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Can Taking Oral Contraceptives Affect Thyroid Health?

Millions of women take oral contraceptives, known as “the Pill” by most women.  For those who don’t take “the Pill”, chances are they know someone close to them who does.  So whether you currently take oral contraceptives, have taken them in the past, and/or have a family member or a friend who takes them, this information will hopefully make you realize the potential risks involved and do what is necessary to minimize these risks.

Before I talk about some of the risks of taking the Pill, there obviously are some benefits, with the main one being an effective contraceptive.  When I first met my wife she was taking the Pill, and it definitely did a good job of preventing her from getting pregnant.  However, there still is the possibility of getting pregnant, as while most doctors will say it is 99% effective at preventing a woman from becoming pregnant, some research shows it’s more like 94%, which still is pretty good, but would mean that there would be six pregnancies for every one hundred women.  Plus, women who do become pregnant while on the Pill frequently don’t realize this right away, and this can have harmful effects on the developing fetus.

In addition to taking the Pill for contraceptive purposes, women take it for other reasons, such as to regulate their cycles, help with pain, to clear acne, etc.  First of all, let me say that the Pill does not regulate a woman’s cycle, as this is a hormone that suppresses the endocrine system, and does have long term consequences.  And these risks are worse for a woman who has taken the Pill at an earlier age, which is why if you know someone who is in their teenage years who is taking the Pill, you probably will want to share this information with them. 

As for helping with pain, clearing acne, and other symptoms, in most cases these symptoms can be helped by changing one’s diet, exercising, and overall modifying the lifestyle factors that frequently cause these problems to begin with.  And I’m not suggesting that changing one’s diet will completely eliminate all of these common symptoms, but it all comes down to the risks vs. benefits.  And while there are some temporary benefits while taking the Pill, there definitely are some risks.

Here Are The Risks Of Taking Oral Contraceptives

A good book for any woman to read who is taking the Pill, or thinking about taking it, is called “The Pill, Are You Sure It’s For You”, which was written by Jane Bennett and Alexandra Pope.  It’s an easy to read book, and has a lot of valuable information that not only tells you about many of the risks that come along with taking the Pill, but they provide other safer contraceptive options (and no, not just the rhythm method), as well as better ways to manage the symptoms you experience.

As for some of the risks of taking the Pill, here is just a small sample of the problems it can cause, which is being quoted from the book I mentioned above: “All forms of hormonal contraception have been shown to cause weight gain and increase your tendency to deposit cellulite.  They do this through suppressing thyroid function, inducing testosterone deficiency and insulin resistance.  The latter increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome.  It may be remembering that synthetic estrogens are fed to beef cattle to make them gain weight.”

So as you can see, taking the Pill can definitely affect thyroid health, and so if you have a thyroid condition and are currently taking the Pill, while I can’t tell you to stop taking it, I will say that it isn’t helping your condition at all, and might be making it worse.  In fact, when I consult with a patient who is looking to follow a natural treatment protocol and is taking oral contraceptives, it makes it much more challenging to help them.  Obviously I realize that many women are taking it because it is a convenient way to reduce the likelihood of becoming pregnant without having to use condoms, but since it does suppress the endocrine system and therefore cause a hormonal imbalance, it can be very difficult to restore the health of someone with a thyroid condition who is taking the Pill.

This is especially true if someone is taking more aggressive forms of contraceptives, either in the form of injections, and/or to suppress their menstrual periods.  While it is challenging to help someone who wants to remain on the Pill but is taking it on a monthly basis and still has her regular cycles, it is still possible to accomplish this by putting her on a certain protocol.  This isn’t the case with someone who is taking injections and/or contraceptives that stop her from menstruating, as these aggressive forms of contraceptives will make it almost impossible to use natural treatment methods to restore someone’s health back to normal.

Some Additional Risks Of Taking Oral Contraceptives

In addition to having a negative impact on your thyroid gland, there are many other risks of taking the Pill.  As mentioned before, taking oral contraceptives can lead to weight gain, decrease the sex drive, lead to depression, fatigue, headaches, and many other symptoms.  And because you’re taking synthetic hormones, not only can this lead to a hormonal imbalance, but it will put a great deal of stress on the liver, since it will need to work extra hard to break down these hormones.  In fact, many women who take the Pill could benefit from a purification program to help eliminate these synthetic hormones from the body.

In addition to some of the more “milder” symptoms I listed above, the book I referred to also informs us that there are more serious conditions that can result, as it discussed a 25 year old study that consisted of over 45,000 women and found that “deaths from cardiovascular diseases like thrombosis, strokes and heart attacks were significantly increased in women on the Pill, and even the lowest dose Pills have been found to cause a doubling of the risk for strokes and heart attacks.”

So hopefully you realize that taking the Pill can have some serious consequences, both in the short term, and the long term.  As is the case with any medication, I’m not suggesting that anyone immediately stop taking the Pill, as this is not a decision that I could make.  My goal here was just to make you aware of some of the risks involved with regards to your thyroid condition, and your overall health as well.


 

36 Comments

  1. Liz says:

    My pill-taking days are well in the past, but I’d be very interested to know whether the drop in oestrogen at the onset of the menopause can cause T4 levels to shoot up. Any comments appreciated…

  2. Jennifer says:

    Hi Doctor, You have described me in 1. I was put on the pill at 14 years of age and I still to this day don’t know why. In my early 20’s I stopped taking it as I didn’t want any drugs in my system and my hair started falling out at a rapid pace. It got so bad that I reluctantly went back on it. I am still taking it but only to keep my hair in my head.I have recently been diagnosed with hypothyroid. Your post has connected many things and explained a lot. How do I get off the pill and keep my hair in my head?
    I have started taking aldactone again to suppress DHT, which has helped in the past. I would love to be drug free and let my body regulate itself, but will it ever get to the stage that it can?
    Are you taking new patients?
    I long for some accurate answers.
    Kind regards
    Jennifer

  3. McKenzie says:

    Two questions:
    1) Would bio-identical horomones also cause a problem as the pill does?
    2) You mentioned before to not take iodine until Hashimotos is addressed.
    What do you mean by addressed? Thank you

    • Dr. Eric says:

      McKenzie,

      1) Bioidentical hormones can definitely cause problems if not taken correctly. They can work wonders at times, but they are frequently abused. If at all possible I try to avoid recommending any hormones at all, even bioidentical hormones, although sometimes they are necessary.

      2) With regards to the question on Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, I mean that the autoimmune component needs to be addressed before someone with this condition can take iodine. If the autoimmune component is not eliminated and someone with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis takes iodine, it will usually worsen the symptoms.

      Dr. Eric

  4. Jennifer Weidenholzer says:

    Hello, Dr. Eric, and thank you for this article.
    I am on a low dose Pill (Mercilon) and have been on the Pill for 30 years, with a five year break to have kids. Now that I am 46 years old and approaching menopause, I have heard that continuing to take the Pill will regulate my hormones (artificially) so that the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause will be alleviated. Sounds good! But for the past 5 or so years I have been experiencing weight gain/difficulty to lose weight, rather severe hair loss, brittle nails, and I wonder if this is perhaps caused by the Pill. I want to avoid the problems associated with radical rise and fall of hormones and to maintain their delicate balance (which I think I am doing by taking the Pill ??), but on the other hand, if it instead is causing these other symptoms, perhaps I should look to alternatives. Can you give me your professional opinion?
    Thanks, I’d really appreciate it. Jennifer

    • Dr. Eric says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      It is possible that taking the Pill is causing those symptoms, although of course there is always the possibility that they are being caused by another factor. But in addition to affecting the hormones and potentially causing a condition such as estrogen dominance, oral contraceptives can also interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients. So while taking oral contraceptives can help some people, it can also cause a lot of problems…especially when taken over a prolonged period of time.

  5. Rick says:

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    thanks for information….

  6. clifford says:

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  7. rex says:

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  8. Tom says:

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  10. Ryan says:

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  16. Walter says:

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  20. Ramon says:

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  21. Lee says:

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Get Your Free Guide Entitled
“The 6 Steps On How To Reverse Graves' Disease & Hashimoto's Through Natural Methods”
You will also receive email
updates on any future webinars
on natural thyroid health.
 

"We respect your privacy"
 
Free Webinars on
Natural Thyroid Health


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Natural Treatment Methods:
Graves Disease Treatment
Hypothyroidism Treatment
Hyperthyroidism Treatment
Natural Thyroid treatment


Conventional Treatment
Methods:
Radioactive Iodine
Thyroid Hormone