So Should You Take Birth Control If Youre Worried About Thyroid Disorders
As Dr. Luo explains, any cross-reactivity happening between reproductive hormones and thyroid hormones would only be the result of how similar the hormone structures look. But even in cases where there is cross-reactivity, its clinical impact is low enough that it shouldnt deter you from managing your reproductive health as you see fit.
If birth control helps you prevent pregnancy but youre nervous about how it could impact thyroid function, keep an eye on your hormone levels with the Modern Fertility test. You and your doctor can use your results to stay on top of your thyroid health and make any adjustments to medications or opt for other birth control options if necessary.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Eva Marie Luo, an OB/GYN at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a Health Policy and Management Fellow at Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians, the physicians organization affiliated with the Beth Israel-Lahey Health System.
The Zrt Laboratory Blog
I watch a bit of television now and again, and repeatedly see a commercial for a birth control pill. It looks quite glamorous to be taking it. Granted, at the tail end of the commercial it states many of the bad things contraceptive pills are widely recognized to cause. But the real impact of what birth control pills do to female bodies is never discussed and what is discussed is completely glossed over.
The true nature and impact of birth control pills is very concerning and prevents me from prescribing them in good conscience. All women should come to grips with the sad reality that this rampantly prescribed group of drugs can be harmful, and therefore unacceptable.
Can Birth Control Reduce The Risk Of Endometrial And Ovarian Cancers
For women who have used combination birth control pills pills that contain both estrogen and progestin studies show they are anywhere from 30 to 50% less likely to develop endometrial or ovarian cancers . The longer you take the pill, the more your risk is lowered.
However, taking a birth control pill doesnt replace regular check-ups and Pap tests. The pill can be a healthy addition to a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, a diet full of fruits and vegetables, and annual preventive care visits.
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Are Birth Control Pills Hormones
So, lets get to the nitty gritty of what the heck are birth control pills, what are their real impact on a womans body, and why you might want to avoid them, if possible? I know youve heard them referred to as hormonal contraception, but the reality is that theres not a drop of natural hormones found in any brand of birth control pill. Not even one drop!
Rather than containing natural hormones, theyre synthetic versions of endogenous estradiol and progesterone, and Mother Nature has never seen these at any time in human evolution. In a sense, these synthetic hormones are endocrine disruptors -chemicals that can be thought of as pseudo-hormones. They can do a few of the same things that hormones do, attaching to their receptors, like a key fitting into a lock. But they dont necessarily open the door or open it fully. The end result is a different outcome! Its like substituting diesel fuel for gasoline in a car. It may pour into the tank but its clearly going to deliver a different outcome when the gas pedal is pressed.
Oral Contraceptives To Regulate Hormones
Oral Contraceptive Pills
The oral contraceptive pill was a great invention that liberated women and gave them more freedom for family planning and avoiding unplanned pregnancies. It gave us, women, more freedom to get things done, to go and successfully graduate a college/university or just to enjoy living without children if that was our life choice. Unfortunately, these freedoms came with a price. What upsets me the most is that at this time and age, it does not have to be so, as the contemporary contraceptive pills COULD BE manufactured differently by using bioidentical hormones estrogen and progesterone and not the synthetic ones such as synthetic progestins and ethinylestradiol.
You think you might be spared because you are not taking a pill but applying a patch, a ring, or a shot? Unfortunately, ALL current methods of hormonal contraception are made with synthetic hormones instead of bioidentical, thus, putting you at a higher risk of stroke and DVT caused by blood clots. There are a number of other side effects like bloating, indigestion, depression, weight gain, suppressed thyroid function, Vitamin Bs deficiencies to name a few.
So, what are the possible side effects?
Side Effects of Oral Contraceptive Pills
- breast tenderness
- smoke and are 35 or older
- stopped smoking less than a year ago and are 35 or older
- are very overweight
- take certain medicines
And the list goes on
The Mechanism of Action
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You Can Get Pregnant Right Away When You Stop Taking The Pill
Many people on the pill want to have kids when the time is right. One of the great things about the birth control pill is you can get pregnant right after you stop taking it.
After you stop taking the pill, it can take a few months for your periods to return to the cycle you had before you started using it. Once in a while, people have irregular periods or no periods at all for a few months. This is more likely if your periods were irregular before you started taking the pill.
Even if your regular period doesnt come back right away, its still possible to get pregnant when youre not taking the pill. So if youre going off the pill but dont want to get pregnant, start using another birth control method right away.
How Does The Pill Change Hormone Cycles
The pill works by releasing steady doses of estrogen with no peak levels, so the ovary is not signaled to release an egg. It then delivers a regular dose of progesterone, to prevent growth of uterine lining. Furthermore, an egg is not released and the uterus remains inhospitable to implantation.
Some pill packs include placebo pills that are taken during the final week of a cycle to induce a bleed. This is referred to as withdrawal bleeding because it is the bodys reaction to a loss of hormones. When the placebo pills are not taken, hormones remain steady.
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Birth Control Option #: Patches
Similar to the combination birth control pill, the contraceptive patch also contains both estrogen and progestin. As these hormones are released into the body through the skin, progestin and estrogen levels increase.
As the patch releases the same hormones into the body as the combination pill, it can also be used to treat irregular periods, cramps, endometriosis, low estrogen levels and PCOS.
Birth Control Option #: Oral Contraceptives
The birth control pill is the most commonly used form of contraception in the United States. There are different types of contraceptive pills and they differ based on the amount of the hormones estrogen and progestin are in them. The combination birth control pill contains both estrogen and progestin whereas the mini pill contains only progestin. As you take either of these pills, your levels of estrogen and/or progestin increase in your body. High levels of these hormones prevent the ovary from releasing an egg.
The birth control pill is used to treat a number of conditions including PCOS, endometriosis, irregular periods, menstrual cramps and conditions that are caused by low levels of estrogen. As the pill prevents the ovary from releasing an egg, the pill can help reduce the development of cysts associated with PCOS. The hormones released by the pill also make the lining of the uterus thinner, which results in lighter periods. This is why the pill is also used as a treatment for endometriosis.
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Avoid Sugar And Refined Carbs
Sugar and refined carbs have been linked to a number of health problems.
Indeed, avoiding or minimizing these foods may be instrumental in optimizing hormone function and avoiding obesity, diabetes and other diseases.
Studies have consistently shown that fructose can increase insulin levels and promote insulin resistance, especially in overweight and obese people with prediabetes or diabetes (
Diets high in sugar and refined carbs have been shown to drive insulin resistance. Avoiding these foods and reducing overall carb intake may decrease insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity.
What Is The Difference Between Pms And Pmdd
For most women, PMS symptoms are mild and do not interrupt their day-to-day functioning. On the other hand, PMDD is accompanied by symptoms that are intense enough to create disruptions to ones daily life.
A doctor will need to establish a pattern of symptoms to determine if PMDD is present and to rule out other physical or psychiatric symptoms that can mimic its symptoms.
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It Gives You The Freedom To Bleed On Your Own Terms
For most menstruating women, bleeding is just a fact of life. But it doesnt have to be. Most packs of birth control pills come with a week of placebo pills that dont contain any hormones. Theyre just there to keep you in the habit of taking a pill every day. Usually, youd get your period while taking these placebo pills.
If you have a big vacation or other event coming up during that week, skip the placebo pills. Instead, start a new pack. This method works best if you take monophasic birth control pills, which all contain the same dose of hormones. Read more about skipping the last week of birth control pills in a pack.
Other methods, such as IUDs, rings, and patches, can help you skip your period altogether.
Some women experience very heavy bleeding during their periods. This can increase the risk of anemia. People with anemia dont have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen around their body, which can cause weakness and fatigue.
Hormonal birth control methods that allow you to skip your period can help to prevent period-related anemia.
Do Birth Control Pills Help With Acne
Breakouts happen to everyone. Most women notice a couple of pimples popping up near their periods. When facials, face masks and cleansers dont help, you might be surprised to find out that birth control pills can.
The ovaries produce a hormone called androgen. Androgen helps produce oils on the skin. If you produce higher than average levels of androgen or are more sensitive to androgens in the blood, this can cause frequent breakouts.
Combination birth control pills can help lower the amount of androgen you produce, which can help reduce hormonal acne.
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Myth : Birth Control May Deplete Nutrients That Your Thyroid Needs To Function And Produce Hormones
The truth: According to Dr. Luo, this is such an infrequent occurrence that its not worth letting the rumor turn you off from birth control. Dr. Luo says the only medications that could affect your production of thyroid hormone contain iodine and lithium, and are typically related to chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and antipsychotic treatment not birth control.
Birth Control Option #: Shot
The birth control shot is also known as Depo-Provera and is given at the doctors office around every 12 weeks. The shot only contains the hormone progestin, therefore it is not suitable to be used in the treatment of PCOS. However, the Depo-Provera shot has been shown to be effective in treating the symptoms of endometriosis and painful menstrual cramps as it can cause the lining of the uterus to become thinner.
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The Effects Of Hormonal Birth Control On Your Body
Most believe that hormonal birth control serves one purpose: to prevent pregnancy. While its very effective compared to other forms of birth control, the effects arent just limited to pregnancy prevention. In fact, they can even be used to help treat other health concerns such as menstrual relief, skin changes, and more.
However, hormonal birth control isnt without side effects. As with all drugs, there are beneficial effects and potential risks that affect everyone differently.
Birth control pills and patches are dispensed only with a prescription. Hormone-based contraceptives are available in many forms, including:
Each type has similar benefits and risks, although how the body responds is up to each individual. If youre interested in birth control, talk to your doctor about which type is most effective for you. Effectiveness is based on how consistent your birth control use is. For example, some people find it difficult to remember to take a pill every day so an implant or IUD would be a better choice. There are also nonhormonal birth control choices, which may have different side effects.
If the pill is used perfectly defined as being taken every single day at the same time the rate of unplanned pregnancy falls to only one percent. Skipping your pill for one day, for example, will increase your risk for pregnancy.
If I’m Taking Birth Control Pills How Will I Know When Menopause Starts
You and your doctor will decide together how long you should take this medicine. You can stop taking very-low-dose birth control pills any time, or you can change to regular estrogen replacement therapy. The decision to change from the low-dose birth control pills to estrogen replacement therapy is usually made around the ages of 49 to 52. Your doctor can also measure a hormone called FSH to see if you’re in menopause. If the FSH measurement is over 30, you’ve probably entered menopause.
Talk to your doctor to see if very-low-dose oral contraceptives might be a good idea for you during your perimenopausal years.
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Higher Risk Of Stroke And Heart Disease
Taking the birth control pill almost doubles a womans risk of experiencing a stroke.
It also increases the buildup of arterial plaques in the veins, which can rupture, causing a heart attack, according to research at Ghent University.
This research found that women taking BCPs have 20 30% more arterial plaque in some parts of their body. Meanwhile, an English study has found that the pill that causes the least amount of heart risks is one that has 20 micrograms of estrogen combined with older synthetic progesterone called levonorgestrel.
Can I Take The Pill While Breastfeeding
The combination birth control pill contains estrogen, which can decrease milk production. If you are breastfeeding, your healthcare provider may recommend taking the progestin-only pill instead. However, some women may use estrogen-containing pills once milk supply is fully established, and a womans risk of blood clots is minimized.
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The Problems With Taking Birth Control Pills
At this point, regulating hormone balance by taking the pill may seem like a good thing, right? Well, as with any medication, taking the pill can cause harmful side effects and disrupt your hormone balance, especially for those with autoimmune or thyroid conditions.
The main issue with birth control pills is that instead of natural estrogen, they contain synthetic estrogen, which is actually ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone. This does not provide a natural hormone balance. Instead, these synthetic hormones are not recognized or broken down by the body the same way natural estrogen is.
Taking the pill can disrupt your natural hormone balance, since they keep estrogen levels artificially high, which has a ripple effect across your endocrine system. These factors can cause a whole myriad of health issues including:
Are There Any Risks With Birth Control Pills
Most young women who take birth control pills have few or no problems. However, birth control pills with estrogen may cause a slight increase in the risk of developing blood clots in the legs, eyes, and lungs. If you develop any of the following problems, go to the closest emergency room:
- Abdominal or stomach pain
- Chest pain , cough, shortness of breath
- Headache , dizziness, weakness, or numbness
- Eye problems , speech problems
- Severe leg pain
Why Would The Minipill Be Used
There are a few reasons why your doctor may recommend a progestin-only pill instead of the more-common combination pill. For starters, the minipill contains no estrogen, so this could be a perk if you are sensitive to this hormone. Your physician may prescribe a progestin-only pill for you if you notice that you are sensitive to the estrogen in a combination pill. You may also be prescribed the minipill if you have a family or personal history of blood clots. Lastly, your physician may prescribe the minipill if you are currently breastfeeding, as it is safe to use immediately after giving birth. As always, consult your doctor if you are breastfeeding and looking for the best birth control option for you.
What Are Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills are a type of hormone replacement therapy. They contain synthetic hormones that disrupt the natural hormonal cycle to stop ovulation. In a womans natural hormonal cycle, estrogen and progesterone fluctuate. Estrogen peaks right before ovulation, and progesterone right after.
Birth control pills work by providing the body with synthetic hormones to keep them consistently high, fooling the body into thinking its pregnant to prevent your ovaries from releasing an egg.
The original purpose of birth control pills, of course, was to stop pregnancy, however conventional medicine doctors are quick to prescribe the pill for other reasons, such as hormone balance, acne, PMS, painful periods, ovarian cysts, fibroids, mood swings, and perimenopause, just to name a few.
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