Effects of Contraceptives on Bone Health

Contraceptives, or birth control treatments, have many side effects and how they affect your bones is important. The most well-known and feared side effects of contraceptives is weight gain. You may already have a hard time maintaining your weight, and a medication side eaffect doesn’t need to make it any worse.

Types of Contraceptives

Not all contraceptives are the same, and while the basic principle is to release added hormones which essentially trick your body into believing you’re already pregnant, the different styles and methods can have different side effects. Before current contraceptives came along the options women used were herbal douches, diaphrams and some even used chemicals to induce miscarriage. The modern methods of hormonal birth control available are:

  • Birth control pills
  • Injectables
  • Implants
  • Vaginal ring

These are all placed or absorbed into your body in some way and therefore affect your many body systems, bone density included.

Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills are ingested on a daily basis with a break (a placebo) to be taken for one week out of the month to allow for a menstrual cycle. Some of the most common brands of birth control pills include Ortho-cyclen, Yaz, Loestrin and Alesse. There has been no real effect documented on birth control pills and bone health.

Injectables

Injected birth control methods include DMPA (depot medroxyprogesterone acetate). Some of the brand names of these injectables are Depo-Clinovir and Depo-Provera. Depot is a three month injectable and has been reported to lead to bone density loss than can become permanent, even after the injectable is removed. This is one of the serious risks involved with Depot, and you should speak with your doctor about this or other birth control methods that may work better for you.

Implants

Implants are a method of birth control that is implanted under the skin of your arm. The two major brands are Norplant and Implanon. These give you three to five years of birth control. They can be removed at any time and there is no down time to conceiving. Another form of implant is Mirena, which is implanted into the uterus wall and sutured in. Some of the positive benefits include less menstrual symptoms or a stop in your cycles all together. Implants have shown no known effects on bone health.

Vaginal Rings

Vaginal rings are a source of birth control that is inserted into the vagina for three weeks, then removed for one week to allow for a cycle. You insert the ring yourself and do not need to see your OB-GYN to have it done. Vaginal rings also have shown no known symptoms concerning bone health.

Regardless of the type of contraceptives you use, always look at the side effects they may cause. If you’re concerned about any of the side effects, including potential bone loss, talk with your doctor to find the best medication possible.

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