Combined Contraceptive Pill!
7 Startling: Danger Facts to your Health
If you take a combined contraceptive pill to prevent pregnancy or for any other reason. You are probably more than happy with its convenience and reliability. Even so you may still have concerns and questions about how what this pill affects your health and the normal function of your body. Questioning as to whether the benefits so minimal that it may not be worth the risk of taking the combined contraceptive pill.
There are definitely some startling facts and serious concerns that should not be ignored in regards to the taking of the Combined Contraceptive pill and the “Dangers to your Health”.
In this article I provide some clarity for you with evidence-based research providing details of all of the known side effects, common problems associated with taking the pill along with increased risk of disease and other health related concerns.
What is the Combined Contraceptive Pill?
The combined oral contraceptive pill is a type of oral medication that is designed to be taken every day, at the same time of day, in order to prevent pregnancy. There are many different formulations or brands, but the average pack is designed to be taken over a 28-day period, or cycle.
A question that has come up over the years, has been in regards to the safety of the Combined Contraceptive Pill and what the long-term side effects on a woman’s health. The combined contraceptive pill was designed to give the body a false sense that it was pregnant. It includes a combination of an oestrogen (estradiol) and progesterone (progestin).
There may be some short-term benefits. In some cases, it has been found to improve a condition known as pelvic inflammatory disease, dysmenorrhea, premenstrual syndrome, and acne, reduce symptoms of endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome, and decrease the risk of anemia. Use of oral contraceptives also reduces lifetime risk of ovarian cancer. Further research needs to be considered here as what may appear to be short-term benefits there are some startling facts being found with the health risks involved with the long-term use of oral contraceptives and even greater health risk with injectable contraception.
Health Risks Associated with Oral Contraceptives
It is generally accepted that the health risks of oral contraceptives are lower than those from pregnancy and birth, and “the health benefits of any method of contraception are far greater than any risks from the method”, as you will see in this article, research has discovered that is not necessarily be true.
It has been found not to be a fool proof way of “not becoming pregnant”. If used exactly as instructed, the estimated risk of getting pregnant is still 0.3% which means that about 3 in 1000 women on COCPs will become pregnant within one year.
It is somewhat confusing as it is generally believed that the combined oral contraceptives pills are generally considered to be a relatively safe medication, they are contraindicated for those with certain medical conditions. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publish guidance, called medical eligibility criteria, on the safety of birth control in the context of medical conditions.
It has now been discovered some danger facts and risks known to cause some serious health issues associated with taking the combined oral contraceptive pill.
Common Side Effects
Different sources note different incidences of side effects. The most common side effect is breakthrough bleeding. A 1992 French review article said that as many as 50% of new first-time users discontinued taking the birth control pill before the end of the first year because of the annoyance of side effects such as breakthrough bleeding and amenorrhea. One study found that women using birth control pills were more proned to infertility, later on when wanting to become pregnant.
Nausea, vomiting, headache, bloating, breast tenderness, swelling of the ankles/feet (fluid retention), or weight change may occur. Vaginal bleeding between periods (spotting) or missed/irregular periods may occur, especially during the first few months of use.
Danger Risks to your Health
1: Heart & Blood Vessels
Combined Contraceptive pills with more than 50 ug of oestrogen increase the risk of ischemic stroke and myocardial infarction. There is some thought that lower doses may appear safe. These risks are greatest in women with additional risk factors, such as smoking, obesity, heavy drinking of alcohol, taking of prescribed and illegal drugs. As these factors increase the risk factors substantially, and long-continued use of the pill, especially in women over 35 years of age.
The overall absolute risk of venous thrombosis per 100.000-woman years in current use of combined oral contraceptives is approximately 60, compared with 30 in non-users.
The risk of thromboembolism varies with different types of birth control pills; compared with combined oral contraceptives containing levonorgestrel (LNG), and with the same dose of oestrogen and duration of use, the rate ratio of deep venous thrombosis for combined oral contraceptives with norethisterone is 0.98, with norgestimate 1.19, with desogestrel (DSG) 1.82, with gestodene 1.86, with drospirenone (DRSP) 1.64, and with cyproterone acetate 1.88. In comparison, venous thromboembolism occurs in 100–200 per 100.000 pregnant women every year.
In relation to Blood Clots. One study showed more than a 600% increased risk of blood clots for women taking COCPs with drospirenone compared with non-users, compared with 360% higher for women taking birth control pills containing levonorgestrel. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) initiated studies evaluating the health of more than 800,000 women taking COCPs and found that the risk of VTE was 93% higher for women who had been taking drospirenone COCPs for 3 months or less and 290% higher for women taking drospirenone COCPs for 7–12 months, compared with women taking other types of oral contraceptives.
Based on these studies, in 2012 the FDA updated the label for drospirenone Combined Contraceptive Pill packaging to include a warning that contraceptives with drospirenone may have a higher risk of dangerous blood clots.
2: Increased Risk of Breast: Cervical & Liver Cancers
A report by a 2005 International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) working group found that COCs increase the risk of cancers of the breast, cervix and liver. A systematic review in 2010 did not support an increased overall cancer risk in users of combined oral contraceptive pills but did find a slight increase in breast cancer risk among current users, which seem to disappear 5–10 years after use has stopped; the study also found an increased risk of cervical and liver cancers.
A 2013 meta-analysis concluded that every use of birth control pills is associated with a modest increase in the risk of breast cancer (relative risk 1.08) and a reduced risk of colorectal cancer (relative risk 0.86) and endometrial cancer (relative risk 0.57). Cervical cancer risk in those infected with HPV is increased. A similar small increase in breast cancer risk was observed in other meta-analyses.
A study of 1.8 million Danish women of reproductive age followed for 11 years found that the risk of breast cancer was 20% higher among those who currently or recently used hormonal contraceptives than among women who had never used hormonal contraceptives. This risk increased with duration of use, with a 38% increase in risk after more than 10 years of use.
- Short-Term Use Decreased Risk for Ovarian: Endometrial and Colorectal Cancers
As you will see the protective effects are minimal in comparison to the damaging and side effects. However combined oral contraceptive pills may decrease the risk of ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer and colorectal cancer. Two large cohort studies published in 2010 both found a significant reduction in adjusted relative risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer mortality in ever-users of OCs compared with never-users.
The use of oral contraceptives (birth control pills) for five years or more decreases the risk of ovarian cancer in later life by 50%. Combined oral contraceptive use reduces the risk of ovarian cancer by 40% and the risk of endometrial cancer by 50% compared with never users. The risk reduction increases with duration of use, with an 80% reduction in risk for both ovarian and endometrial cancer with use for more than 10 years. The risk reduction for both ovarian and endometrial cancer persists for at least 20 years. In other words, long-term use of the combined oral contraceptive pill will increase the risk of these cancers.
3: Long-Term Use Increased Health Risks
A report by a 2005, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) working group said Combined Contraceptive pill increases the risk of cancers of the breast (among current and recent users), cervix and liver cancers, (among populations at low risk of hepatitis B virus infection).
A 2013 meta-analysis concluded that ever use of birth control pills is associated with a modest increase in the risk of breast cancer (relative risk 1.08) and a reduced risk of colorectal cancer (relative risk 0.86) and endometrial cancer (relative risk 0.57). Cervical cancer risk in those infected with human papilloma virus is increased. A similar small increase in breast cancer risk was seen in other meta-analyses.
4: Sex Hormone Imbalances
A 2006 study of 124 pre-menopausal women measured sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), including before and after discontinuation of the oral contraceptive pill. Women continuing use of oral contraceptives had SHBG levels four times higher than those who never used it, and levels remained elevated even in the group that had discontinued its use.
Theoretically, an increase in SHBG may be a physiologic response to increased hormone levels, but may decrease the free levels of other hormones, such as androgens, because of being non-specific of its sex hormone binding.
Low levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain, that has been linked to depression. High levels of oestrogen, as in first-generation women taking combined contraceptive pill and progestin. There have been studies done on progestin-only contraceptives, that have been shown to lower the brain serotonin levels by increasing the concentration of a brain enzyme that reduces serotonin. (Commonly, referred to as the mini pill. A lot safer option and has been found to be just as effective when following directions of use.
This observation, along with some small research studies have inspired speculation that the pill causes depression. In 2016, a large Danish study of one million women showed that use of combined contraceptive pill, especially among adolescents, was associated with a statistically significantly increased risk of subsequent depression, although the sizes of the effects are small (for example, 2.1% of the women who took any form of oral birth control were prescribed anti-depressants for the first time, compared to 1.7% of women in the control group).
6: Risk of Hypertension
Bradykinin lowers blood pressure by causing blood vessel dilation. Certain enzymes are capable of breaking down bradykinin (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme, Aminopeptidase P). Progesterone can increase the levels of Aminopeptidase P (AP-P), thereby increasing the breakdown of bradykinin, which increases the risk of developing hypertension.
7: Detrimental Physiological Effects
Some of the side effects associated with low dose combined contraceptive pill, are leucorrhoea (increased vaginal secretions), reductions in menstrual flow, mastalgia (breast tenderness), and decrease in acne. Side effects associated with older high-dose COCPs include nausea, vomiting, increases in blood pressure, and melasma (facial skin discoloration); these effects are not strongly associated with low-dose formulations.
Excess oestrogen, such as from birth control pills, appears to increase cholesterol levels in bile and decrease gallbladder movement, which can lead to gallstones. Progestin’s found in certain formulations of oral contraceptive pills can limit the effectiveness of weight training to increase muscle mass. This effect is caused by the ability of some progestins to inhibit androgen receptors.
Combined oral contraception decreases total testosterone levels by approximately 0.5 nmol/l, free testosterone by approximately 60%, and increases the amount of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) by approximately 100 nmol/l. Contraceptives containing second generation progestins and/or oestrogen doses of around 20 –25 mg EE were found to have less impact on SHBG concentrations.
Combined oral contraceptives are generally accepted to be contraindicated in women with pre-existing cardiovascular disease, in women who have a familial tendency to form blood clots, women with severe obesity and/or hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol level), liver tumours, hepatic adenoma or severe cirrhosis of the liver, those who are prone to migraines with known or suspected breast cancer and in smokers.
Further Reference: Wikipedia Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill
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