Monthly Archives: February 2017

How Birth Control Ruined My Life

Tea ~ Mint Kiss

Everyone tells you that “the pill” is the way to go if you are sexually active. So 10 years ago, in preparation for getting married to the love of my life in May of 2007, that’s what I did. But let’s think about this for a second. You’re taking a drug to alter your hormones so that you do not ovulate and reduce the risk of getting pregnant. Is that a good idea? If you have certain genetic mutations like I do, one in particular that 30-50% of the population has, it’s a really, really bad idea. Read more about that in depth in my previous post.

*Disclaimer* I’m not a doctor or medical professional. All I can tell you is from experience and research. Please seek a practitioner for diagnosis, but I am happy to answer questions about my experience!

The resulting symptoms I have now happened slowly, over time. So slowly that I didn’t even know it was happening. About 2 years in, I started to feel like there was something wrong with me. I was fatigued and my personality seemed subdued. Like a brain fog or that I wasn’t all there. I had lost my sparkle. I told Greg that I needed to stop taking it. He wasn’t super thrilled about it, understandably, but I couldn’t handle the reproductive responsibility and burden and had a suspicion that it was causing some underlying issues.

Shortly after I stopped taking them the fog was lifted! Even Greg agreed that it was the right decision. Birth control made me CRAZY! I didn’t even like myself. However, I didn’t have a period for nearly a year from September 2011-July 2012. It was really crummy timing since we were hoping to start a family. It was recommended to go back ON birth control to get my cycle started again. Isn’t that a bandaid and not addressing the root cause? Even when my menstrual cycle started again, I didn’t ovulate for almost another year after that. I was diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome in 2012, and a test for thyroid antibodies showed that they were elevated and that I should stop eating gluten. What I wasn’t told was that I had Hashimoto’s, not just a gluten intolerance. Elevated antibodies are one of the main test results that reveal hypothyroidism. A week or two after cutting out gluten, I got pregnant with Zeke. I wasn’t officially diagnosed with Hashimoto’s until October 2015, the same day I found out I was also pregnant with Wesley. My doctor told me she did not know how I got pregnant since my progesterone levels were so incredibly low. Between PCOS,  Hashimoto’s AND the MTHFR gene mutation (and a few other mutations that I have), I am super high risk of miscarrying, having pregnancy complications or birth defects in my children. In fact, I have 2 copies of the gene mutation FOLR2, increasing the risk for my children to have spina bifida or other neural tube defects exponentially. I praise God every day for protecting them and me while they were growing inside me. I actually felt AMAZING while pregnant. My Hashimoto’s goes into remission while I’m pregnant. But, unless I want to take up a hobby of surrogacy, that is not a long term health plan for me.

So why is hormonal birth control so bad? Since I have the MTHFR gene mutation, I cannot process or absorb B vitamins efficiently. A 30-40% reduced efficiency to be exact because I have 1 copy of the gene. Those with 2 copies (one from each parent) can have up to a 70% reduced efficiency.  Well, it turns out that birth control pills, rings and hormonal IUD’s block B vitamin absorption, potentially exacerbating something that is already a problem in a relatively healthy individual. Drinking alcohol also blocks B vitamin absorption. Dr. Isabella Wentz is quoted on Wellness Mama:

“Individuals with low activity of the MTHFR enzyme may present with elevated homocysteine levels, which have been associated with inflammation and heart disease, birth defects, difficult pregnancies, and potentially an impaired ability to detoxify.

Nutrient deficiencies in Folate, B6 and B12 have been associated with elevated homocysteine.

Individuals with the MTHFR gene actually have a difficult time processing folic acid that is present in most cheap supplements and added to processed foods. Some professionals claim that this type of folic acid may even cause a build-up in the body leading to toxicity. Studies have been done that showed folic acid supplements increased cancer risk… one more reason to ditch processed foods and your multivitamin!”

So if your prenatal vitamin makes you sick, you may also have issues processing folic acid like me.

It all starts with genetics. We are all predisposed to certain diseases and traits and maybe even malnourishment if you have the MTHFR gene mutation. If we don’t take those into account, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of doctors’ visits and strange, seemingly unrelated symptoms. Many conventional doctors don’t even look at this. I should never have had my gallbladder removed in 2014, 6 months after having my first son. My body was trying to detox postpartum and it couldn’t. Imagine my surprise when the same symptoms, in the same place, for the same reason and with the same foods started happening around the same time postpartum with my second son. Now I don’t have a gallbladder to “fix” the problem. Being malnourished then turns into inflammatory reactions and elevated histamine and homocysteine levels. I remember very specific times in my life where I would randomly break out in hives. Like after a high school basketball game I had just played in in 1999. Hives after 1 or 2 fire ant stings sent me into anaphylactic shock in 2008. Allergies to contact lenses in 2010. The “allergies” kept piling on. I put that in quotations because I’ve had a full allergy panel done and I’m not actually allergic to much. It’s all inflammatory and histamine responses to the slightest thing. Anything can set me off and there is no rhyme or reason to why it did this time and not last time or why it won’t next time. Even fluoride and chlorine in the water I drink has given me stomach cramps or hives after swimming in a pool. Toxins do play a role in how your body reacts as well.

These auto immune diseases are progressive because you are not able to detox, reduce inflammation, get rid of old and dead cells and make new ones efficiently. Unless you get this issue under control, more and more auto immune diseases will wreck havoc on your body. I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome in the fall as well. Now that I’ve seen my genetic mutation results, I now know this is due to the 2 copies of the FUT2 gene. There’s no going back, there is only maintaining and keeping your symptoms under control so you don’t have to live a life plagued with illness.

So if you’ve struggled with random allergic reactions, chronic fatigue and adrenal fatigue, bowel issues including leaky gut, infertility or menstrual cycle problems, you may want to look into this. Taking a cheap birth control pill may result in years of heartache with infertility and great expense with fertility treatments. Taking a methylated B vitamin complex and taking or upping your magnesium citrate supplement are just 2 tangible ways to help your body detox and get back to some semblance of normal.

I have still been struggling with fatigue and anxiety, so please be praying for those to improve. The fatigue I believe to be caused by my 2 copies of the gene mutation SOD2. I need to experiment with manganese as I am likely deficient here too as increasing magnesium citrate (which is necessary to detox) will deplete manganese.

I’ve found that the Low FODMAP diet has been super helpful for me! Even eating healthy bone broth alongside veggie & fruit smoothies, the onions and garlic in my broth and the mangoes and even pea protein powder in my smoothies are high FODMAP foods that irritate the gut of patients with IBS. These are Paleo, Whole 30 and Auto Immune Protocol compliant, so you can imagine my frustration! It’s made a world of difference! Still working out the kinks. There may be a degree in Epigenetics in my future, this information is incredible!

I hope this helps someone. Be encouraged!