Oral contraceptive Pills and genetics

Oral contraceptives and Genetic Suitability to women


The last couple of decades have seen a lot of changes in Indian society with regards to changing lifestyle, family patterns, and change in earning power, decision making and so on. While most of the women in urban areas work along with the male members of in the family, they use various methods to prevent or postpone the pregnancy. Among many other methods, oral contraceptive pills are the most used ones. In spite of its popularity, these pills also have a lot of side effects and risk factors. Let’s take a look at some of those.

Risk factors

Oral contraceptive pills come with a minor chance of blood clots in many women. But for some, this risk is very high because of the mutations in their DNA. The blood clots can sometimes prove fatal by resulting in permanent disability or even death. The women who have factor V gene are recommended to refrain from taking oral contraceptive pills because of the possibility of causing serious damages. In this case, genetic testing can prove very helpful and help the patient to select the correct medicines.

Risk of heart attack and hypertension increases in women taking oral contraceptive pills

Oral contraceptive pills also carry a risk of cancer – Estrogen and progesterone – that are naturally occurring and believed to be influential in development and growth of certain cancers. Population studies and study or cancer risks have not been able to find satisfactory link to the OCP. The distinction between the risk factors is also depended on the types of cancer. E.g. risk of cervical and breast cancer appears to increase while the risk of ovarian cancer seems to decrease with the use of OCPs.

Major factor associated with the risk factors of these pills are because of the amount of estrogen. Thus, nowadays, contraceptives with low estrogen content are developed and widely used. These contain less than 50 micrograms of estrogen. Further, if any woman has a family history of cardiovascular disorders, it is always better to avoid estrogen-containing contraceptives.

Oral contraceptive pills and genetics
Image credits- uspharmacist.com

Genetic suitability

Genes decide how body responds to any medications and drugs, same applies to contraceptives. Only genetic analysis is capable of decoding this complex mechanism of genes.

The genetic test will reveal if one carries the Factor V Leiden Mutation and other genetic combinations that put them at risk if they use oral contraceptives. It’s always safer to use the ‘PILL’ after genetic analysis.

Estrogen containing contraceptives increase thrombotic risk in females carrying factor V leiden or prothrombin gene mutations

Mutations in certain genes have been identified to contribute to the risk of migraine. Oral contraceptives are contraindicated in such patients

Weight gain is a prevailing problem in women using contraceptive pills. Genetic Screening for predisposition to ADR with respect to oral contraceptive pills at DGL tests for 10 genes responsible for the risk of being overweight after using certain OCPs.

It is always better to be informed than to regret. Genetic testing helps.

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