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Birth Control Pills for Perimenopause Symptoms?

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Close-up of a woman taking a birth control pillI’ve never been a huge fan of birth control pills. Though, like many young women in the 60s and 70s, I certainly tried them.

I also had a lot of friends who simple had to take them (or so they were told), to help regulate their menstrual cycles.  Fortunately for me, they were never a necessity.  In fact, my cycles were so regular and without incident, the only problems I ever experienced occurred from actually taking birth control pills.  

I tried them again briefly in the 1980s when they were supposedly less risky for one’s health, but quickly abandoned them when I began to experience severe mood swings. No doubt, the result of estrogen dominance.

Since then, we’ve learned a lot about the health risks associated with birth control pills. So much so, that many women simply refuse to take them. Yet, in 2013, they are still routinely prescribed to women in perimenopause to help them (supposedly) manage their symptoms.

As a fully menopausal woman, I know it’s easy for me to question the wisdom and safety of the practice. But, when I was actually going through perimenopause, I was desperate enough to try them again in hopes they would help.

But they didn’t.

In fact, they made my symptoms much, much worse. I was already an unhinged, raging, hormonal lunatic for two weeks out of the month. So, what on earth was the caring, but very ill-informed physician’s assistant thinking when she suggested I take them?

Frankly, she wasn’t.  She was just following a protocol she was taught in medical school; like every other good medical student, she did what she was told.  

According to Dr. Steven F. Hotze, MD., founder and director of Hotze Wellness Clinic in Houston, Texas, prescribing women birth control pills for perimenopause symptoms, not only doesn’t address the underlying problem of hormonal imbalance, they also throw women into a “state of estrogen dominance, which leads to a "clinically hypothyroid state.”

Hypothyroidism, as many of you might know, is a common secondary condition that many women in perimenopause suffer with. In addition, the symptoms of hypothyroidism often mimic the symptoms of perimenopause.  A double whammy.

Personally, I’ve come to the unscientifically-documented-purely-anecdotal conclusion that the symptoms of hypothyroidism, combined with the symptoms of perimenopause, are likely at the root of why so many women feel they are going crazy during perimenopause.  

Given that both conditions are the result of hormone imbalance, I’m also remain completely mystified as to why the medical community insists on dumping even more hormones in a woman’s body in what appears to be more of a knee-jerk, one-size-fits-all approach.

While I am certain that some (and maybe even many), women achieve some measure of relief by taking birth control pills, just as many (in my experience) do not. In fact, like me, they find that their symptoms become much worse.

I also feel certain there are healthcare professionals who would vehemently disagree with my position, and who believe that birth control pills are a viable therapy for the treatment of perimenopause symptoms.  

But then, I would be willing to wager that those well-intentioned healthcare professionals are not the ones taking the birth control pills.  

Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women's health and a women's freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.

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Tags: Hormone Therapy , Perimenopause

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About the Author

Magnolia is dedicated to empowering women to take responsibility for their own health.

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