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Understanding hormones

Birth Control and its Effects on Progesterone Levels


 Progesterone plays a vital role in the reproductive cycle.Progesterone is a female hormone produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands that affects many bodily processes, from sex life to bone density. This chemical messenger often works in tandem with estrogen, as can be the case when discussing birth control. Contraceptives intentionally alter your hormone levels and trick your body into thinking it is pregnant in order to prevent an egg from being released that month. Therefore, when you experience your period while using birth control, it is a “false” period.

Below is some information to consider about the effects of birth control on your natural progesterone.

What Is Progesterone’s Role in the Reproductive Cycle?

During the menstrual cycle, progesterone is released to help thicken the lining of the uterus in order to better prepare the lining to receive a fertilized egg. If the egg is not fertilized, progesterone is reduced and the lining is shed that month. In short, progesterone helps to regulate your monthly cycle.

What Is a Progestin-only Contraceptive?

Progestin is the synthesized version of progesterone, which means that it is not natural. By progestin-only birth control, one is referring to the difference between it and combination birth control that contains both estrogen and progesterone.

What Does Ingesting Progestin Do to Your Body?

Progestin, though it reacts similarly with the uterus as progesterone, is chemically different than the natural hormone. Some research suggests that naturally occurring progesterone is more effective at combating bone loss and PMS.

Is a Progestin-only Contraceptive for Everyone?

 Women who smoke have high blood pressure. Definitely not. It is rare to find any kind of medication, particularly contraceptives, that a doctor will recommend as “right for everyone” The type of birth control that is right for you will depend on your body, and your own specific hormone levels. However, the progestin-only pill is often recommended for women over 35, those who smoke, may have high blood pressure, or are overweight.

Does Birth Control Use Raise the Risk of Breast Cancer?

The gathered evidence against birth control is still inconclusive, but some research suggests that birth control could increase the risk of breast cancer. However, other research found that after 10 years free of birth control, a woman’s risk level returned to that before she took hormone based contraceptives.

Recommendation

If you are considering birth control, or have taken it for years and are curious about the risks and side effects, talk with your doctor. Hormone based contraception is very patient specific and could be riskier for some than others. There are alternatives to hormone based birth control. Condoms, for instance, are an effective birth control and also protect from sexually transmitted diseases. For more information on progesterone and its role, follow this link.

Reviewed on Thursday, October 10th, 2013

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