Birth Control Pills & Your Body
Birth Control Pills & Your Body
Correcting Some Oral Contraceptives Side Effects
Some common depletions and other effects of a common birth control pill are easily remedied by supplements
Oral contraceptives, or birth control pills, are primarily used to prevent pregnancy and to treat menstrual irregularities and endometriosis. Oral contraceptives are available as an estrogen and progestin combination or as a progestin-only product. The estrogens used in oral contraceptives are different from those used in hormone-replacement therapy.
While the convenience and wide range of products make birth control pills a good choice for many women, it's not well known that these convenient medications may also have some unexpected side effects, such as the depletion of vital nutrients from your body. The following describes some common depletions and other effects of a common birth control pill that are easily remedied by supplementation and lifestyle changes
Taking Levonorgestrel-Ethinyl Estrad?
- This medication may deplete or interfere with the absorption or function of certain nutrients, and supplementing may help replenish them.
- Magnesium: In a preliminary study, blood levels of magnesium decreased in women taking contraceptives containing ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel. Although the importance of this interaction remains somewhat unclear, supplementing with 250 to 350 mg of magnesium per day is a safe and reasonable idea for most adults.
- Vitamin B6: Oral contraceptives have been associated with vitamin B6 depletion and clinical depression. In a small, double-blind study of women with depression taking birth control pills, vitamin B6 (20 mg twice per day) improved depression. Half of the women in the study showed evidence of vitamin B6 deficiency.
- Other nutrients: Though the clinical importance remains unclear, it is interesting to note that women who use birth control pills may experience decreased vitamin B1, B2, B3, B12, C, and zinc levels, increased calcium and copper absorption, and increased blood levels of copper and vitamin A. Birth control pills may also interfere with manganese absorption.
- When taking this medication, avoid or discuss the safety of the following:
- St. John's wort: Case reports suggest that St. John's wort may interact with oral contraceptives and cause bleeding between periods and/or changes in menstrual bleeding. Women taking oral contraceptives for birth control should consult with their doctor before taking St. John's wort.
- Iron: Birth control pills typically decrease the amount of menstrual blood loss, leading to increased iron stores and, presumably, a decreased need for iron. Before taking iron supplements, premenopausal women taking birth control pills should have their iron levels monitored and talk with their prescribing doctor.
- Smoking: Women who smoke and use oral contraceptives have a five-times greater risk of dying from a heart attack than nonsmoking women who use them. Women over the age of 35 who smoke and use birth control pills have a greatly increased risk of death related to circulatory disease.