How birth control affects the thyroid!
I get asked about quite often about the thyroid and birth control. I personally went through some of this myself actually. I didn't know it at the time but I started learning more about it as the years went on especially after I got certified in FDN.
I started learning that there is quite a connection between a slow thyroid and birth control and I already had hypothyroidism. So birth control didn't really help any of it.
So what I want to talk first about is what hypothyroidism is and what Hashimoto's. Hypothyroidism is basically a slow thyroid. It means your thyroid is not functioning properly. It could be the thyroid gland itself or it could be that the hormones are not properly working. There's a lot of reasons why your thyroid could not be functioning properly.
And then Hashimoto's is the autoimmune side of it. So that basically means that your body thinks your thyroid is a foreign invader that is not supposed to be there and it launches and they call it an auto-immune response. So they call it Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
So what's some of the big things that can happen with taking birth control pill. Unfortunately, there's a ton of women that take this and yes.....there's a time and place for it. Unfortunately, the long-term effects are just not the best. So I am very cautious when people are taking it. I also suggest you work with your practitioner very closely if you are taking it or you're wanting to come off of it.
One of the things to keep in mind is that birth control is synthetic. It is very inflammatory. When you have thyroiditis, something like Hashimoto's you're in an inflammatory autoimmune response. So taking something like birth control pill can be extremely inflammatory and just feed off of that and make that cycle even worse.
And then also in turn because of that that, it can contribute to immune dysfunction. So if you have straight hypothyroidism, some people end up creating something like Hashimoto's because they end up launching an auto-immune response.
So they now create this Hashimoto's scenario just by being on birth control pill. Keep in mind, 90% of the people that have hypothyroidism actually have Hashimoto's. That is a really, really large number.
The other factor to also keep in mind with birth control pill is it can create a scenario of leaky gut. I'm sure you've probably heard of this. Basically, leaky gut is when particles leak through the intestinal lining. This creates an inflammatory response. A lot of times that can happen from a birth control pill. It can happen from so many other things but birth control pill is one of the reasons it can.
So why is this so important when we start talking about gut health especially with the connection with thyroid and birth control? You need conversion to happen with your inactive T4 to your active T3. You actually need that to happen in your gut. About 20% of it actually happens in the gut. You only make about 20% active T3. If the gut is inflamed and it's not in a happy state because you are on hormonal birth control, you're going to have issues with conversion.
When you have hypothyroidism you already have those issues typically so you're just adding fuel to the fire.
The other thing that can also happen with birth control usage is you get a lot of nutrient deficiencies. Things like B6, B12, selenium, folate, and zinc. Those are all really important nutrients that you need and those become very deficient especially something like selenium.
Selenium is really needed for thyroid hormone conversion. It's one of the biggest ones that you need for that. Almost everyone that I've worked with I will see a pretty large deficiency in selenium when we do hair tissue mineral analysis.
So what ends up happening is you just get this vicious cycle. So the gut's inflamed for numerous reasons, then you add birth control pill to it which adds fuel to the fire. Let's say the thyroid's not already working right. Now you have a scenario where other things start happening like low stomach acid, slow gallbladder function, and slow movement of your digestive tract. So all these things start happening because of hypothyroidism and they just create a vicious cycle where that makes the hypothyroidism worse.
So this is how women, when they have a slow thyroid, can actually get gut issues because of some of the things that I mentioned and why women on birth control can actually have both.
Birth control pill can raise thyroid-binding globulin hormone. This hormone binds to your thyroid hormone. That means there's less thyroid hormone floating around that you can actually utilize. Just another reason why you could get a really slow thyroid just from taking birth control, because it binds up the actually thyroid hormone that you need because the binding globulin is too high.
And speaking of inflammation....anytime there's inflammation, there's going to be a stress response. Your adrenals will launch cortisol and then your body thinks it's in a fight or flight mode.
I suggest working very closing with your doctor or practitioner if you are desiring coming off of birth control, especially if you have a slow thyroid or suspect you do. And if you need more help with your thyroid while using birth control
If you need help with that, then please reach out to me.
You can also grab my FREE guide on The Secret to Reading Your Thyroid Blood Test right here.