Contraceptives are ubiquitous, they are being used in the remotest rural areas. But at what cost?
All drug based contraceptives, whether they are a combo oestrogen/progestin or progestin only, can cause many adverse side affects...
Contraceptives and HRT are similar drugs. The ingredients are based on natural or synthetic oestrogen, given alone or in combo with a progestin, a synthetic progesterone. The proportions are slightly different, generally contraceptives contain higher levels of progestins, and HRT contains higher levels of oestrogen. Some examples for comparison are given below...
52 milligrams of levonorgestrel
2.5, 5, and 10 mg of medoxyprogesterone acetate (MPA)
150, 160, and 400 mg/ml of MPA
3 mg of drospirenone and 0.03 mg of ethinyl estradiol
3 mg of drospirenone and 0.02 mg of ethinyl estradiol
3 mg drospirenone, 0.02 mg ethinyl estradiol
0.10 mg of levonorgestrel and 0.02 mg of ethinyl estradio
0.15 mg desogestrel and 0.03 mg ethinyl estradiol
0.5 mg norethindrone and 0.035 mg ethinyl estradiol
0.3 mg of norgestrel and 0.03 mg of ethinyl estradiol
0.025, 0.0375, 0.05, 0.075, or 0.1 mg of estradiol
0.62mg estradiol/2.7mg norethindrone acetate or 0.51mg estradiol/4.8mg norethindrone acetate
0.3 mg, 0.45 mg, 0.625 mg, 0.9 mg, and 1.25 mg of a mixture of conjugated estrogens, sodium estrone sulfate, sodium equilin sulfate, sodium sulfate conjugates, 17Œ±-dihydroequilin, 17Œ±- estradiol, and 17Œ±-dihydroequilin. Blended to represent the average composition of material derived from pregnant mares' urine
vial contains 25 mg of conjugated estrogens, also lactose 200 mg, sodium citrate 12.2 mg, and simethicone 0.2 mg. The pH is adjusted with sodium hydroxide or hydrochloric acid.
0.625 mg conjugated estrogens, sodium sulfate conjugates, 17 Œ±-dihydroequilin, 17 Œ±-estradiol, and 17Œ&Mac178;-dihydroequilin. In a nonliquefying base containing cetyl esters wax, cetyl alcohol, white wax, glyceryl monostearate, propylene glycol monostearate, methyl stearate, benzyl alcohol, sodium lauryl sulfate, glycerin, and mineral oil
0.3 mg (as for Premarin)/1.5 mg MPA and 0.45 mg (as for Premarin)/1.5 mg MPA, 0.625 mg (as for Premarin)/2.5 mg MPA, 0.625 mg (as for Premarin)/5 mg MPA
The only safe contraceptive is the copper T IUD. It leaks no drug into the body, and it's efficacy is similar to drug based contraceptives. A review of several studies showed the copper T IUD to be better at preventing pregnancy than depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA).
Other alternatives are devices that do not contain hormones and create a physical barrier, such as condoms (male and female), or cervix caps.
Many progestin only contraceptives are derived from testosterone, and have androgenic properties. Undesirable side effects associated with this include acne and seborrhea, weight gain, blood pressure increase, an increase in the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) ratio, facial hair, hair loss from the head and aggression.
In addition, they have been shown to have oestrogenic activity too and to stimulate proliferation of breast cancer cells.
The combo oestrogen/progestin can lead to an increase in water retention, weight gain, cancer and more.
Medoxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) is used to facilitate infection of herpes in animal models of sexually transmitted diseases. MPA also functions as a tumour promoter.
Contraceptives can result in temporary infertility after stopping them. They are designed to stop ovulation, but once stopped the ovaries can start up again. Initially making oestrogen and testosterone, it can be many cycles later before ovulation takes place. This initial surge of oestrogen and testosterone causes a severe imbalance in the ovaries and anovulation results.
Luteinising hormone (LH) is secreted by the anterior pituitary gland and is required for both growth of preovulatory follicles and ovulation of the dominant follicle. In an effort to make a mature follicle ovulate the pituitary increases output of LH, but excess LH suppresses ovulation.
LH also stimulates proliferation, differentiation, and secretion of androgens by the theca cells which surround the ovum, hence the rise in androgen levels. This rise is responsible for the acne, oily skin, facial hair etc., that many women find occurs after discontinuing the contraceptive.
With excess androgens, oestrogen also increases. The androgens, notably androstendione, migrate from the theca cells to the granulosa cells where it is converted by the enzyme aromatase into oestrogen, particularly oestradiol. The theca cells also produce oestradiol without the need for conversion. The excess oestrogen can cause an increase in water retention and weight gain.
Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) increases, as the pituitary stimulates new follicles to mature. This increases oestrogen levels too. But high oestrogen also increases thecal cell proliferation, and so a vicious cycle starts.
Excessive LH, FSH, the androgens and oestrogens all suppress ovulation. Unless this occurs progesterone is not made. All this of course plays havoc with the ovaries, and emotions too.
Supplementing with progesterone suppresses the excess LH, FSH, oestrogen and testosterone, and helps regulate the cycle.
Contraceptives cause oxidative stress which leads to inflammation. Antioxidants are an essential part of establishing normal functioning ovaries.
As ovulation is suppressed, progesterone production stops, levels drop which can lead to depression. Often a diagnosis of depression is made, with no thought to the cause, so antidepressants are prescribed.
All contraceptives have the ability to cause insulin resistance, leading to tiredness, weight gain, a foggy brain and more.
The potential for blood clots increases, as oestrogen is known to cause platelets to aggregate.
"This study underscores the fact that prolonged and extensive use of these drugs in our daily life may be hazardous and also, that OC users should be aware of multifactorial risk factors (environmental, genetic and life style patterns) that may be responsible for additional DNA damage."
Progesterone can be used concurrently with contraceptives, and should be used during the progestin phase of the tablet pack. If a patch, implant or injection is used, progesterone can be used daily.
For more information on progesterone please see the web page on How to use progesterone.
Women should use between 100-200mg of progesterone daily.
Before using progesterone it's essential to first read the page on Oestrogen Dominance.
Please see here for more information on Nutrition and Diet.
For further reading see...
For more info on oestrogen or oestrogen/progestin combos, please see the HRT web page.
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