The term Hormonal Contraception refers to birth control methods that act on the endocrine system. With most types of hormonal birth control, a woman takes hormones to prevent ovulation. When there is no egg to be fertilized, pregnancy cannot occur. Hormones also cause other changes in the cervical mucus and uterus that help prevent pregnancy.
There is no question that hormonal forms of contraception are effective and convenient. However, it is important to understand that using these methods suppresses the female’s own production of progesterone, and maybe estradiol and testosterone levels. The suppression of progesterone leaves a woman in a state of estrogen dominance, which puts her at greater risk for developing breast cancer, and prone to bothersome symptoms such as water retention, breast tenderness, foggy thinking, tearfulness, sadness and mood swings.
It is essential to understand that when we test our clients that are currently using a hormonal form of birth control, the progesterone level will likely be below range and the estradiol level may be as well. When synthetic progestins are being used, endogenous production of progesterone slows considerably. It is also important to note that there is competition between the progestins found in these birth control methods and bioidentical progesterone that may negate the beneficial effects of progesterone supplementation. Progestin blocks the progesterone receptor sites.
In spite of this concern, we and others have found it beneficial to supplement the BCP’s with bioidentical progesterone. This can help with weight loss, PMS, headaches or other symptoms that may be occurring.