Women who want to become future moms need to take good care of their well-being in order to have a healthy pregnancy and avoid complications, experts said. That is why being in tune with the body's condition before and during pregnancy is extremely important.
However, there is concern over whether babies conceived in both planned and sudden pregnancies -- where the mother has taken pills before conception and during the first few months of gestation -- are at risk for developing birth defects.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, about 62 percent of women in the United States aged 15 to 44 years old take birth control pills. Experts believe that if these women want to become pregnant later, their embryos are already exposed to the hormones that come from the pill.
Brittany M. Charlton of Harvard Medical School said most women stop the use of oral contraceptives before pregnancy, and then they conceive after several months.
"A woman may inadvertently expose her offspring during pregnancy to exogenous sex hormones," said Charlton. With that comes the potential risk.
Is that a bad thing for both the mother and the baby? Fortunately, a new study in the U.S. and Denmark provides assurance that taking contraceptive pills shortly before or during pregnancy will most unlikely cause birth defects in babies.
Exposure To Hormones From Pills Will Not Cause Birth Defects
Researchers examined birth records from Danish registries that were dated January 1997 to March 2011, as well as contraceptive prescription information to evaluate women's oral contraception use before and during early pregnancy.
The team found that eight percent of women halted their use of oral contraceptives less than three months before pregnancy, while only one percent of the women used birth control pills while pregnant.
Among the records of live births, researchers discovered that there are similar rates of birth defects for children of women who never took oral contraception and women who did.
For women who didn't take birth control pills, about 25 of 1,000 infants were born with birth defects. The same number was found in babies of women who took contraceptive pills.
Harvard's Charlton, the lead author of the study, said those who get pregnant after stopping their use of birth control pills or those who take them during pregnancy should know that the exposure will unlikely cause the baby to develop birth defects.
She added, however, that their findings cannot prove that birth control pills do not cause birth defects, but that there is no link between the two.
For Dr. Jennifer Wu of Lenox Hill Hospital, NY, the findings were not surprising but were vital.
"Many women in the United States are on birth control pills, so it's reassuring to know that they don't cause any birth defects, and women don't have to worry about it during pregnancy," she said.
Negative Side Effects And Possible Risks That Come From Birth Control Pills
Although birth control pills are unlikely to affect your baby's health in the future, these oral contraceptives still have several harmful effects to your health when taken inappropriately.
According to the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP) said the oral contraceptive pill is highly effective, and has a failure rate of only 0.1 percent. However, taking birth control pills has side effects and can increase risks for different diseases.
1. Inter-Menstrual Spotting
Data from the AHRP revealed that about 50 percent of women who use the pill experience bleeding in their reproductive organs between expected periods, and most typically during the first three months of using the pill. Experts said that the pill is still effective during spotting, as long as none were missed. Those who experience five or more days of bleeding while on pills, or heavy bleeding for three or more days should contact a health care professional.
2. Mood Changes
Women who take the pill experience emotional changes. This is why experts suggest that those who have a history of depression should talk to their doctors first before and while taking the oral contraceptive.
3. Blood Coagulation And Stroke
Overuse of contraceptive pills can lead to excessive blood coagulation, according to a group of researchers in India. This becomes extremely harmful to a woman's health because blood coagulation or blood clotting can possibly block an artery and prevent blood flow, consequently leading to stroke or heart attack.
4. Increased Risks For Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis affects a person's brain and spinal cord, and causes problems in movement, balance and eyesight.
In a study, researchers in California found that among women who had developed multiple sclerosis, 29 percent used oral contraceptives for at least three months before their symptoms manifested.
"These findings suggest that using hormonal contraceptives may be contributing at least in part to the rise in the rate of MS among women," said Kerstin Hellwig, the study author.
5. Increased Risks For Breast Cancer
A study in 2014 found that those who take pills that contain estrogen and other hormones have a 50 percent chance of developing breast cancer. After examining 1,100 cancer patients, researchers found that the higher the dose of estrogen and other hormones, the higher risk it brings to the person.
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