Some Women Are More Likely To Experience It
Breakthrough bleeding happens more often in women who smoke cigarettes and in women who dont take their birth control pills consistently. Some medications, like emergency contraception pills, also can cause irregular bleeding. Having certain infections, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, also can increase risk.
Its also more common when women who use birth control pills or the ring take a continuous dose of hormones to skip their periods altogether. One more factor: Benign growths such as uterine fibroids can cause irregular bleeding thats unrelated to birth control.
Why Use Birth Control With Estrogen
So, if estrogen causes all of these symptoms, why consider anything but the minipill? Combination pills those which contain estrogen and progestin are more effective at preventing pregnancy than the minipill. If your concern is efficacy, but you would like to minimize the side effects of estrogen, the best compromise is to try a low dose, or low estrogen, combination birth control pill.
The Truth About Birth Control Pills And Hormones
About 150 million women all over the world use oral contraceptives, also known as birth control pills. Oral contraceptives are most commonly associated with preventing pregnancy, but they are also frequently used to reduce symptoms that may occur with menstruation, such as irregular periods, premenstrual syndrome , premenstrual dysphoric disorder , cramping, pain, heavy flow, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome , fibroids, and more. Many women have misconceptions about how these hormonal contraceptives affect the body and brain and how they influence overall health. Its time to clear up the confusion.
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Who Should Refrain From Consuming Low
If you fall under any of the following categories, low dose birth control options may not be a good idea for you:
- If you are a woman over 35 years of age and you also smoke.
- If you are pregnant.
- If you suffer from migraines with aura.
- If you presently have or have had breast cancer.
- If you have a family history of stroke, heart disease, or blood clots.
- If you suffer from hypertension .
What Should I Do If I Miss A Pill
Take the missed pill as soon as you remember. Then take your usual daily dose as planned. You should also use a backup form of birth control until you have your period. Call your healthcare provider if you miss several days of the pill. Your provider can discuss pregnancy test and emergency contraception options. It is helpful to keep the package inserts of the available, most will give specific instructions on what to do if there is a missed pill.
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Does The Pill Protect Against Stds
Nope. The pill is really good at preventing pregnancy, but it wont protect you from sexually transmitted infections.
Luckily, using condoms every time you have sex really lowers your chances of getting or spreading STDs. Condoms also protect against pregnancy so using condoms + birth control pills together gives protection from STDs AND awesome pregnancy-preventing power.
Birth Control Pills Prevent Pregnancy Through Two Different Mechanisms
All birth control pills use hormones to prevent pregnancy. Some contain a hormone called progestin. Others contain two hormones, progestin and estrogen. All of them work by doing two things: They prevent women from ovulating, and they cause the cervical mucus to thicken, which makes it more difficult for a sperm to penetrate and make contact with an egg if the woman is ovulating.
In a way, birth control mimics the body’s response to pregnancy. “There is some truth to the idea that birth control pills trick your body into thinking you’re pregnant,” said Dr. Vanessa Cullins, Planned Parenthood’s vice president of external medical affairs. “When you’re pregnant, you don’t ovulate, and the cervical mucus is thickening to prevent anything from easily getting into your uterus.”
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What Is Considered Low Dose Birth Control
Most pills prescribed today have around 30-35 micrograms of hormones. Any pill that has less than 30 micrograms is considered low dose. At Pandia Health, we do not recommend these pills for individuals under the age of 30, as they can have a negative impact on bone density.
The hormone estrogen helps during the process of gaining bone density by inhibiting bone resorption . According to a study published by the National Library of Medicine, young adult females who used birth control pills with estrogen levels below 30 micrograms had lower bone mass density around the spine. Similarly, a study conducted by the Group Health Research Institute found that women under 30 who took lower-dose birth control experienced smaller gains in bond density compared to those who took a dose above 30 micrograms. While its impossible to develop conclusions based on small-scale results, low dose birth control should still be prescribed with caution to ensure healthy bone density.
Start With Your Healthcare Provider
Before starting a birth control method, it’s a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider, even if your method of choice doesn’t require a prescription.
Your healthcare provider can help you decide what would best suit your needs, discuss any risks you should be aware of, and help make sure you are using the method correctly.
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We Don’t Know Whether Most Antibiotics Make Birth Control Less Effective
There are two antibiotics that researchers have found make birth control pills less effective: griseofulvin, an antifungal used to treat athlete’s foot and ringworm, and rifampicin, which is typically used to treat tuberculosis.
The reason that happens is that these drugs speed up the liver’s metabolism, which makes the liver metabolize the hormones in the birth control faster. As a result, hormones leave the blood stream faster and are unable to adequately affect the ovaries to prevent ovulation or the cervix to prevent thickening of the cervical mucus.
Lots of antibiotics, not just the two listed above, come with warnings that they’ll make birth control ineffective and suggest using a backup method of contraception. While a backup method is never a bad idea, there’s actually sparse evidence that these other drugs make birth control less effective. “Uncertainty persists with respect to the other broad-spectrum antibiotics,” researchers in the journal Contraceptionwrote in a review article about interactions between birth control and antibiotics. They argue that in light of that uncertainty, it is completely appropriate for women to use a backup method but not to ditch their antibiotics out of concern over interactions.
What Side Effects Are Possible With This Medication
Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.
The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.
The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.
Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.
- breast pain, tenderness, or swelling
- brown, blotchy spots on exposed skin
- headaches or migraines
- increased blood pressure
- signs of depression
- signs of upper respiratory tract infection
- signs of liver problems
- swelling, pain, or tenderness in upper abdominal area
- symptoms of a urinary tract infection
- vaginal infection with vaginal itching or irritation or thick, white, or curd-like discharge
Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:
- signs of a blood clot in the arm or leg or lungs
- signs of a heart attack
- signs of a serious allergic reaction
- signs of stroke
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What Are The Side Effects Of Low Dose Birth Control
Here are some drawbacks or side-effects of taking combination low dose birth control pills:
- You can experience a headache.
- You may suffer from nausea.
- You may have occasional bouts of vomiting.
- You may suffer from mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.
- You may experience changes in your body weight .
- You may experience breast soreness or tenderness.
- It may increase your risk of a stroke.
- It may increase your risk of having a heart attack.
- It may increase blood clots.
- It may reduce breast milk production in breastfeeding mothers.
- You may experience spotting in between your menstrual cycles.
- You may go through occasional mood swings.
- You may experience decreased libido.
Here are some disadvantages of low-dose progestin pill:
- It may cause ovarian cysts.
- It may cause mental health issues such as depression.
- It may cause pain or tenderness in your breasts.
- It may lead to bloating.
- It may cause headaches.
- If may lead to irregular periods.
What Is Low Estrogen Birth Control
PlushCare Content Team
PlushCare Content Team
The PlushCare Content Team delivers high-quality, medically-reviewed healthcare content as part of our mission to help all people live longer, healthier and happier lives.
Dr. Katalin Karolyi
Dr. Katalin Karolyi
Katalin Karolyi, M.D. earned her medical degree at the University of Debrecen. After completing her residency program in pathology at the Kenezy Hospital, she obtained a postdoctoral position at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Orlando, Florida.
Does Alfalfa Increase Estrogen
Alfalfa, known as lucerne or Medicago sativa, is a plant grown as feed for livestock for 100 years.
Alfalfa is considered part of the legume family and is also considered an herb.
It seems to have come from South and Central Asia, but it has grown worldwide for hundreds.
Its seeds or dried leaves are taken as a supplement, or the seeds sprouted and eaten in the form of alfalfa sprouts.
Reduce Serotonin And Melatonin
The pill can interfere with your bodys methylation process by reducing methyl donors, thereby, leaving women deficient in hormones like serotonin and melatonin . An estimated 20% of people are slow methylators anyway so adding the pill to that mix can be disastrous for their well-being, leaving them edgy and anxious all day long, then unable to get a good nights sleep.
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The Standard Days Method
In research by Georgetown University, this has been shown to be as effective as a natural contraceptive method and equal to the diaphragm and condom.
When you use this approach you identify the 12-day fertile window in your menstrual cycle, taking into account other fertility factors such as the variation of ovulation timing from one cycle to another, the lifespan of an egg and the lifespan of sperm .
What Are The Types Of Birth Control Pills
There are two different types of birth control pills. Both types contain hormones that prevent pregnancy.
- Combination pills contain estrogen and progestin.
- Progestin-only pills are also called the minipill. Theyre better for some women, such as those who are breastfeeding or have a history of blood clots and strokes and shouldnt take estrogen.
The pill comes in different dosing packets from 21-day pill packs to 90-day pill packs, to even 365 days of active pills. Traditionally, depending on the brand and dose, you take at least three weeks of active pills followed by two to seven days of hormone-free pills. This is called cyclical dosing. Most women have a menstrual period during the inactive pills. Some brands do not provide any inactive pills at all in the pack . With the 21-day packs a woman does not take any pills for a week. During this time, youll have your period, similar to what happens when taking the inactive, hormone-free pills.
Some formulations offer continuous dosing, which means you do not have any inactive pills, and a woman takes an active pill daily. Alternatively, extended cycle dosing is when inactive pills or breaks in the active pill regimen only occur three to four times per year. Skipping the inactive pills prevents menstruation. Your healthcare provider can discuss the best option for you.
Are You Ready To Stop Taking Birth Control Pills
Going off the pill isnt necessarily a quick-fix solution. Some women experience a rash of symptomsincluding mood swings, anxiety, and depressionin the months following cessation of hormonal birth control. Some hormonal experts have started calling this effect post-birth control syndrome.
In addition, its important to remember that if you started taking the pill because you were experiencing irregular periods, bad cramping, or other symptoms, the pill doesnt actually address those issues. It only masks the problem. When you stop taking oral contraceptives, that original issue may return with a vengeance.
If you were experiencing menstrual Irregularities, take note that taking natural progesterone can be quite effective for some womenwithout any of the side effects of synthetic progestin in hormonal contraceptives. If youre concerned about pregnancy, there are other non-synthetic, non-hormonal birth control options available that you can discuss with an integrative physician.
What Are Yaz Birth Control Pills
Yaz birth control pills are monophasic, combination oral contraceptive pills used to prevent pregnancy. They contain drospirenone and a low dose of ethinyl estradiol .
In addition to being approved for the prevention of pregnancy, Yaz birth control pills are also approved for the treatment of acne in women of at least 14 years of age and premenstrual dysphoric disorder .
How Do Birth Control Pills Prevent Pregnancy
The birth control pill works by stopping sperm from joining with an egg. When sperm joins with an egg its called fertilization.
The hormones in the pill safelystop ovulation. No ovulation means theres no egg for sperm to fertilize, so pregnancy cant happen.
The pills hormones also thicken the mucus on the cervix. This thicker cervical mucus blocks sperm so it cant swim to an egg kind of like a sticky security guard.
What Are Benefits Of Taking The Pill
Some women take the pill for health purposes. The pill can:
- Regulate or lighten menstruation.
Your doctor will talk to you about your level of risk based on your medical history. Luckily, if an individual is not able to use an estrogen-containing pill, most can still safely take progestin only pills.
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How To Get Back Into Hormonal Balance
If you have been taking birth control pills for many years, it can take several months to rebalance your natural hormone levels. This is due to the chronic suppression of your own hormone production. It is often helpful to supplement hormones during this recovery period.
If you must stay on the pill for any particular reason, consider asking your physician about using natural progesterone and/or testosterone to improve quality of life issues while taking the pill.
At Amen Clinics, we can help determine if hormonal imbalances are contributing to your depression, anxiety, brain fog, fatigue, and other issues. Our Integrative Medicine physicians combine conventional medicine with complementary and alternative therapies to provide the least toxic, most effective solutions for your needs.
At Amen Clinics, were here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.
Are There Any Other Precautions Or Warnings For This Medication
Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Blood clots: This medication may increase the chance of blood clot formation, causing reduction of blood flow to organs or the extremities. If you have a history of clotting you may be at increased risk of experiencing blood-clot-related problems such as heart attack, stroke, or clots in the deep veins of your leg. Discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
If you experience symptoms such as sharp pain and swelling in the leg, difficulty breathing, chest pain, blurred vision or difficulty speaking, contact your doctor immediately.
Blood pressure: You should not take this medication if you have high blood pressure that is not controlled by medication. If you have high blood pressure, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Regular check-ups: You should have a yearly physical examination and follow-up visit with your doctor.
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Natural Alternatives To Birth Control Pills
So whats a girl to do? After all, we grew up accustomed to the pill being The Solution to our sexual freedom and family planning.
To good news is: Hormone-free birth control methods do exist. They use these to determine their fertile windows during their menstrual cycle and then use condoms for contraception during those days.
If you want to learn more about this, it is well worth reading a book like Taking Charge of Your Fertility.
Once you are familiar with the menstrual cycle and signs of fertility, you can consider different methods of fertility tracking, which include: