Adverse Effects of BCPs Birth Control Pills
Posted on March 24, 2013
Adverse Effects of BCPs Birth Control Pills
by Jeffrey Dach MD
Depression, Anxiety, Mood Disturbance and Other Adverse Effects of BCPs Birth Control Pills. The IUD is a Better Option.
Case Report: A 21 Year Old on OC’s (Oral Contraceptives)
Amy, a 21 year old college student came into the office with her mother because of depression, anxiety and severe mood disorder. Her other symptoms included forgetfulness, insomnia, and alternating euphoric and depressive states. Her medical history was unremarkable except for the past two years she had been on birth control pills (OC’s oral contraceptives). Her laboratory studies showed a severely low B12 level (217). The patient was advised to discontinue OC’s ( birth control pills), as the most likely cause of her symptoms. Six weeks later, after discontinuing the OC’s and taking B12 supplements, Amy reports all symptoms had resolved.
Switching to the Paraguard Copper T – IUD
The IUD (Intra-Uterine Device) is actually a better option than the Oral Contraceptive, and Amy was switched over to the IUD, called the Paraguard Copper T IUD, which is a plain IUD containing no hormones. The Paraguard is safer and more effective than OC’s for women of all reproductive ages according to guidelines from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. (44). Amy was now a happy camper, as she no longer had the adverse effects and mood disturbances from “the Pill”, while she still had a safe and effective method of Birth Control in her IUD, the Paraguard Copper T IUD. (Intra-Utereine Device)
What About the Mirena ?
Amy was advised to avoid the Mirena IUD because of the synthetic hormones impregnated into the Mirena.
Adverse Effects of OC’s Well Documented in Medical LIterature
The medical literature is full of reports of various nutritional deficiencies caused by oral contraceptives (OC’s) also called Birth Control Pills. Dr Brenda Herzberg reported that 25% of her patients stopped the OC’s because of headache, depression and loss of libido. She reported that 74% of patients found the IUD acceptable.(1)
Dr Melitis reported that OC’s are among many drugs that deplete the body of nutrients such as B6, B12 folate and Magnesium, and disturb Tryptophan metabolism which may cause depression. (2)
He says: “OCPs have been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular events as well as breast, cervical, and liver cancer.”
OC’s (BCP’s) have been shown to deplete many nutrients. Specifically :
1) Vitamin B6 deficiency causes disruption in tryptophan metabolism.
2) Depletion of riboflavin (vitamin B2), folic acid, cobalamin (vitamin B12), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and zinc.
3) Both B12 and Folate levels decrease by 40% with oral contraceptive use.
4) Lower folic-acid levels correlates with increased prevalence of abnormal Papanicolaou (Pap) smear results.
5) Increased coagulation leads to an increased risk of venous thrombosis and stroke
Here is a Summary Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies Caused by Oral Contraceptives: (3)
1) Birth control pills cause folic acid depletion with increased risk of cervical dysplasia and vascular thrombosis, Megaloblastic anemia, platelet hyperactivity and stroke: The authors recommend supplementation with folic acid at doses of 400-800 mcg per day, especially in women contemplating stopping the BCP’s to get pregnant. BCP induced Folate deficiency in the mother increases risk of neural tube defect in the embryo.
2) Oral contraceptives cause vitamin B6 depletion and depression, most likely associated with interference in the role that vitamin B6 plays in facilitating the tryptophan to niacinamide pathway. B6 deficiency and disruption of tryptophan may cause depression relieved by supplemental B6 (pyridoxine) tablets. Since pyridoxine in high doses can cause neurotoxicity, the P-5-P version is B6 is recommended. (4-7)
3) OC’s cause B12 deficiency – supplementation with B12 is recommended.
4) OC’s cause decreased Vitamin C levels- supplementation recommended.(3)
5) OC’s increase risk of venous thrombosis and stroke.
Oral contraceptives are to blame for deficiency in B6, and Tryptophan as well as deficiency in folate and B12 . These can cause mood disorders of depression, anxiety and even frank psychosis. (4-31) In addition to affecting the brain, B12 and folate deficiency can cause peripheral neuropathy, and megaloblastic anemia. (4-31) For women contemplating going off the “pill” and getting pregnant, folate deficiency increases risk of neural tube defect in the embryo, and folate supplementation is advised pre -conception (with 5-Methyl-Tetra- Folate preferably) to avoid birth defects.
Oral Birth Control Pills Increase Strokes and Heart Attacks
A 2005 metanalysis from Quebec summarized the risk associated with use of current low-dose Oral Contraceptives. They found the risk for myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) and for ischemic strokes was doubled compared to non-users. That’s a 200% increase !!
See the article: Bad News for the Nuva Ring
Also See the article: Why Transdermal Estrogen is Safer than Oral Estrogen
Testosterone and Binding Globulin (33-37)
Another disturbing finding is that OC (oral contraceptive) suppression of ovarian production of testosterone which may reduce levels by 50-60 per cent, thus making OC’s useful as a treatment for acne. Serum Binding Globulin is increased dramatically by OC’s These effects on decreased testosterone and loss of libido may continue many years later after discontinuing the Oral contraceptive pills.(33-37) The increased thyroid binding globulin can make thyroid test inaccurate, and cause artifacts in thyroid lab parameters (33-37)
Why are OC’s Such a Problem?
One might ask, why are oral contraceptives so problematic.? The answer is that they contain synthetic, chemically altered hormones that are foreign to the human body. Any slight alteration in a hormone structure creates a “monster” which can wreck havoc on the fine tuned biochemistry of the human body. For an idea of how fine tuned this is, the difference between estrogen and testosterone is one hydrogen atom added to the chemical ring structure of the molecule. If a small a thing as one atom of hydrogen (the smallest atomic particle) can determine the sex on an individual whether male of female, then imagine the potential damage of the larger chemical alterations in the synthetic birth control pills.
The IUD is preferred over the oral contraceptive for college students(44-49)
If OC’s are no longer the preferred method of birth control, What Is? If we take away birth control pills, what are the remaining birth control options for young college females who wish to avoid pregnancy?
ACOG News Release
As it turns out, a recent ACOG News Release June 20, 2011 answers this question:
They say that IUDs (Intra-uterine Devices) : “are the most effective forms of reversible contraception available, and are safe for use by almost all reproductive-age women”.
This statement comes Eve Espey, MD, MPH, who helped write a Practice Bulletin by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College). Dr Espy says , “The major advantage is that after insertion, IUD’s work without having to do anything else. There’s no maintenance required.”
IUD is SAFE and Should Be First Line Method for Almost All Reproductive Ages (44)
Another earlier 2009 Committee Opinion released by ACOG (The College) says that IUDs (LARCs) should be offered as first-line contraceptive methods and encouraged as options for most women.
Features of the Paragard Copper T IUD:
1) Most effective method at preventing pregnancy
2) Most method cost effective when used long term
3) Does not impair fertility after removal
4) Can be used by women of all reproductive ages.
5) No Hormones in this Copper T IUD, and no increase in blood clots or stroke associated with BCP’s
Which IUD to Use?
Avoid the Mirena which has implanted synthetic hormones. Instead go with the Paraguard which has a proven track recod and has no added synthetic hormones.
Watch the Video on the Copper T IUD:
Who is Eve Espey MD ?
Dr. Espey chairs the ACOG working group for long-acting reversible contraceptives (IUD’s) and is a liaison member on the Committee for Underserved Women. She is a board member of the Society for Family Planning and for Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health. Additionally, Dr. Espey is Associate Dean of Students at the University of New Mexico and has chaired the UNM School of Medicine Curriculum Committee, working to promote incorporation of reproductive health in the medical school curriculum.
Disclaimer: I have no financial relationship with any manufacturer of oral contraceptives or IUD’s. Specifically I have no financial relationship with the makers of the ParaGard Copper T – IUD