Hormones and Birth Control

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Approximately sixty-two percent of women in the United States use contraception. Among the sixty-two percent of women, twenty-eight percent of them use birth control pills (Jones, Mosher, & Daniels, 2012). Contraceptives, more commonly referred to as birth control, contain estrogen and progestin hormones which ultimately prevent pregnancy.

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These hormones avert ovulation from occurring. It also thickens the mucus around the cervix, making it difficult for sperm to enter the uterus and reach a released egg. These contraceptives may be very helpful for women who do not want to be impregnated. However, they do come with some unpleasant side effects, both short term and long term. They affect hormones and may cause pain, irritation, and mood swings. They also may cause some more serious diseases and forms of cancer. Estrogen and progesterone are important components of the female body. Estrogen has many functions including, physical changes during puberty, assistance in control of menstrual cycle, maintaining cholesterol levels, protecting bone health, and brain mechanisms (mood).

Estrogen operates throughout the body and mainly derives from the ovaries (Estrogen, 2018). Levels of estrogen must remain balanced in order to maintain a state of comfort for women. Progesterone is a hormone that the body naturally produces. Progestin is the man-made variant hormone of progesterone. It acts very similarly but is not identical to the authentic version. Progesterone is secreted by the corpus luteum and triggers the lining of the endometrium to thicken to accept a fertilized egg, (Progesterone, 2018). The body will not ovulate if high levels of progesterone are being produced hence, the segment of progestin incorporated in some contraceptives. Several risk factors come along with taking contraceptives. The most common used birth control is the form that contains both estrogen and progestin hormones also known as, Combined Hormonal Contraception, or, CHC. Estrogen increases the bloods’ ability to clot which therefore, increases the chance for women to obtain blood clots (Hormonal Birth Control & Blood Clot Risks, 2017). This may also lead to venous thromboembolism, a condition in which clots begin to form in the blood vessels, usually occurring in the legs. It is the third leading vascular diagnosis after heart attack and stroke (What is Venous Thromboembolism (VTE)?, 2017). In addition, birth control is known to worsen severe diabetes.

The estrogen portion can cause increased glucose levels and decrease the body’s insulin response. At the same time, the progestin portion may enhance the overproduction of insulin. This causes an imbalance and tends to exacerbate diabetes symptoms. There is a known possible acceleration of gallbladder disease while taking contraceptives. Estrogen can cause bile to become oversaturated with cholesterol, leading to the development of gallstones (Dominguez, 2018). Contraceptives may provoke cancer. For instance, the natural estrogen in a women’s body can trigger the development and growth of some cancers. Some cancers, such as breast cancer, have receptors for these hormones. Therefore, when synthetic versions of these hormones are put into a women’s body, the risk for developing cancer may be increased. Furthermore, contraceptives have the ability to change the susceptibility of cervical cells to persistent infection with high-risk HPV types, which is the leading cause of most cervical cancers (Oral Contraceptives and Cancer Risk, 2018). On the other hand, some types of cancer may be reduced. Endometrial cancer, for example, has a lessened risk.

The balance between estrogen and progesterone hormones are an important factor in obtaining endometrial cancer. When taking birth control pills, it helps to maintain a routine menstrual cycle each month and hormone balance which allows for a healthy endometrium (Endometrial Cancer Risk Factors, 2016). Studies have also shown that there is a reduced risk of ovarian and colon cancer in women who have used contraceptives. Contraceptives can be very beneficial to some women. Artificial estrogen and progestin can cause various occurrences within the body. Nevertheless, women should be educated on the different types of birth control before choosing which one should be entered into their body. Some types are better than others for certain individuals depending on family history, personal health matters, and other circumstances. There are several uncertainties that generate from taking any kind of prescription drug and they should always be taken into consideration when determining the best medicine for a particular individual.

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