9 Things You Didn’t Know About the Pill

Today I’ve got a piece in the UK magazine Stylist. It’s on The Pill and it was interesting for me as the working title was ‘who would you be if you weren’t on The Pill?’ Frankly I have no idea as I’ve been on it for 20+ years. I have no idea if I’d be thinner, more energized or less grouchy without it.

Researching the piece was quite fascinating, While we all know the pill impacts on our hormones you might not realize just how much of your body that hormonal cascade effects. From your sense of smell, what partner you are with – and how good your sex life is with him, how much muscle you build at the gym, even what you remember about an event could all be different if you were – or weren’t – on The Pill.

Now I won’t spoil the Stylist piece for you –but nor will I leave you without useful pieces of information either – remember, my mission statement for this blog is ‘being useful’. So, here’s a few things I bet you didn’t know about the Pill that I’ve discovered over the years I’ve been writing about it.

Nine Things You Probably Didn’t Know About The Pill

1)      If you get pregnant while you are on The Pill, you can still have periods. This scared the whoowatsits out of me, if there was a personality type named pregnaphobe I’m it and one of the reasons I’d been on The Pill rather than switching to a longer acting contraceptive was that reassuring ‘I’m not pregnant’ sign each month. To find out it means nada was a bit scary!

2)  The Pill  can lower libido:  It raises production of a substance called sex hormone binding globulin that blocks the amount of testosterone you have in your system. And it’s testosterone that drives libido. Looking on the bright side, this may eliminate the need to know Point No1

3)      The Pill might not work so well in vegetarians. A tip from my favourite Pill expert, the late Dr Anne Szarewski, she discovered that some – not all – vegetarians may have problems with pills containing a low (20mcg) dose of oestrogen because their gut flora doesn’t recycle the oestrogen properly. If you’re a veggie who suffers breakthrough bleeding, ask your doctor if you need a higher dose. (for more news on how gut flora and hormones interact check out this post on Hot Flushes)

4)      If you’re in a country like the US or Australia instead of getting a name brand pill you might be offered a generic alternative. While these contain exactly the same contraceptive protection, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have reported that some women feel they get more side effects on generic contraceptives than brand names. There’s a few reasons for this. You could be reacting to different inactive ingredients in the product or, if you’re a bit wary of generics, simply noticing symptoms you’d have ignored on your old Pill.

5) Buns of steel take more work on The Pill. Trials at Texas A&M University found that pill taking women lifting weights only formed sixty percent of the muscle mass other women did. Remember that next time you’re slacking off at Body Pump.

6)      Wine o’clock might be Pill related. This was ‘space sacrificed’ from the Stylist piece but I loved it so I’ll tell you it here. Dave Hompes, who runs ‘Moody Cow’ a nutritional program for women experiencing side effects from the pill tells us, ‘By stopping ovulation the pill lowers your natural progesterone levels; progesterone is a natural anti-anxiety agent. One of the strangest changes I’ve found in the women I see who choose to come off the pill is that they crave less alcohol at the end of the day. It’s like that nightly wine is replacing the natural calming sensations they should get from progesterone.’

7) Your ‘bikini diet’ might stop it working: There have been reports of women getting pregnant after using some quick-fix detox teas. The tea can have a laxative effect and the pill is absorbed in the small intestine. Anything that prevents it reaching that area – like vomiting – or that moves it through the intestine too quickly like diarrhoea – will lower protection.

8) Between 1-2 percent of women ovulate on the seven day break you take between pill packets. This is one of the reasons why the newer pills are coming out with just four day breaks, You can also speak to your doctor about running packets together which is safer and eliminates the withdrawal bleed. And don’t worry, it’s completely safe.

9) Some good news: Because it stops you ovulating, the Pill offers protection against ovarian cancer. And it lasts up to 15 years after you come off it.



Main image: Freedigitalphotos.net


  1. Red Nelly

    Love this post! I look forward to reading the full article later in the week.
    I had no idea how much I liked being on the pill until I came off it to try to get pregnant. I’d been on it so long, I’d totally forgotten about the sore boobs and the plooks that come with each cycle. Not to mention the nutso mood swings and period pain! Oft I can’t wait to start taking it again!

    1. healthehelen

      Thanks for commenting. Glad you enjoyed it. I’ll edit the post when the direct link goes up – they seem to have a broken link to most of the issue this week.


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