Modern day contraception began with the synthesis of orally effective progestins and estrogens in the early 1950s.
In 1957, scientists showed that ovulation in women could be
suppressed with these hormones and were first marketed in the U.S. for menstrual regulation. Following further product
refinement and political lobbying, Enovid (Searle) was marketed
as the first oral contraceptive (OC), a.k.a. the birth control pill, in 1960.
These early versions of the OC contained much higher doses of both estrogen and progestin than were pharmacologically necessary to suppress ovulation, and the subsequent history of the OC has been dominated by a progressive and continuing reduction in hormone dosage. This has been driven by the desire to reduce side effects and the requirements of oral contraceptive manufacturers to have distinct marketable characteristics for their new preparations.
The oral contraceptive product innovation has been accompanied by significant social and sexual change. Oral contraception provided women, for the first time, with a mechanism to control their fertility. It gave women the chance to separate career choices from relationships and family planning. But controversy has accompanied change, and the OC has generated more articles, opinions, research studies and research investment than any other single class of drug.
The progressive evolution of the oral contraceptive has, in addition to the dramatic reduction in dosage, been accompanied by an increasing awareness of a range of positive and negative attributes. While OCs are the most effective form of birth control, they have also been shown to alter a number of metabolic and nutritional processes. Birth control pills cause deficiencies of key vitamins and minerals, increase unwanted levels of others and also increase the
overall requirements or demands for important micronutrients. Experts have long recommended that women taking birth control pills supplement their regular diet with targeted vitamins and minerals with a product like
FEMTABS®, dietary supplement for contraceptive users.
NUTRITIONAL INSURANCE POLICY
While using oral contraceptives regularly is 99% effective in controlling pregnancy, there are several potential side effects and health concerns to be aware of. Nausea, mood changes, increased PMS, lethargy, skin disorders, hair loss, cervical cell changes, and cardiovascular symptoms are not uncommon. Blood clots, liver problems, and cancer are also possible, though rare. Many women have difficulty taking oral contraceptives, while others seem to tolerate them with few problems. The use of birth control pills is more common in younger women and teenagers, which, due to poor dietary habits and smoking, adds another dimension of uncertainty regarding the nutritional effects of these drugs.
Oral contraceptives may create certain nutrient deficiencies and excesses as well as increase the nutritional needs of the user. Most of the B vitamins, particularly pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and folic acid, are needed in higher amounts with OC use. Copper serum levels in the OC user usually rise, and zinc levels tend to fall. Thus, there is an increased demand for zinc. The medical literature also supports increasing the intake of beta-Carotene, vitamins C and E, magnesium and selenium while on birth control pills.
Teenage girls on birth control pills must also be particularly careful to
avoid nutritional deficiencies, and all would be well advised to take a
supportive nutritional supplement. Adequate intake of the antioxidant
nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, selenium, and
help reduce potential toxicity of oral contraceptives.
A healthy, nutrient-rich diet is the best prevention from any potential problems of OC use. Low-fat protein intake and foods such as whole grains, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are excellent choices. Eating plenty of vegetables is the best way to prevent mineral deficiencies and maintain a healthy body weight. A few tablespoons of olive oil used daily will help ensure an adequate intake of essential fatty acids. Good sources of low fat protein are foods such as eggs, fish, poultry, and legumes. In addition to the normal recommended diet of a female adult or teenage, if taking oral contraceptives it is recommended that the levels of the following nutrients be increased:
Ob/gyns are now recommending a specific supplement,
FEMTABS®, dietary supplement for contraceptive users to address the needs of oral contraceptive users.