Skip to main content

The oral contraceptive pill

I believe that all women should have access to a variety of contraceptives so that they can choose the most reliable, effective type for their particular health needs. The Oral Contraceptive Pill (OCP) was offered to women as a safe alternative to other methods of birth control. It promised sexual liberation, the ability to control your fertility, the choice to choose when you wanted to have children. In theory it was a major milestone in medicine and women’s rights.

Unfortunately the OCP also does a few things to the female body that is often not acknowledged or recognised. Of importance, it causes a number of nutritional deficiencies as it affects vitamin and mineral metabolism. These deficiencies then contribute to a number of side effects – some minor and some more concerning. Of greatest concern are the loss of Zinc and B vitamins.

These nutritional deficiencies tend to present in a variety of clinical manifestations, however, the most common presentation is lowered mood or depression, anxiety and loss of libido. I often joke with patients that that is why the OCP is so effective – you never want to actually have sex! I have had a number of patients who find that their mood changes dramatically and they return to their happier selves once they stop the OCP. Anything that can interfere with mood this dramatically may not be a good thing for everyone.

There are many contraception options available but I am most pro those that do not interfere with the natural hormonal cascades within the body. Our hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone are not just for making babies. They provide the body with many roles including, mood, immune support and general wellbeing.

The fact remains that there are a number of people that should never be prescribed the OCP – it is not safe for everyone so it is essential that you discuss your concerns thoroughly before taking the pill.