Doctors have openly denied the existence of post-birth control syndrome and are warning women not to buy into proposed remedies, like those offered by Gwenyth Paltrow's company, Goop.
According to National Post, U.S. naturopath Jolene Brighten describes this condition as occurring within the first four to six months after a woman goes off the pill, the patch, or other hormonal options, like an IUD. Symptoms include hair loss, libido loss, insomnia, and a leaky gut, as well as heavy, painful, irregular or simply non-existent periods. But with the right diet, lifestyle, and supplementary therapy, Brighten insists the syndrome is completely reversible.
However, in an interview with National Post, Dr. Dustin Costescu, an assistant professor and family planning specialist at McMaster University, revealed there is "absolutely no evidence" to support post-birth control syndrome, post-amenorrhea, "or any long-term consequences related to reproduction and birth control use."
The week of November 5 marked the first-ever Post-Birth Control Syndrome Awareness Week, which Brighten herself hosted. An increasing amount of women are pointing to their birth control as having damaged their hormones in ways which can be challenging to undo, reported Verily Magazine. Methods like the pill and the patchwork by manipulating a woman's hormones, and this is what Brighten explains can ultimately lead to the onset of post-birth control syndrome.
She admitted that while this syndrome is neither a recognized medical diagnosis nor has any supportive evidence, "there is plenty of research to support all of the symptoms," which she and other women have cited as being caused by the condition.
"We're flooded with comments right now from women who came off the pill who lost their period and stopped ovulating," Brighten said. "There are other women who had clear skin - they never had acne until they discontinued hormonal birth control. And now they have things like cystic acne."
Dr. Amanda Black, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Ottawa, told National Post that, since most women beginning taking birth control to treat symptoms like a heavy period, going off their contraception prompts those symptoms to return.
"I don't think what people realize is that when you stop your hormonal contraception, you are what you would be without it," she said. "Within a week, most of them have left the system and you're back to your baseline."
Paltrow's company, Goop, has recently offered women a dietary supplement for menopause called "Madame Ovary", which the website explains won't cure menopausal symptoms, but rather help a woman prepare for the onset of such traits like hot flashes and mood swings. All it will cost is a cool $90 USD per monthly supply for women to have their hormones regulated via a nutrient-packed blend of essential vitamins and phytonutrients.
Unsubstantial health advice and naturopathic claims, like those surrounding Paltrow's "Madame Ovary" supplement, frustrate doctors like Costescu, who believe spreading such unsupported myths about the rare, extreme risks associated with birth control is counterproductive.
"Scaring women is completely antithetical to the goal of furthering an improving the lives of women and their families," he said.
While Costescu is sympathetic to the pain women can often continue to suffer from when their doctors disregard their symptoms, particularly like those associated with endometriosis, he said this topic sooner highlights women's lack of access to credible information about their bodies.
"You can see where the demand comes from, which is people trying to understand their bodies, trying to get accurate information, trying to get better and perhaps dissatisfaction with the status quo," he said.