Years ago doctors used to tell their patients to take extra B vitamins when using oral contraceptives. Like many pieces of medical wisdom, this advice has fallen by the wayside and people often don’t know that their birth control pills can be causing vitamin B depletion.
At Yinova, we advise all our patients who are taking an oral contraceptive to add a Vitamin B Complex to their daily regimen. Vitamin B6 deficiency, which is very common in people who take the pill, can lead to depression which may be why so many feel as if the pill affects their mood. Folic acid is another B vitamin that can become depleted which in turn can lead to an increased risk of cervical dysplasia, vascular thrombosis, and stroke.
In Chinese medicine the rhythm of a menstrual cycle is important and the birth control pill interrupts this ebb and flows in a way that can cause stagnation and some depletion. For that reason, a Yinova herbalist may add some qi and blood tonifying and moving herbs to your diet as well as a Vitamin B complex to offset the side effects of the pill. Birth control has many upsides; however, there are some downsides to taking them and more and more frequently we are seeing patients who have taken the birth control pill for many years and have recently stopped in order to start a family. Often these patients are surprised to find that their menstrual cycle does not have a regular rhythm without the pill and they come to us for fertility support.
In my opinion, the pill has often masked an underlying imbalance in their reproductive system which would have been noticed and resolved if their periods had been allowed to follow a regular rhythm. Couple that with the stagnation and vitamin deficiencies caused by the pill itself and it’s not unusual to meet people who have irregular periods or no periods at all once they stop their oral contraceptive.
I see our role as supporting our patients in their choices and so I don’t usually ask patients to stop taking the pill. I do like to point out the downsides, however, and if the pill still seems to be a good choice for that particular patient I usually prescribe a mild blood tonic with some moving qualities such as Si Wu Tang and Vitamin B Complex.