Estrogen — Estrogen is a female hormone that is produced mostly in the ovaries and is necessary for the creation and function of reproductive organs.
It regulates menstruation, encourages endometrial growth, and is in charge of the development of female secondary sex characteristics.
Estrogen is combined with other hormones in birth control pills to prevent pregnancy.
It suppresses ovulation and thickens cervical mucus, making sperm more difficult to reach an egg.
Estrogen also aids in the control of the menstrual cycle, decreases the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer, and may provide other health benefits such as acne reduction and bone density enhancement.
The inclusion of estrogen in birth control pills raises the risk of blood clots and stroke, especially in women who smoke or have other cardiovascular risk factors.
Although estrogen may increase the chance of developing breast cancer, the absolute risk is low.
Nausea and breast soreness are the minor estrogen side effects of birth control pills.
These negative effects are usually transitory and disappear within a few weeks.
Headaches, mood changes, and libido variations are among the other minor adverse effects.
The benefits of estrogen-containing birth control pills outweigh the risks for the vast majority of women, but any concerns or potential adverse effects should be explored with a healthcare provider.
There is ongoing research to create birth control that is both effective and low in estrogen.
Researchers revealed, using a mathematical model, that decreasing the estrogen level in traditional contraceptives by 92% still has the power to prevent pregnancy.
The research was published in the April 13 edition of PLOS Computational Biology.
They claimed that a low dose of progesterone, another contraceptive hormone, or a combination of the two hormones might prevent ovulation.
However, the drugs would have to be given at a critical point in the menstrual cycle.
Many highly successful contraceptives include enough estrogen to render them useless for some people, particularly those with a family history of hypertension or breast cancer.
Furthermore, establishing in clinical trials that lower doses of the hormones prevent ovulation may enable individuals at high risk of severe side effects with access to estrogen-based contraception.
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The mathematical model
Brenda Lyn Gavina and Aurelio de los Reyes of the University of the Philippines Diliman in the Philippines expanded on an existing menstrual cycle mathematical model.
They looked at real-world data from 23 women ages 20 to 34.
The model takes into account the intricacies of blood hormone levels from three major sources:
- The pituitary glands
- The ovaries
- Hormonal birth control
Throughout a menstrual cycle, the researchers duplicated progesterone or estrogen levels that inhibited ovulation.
They used the same dose levels as standard methods of birth control.
The researchers then utilized optimum control theory, a mathematical approach, to determine the least amount of estrogen or progesterone that may prevent ovulation.
They observed that administering 8% estrogen 11 days after the start of the menstrual cycle inhibited the ovary from producing an egg.
Gavina and de los Reyes also observed that utilizing less estrogen and progesterone during that time period caused ovulation to be disturbed.
According to the researchers, the dose might be delivered by injections or implants.
“We did not only lower the dosage, but we also identified when to administer the contraceptive,” said de los Reyes.
According to Alison Edelman, a gynecologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, a modest amount of estrogen would probably ease some of the negative effects.
The new discoveries, according to Edelman, will not be utilized to produce better contraception anytime soon.
The model assumes that estrogen from birth control remains constant throughout time and does not take into account how the hormone is absorbed by the body.
It is likely to change, impacting the medicine’s effectiveness.
“I want to assure people that [low-dose estrogen in birth control] is already being looked at,” said Edelman.
She emphasized that people may now use hormone-based birth control that is both safe and effective.
Gavina and de los Reyes expressed a wish to cooperate with doctors like Edelman to make their models more relevant to researchers working on low-dose birth control medicines.