Oral contraceptives are chemicals taken by mouth to inhibit normal fertility. All act on the hormonal system. Female oral contraceptives, colloquially known as the Pill, are the most common form of pharmaceutical contraception. They are used to prevent pregnancy. The pill is also used to control symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis. Many doctors prescribe the Pill to women who complain of dysfunctional uterine bleeding
Pros & Cons of Oral Contraceptives
|Birth Control Pills|
|Success Rate with Typical Use: 91%|
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The above table is obtained from https://youngwomenshealth.org
Managing lesser known but important side effects, can reduce concerns for users of oral contraceptives
Enabling women to make choices about their fertility is empowering and offers women better economic and social opportunities. Since their introduction in 1960, there have been many advances towards minimising the side effects of oral contraceptives (OCs) and thus to improving compliance. Lower dose oral contraceptive formulations have resulted in a decrease in side effects such as breast tenderness and bloating.
Many users are however unaware of less obvious OC-induced side effects, resulting from the depletion of certain nutrients, such as some of the Vitamin B group. Greater knowledge of the most common nutritional shortages and their possible impact, should assist users of OCs to decide, in consultation with their physician, whether they would benefit from taking appropriate dietary supplements.
Medical disorders that can occur because of vitamin or mineral deficiencies caused by OCs include cardiovascular disorders such as high blood pressure and thrombosis; anaemia and anorexia, as well as the more serious neural tube defects (NTDs) occurring during pregnancy. NTDs result from the failure of the neural tube of the embryo to close by the fourth week of pregnancy, causing birth defects of the brain and spine.
Some of the key vitamins and minerals that may be deficient in women taking OCs include B vitamins (in particular Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12); folic acid and zinc. Vitamin B6 deficiency is associated with a heightened risk of arterial and venous thromboembolism while Vitamin B12 is essential for cell growth and replication. Both Vitamin B12 and folic acid are important in the prevention of NTDs, while folic acid prevents anaemia. Zinc plays an important role in the proper function of the immune system and cell growth, while a lack of zinc may lead to anorexia, anaemia, atherosclerosis or affect the immune system.
Efforts to prevent micronutrient depletion with supplements or food should be considered for women who take OC for a long period. Taking appropriate dietary supplements is recommended as the first step, as various factors such as bioavailability, diet, unhealthy lifestyles and illness can also have an impact on the availability of certain nutrients. So it’s best to consult your doctor or pharmacy to source appropriate dietary supplements to prevent micronutrient depletion.