What is Hormonal Birth Control?
Hormonal birth control works to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Hormones including progesterone or a combination of progesterone and estrogen reduce release of eggs (suppressing ovulation) or thicken cervical mucus, preventing sperm from reaching the egg. Long-term use can also thin the uterine lining, preventing a fertilized egg from implanting. Hormonal birth control is highly effective when taken properly, but poses health risks such as deep vein thrombosis, stroke and cancer, especially when users smoke cigarettes.
How Does Hormonal Birth Control Disrupt the Endocannabinoid System?
Synthetic progesterone, known as progestin, is found in many forms of hormonal birth control. Progresterone has been shown to keep endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA) levels low, possibly by increasing fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) expression. This may result in depressed mood, anxiety, headaches, increased sensitivity to pain, nausea, or the worst, decreased sex drive (libido).
Does My Birth Control Contain Progestin?
All forms of combination birth control pills contain a combination of synthetic estrogen and one of these eight forms of progestin:
- Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo
- Norethindrone Acetate
- Ethynodiol Diacetate
Progesterone-only birth controls pills (POPs) are also called the “mini-pill” because they lack estrogen. They contain less progestin than combination birth control pills.
Depo-Provera is an injection containing only progestin and no estrogen. The vaginal ring NuvaRing and the subdermal (under the skin) implant Nexplanon both contain the progestin Etonogestrel, which is the active metabolite of the inactive progestin Desogestrel. The contraceptive “Patch” called Ortho Evra contains the progestin Norelgestromin.
Should I Discontinue Hormonal Birth Control to Restore the Endocannabinoid System?
Discontinuing hormonal birth control can result in unwanted pregnancy. Talk to a health professional about non-hormonal methods of contraceptives such as condoms, IUDs, or diaphragms. Another option is to use hormonal birth control methods without progestin. Ormeloxifene lacks progestin but is only available in India.
How Should I Take Cannabis to Treat ECD From Hormonal Birth Control?
If you cannot switch from hormonal birth control or would like to restore endocannabinoid deficiency (ECD) from years of taking hormonal birth control, cannabinoid therapy may help.
Vaporizing cannabis is better than smoking cannabis in a joint, pipe, or bong because it doesn’t burn the cannabis. Smoking cannabis releases toxins similar to cigarettes, can cause lung irritation and often disintegrates cannabinoids with healing properties. Vaporizing cannabis heats the air around the cannabis, releasing a range of cannabinoids, each with unique health benefit.
A new way to get cannabis into your body is via a transdermal patch, similar to the birth control patch or the nicotine patch. This discrete method provides extended release medication for up to ten hours and is perfect for people who feel uncomfortable with other methods such as smoking cannabis.
Eating cannabis oil, tincture, or cannabis edibles daily is a great way to reset your endocannabinoid system. Simply smoking or vaping cannabis may not be enough to fix the damage to your body from years of hormonal birth control treatment. If you do not want to get the “high” that comes from whole cannabis or THC extracts, use CBD-only products
Any Side Effects?
Long-term use of CBD can cause mental fog or short-term memory problems like forgetting where your keys are. CBD can also cause depressed mood, as it lacks the euphoric counterpart of whole-plant cannabis, THC. If you feel highly depressed, anxious, or suicidal after using CBD or cannabis, please discontinue and call your doctor.
Patients that are on blood thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin) or Lovenox are strongly urged to talk to their doctors before taking any cannabis product, as it may interfere with your body’s ability to block clots.
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