The Oral Contraceptive Pill

How the Pill works

For an egg to develop in the ovaries, it takes a lot of oestrogen. The ovaries (and other glands) are controlled by the pituitary gland, which controls how much of any hormone is produced.  If the pituitary gland detects a shortage of oestrogen, it releases an oestrogen “tropin” and the ovaries produce more oestrogen.

Birth control pills are made of synthetic oestrogen; the pill supplies just enough oestrogen to keep oestrogen levels in the bloodstream high enough to fool the pituitary gland so it doesn’t release the oestrogen tropin.  If by chance the egg does ripen and gets fertilized, the pill prevents implantation by providing enough synthetic progesterone.  Menstruation, when on the pill is caused by the withdrawal of the synthetic hormones; it is the bodies reaction to lack of hormones.

Coming off the pill

When coming off the pill it is difficult to know when you will ovulate for the first time.  Because the pill suppresses the hormones which allow ovulation to occur, it sometimes takes a while for the body to re-adjust to producing its own hormones again.  Certain herbs can aid the transition. One in particular is  Vitex agnus castus (Chaste Tree).

Vitex is a nourishing herb that slowly and gently helps correct hormonal imbalances.  Research has shown that Vitex helps restore normal oestrogen-to-progesterone balance, especially after taking the pill.  Vitex should be taken for 6 months or longer to achieve optimum effects.

Vitex has no side effects, however it is not advisable to take Vitex with progesterone or progesterone-containing medications (like the birth control pill), as Vitex tries to correct the effects of medication. It is often suggested that Vitex be taken on an empty stomach on rising, as this is when the pituitary is most active.

B vitamins are depleted when you are on the pill.  It is advisable to take a multi-B supplement when on the pill and also when coming off the pill. 


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