A new breed of influencers is emerging on TikTok and Instagram, and they’re making waves among young women: the ‘hormone coaches’. These influencers offer a plethora of information, products, and advice aimed at helping women connect with their natural cycles through cycle syncing, transitioning off hormonal birth control, and managing ‘post-birth control syndrome’.

Some of these influencers raise alarms about severe side effects and health impacts associated with hormonal birth control (HBC), alleging links to infertility, depression, weight gain, and even influencing partner choices. But what’s the truth behind these assertions?

Firstly, let’s delve into how hormonal birth control operates.

Hormonal birth control primarily comes in two forms, each with various iterations. The combined contraceptive pill contains estrogen and progesterone, altering the body’s hormone levels to prevent the natural hormonal surge that triggers ovulation.

On the other hand, the progesterone-only pill thickens cervical mucus, hindering sperm movement, alters the uterine lining to discourage egg implantation, and in some cases, inhibits ovulation. Progesterone, or progestin, features in contraceptive implants, certain IUDs, and the Depo Provera injection.

Does HBC impact fertility?

Some hormone influencers claim HBC has adversely affected their fertility, but according to Dr. Beth Messenger, a sexual and reproductive health specialist based in Wellington, there’s no evidence supporting this notion. Factors such as age and underlying conditions like endometriosis can influence fertility, independent of HBC usage.

Does HBC trigger mood changes?

While evidence doesn’t support a direct link between HBC and depression, individual experiences may vary. Women might notice mood fluctuations, influenced by natural hormone cycles and different HBC formulations.

Does HBC lead to weight gain?

Depo-Provera is the sole HBC associated with substantiated weight gain evidence. However, individual responses to HBC can vary, with some experiencing weight fluctuations due to a myriad of factors beyond HBC alone.

Could HBC influence partner selection?

Studies on partner preferences while on/off HBC yield conflicting results, suggesting a need for further research. While some assert changes in partner preferences and relationship satisfaction, others find no discernible impact.

What are the genuine risks of HBC?

As with any medication, HBC carries risks, including blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, and unscheduled bleeding. ‘Natural’ contraception methods like cycle tracking can be effective but demand diligence and may not suit everyone’s needs.

What if I’m considering discontinuing HBC?

Dr. Messenger advises against hasty decisions influenced by social media. Seek professional guidance to explore alternative contraception methods and understand potential implications, including an increased short-term pregnancy risk after HBC cessation.

In conclusion, while hormone coaches offer insights into natural cycle management and HBC transition, it’s essential to approach their claims critically and consult healthcare professionals for personalized guidance.