Taking an oral contraceptive pill (OCP) is something that a lot of women do. There are a variety of reasons that someone may start taking the OCP. It may even give symptomatic relief, but what about the long term? How long should you stay on the OCP? Does it have any side effects?

The longer you are on the OCP, the longer your body goes without its normal hormones. The OCP and other hormonal contraception methods give your body hormones that are like your normal hormones – but they are not the same.

Nutritional Deficiencies

The OCP changes how your body functions and these alterations deplete or compromise your nutrient stores. Specific nutrients that must be kept on an eye include magnesium, zinc, selenium, vitamin C, and some of the B group vitamins (riboflavin, B6, B12, and folic acid).

Each vitamin and nutrient are impacted in slightly different ways:

  • The usage of zinc in your body increases when on the OCP while reducing your zinc levels. Because zinc plays many different roles in the body, having sufficient levels for these normal body functions is important.
  • Selenium is important in thyroid function and the action of antioxidants in the body. The OCP has been found to interfere with the absorption of magnesium in the body. Meaning that it is harder for your body to get this mineral from your diet.

Common Side Effects from the OCP

  • Depression
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss
  • Anxiety 

There are other things that arise in longer terms.

After being on the OCP for a while, you will have an increased risk of breast cancer.

There is also an increased risk of blood clots, particularly in women who also smoke, which people on the OCP are advised not to do.

If you would like support in coming off the pill and addressing any underlying hormonal issues, please make an appointment with one of our naturopaths.

Ruth Griffiths

Ruth has had a lifelong interest in and passion for nature, natural medicine, and the human experience. She began her studies in Health Science, Aromatherapy, Remedial Therapies, including Manual Lymphatic Drainage, in Melbourne over 25 years ago. On completion of these studies, Ruth operated a clinic for 8 years in the Grampians region, specializing in […]

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