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Vitamins reduce side effects of oral contraceptives

A basic and modestly dosed multivitamin reduces the side effects of the contraceptive pill. According to a human study published in 2015, a multivitamin reduces the chances of women stopping 'the pill' by a factor of three.

Vitamins reduce side effects of oral contraceptives

Vitamins & contraception
There is some evidence that women taking birth control pills need more folic acid, vitamins B2, B6 and B12, vitamins C and E, and perhaps more magnesium, selenium and zinc as well. [Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2013 Jul;17(13):1804-13.]

In addition, it is clear that taking birth control pills can cause side effects. Some women gain weight, and experience nausea or mood swings.

Researchers from the University of Tabriz in Iran wondered whether these two phenomena are related, and gave 332 women aged 18-40 years of age contraceptive pills for six months. Each pill contained 0.15 milligrams of levonorgestrel and 30 micrograms of ethinyl estradiol.

The women took the pills for 21 days, and then stopped taking them for 7 days. Then the women took contraceptive pills again for 21 days and so on.

The researchers divided the women into 3 groups. One group only took hormone pills, the second group took a placebo during the hormone-free weeks and the third group took a vitamin preparation during the week off. Each pill contained 1.5 milligrams of vitamin A, 1.5 milligrams of vitamin B1, 1.7 milligrams of vitamin B2, 20 milligrams of vitamin B3, 2 milligrams of vitamin B6, 400 micrograms of folic acid, 6 micrograms of vitamin B12, 60 milligrams of vitamin C, 10 micrograms of vitamin D3 and 10 milligrams vitamin E.

The first week of supplementation took place before the women started using their contraceptive pills.

The researchers had made the preparations themselves.

Side effects were less common in women who took multivitamins. The women in this group experienced less nausea, mood swings, weight gain and breast tenderness.

The table below refers to the side effects during the first and second cycle. Click it for a larger version. The tables describing the side effects of the other cycles are not substantially different.

Vitamins reduce side effects of oral contraceptives

Vitamins reduce side effects of oral contraceptives

Vitamins reduce side effects of oral contraceptives

"Multivitamin use during the pill-free interval of a COC regimen could decrease side effects and improve the continuation rate in the first months of COC use", summarise the Iranians.

"However, the study limitations do not allow us to draw any definite conclusion for its use in clinical practice, especially in communities rich in dietary nutrients."

"One potential option would be to combine vitamin B6 supplements with talking therapies such as cognitive behavioral yherapy to boost their effect."

Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2015;20(5):361-71.

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Vitamin B
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