Why Hormonal Birth Control Can Never ‘Regulate’ Periods 

Pill bleeds

by Lara Briden

When the Pill was first developed, it could not be sold as contraception because contraception was not legal. Instead, hormonal birth control had to be prescribed to “normalize” periods. “Normalize” was code for being “not pregnant” (wink-wink).

Fast forward fifty years, and the Pill’s fake cover story has become a bizarre counterfeit reality. It’s still prescribed to “normalize” women’s periods, but why? Hormonal birth control cannot fix the menstrual cycle. It never could.

What’s the Value of a Real Period?

A real menstrual cycle is not about the bleed. It’s about the two important hormonal events that occur during the middle of the cycle.

The first event is the manufacture of a powerful estrogen called estradiol. Estradiol helps mood, libido, and metabolism. Estradiol can only come from the ovarian follicles before and after ovulation. It can’t come from a pill or ring. The ethinylestradiol in hormonal birth control is a different molecule, and has almost none of the same benefits as estradiol.

The second event is the manufacture of progesterone, which is a wonderful hormone for mood, hair, bone health, and the prevention of breast cancer. Progesterone can only come from the ovary’s corpus luteum after ovulation. It can’t come from a pill, ring, injection, implant or IUD. The progestins levonorgestrel and drospirenone in hormonal birth control are different molecules have none of the same benefits as progesterone.

The final event of a real menstrual cycle is the bleed itself. A period bleed is withdrawal from both estradiol and progesterone. It’s not the bleed that matters—but the hormones that came before!

What Is a Pill Bleed?

A pill bleed is a withdrawal bleed from ethinylestradiol and progestin. The timing is meaningless as far as health goes. It could be two or three times per year, but it’s timed to be monthly to keep up the facade of a fake period, and to reassure women and doctors.

Would Men Put Up With It?

By shutting down hormones, hormonal birth control is chemical castration. Imagine a world where we routinely did the same to men and boys.

“We will switch off your testosterone,” we would tell them, “And replace it with a synthetic pseudo-testosterone. It’s going to cause weight gain, depression, and loss of libido—but don’t worry! All the other boys take it.”

This is the world in which we currently live for teenage girls and women. It is time for a serious rethink.

[Help us bring Lara Briden to the Blood Cycle Conference as a keynote speaker!]

Lara Briden is a board certified naturopathic doctor who qualified from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in 1997. She currently runs a busy hormone clinic in Sydney, Australia, and posts regularly at Lara Briden’s Healthy Hormone Blog. Early in 2015, Lara released her book Period Repair Manual: Natural Treatment for Better Hormones and Better Periods.

9 Comments

  1. Great article! So what do you recommend as birth control?

    • Fertility-Based Awareness Methods (FABM) are the future, Scazza. :) There are an ever-growing number of methods and apps to track day-to-day fertility observations. FABM options are:
      1. Far more detailed and effective than the Rhythm Method. 98-99% effective, in fact.
      2. Able to help identify potential health issues or hormonal imbalances (such as PCOS, low thryoid, progesterone deficiency, etc.)
      Some well-established FABMs include Sympto-Thermal, Creighton, and Billings methods.

  2. What is Na-Pro doctor? How do I find an excellent hormone or Na-Pro doctor?

  3. I will add to Julie’s comment the Marquette method of NFP. Again with nearly the same efficacy as popular forms of birth control without the side effects. It also gives an excellent way for a woman to monitor overall bodily health.

  4. Cross posted to the Facebook posting I found this article. Well for myself I can not physically make hormones due to empty sella and on top of that I need certain amount as not to stimulate endometriosis. So first they used progesterone only to kick start but this was before they knew of my issues and they did not work. So for me from age 18-24 I had to be on bcp just to bleed. Then a Dr stopped all bleeding when IT was becoming dangerous in the amount of flowing and time length etc until a surgery to diagnosing endometriosis was possible. Now I’m. HRT amounts of estrogen and progesterone and been told from now on all bleeding I get even if I decide when I do so etc are breakthrough bleeds more then actual periods. So what do you make of this situation i find myself as do many women

    • Certainly, there are times when women need to take the contraceptive steroids. For example, to manage endometriosis, or, as in your case, when there is no possibility to make your own hormones.

      Also some women want to take hormonal birth control as birth control. I don’t object to that.

      My point is only that they’re not the same as real hormones. And there is really no reason to bleed monthly (or at all) while on contraceptive steroids.

  5. I agree Jackie… I used it to regulate my excessive hemmoraging from 16-21 (my cycle began at 11), then my body just righted itself out and I went off it. I have been using Billings to have and raise four kids now grown (it DOES work ladies and is simple to follow)…. my second daughter 17 is experiencing the same thing as I. All blood work comes back as normal, yet three days every month is spent in bed in extreme pain and bleeding so heavy she is now anemic. The “pill” is the only thing that has brought her relief. What else can one do?

  6. Hi. How can period be regulated then esp for those with pcos?

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