More and more teenage girls are being given the pill, not for contraceptive purposes but for such issues as irregular or heavy periods and acne. It may seem like a good solution, but in reality it is creating the possibility of much worse health problems later in life.
Menarche, when a girl starts menstruating – is the start of their fertility, the commencement of making female hormones. And the hormonal system only learns to work by, well, working. It requires regular ovulation to become established, and for producing oestrogen and progesterone. When we stop this with hormonal contraception, girls no longer produce the hormones they need for bone health, heart health and mood, to name just a few.
When girls take synthetic hormones they lose the ability to produce their own natural hormones. Although synthetic hormones have similarities to real hormones, there are many more differences. For example, pseudo-hormones can cause hair loss and increase the risk of blood clots where real progesterone stimulates hair growth and improves cardiovascular health. Synthetic oestrogen can impair insulin sensitivity where real oestrogen improves it. Clearly, synthetic hormones lack the health benefits of real human hormones.
Irregular or heavy periods can be normal at the start of menstruation. It makes no sense to try and regulate these with hormonal birth control as these are breakthrough bleeds, not real menstruation. They are due solely to not taking the pill for a week. Irregular periods are because the hormonal system has not yet become established; masking this with hormonal birth control could make it harder to ovulate in the future as a girls system is not learned how to do it.
There are much better solutions to menstrual problems than hormonal birth control. If a teenage girl is having heavy periods, know that she will probably outgrow them. In the meantime, here are a few things that may be helpful:
- Eliminating dairy products can reduce menstrual blood flow
- Medicinal doses of turmeric.
- Cinnamon: 1 teaspoon in honey taken 3 times a day if the flow is heavy
Similarly, irregular menstruation can be normal in the first year or so after menarche. If after this menstruation is still irregular, it is worth checking that everything is well as it may be a hormonal issue such as PCOS, which is often medicated with the pill, which is not appropriate.
In the case of teenage acne, adopting a better diet, especially dairy-free and sugar-free is a better choice in the long term than the pill, which is only masking the underlying problem and often sees acne return even worse once it is stopped.
For any issues concerning hormonal balance and menstrual challenges, Mizan Therapy can be helpful in resolving any underlying issues and bringing balance to the menstrual cycle.
If we can support teenage girls to develop healthy menstrual cycles then we are helping them to better long term health.