can I take instead of birth control for PCOS?
Birth control pills are effective but they have a vast range of side effects. Menstrual irregularities can be cured with herbal medicines that are safe to use. Research confirms the efficacy of Ayurvedic herbs in treating PCOS-related menstrual irregularities (oligomenorrhea).
- tilatailam (sesame oil)
- satapushpa powder
The medicine dosage should only be prescribed by a doctor.
How can I treat PCOS without medication?
Remember, that PCOS is linked with abnormally high BMI and insulin sensitivity. Some factors that lead to these disorders are your diet, lack of exercise, unhealthy habits. So, in order to manage PCOS naturally, you need to lower your weight and improve your glucose tolerance.
These will not guarantee the cure, but they are the most important to control for your herbal medicines to yield positive results.
What is the best age to get pregnant with PCOS?
The best time is before 35, as these are your peak years for your reproductive health. But research shows that women with PCOS can sustain fertility till 41 years.
You should also note that there are many types of fertility issues, the most common one being anovulation, which makes it hard for them to get pregnant. You can understand more about PCOS fertility issues, here, and learn about treating pcos without birth control pills.
What percent of PCOS sufferers are infertile?
No. Though PCOS women face fertility issues not all of them are completely infertile and there may be some hope, which only a clinical examination can confirm. The main reason behind PCOS infertility is ovulatory disorders which amount to 25% of cases. In a study including 309 women reporting PCOS, 72% of them were having infertility problems.