Women's Health Tuesday January 12, 2016

Link Between The Pill & Birth Defects Disproved

Since the pill first became widely available in the 1960s, various concerns have been raised about the side effects of hormonal contraception. These can range from relatively minor worries about weight gain and loss of libido to very serious conditions such as blood clots and stroke.

On the whole, these concerns are unfounded. It is true that a woman's blood clot risk is slightly increased when taking hormonal contraception; this is due to the oestrogen in the pill making it easier for the blood to clot. However the risk is small, and any woman who smokes, is over 35 or has any other risk factors will be encouraged to use another form of contraception.

New Research Looked At Birth Defect Risk

Recently, a new study has looked at another question regarding the combined contraceptive pill that is not so commonly discussed. Researchers in Denmark looked at 900,000 live births to see whether taking the pill before or during pregnancy was likely to cause birth defects.

Strange as it may seem, there could be a scenario in which a woman continues to take contraceptives while pregnant. The most obvious reason is that she is not immediately aware of the pregnancy. But many women take the pill for reasons other than contraception, such as to control acne or regulate their periods. Of course, it is not advised to keep taking contraception during pregnancy, but again, this could result in a situation where a woman continues to take the pill for some time after becoming pregnant.

Therefore this study investigated whether taking the pill at any stage of pregnancy can result in an increased risk of birth defects.

What Were The Results?

Researchers looked at four different groups of women; a fifth of the participants had never taken the pill, two-thirds discontinued use at least three months before conceiving, while two smaller groups either stopped taking the pill within three months of becoming pregnant or continued to take it throughout pregnancy.

The results revealed that none of the women were at increased risk of having a baby with a major defect. For each group the ratio of birth defects to normal birth was 25 per 1000 live births. This remained the same when stillbirths and induced abortions were included.

Advice For Women Taking Oral Contraception

These findings support the idea that there is no increased risk for the babies of mothers who take oral contraception during pregnancy. However, most medical professionals would still advise coming off the pill as soon as a pregnancy is confirmed.

In the past, if you were planning to try and get pregnant, it was often advised to stop using contraception and then wait for a few months before trying for a baby in case of adverse effects from the hormones. However, this study supports more recent guidance that there is no need to wait for your menstrual cycle to return to normal, although you may find it easier to become pregnant once it has settled back into a regular pattern.


Latest Stories

Get your daily dose of inspiration from our Best of healthexpress blog , where we showcase some of the most stunning stories and information.

Women's Health

Men & Your Body Hair; Do You Car...

There's no point beating around the bush here (pun intended); beauty is a trait adhered to in our society. You can become a global superstar with...

Women's Health

Period & Fertility Tracker Apps:...

How jealous must our ancestors be that we can see the future, with regards to our fertility? Female-friendly apps are great for period tracking and...

Women's Health

Why Are So Many Women Still Skip...

Cervical Screening Awareness Week is upon us and yes, there IS a week for absolutely everything. But rather than the pointlessness of Steak and...

Women's Health

4 Possible Reasons For An Itchy ...

Many of us have that irrational fear when something goes wrong downstairs. Am I pregnant? Do I have an STI? Do I have ALL THE STIs? I'm pregnant...

Women's Health

Is This Menopause? How To Tell

Menopause is a completely normal and natural state of life to reach, but we don't like to talk about it. That's probably because women are so often...

Group Of Women
Women's Health

Hirsutism Q&A - With The Hirsuti...

Hirsutism is a condition that causes a woman (or man) to develop excessive hair growth on parts of the body including face, neck, chest, stomach,...

Load More Stories
comments powered by Disqus