The Hormone Levels in Birth Control Pills May Be Cut Greatly

Even great reducing of the hormone levels in oral contraceptives and other contraception methods would not compromise their effectiveness.

Maria Zavialova

A recent joint study involving scientists from the Philippines, the United States, and Denmark has found that the overall hormone levels in contraceptives can be significantly reduced. Specifically, contraceptives that only contain estrogen can be lowered by 92%, while those containing only progesterone can be lowered by 43%.

Moreover, the researchers suggest that even further reduction in dosages is possible by combining these hormones.

Optimal hormone levels for the best contraception

A team of researchers from the University of the Philippines Diliman in Quezon City conducted a study using a computer model of the menstrual cycle. They have incorporated real hormone data from 23 women between the ages of 20 and 34 with normal menstrual cycles.

The computer simulations showed that the best time to introduce estrogen-based contraceptives is during the mid-follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. It starts on the first day of menstruation. Over the next 14 days, hormone levels of progesterone and estrogen gradually increase, leading up to ovulation and the luteal phase. By identifying the best timing, the researchers hope to help women make more informed decisions about their reproductive health.

The risks of hormonal contraception

Taking high doses of hormones can lead to serious complications, such as thrombosis, heart attacks, pulmonary embolisms, and strokes. These risks are compounded by common side effects like nausea, breast tenderness, bloating, and mood swings.

To reduce these risks, many people opt for lower hormone levels in their contraceptives. This can help minimize the potential for disorders and keep you feeling your best.

If you’re curious about the different types of contraception available, check out this helpful guide for more information.

Through the years, safer contraception has been achieved by reducing the dosage of hormonal contraceptives. Our study suggests a method on how ovulation can be suppressed. When more data becomes available, our mathematical model could be coupled with a pharmacokinetics model to obtain patient-specific dosing schemes.

Study author, Brenda Lyn A. Gavina, Institute of Mathematics, University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City

Researchers conclusion

With the emergence of a fully automated device for delivering hormones, including intravaginal prototypes for large ruminants, the prospect of continuous hormone delivery to achieve a significant reduction in exogenous hormone doses for humans is gaining interest. However, there are also existing methods that can be used. They include as implants, patches, and intrauterine devices with progesterone. The latter method has specific advantages, including alleviating heavy periods.

The study’s results may provide clinicians with recommendations for an optimal hormonal contraception regimen that induces anovulation.

Specifically, it was surprising that theoretically, our mathematical model (with the simplifying assumptions) showed that as low as 10% of the total exogenous estrogen dose in constant administration could achieve contraception as long as this dosage is perfectly timed (the timing was also shown in our optimization result).

Study author, Brenda Lyn A. Gavina

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