Birth control pills are commonly used in prescription medication. Almost 43.7% of contraceptive users in Canada prefer birth pills.

Along with the gynecological influence, contraceptive pills also have nutritional and metabolic effects. While many of these effects are negative, there are positive effects as well. 

One such positive effect of birth pills with progestin is an increase in the serum transferrin and iron levels. Transferrin is a protein produced by the liver that carries iron in the blood. An increase in transferrin levels, thus results in increased iron.

As women in the child-bearing age are commonly seen to have low iron levels, birth pills may be a good contraceptive option for them.

Here is more about the effect of birth control pills on iron deficiency.

Birth Control and Iron Levels

Iron deficiency is a common condition affecting almost 20% – 25% women around the world. About 14% of women in their child-bearing age suffer from painful and heavy menstrual bleeding. Not only the condition is frustrating and expensive, but it also increases the risk of iron deficiency.

Some symptoms of iron deficiency are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations
  • Lethargy
  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Headache

Birth pills can come handy in such cases. They reduce the duration and amount of bleeding during the menstrual cycle. This allows women to restore their iron stores. So, birth pills can be used to prevent or manage iron deficiency in women of child-bearing age.

But the majority of birth pills are a combination pill with estrogen and progestin and cannot be used by everyone. 

Some of those contraindications are:

  • Women above 35 years of age
  • History of blood clots
  • Habit of smoking 

In such cases, the progestin-only pill can be used to manage iron-deficiency.

Birth Control and Iron Deficiency Risk

Red blood cells provide nutrients and oxygen to the body cells throughout and hemoglobin in the red blood cells is responsible for this function.

The cells need adequate iron to maintain hemoglobin levels. In iron deficiency, the body cannot produce enough hemoglobin, and the RBCs are unable to deliver oxygen to body cells.

Some causes for iron deficiency are 

  • Pregnancy
  • Inability of the body to absorb iron, such as in Celiac disease
  • Blood loss
  • A diet deficient in iron.

Further, women with heavy periods are at a higher risk of iron deficiency. Studies have shown that women on contraceptive pills have higher iron levels as compared to the general healthy population.

Here are ways by which birth pills improve iron levels are:

  • Lowering the amount of blood loss during each menstrual cycle
  • Reducing the duration of the menstrual cycle
  • Increasing the production of transferrin from the liver

Iron Supplements for Birth Control

Iron supplements are usually not recommended for women on birth control pills. However, there is no reason to avoid iron-rich foods or multivitamins. 

In case you are still concerned about iron levels, you may consult your doctor and get supplements with low levels of iron.

Birth Control Pills and Iron Supplements Diet

Treatment of women with iron deficiency involves supplements and foods rich in iron

Some good sources include:

  • Brown rice
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Eggs
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Beans and pulses
  • Iron-fortified bread or cereals
  • Dried fruits such as prunes, apricots, and raisins

Final Thoughts

Birth pills are the second most common preferred method of contraception by Canadian women. These contraceptive pills have various effects on the body, including an increase in the iron levels. As women in child-bearing age are commonly seen to be deficient in iron, birth pills may be an excellent option for them. You may talk to your doctor and understand if birth pills are the best option for you.

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