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The Effects of Birth Control Pills on Hormones

Birth control pills rely upon hormones, most typically a combination of estrogen and progesterone, to prevent pregnancy. The pill fundamentally changes your body’s typical hormonal balance and cycle. Some changes are positive for many women, while others can be quite detrimental. Finding the right pill and the right dose can help to mitigate the effects of the pill on your hormones.

Functional Effects

The hormones in a combination birth control pill work in several ways to prevent pregnancy. The pill typically prevents ovulation, thickens cervical fluid and thins the lining of the uterus. Both estrogen and progesterone levels in the body rise during pregnancy, preventing many of the natural processes of the menstrual cycle, including ovulation and the development of the uterine lining. The pill artificially creates similar effects to prevent pregnancy.

Positive Side Effects

The hormonal changes caused by birth control pills can improve a number of cyclic discomforts and conditions. This is especially true if hormonal imbalances are causing heavy periods, spotting and bleeding or other difficulties. Irregular periods can be regulated by the estrogen and progesterone in the birth control pill. Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome may rely upon birth control pills to create normal cycles. In some cases, the hormones in oral contraceptives can also reduce acne, improve premenstrual mood swings or allow you to skip periods altogether.

Negative Hormonal Effects

The hormones in oral contraceptives, especially estrogen, can cause a wide range of side effects. Weight gain, nausea, breast tenderness and bloating are common minor issues. Some women may find that the changes in their hormonal cycles produce a reduced libido, depression or increased symptoms of premenstrual syndrome or premenstrual dysphoric disorder. More severe hormonal side effects include an increased risk of blood clots, stroke and high blood pressure or cholesterol.

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