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Can birth control pills affect your cholesterol?

Birth control pills are widely acknowledged as effective and safe for the majority of women. However, according to recent research conducted by Planned Parenthood, combined oestrogen and progestogen contraceptive pills provide other benefits.

Benefits of the combined pill

For example, the combined pill can help with irregular periods and offer protection against benign breast lumps, cysts on the ovaries and in breasts; and cancers, both ovarian and endometrial. They can also reduce the risk of osteoporosis and offer some protection against anaemia that is caused by iron deficiency.

However, since this is National Cholesterol Month we thought we would take a look at the effects of birth control pills on levels of cholesterol.

Birth control pills and cholesterol

Oral contraceptive pills are manufactured with varying amounts of reproductive hormones. It is essential that you take the right type for you because as well as benefits, there are risks.

In most women, changes that occur in cholesterol levels due to taking birth control pills, won’t impact negatively on their health. However, it’s important that the correct type of pill is prescribed for you as an individual. Generally oestrogen contained in oral contraceptives may result in a reduction of LDL (low density lipoprotein) which is considered to be the bad type of cholesterol. Conversely the oestrogen may also increase your HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or good cholesterol, according to the Mayo Clinic. The overall effect is that your total cholesterol level may rise.

Cardiovascular risks

Cardiovascular risks when taking oral contraceptives depend on other health factors. For example, women who smoke heavily, and are more than 35 years of age, have a greater risk of strokes and heart attacks. The risk increases if your blood pressure is high. Overweight women may develop high blood pressure when taking birth control pills. Most people are aware that smoking is bad for your health in so many ways. Smoking and oral contraceptives are not compatible since blood clots can develop. When considering the benefits of oral contraception you may find that it’s the right time to quit smoking!

Digital health clinic for oral contraception