Birth Control and Thyroid Issues

The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system and has a crucial role in women’s health. The gland located in the lower part of the neck produces triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones are critical for normal metabolism, growth, brain development, energy production, temperature control, and reproduction. When the gland is underactive, it does not produce enough thyroid hormones. This condition is known as Hypothyroidism.

A large epidemiological study published in the British Medical Journal evaluated the association between the use of birth control pills and thyroid abnormal function.

The team of investigators analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted in the USA from 2007 to 2012. More than 7000 health records were analyzed. The authors of the study included women who reported the use of birth control pills in a reproductive health questionnaire, and also reported thyroid medication use or had thyroid function laboratory test values.

Women who had ever taken birth control pills had a higher prevalence of hypothyroidism, compared to women who never used hormonal oral contraceptives. Further statistical analysis of confounding variables (such as age, race, education, body mass index, smoking status, alcohol use, history of thyroid disease, current thyroid disease, first menstrual age, pregnancy history, menopause status, and history of hormone replacement use) was performed using multivariate logistic regression. The analysis demonstrated a significant association between hypothyroidism and a history of taking birth control pills for more than 10 years.

The authors of the study concluded that a “long history of using birth control pills was strongly associated with hypothyroidism, especially for more than 10 years.”


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