Pill shrinks ovaries, causes loss of ova (eggs)

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A new report from Denmark highlights what many have known and/or sensed in health care for many decades: the negative feedback by these potent, high dose steroids causes mayhem in the HPA axis in the hormonal feedback loop of the female body.

The birth control pill significantly affects ovarian reserve— or the number of immature ova in a woman’s ovaries— which can be a predictor of future fertility. This is so since the number of ova any particular female has stored in her ovaries is finite and determined pretty much at birth.

 

This is according to a team in Denmark, who reported to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology annual meeting last month that two markers for the ovarian reserve are markedly suppressed after prolonged birth control pill use: the levels of anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) in the blood, and the number of early (antral) follicles (AFC) in the ovary.

Ovaries are also markedly shrunken after prolonged pill use.

The phrase “ovarian reserve” refers to the ability of ovaries to churn out oocytes (eggs) that are fertilization-competent.  The Danish group found that AMH and AFC levels were 19% and 16% lower, respectively, in pill users than in women not taking the pill.

Furthermore, ovarian volume was significantly smaller by between 29 and 52%— with the greatest shrinkage occurring in women aged 19 to 29.9 years.

The study looked at 833 women (aged 19 to 46 years) attending the Fertility Assessment and Counseling Clinic from August 2011 to April 2012, both users and non-users of birth control pills. About 30% were former pill users.

Said the primary researcher “Worldwide, 160 million women are on the pill,” Birch Petersen told Bioscience. “1% will go into early menopause before the age of 40. The pill can mask the symptoms of early menopause, and this is why women could consider repeating the tests after six months [off the pill], if they have a low ovarian reserve.”

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