What You Need To Know About Estrogen
Like progesterone, estrogen is a sex hormone naturally produced in the body and is responsible for developing female sexual characteristics. For example, during puberty, estrogen contributes to the development of mammary ducts. During pregnancy, it supports functions that secrete breast milk.
Estrogen is commonly found in birth control products, such as oral contraceptives and vaginal rings. It is also found in products that treat symptoms during menopause, such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and itching.
Some side effects of taking estrogen products include nausea, cramps, headaches, weight gain, and abnormal uterine bleeding.
If youre experiencing any adverse side effects when taking oral contraceptives, make sure to talk to your doctor.
Which Birth Control Method Is Most Effective
The most effective birth control method is abstinence however, this may not be the preferred method for many. Alternatively, the most effective birth control options are the implant and IUDs , especially when paired with a condom.
The implant is a small device that is inserted into your arm and slowly releases the hormone progestin into your body. It lasts for up to four years.
Non-hormonal and hormonal IUDs are available as small devices. The IUD is placed into your uterus, lasting up to 12 years.
Implants and IUDs are considered more effective than the pill as there is no human error in remembering to take your medication. If taken perfectly, the contraceptive pill , shot , vaginal ring , and patch can all be highly effective. Speak to your doctor about which method will work with your medical history and lifestyle.
Remember that birth control pills only protect from pregnancy. They do not protect against sexually transmitted infections or diseases. Thats why its always recommended to use them in conjunction with condoms.
What Are Levonorgestrel And Ulipristal
Unlike the other pills, these arenât intended for regular birth control. Levonorgestrel and ulipristal acetate can greatly lower your chances of getting pregnant if you had unprotected sex or if youâre concerned that your usual birth control method didnât work.
Levonorgestrel is about 88% effective if you use it as directed. You need to take it as soon as possible within 3 days of having sex.
Ulipristal is about 60% to 70% effective if you use it correctly. You need to take it ASAP within 5 days of having sex.
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Can Birth Control Help Treat Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a painful condition caused when the uterine lining grows outside the uterus. The uterine lining sheds during menstruation. Uterine lining growing outside the uterus has nowhere to go, and this causes extremely painful cramps. And, as tissue builds up over time, the tissue can become swollen and inflamed.
Birth control with high levels of progestin is a common treatment for endometriosis. The pill can be used to skip your period, which keeps the uterine lining from shedding and stops painful endometriosis symptoms. Progestin also thins the uterine lining, which can lessen painful symptoms when you do get your period.
Benefits Of Birth Control
Any gynecologist will tell youhormones are powerful stuff, and the hundreds of formulations on the market prove its not one-size-fits-all science. The benefits are great, of course: Pregnancy prevention, acne reduction, menstrual cycle regulation, not to mention the convenience.
- Pregnancy prevention: When taken consistently , birth control pills are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. Its most reliable when you take the pill at the same time every day, so choose a time when itll be easy to incorporate into your routine .
- Acne reduction: Acne forms when hormones called androgens create sebum, an oil made by your skin. Too much sebum leads to clogged pores and bacterial growth, and ultimately creates acne. Birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progesterone are believed to help reduce androgens, leading to clearer skin for some women.
- Menstrual cycle regulation: Birth control pills were once offered with 21 days of active hormone pills and seven days of inactive pills. While that formula is still common, there are even more options today, including 24 days of active pills, and extended-cycle regimens for longer stretches between bleeds.
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The Combined Pill With Other Medicines
Some medicines interact with the combined pill and it does not work properly. Some interactions are listed on this page, but it is not a complete list. If you want to check your medicines are safe to take with the combined pill, you can:
- ask a GP, practice nurse or pharmacist
- read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine
The antibiotics rifampicin and rifabutin can reduce the effectiveness of the combined pill. Other antibiotics do not have this effect.
If you are prescribed rifampicin or rifabutin, you may be advised to change to an alternative contraceptive. If not, you will need to use additional contraception while taking the antibiotic and for a short time after. Speak to a doctor or nurse for advice.
Epilepsy and HIV medicines, and St John’s wort
The combined pill can interact with medicines called enzyme inducers. These speed up the breakdown of hormones by your liver, reducing the effectiveness of the pill.
Examples of enzyme inducers are:
- the epilepsy drugs carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine, phenytoin, phenobarbital, primidone and topiramate
- antiretroviral medicines used to treat HIV
A GP or nurse may advise you to use an alternative or additional form of contraception while taking any of these medicines.
Side Effects Of Hormonal Birth Control
You may experience side effects when using any type of hormonal birth control. These vary a little depending on which type of birth control you are using. Tell your doctor about any side effects that are bothering you.
Although it is rare, hormonal birth control methods, especially those that contain estrogen, increase your risk of developing a blood clot in your leg . Seek medical help immediately if you have trouble breathing, which can happen if a clot moves into your lung . A pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency.
For more information on contraception options, including their advantages and disadvantages, .
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What Are The Benefits Of Hormonal Birth Control
In addition to guarding against unwanted pregnancy, hormonal birth control can also have a number of other benefits, such as:
- Menstrual regulation: because birth control balances out the bodys hormonal levels, most women will find that it regulates their menstrual cycle as well, reducing period bleeding and PMS along the way.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome symptoms: over 10% of adult women suffer from PCOS, and taking hormonal birth control can help dampen some of the symptoms.
- Less hormonal acne: imbalanced hormones are one of the leading causes of acne in women, meaning that birth control will help clear up the skin of many.
- women who regularly use hormonal birth control are 50% less likely to develop uterine cancer in their lifetimes.
- Migraine activity reduction: the relationship between migraines and birth control is complex and under-studied, but many women will experience a reduction in migraine activity as a result of hormone regulation.
Things To Keep In Mind When Taking Birth Control Pills
- Keep another form of birth control, like spermicidal foam and condoms, on hand in case you forget to take a pill.
- Carry your pills with you if you don’t always sleep at the same place.
- Take your pill at the same time every day.
- Get your refills soon after you start the last prescription. Don’t wait until the last minute.
- Birth control pills are medications. Always tell your doctor or pharmacist you are on the pill if you see them for any reason.
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More Questions And Answers About Birth Control Pills
What is continuous use with combination birth control pills?
With continuous birth control pill use, you take an active pill every day and never have a period. You might have breakthrough bleeding, especially at first. You may want fewer periods or none at all, especially if you have problem periods. But you may wonder how youâll know if you get pregnant by accident.
If you think you could be, take a pregnancy test. They work even if you’re taking the pill. If the test is positive, stop taking your pills and call your doctor.
Do I have to get permission from my parents to go on the pill if Iâm younger than 18?
It depends where you live. In some states, you can get a prescription without permission. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the laws in your area. A sexual education counselor might be able to give you some ideas about how to bring up the subject with your parents. Even if you decide against that, they can talk to you privately if youâre confused, unsure, or just curious about sexual activity.
How old do I have to be to take the pill?
Thereâs no minimum age once you start to get your period, but some doctors suggest waiting until around 16 to give your body a chance to properly establish its cycle. Itâs a good idea to talk to your doctor, parents, or a counselor to make sure youâre physically and mentally ready, both for the pill and for sex.
Will it make my cycle more regular?
Will the pill make me gain weight?
Will the pill make my breasts larger?
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.
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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.
Birth Control Gut Health Connection #: Compromised Nutrient Absorption
Hormonal birth control has been shown to deplete the body of key nutrients like zinc, B vitamins, magnesium, selenium and vitamin C.
These are nutrients that we work hard to get from our food and possibly even other supplements and vitamins we take.
So, its important to know that using hormonal birth control, no matter how necessary it is, can leave you susceptible to nutrient deficiencies.
Some of these nutrient deficiencies can specifically affect gut function, and may be behind some of your gut symptoms or conditions.
Zinc, for example, works in our digestive tract to enhance the gut lining. This supplement can actually be used to heal leaky gut. But when youre deficient in it, as is common with hormonal birth control use, your gut is more likely to be leaky.
Selenium is also a critical nutrient when it comes to gut function. This micronutrient helps to regulate glutathione production. Glutathione is required for normal gut function and detoxification.
Diets high in selenium have actually been studied to improve the microbial diversity in the gut.
Its no secret that the health of our gut relies heavily on our ability to maintain adequate levels of key nutrients and vitamins. And, unfortunately, hormonal birth control does not do us any favors when it comes to improving nutrient status.
But, dont worry. Even if youre on birth control, or have been in the past, you can use targeted supplementation to help recover those nutrients that The Pill is possibly depleting.
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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.
Are There Any Benefits To Taking Birth Control Pills During Perimenopause Or Menopause
Oral hormonal contraceptives like the pill are often the best birth control option for perimenopause symptoms.
The biggest benefit of taking birth control pills during perimenopause or menopause is that it keeps you from getting pregnant. You have a chance of getting pregnant as long as youre still getting your period. Birth control pills are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy when taken as directed.
Birth control pills can help regulate periods, reduce bleeding and pain, and help with acne, as well as keep your hormones at consistent levels. So, during perimenopause, this can mean fewer hot flashes. Oral contraceptives can also help maintain bone health and strength.
But I suggest my patients stop taking the pill once they reach menopause. While every womans situation is different, there are sometimes risks with staying on the pill. Its best to talk with your primary care doctor or OB-GYN to help decide whats best for you.
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Todays Pills Are Different
When birth control pills were first sold in the early 1960s, they had very high levels of estrogen and progestin. Estrogen in high doses can cause weight gain due to increased appetite and fluid retention. So, 50 years ago they may indeed have caused weight gain in some women.
Current birth control pills have much lower amounts of hormones. So weight gain is not likely to be a problem.
Planned Parenthood: “History & Successes â âBirth Control Q& A â and âBirth Control Pill.â
4Parents.gov: “Birth Control Chart.”
Starting After The 5th Day Of Your Cycle
You will not be protected from pregnancy straight away and will need additional contraception until you have taken the pill for 7 days.
If you start the pill after the 5th day of your cycle, make sure you have not put yourself at risk of pregnancy since your last period. If youre worried youre pregnant when you start the pill, take a pregnancy test 3 weeks after the last time you had unprotected sex.
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So What Birth Control Should You Use If You Have Acne
Though there are certain guidelines, you can follow the above when considering birth control and acne. If you struggle with acne, itâs recommended that you choose an option known to help balance acne-producing hormones or, at least, one that is known to have little or no effect on acne. This category includes various options, from hormonal pills to vaginal implants, patches, and others. Before consulting with your OB/GYN, read through the above, and create a list of questions and concerns to help you both identify the best birth control choice for you! As always, monitor any symptoms or side effects and discuss them with your provider. Sometimes it takes trying a couple different birth control options to find a good fit.More info:
The Best Birth Control
Were curious about a variety of topics at goop, but after a staff poll over lunch, it became pretty clear that we had a lot of questions about birth control. After some debate, we pared our list of questions down to the ones on the Pill, IUDs, etc. that could help us answer the really big question: Whats the best form of birth control for me? Below, Dr. Maggie Ney, co-director of the Womens Clinic at the Akasha Center in Santa Monica, shares her expert opinion.
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Is Birth Control Bad For You Long Term
The pill is generally safe to take over a long period of time. But there is some research that suggests it might raise your risks of developing some types of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, taking birth control pills may increase your risk of breast cancer or cervical cancer over time.
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How Is The Pill Taken
Most combination pills come in either a 21-day pack or a 28-day pack. One hormone pill is taken each day at about the same time for 21 days. Depending on the pack, the birth control pills are either stopped for 7 days or a pill that contains no hormones is taken for 7 days. During the week that a woman is taking no pills or pills that donât contain hormones, she has her period. Some women prefer the schedule in which pills are taken every day of the month because it helps keep them in the habit of taking a pill every day.
Also available is a combination pill that reduces the frequency of a womanâs period by supplying a hormone pill for 12 weeks and then inactive pills for 7 days. This reduces the number of periods to one every 3 months instead of one every month.
Another kind of pill that may change the number of monthly periods is the low-dose progesterone pill, sometimes called the mini-pill. This differs from other birth control pills in that it only contains one type of hormone progesterone rather than a combination of estrogen and progesterone. It changes the cervical mucus and the lining of the uterus, and sometimes by affects ovulation. It may be slightly less effective than the combination pills at preventing pregnancy.
The mini-pill is taken every day without a break. A girl who is taking the mini-pill may have no period at all or she may have irregular periods. For the mini-pill to work, it must be taken at the same time every day, without missing any doses.
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