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Can Birth Control Affect Thyroid Test Results

How To Take Thyroid Medication

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Although thyroid problems are usually easily treated with medication, it can be tricky to take because of how thyroid hormones react with other substances. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use because there are many other medicines that can affect thyroid medications. This includes vitamins, minerals, and herbal products. There are also some substances that block the absorption of thyroid medications , which is why some patients don’t see the results they’d like.

Your Numbers Your Doctor And You

Here’s an important point to remember if do get tested and your numbers are not “normal.” Hypothyroidism has a huge range, from very mild to quite severe. Not only that, one person whose TSH tests result in a reading of 2.5 may feel perfectly fine, while another person with the same reading may be suffering a battery of symptoms. The numbers and the symptoms don’t always correlate. Most of the time, taking thyroid medication will cure your symptoms and you will feel better within a matter of days; by six weeks on the medication you’ll have a very good idea of how it’s working. Unless you tell your doctor how you’re feeling, he or she has nothing to go on but your test results. You need to share with your doctor if your symptoms are getting better , and you need to be consistently retested to see how your medication is working. Your numbers may go back to normal, but if you’re still not feeling well it’s your responsibility to tell your doctor so that more tests can be taken or your medication can be tweaked until you find what works best for you.

What Is Known About The Relationship Between Oral Contraceptive Use And Cancer

Nearly all the research on the link between oral contraceptives and cancer risk comes from observational studies, both large prospective cohort studies and population-based casecontrol studies. Data from observational studies cannot definitively establish that an exposurein this case, oral contraceptivescauses cancer. That is because women who take oral contraceptives may differ from those who dont take them in ways other than their oral contraceptive use, and it is possible that these other differencesrather than oral contraceptive useare what explains their different cancer risk.

Overall, however, these studies have provided consistent evidence that the risks of breast and cervical cancers are increased in women who use oral contraceptives, whereas the risks of endometrial, ovarian, and colorectal cancers are reduced .

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Tsh Levels During Pregnancy

Thyroid hormones can affect brain and nervous system development of the baby, especially during the first trimester. At around 12 weeks, the baby will start to produce thyroid hormones of its own. Until then, the baby is entirely dependent on the transfer of thyroid hormones from the mother.

Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can occur during pregnancy. You may also have one of these conditions prior to getting pregnant and not know it.

Untreated thyroid disease can cause miscarriage, premature birth, or low birth weight. It can also cause preeclampsia. Having an underactive thyroid during pregnancy can also affect the babys growth and brain development.

Its important to have your TSH levels checked during pregnancy to make sure that both you and your baby remain healthy.

Hormones secreted during pregnancy can affect TSH levels, altering them from your typical numbers.

This chart provides an overview of normal, low, and high TSH levels for pregnant women who are between 18 and 45 years old:


Having a doctor monitor your thyroid gland and its production of thyroid hormones is the only way to comprehensively determine thyroid health.

The thyroid is one of several glands and structures that make up the bodys endocrine system.

It works in partnership with the pituitary and hypothalamus glands. These glands stimulate the thyroid to secrete two hormones, which are then released into the bloodstream: T4 and T3.

What Is The Thyroid Gland

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The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that is normally located in the lower front of the neck. The thyroids job is to make thyroid hormones, which are secreted into the blood and then carried to every tissue in the body. Thyroid hormones help the body use energy, stay warm and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working as they should.

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What You Should Know About Your Thyroid Health

Nearly 1 in 3 people have thyroid disease, the majority of which are women. In fact, women are 5 to 8 times more likely to have thyroid disease. Yet more than half of those with a thyroid condition dont know they have it.

While a thyroid condition can be detected with a simple blood tests, many women go years before they receive a diagnosis. To evaluate thyroid function I recommend the following tests:

Healthy Thyroid Influences Progesterone

Throughout this post, we discussed the impact of low progesterone on thyroid function. Every relationship is a two-way street, progesterone and thyroid arent the exceptions here. Just like a deficiency in this hormone affects the production of thyroid hormones, this small gland in your neck influences production of progesterone.

The Journal of Endocrinology featured a study which found that T3 significantly stimulated the release of progesterone from luteal cells. That being said, T3 stimulation of progesterone release from luteal cells isnt direct.

Instead, progesterone release is mediated through a putative protein factor. Luteal cells are cells from the corpus luteum, an endocrine structure in female ovaries, and the primary location of progesterone production as stated above.

In other words, proper function of thyroid gland is necessary for production and sufficient levels of progesterone. Thyroid and progesterone go hand in hand and work properly only when their functions are balanced.

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Synthetic Sex Hormonesused As Birth Control Or Therapycan Impact Thyroid Performance

Thyroid hormones work closley together with the sex hormones progesterone, estrogen, and testosteronethey all influence each other. Sex hormones are also known to impact the immune system, thus affecting Hashimotos.Different types of hormonal contraception and hormone therapy affect your thyroid in different ways. Oral contraceptive use changes thyroid hormone levels . Combined oral contraceptives are the most popular hormonal contraceptives worldwide . COCs contain both estrogen in the form of ethinylestradiol and progesterone in the form of progestin .Research has shown that COCs can affect thyroid and adrenal function, as well as sex hormone levels .

How Oral Contraceptives Affect The Thyroid

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Some studies have found that OCP’s have minor effects on thyroid function. Researchers found participants had elevated T3, T4, and cortisol levels with use in a study of four different monophasic pills.

Estrogen also causes an increase in thyroxine-binding globulin levels. TBG is a liver protein that is responsible for moving thyroid hormones through your circulatory system. When you have an increase in TBG, your available free thyroid hormone decreases. Therefore, you may need to adjust your thyroid hormone replacement medication.

Research also suggests that OCP’s can cause nutritional deficiencies because they interfere with your ability to absorb nutrients from food. The thyroid requires specific vitamins and minerals to make thyroxine . Zinc, selenium, and magnesium play an essential role in overall thyroid function. OCP’s decrease the absorption of these minerals, along with folic acid, and vitamins B2, B6, B12, C, E. Because our cooking and storage methods often deplete our food of nutrients, taking supplements may help reverse nutritional deficiencies caused by OCP’s.

Women with subclinical hypothyroidism are also at higher risk for cardiovascular events such as blood clots while taking OCP’s. Hypothyroidism is associated with a higher amount of platelets in the blood compared to those that are euthyroid.

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Myth : Birth Control Can Lead To Increased Thyroxine

The truth: There are studies that confirm this is true to some degree, but the results of just how trueit is are inconclusive. According to Dr. Luo, though changes in your thyroid are possible, theyre unlikely to be drastic enough to cause a thyroid disorder.

Why do increased levels of estrogen have the potential to influence thyroid hormones? As Dr. Luo explains it, because reproductive hormones are so similar in structure to thyroid hormones, there can be cross-reactivity when one level is elevated by hormonal birth control.

Heres a metaphor to help you visualize how this works: Imagine all of your hormones are charms on a bracelet. Hormones all have the same chemical backbone theyre all attached to identical bracelet chains. What distinguishes the hormones is the different charms on them. This is why the body can get confused by the nearly identical estrogen and thyroid bracelets and trigger cross-reactivity.

If you have thyroid disease and start taking hormonal contraception, Dr. Luo recommends getting your thyroid hormone levels checked three months in. That way, your body has enough time to adjust to the birth control then your doctor can see if your thyroid medication needs a dosage adjustment.

What Your T4 Blood Test Results Mean

You should get the results of your test within a day or so. Results can vary based on your age, gender, and the method your lab uses to read the result.

Normal Range

The normal range for free T4 in adults is 4.6 to 11.2 micrograms per deciliter .;

A normal T4 test result means your thyroid gland works like it should.

High or Low T4

A high T4 result could mean you have hyperthyroidism. A low T4 test result is a sign of hypothyroidism.;

Your hypothalamus and pituitary glands control the release of T4. An abnormal result on the T4 test could also be a sign of a problem with one of these glands.

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Birth Control Can Lower A Womans Risk Of Gynecologic Cancer

Both birth control pills and hormonal IUDs can significantly reduce the risk of ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer. Using birth control pills;can actually reduce ovarian cancer risk by up to 50 percent, says Dr. Goldfrank. This protection appears to last for many years after stopping use. The pill can also significantly lower the risk of endometrial cancer.

Because hormonal IUDs thin the endometrial lining, they can;sometimes be used to prevent or even treat early-stage endometrial cancer. Like the pill, hormonal IUDs also appear to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.

What Is A Thyroid

Birth Control Pills and Thyroid Disease

The thyroid is the butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the base of your neck. Its high-profile job description includes secreting hormones T4 and T3 that control metabolism. Metabolism refers to the energy made and used by your body.

The pituitary gland is the thyroids partner in crime it secretes a hormone called TSH that tells the thyroid to start making thyroid hormones. T4 is the main hormone secreted by the thyroid gland.

Thyroid hormones circulating in our bodies are bound to plasma proteins in the blood, called:

  • Thyroxine-binding globulin .
  • Transthyretin .
  • Albumin.

The thyroid hormones need the blood proteins to travel throughout your body. TBG is by far the major player in this process. Dr. Mikhael says that there is a fine balance between the free and bound thyroid hormone levels in our blood. It is the free or unbound T4 and T3 that exert the thyroid hormones effect on our bodies.

Can being on birth control affect your thyroid? The short answer is: Yes. Depending on the type of birth control you are started on and how you are taking it.

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How Does Hormonal Contraception Affect Test Results

Birth control pills, patches, and vaginal rings contain a combination of synthetic estrogen-like and progesterone-like substances, usually ethinyl estradiol and a variety of progestins respectively. A progestin-only formula for contraception is available as a pill, injection, IUD or a subdermal implant. The mechanism of action for these hormone analogs is to suppress the pituitarys production of follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone . FSH stimulates the process of ovarian egg maturation and the LH surge triggers the mid-cycle ovulation. Suppression of these hormones prevents the ovarian development and release of an egg.

In patients using hormonal contraception, therefore, ZRT hormone testing assesses the amount of hormone the body is producing endogenously in its suppressed state. Since ovarian function is blocked, the bodys production of estradiol and progesterone will usually be low. ZRT Laboratory has established ranges for measuring estradiol and progesterone levels when women are using hormone contraceptives. In addition, testosterone levels can also decrease because ethinyl estradiol raises levels of sex hormone binding globulin , which ties up free testosterone.

Hormonal Contraception Sand The Immune System

Most hormonal birth control contains synthetic forms of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone, which are known to modify how the immune system works .Estrogen can influence almost any cell in the bodyestrogen contained in birth control and hormone replacement therapy has the potential to induce flare-ups .Progesterone and progestin usually counterbalance estrogen, which means they should reduce the risk of flare-ups . However, this is very dependent on the concentration of natural or synthetic progesterone in the body.

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What About Fertility Awareness Method

Regardless if you want to use this as your pregnancy prevention method or not, learning how your body works is invaluable. Your cycle gives you superpowers and knowing how to leverage them can make you feel on your game like never before.

Ive written about the efficacy or just how well does FAM really work here. I must admit, even I was surprised by what I found in the literature

For my high-tech gals, check out Daysy Fertility Monitor. Actually, you dont have to be high-tech at all. Daysy makes it so easy and has so much data that she can help get your cycle dialed in quickly. This is the method I use because green light go and red light stop work really well when my mind is on pregnancy prevention.

You can read more about Non-Hormonal Contraception here.

The T4 Blood Test Procedure

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How to Prepare

You don’t need to do anything special before this test. But, do tell your doctor about any medicines or supplements you take — even ones you bought without a prescription. Some drugs, including seizure medicines, heart drugs, and birth control pills, can affect test results. The supplement biotin can cause a false-positive result, where your test results are abnormal but you don’t really have a thyroid problem.

Also tell your doctor if you’ve been sick. Some infections can alter your test results. You may need to wait until you feel better to have this test. Chronic diseases like kidney failure and cirrhosis may also affect T4 test results.

What to Expect

The T4 test is a blood test. Your health care provider will use a needle to draw blood from a vein in your arm. You may feel a slight prick as the needle goes in. Afterward, the provider will remove the needle and place a bandage over the site.

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Supplementation Of Any Additional Hormones Is Not Usually Warranted And Should Be Considered Cautiously Due To Risk Of Complications

Although hormone testing when a woman is using a hormonal contraceptive shows low results, it should not be assumed there is a low hormone activity at the tissue level. Ethinyl estradiol and progestins do have an effect on cell receptors. Because of this effect, results may not be helpful when deciding on treatment: supplementation of any additional hormones is not usually warranted and should be considered cautiously due to risk of complications. This is because symptoms experienced are not likely to be a consequence of the deceptively low hormone levels. More commonly, a woman will experience side effects related to the tissue action of the non-bioidentical hormones. Giving bioidentical hormones to replace the artificially low results can lead to further hormonal imbalance and can increase adverse effects due to excessive hormonal influence at the tissue level. This is particularly important in considering estrogen replacement which can potentially increase risk of blood clots and/or stroke.

Nonhormonal Iuds Are A Good Option For Women With Breast Cancer

Birth control pills and hormonal IUDs are;generally not good options for women with hormone-sensitive cancers, such as breast cancer, because they;may stimulate the growth of tumor cells, says Dr. Goldfrank. They can also increase the risk of other health problems, including blood clots and stroke. Its important to talk with your oncologist;if you are diagnosed with a hormone-sensitive cancer to better understand the health risks and benefits of birth control.

However, says Dr. Goldfrank, Nonhormonal IUDs are not thought to increase cancer risk.;And studies have indicated that copper IUDs might actually reduce your risk of cervical and endometrial cancer. Were not certain why.

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Oral Birth Control And Thyroid Hormone Medication Absorption

Thyroid hormone replacement medication, such as levothyroxine, should be taken on an empty stomach to maximize absorption. It is best to take this medication 30-60 minutes before taking any other drugs or eating or drinking. This window of time allows your gut to absorb and circulate the synthetic hormone before other medicines and foods can interfere.

If you are taking OCP’s, the same rules apply: take your thyroid hormone medication separately from your birth control pill. This instruction is especially relevant for women using OCP’s with estrogen as this hormone increases your need for synthetic thyroid hormone. Always take your medication as prescribed by your doctor.

If you start an OCP, your doctor will likely want to re-test your thyroid function a few weeks after you begin to ensure you are getting an adequate dose of thyroid hormone.


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