Birth control indigestion

Birth control indigestion DEFAULT

Diseases & Conditions

February 22, 2019


A muscular ring called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) separates the esophagus from the stomach. Normally, the LES works something like a gate. The muscle relaxes when you swallow, opening the passage between the esophagus and stomach and allowing food to pass into the stomach. When the sphincter tightens, it closes the passage, keeping food and acidic stomach juices from flowing back into the esophagus. In people with acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD), the LES relaxes when it shouldn't or becomes weak and doesn't close tightly. Either problem allows the contents of the stomach to rise up into the esophagus. The LES is controlled by various nerves and hormones. As a result, foods, drugs, and certain emotions such as anxiety or anger can impair its function, causing or worsening acid reflux. The following factors are under your power to change:

  • Certain foods. Coffee, tea, cocoa, cola drinks, and other caffeine-containing products loosen the LES and stimulate gastric acid production. Mints and chocolate, often served to cap off a meal, can make things worse by relaxing the LES. Fried and fatty foods contribute to heartburn. Some people say that onions and garlic give them heartburn. Others have trouble with citrus fruits or tomato products, which irritate the esophageal lining. 
  • Eating patterns. How you eat can be as important as what you eat. Skipping breakfast or lunch and then consuming a huge meal at day's end can increase pressure in the stomach and the possibility of reflux. Lying down soon after eating will make the problem worse.
  • Smoking. Smoking can irritate the entire gastrointestinal tract. In addition, frequent sucking on a cigarette can cause you to swallow air. This increases pressure inside the stomach, which encourages reflux. Smoking can also relax the LES.
  • Overweight and obesity. Being overweight or obese increases the odds of having GERD and experiencing heartburn. Actually, any weight gain increases the risk of frequent GERD symptoms. In addition, eating larger meals distends the stomach, pushes the contents up toward the esophagus and loosens the LES.
  • Certain medications. Some prescription drugs can add to the woes of heartburn. Oral contraceptives or postmenopausal hormone preparations containing progesterone are known culprits. Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) can irritate the stomach lining. Other drugs—such as alendronate (Fosamax), used to prevent and treat osteoporosis—can irritate the esophagus. And some antidepressants, bronchodilators, tranquilizers, and calcium-channel blockers can contribute to reflux by relaxing the LES.

To learn more about GERD and heartburn, readControlling Heartburn from Harvard Medical School.

Image: iStock


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.


The Birth Control Pill Can Trigger Indigestion

If you have been on the birth control pill or patch or even an IUD with hormones, and you have symptoms of indigestion, it is important to find out if there is a connection between them for you.


According to Dr Andrew Weil, a pioneer of natural medicine, the use of  birth control pills can trigger heartburn symptoms.


You may be tempted  to ignore indigestion symptoms such as heartburn, stomach pain and nausea, or to blame them on something you ate. But if these symptoms are recurring they may be triggered by your birth control method.


First, the hormones can cause relaxation of sphincters that are normally not relaxed, causing symptoms of reflux. Secondly, the hormones are processed through the liver which can result in thickened bile. This in turn can cause nausea, bloating and pressure.


Symptoms of indigestion caused by birth control hormones can be an early warning sign that your body is not handling the excess hormones well. If not addressed, you may be at increased risk for more serious side-effects such as blood clots, strokes and heart attacks.


If you are on the pill and are suffering the side effects of its use, a holistic health care practitioner may help you deal with the problem naturally by supporting normal liver function.


Some tests that can be helpful to understand how to lower your risk are a routine blood panel, a hormone profile and 24 Hour urinalysis. These tests help identify which foods and supplements are most essential for you to improve your body’s hormone metabolism.


Do you know anyone who has experienced side effects from birth control medications? Please write in the comments below.


For a limited time, Dr. Rose is offering a complimentary Discovery Session for women who want to learn more about how to improve their hormone function and lower the risk of side effects from hormone medications.


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Once again-I am all for the use of Birth Control, it is empowering. I am also all for the use of adequate Informed consent about the use of the birth control and I love empowering women through education surrounding the use of the birth control. This week I will be sharing a series about the reality of the Pill and PolyPharm (;the use of multiple medications to address side effects of previously prescribed medications.)

Women on the birth control are SIGNIFICANTLY more likely to be prescribed multiple drugs after starting Hormonal Birth Control:

Used to manage

The Facts

  • According to the authors of a 2007 study in the "Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology," a relationship has been found between the use of oral contraceptives and the development of acid reflux.

  • Long term use of PPI’s can put you as risk of Anemia, Osteoporosis, C. Diff infections, Magnesium and B12 deficiencies, and Dementia.

Developing Heartburn, GERD, and Acid Reflex while on the Pill: The connection

  • Hormonal birth control can cause an “estrogen dominant” state within the body. This excess estrogen relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing regurgitation up the esophagus

  • An Increase in Estrogen predisposes you to obesity and vice versa. Both being overweight and this state of estrogen excess caused by the pill concurrently increases your risk for developing Acid reflex.

  • Thyroid issues that arise on the pill can contribute to hypochlorydia (low stomach acid) and most acid reflex is caused by low amounts of stomach acid

Final thoughts:

Does this mean you need to come off the birth control? Again, maybe- but probably not, it is your choice. I am writing this to create a space where women can educate themselves and empower them to know what side effects there are, what it can lead to, and how awareness can help them avoid falling into the cycle of poly pharm. With my patients on hormonal birth control we work to specifically ensure that we are replenishing the nutrient depletions, supporting our immune system, and optimizing our inflammation in our body to prevent these negative processes from occurring. For low stomach acid and heartburn symptoms clinically we try a simple intervention with Apple Cider Vinegar to manage this symptom. Sometimes this is enough and sometimes your body requires additional digestive support and repair.


Heidelbaugh JJ, Kim AH, Chang R, Walker PC. Overutilization of proton-pump inhibitors: what the clinician needs to know. Ther Adv Gastroenterol. 2012;5(4):219-232.

Schoenfeld AJ, Grady D. Adverse effects associated with proton pump inhibitors. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(2):172-174.

Ask the Doctor: Birth Control

Nausea and Birth Control Pills: Why It Happens and How to Prevent It

Birth control pills contain man-made forms of the female hormones estrogen and progestin or progestin only. These hormones prevent pregnancy by stopping the release of a mature egg from a woman’s ovaries (ovulation).

Birth control pills also thicken mucus around the cervix. This makes it harder for the sperm to swim to the egg and fertilize it. The pill also changes the lining of the uterus. If an egg is fertilized, the altered uterine lining will make it more difficult for the egg to implant and grow.

Emergency contraceptive pills such as Plan B contain a higher dose of the hormones found in the regular pill. This high dose of hormones can be hard on your body. Therefore, you should only take emergency contraceptives if you didn’t use contraception during sex or you experienced birth control failure.

Examples of birth control failure are a condom that broke or an intrauterine device (IUD) that fell out during sex. Emergency contraceptives can stop ovulation and prevent an egg from leaving the ovary. These pills can also prevent sperm from fertilizing the egg.


Indigestion birth control

When the birth control pill came out in 1960, nearly one-third of American women were using it—mainly as an alternative to condoms and diaphragms, according to the American Journal of Public Health. Today, the classique Pill remains the most common method, according to a survey by the Guttmacher Institute.

From Cybelle, Althea, Yaz, Seasonique, to like *counts fingers* so many more different brands and formulations, the Pill is truly a contraceptive superstar. Besides its obvious intent (to prevent an unwanted pregnancy), the Pill actually offers lots of other benefits, like regulating your period, combating hormonal acne, alleviating painful periods, and so much more.

In fact, when the Ortho Tri-Cyclen pill was approved as an acne treatment, researchers saw an overall increase in the number of young people taking contraceptives, explains ob-gyn Tia Jackson-Bey, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York. "I recommend the Pill to patients with polycystic ovary syndrome or patients who want help controlling their hormonal acne in general."

But, like all good things, some might also experience not-so-great side effects. "The trick is to find the right pill formulation with the help of your doctor and to allow about three months for your body to adjust," says ob-gyn Sherry Ross, MD, women's health expert at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California. So remember: "If the first pill you try doesn’t work out for you, there are always other options," says New York City-based ob-gyn Heather Irobunda, MD.

Below, gynecologists explain the 24 known side effects of the Pill and what causes them, so you can find your perfect birth control match.

1. Lighter periods. "Many women who use oral contraceptive pills notice that their periods become lighter on the Pill," says Dr. Irobunda. "This happens because the medication's hormones make the lining of the uterus thinner, making your periods lighter." But if you find yourself not menstruating at all, you should definitely talk to your doctor.

2. More regular periods. We're keepin' the good news coming. "More people who use the Pill find that their periods are more regular, and that's what we want. It's your body responding to the pills on a set 26-to-28 day cycle," says Dr. Jackson-Bey. She also says that having a regular period also decreases your risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer, but more on that later!

3. Vaginal dryness. Some pills containing estrogen can cause people to have a lower amount of estrogen circulating in their bodies, which can then cause dryness, says Dr. Irobunda. "The pills don't cause women to produce estrogen, it actually takes over and causes one steady amount of hormone instead of fluctuating levels of estrogen," she adds. Typically, if you're experiencing vaginal dryness, it's because you're on a pill that has a lower dose of estrogen. But if this happens to you, NBD. There are plenty of great lubes out there that you should already be using for your sexy-time fun anyway.

4. Weird spotting. While this is a v common (but painfully annoying) side effect of the Pill, know that it "typically resolves within the first three months of use," says Dr. Irobunda. The reason this happens in the first place: "It's caused by the changes in hormone levels in the body while taking the Pill, which then affects your uterine lining, making it more prone to spotting," she adds. According to Dr. Jackson-Bey, continued spotting may also be a sign to up the dosage of estrogen that you're currently taking.

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5. Nausea. Some people feel queasy when they start taking the Pill, says Dr. Jackson-Bey. Though it shouldn't last more than three months after your body adjusts, according to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, taking it with a meal can help reduce how icky you feel as your body adjusts to new levels of estrogen and progesterone. Another tip: "Taking the Pill before you go to sleep can help decrease symptoms of nausea," says Dr. Irobunda.

6. Breast tenderness. Yeah, this one isn't fun. But Dr. Jackson-Bey suggests that this side effect tends to go away after a few months.

7. More Headaches. A 2005 study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecologyfound that approximately 10 percent of users feel headachy within a month of starting the Pill. Once the body acclimates to a new oral contraceptive, most reports of headaches go away, the study's authors conclude. Still, some people are sensitive to the amount of estrogen that's in the Pill and may notice a headache towards the beginning of the pack. In that case, Dr. Jackson-Bey suggests talking to your doctor about lowering your estrogen dose or switching to another contraceptive.

8. Less Headaches. Yup! Dr. Jackson-Bey explained that certain people who experienced menstrual migraines before going on the Pill may notice a decrease after starting it.

9. Bloating. The ups and downs of your body's sex hormones from taking the Pill can lead to water retention and bloating, according to a study by theAmerican Journal of Physiology. These effects may be particularly strong for people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal tract disorders. That said, many users feel better six months into a new pill regimen, per the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

10. Reduced risk of certain cancers. A 2011 review of studies by a German medical journal examined the link between birth control and cancer risk and found that incidences of endometrial and ovarian cancers dropped by 30 to 50 percent among users without a history of HIV or HPV who took the Pill.

11. Fewer cramps. Since the Pill regulates how much estrogen and progesterone enter your body, your periods follow a more predictable schedule. Once you get adjusted to the Pill, your periods may become lighter, which can mean less painful menstrual cramping, says Dr. Ross.

12. Clearer skin. Acne is largely influenced by high levels of androgens, like testosterone and androstenedione, so taking a pill that contains estrogen and progesterone can help scale back the prevalence of pimples on your face, per the Journal of Drugs and Dermatology.

13. Increased appetite. Perhaps you recall from ever having PMS that hormones can make you super hungry. The same goes when you alter your estrogen and progesterone levels via the Pill. "Sometimes the progesterone component of the Pill can stimulate your appetite," says Dr. Jackson-Bey.

14. Yeast infections and/or bacterial vaginosis. The Pill impacts hormones that can affect vaginal tissue, in some cases making it more susceptible to infection. And if getting a new 'script leads to a switch-up in how often you use tampons or your bleeding patterns, that can make you susceptible too, says Dr. Irobunda.

15. Mood swings and other emotional issues. This issue is complicated. While some people with a history of mood issues—depression, anxiety, even insomnia—tend to see an increase in their symptoms' severity once they go on some birth control pills, others report that going on the Pill improves their mood, according to Dr. Jackson-Bey.

16. Blood clots. These are more likely to form in your legs or lungs if you are on a birth control pill that contains estrogen, says Dr. Irobunda. "The hormone estrogen can cause your blood to clot more easily," she confirms. This can be concerning and become life-threatening, so it's worth telling your doctor ahead of time if you have any family history (or previous history individually) regarding blood clots before starting the Pill.

17. Fewer complications from anemia.Studies suggest a link between oral contraceptive use and fewer incidences of anemia—a condition in which you have lower levels of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all your organs. "The Pill helps boost these iron levels because there is less blood lost during your period while on an oral contraceptive," says Dr. Irobunda. "The Pill keeps not only the red blood cell count higher, but also keeps hemoglobin and iron levels higher."

18. Less pain during sex. According to a study published in Elsevier,going on the Pill can increase a woman's vaginal lubrication and, as a result, make intercourse a heck of a lot less painful—especially if she experienced it as such prior to going on the Pill.

19. Greatly reduced chance of pregnancy. Remember that one? It's kind of why birth control was created. In case you needed a reminder.

20. Brown spots on your face. According to a study in the British Journal of Dermatology, oral contraceptives can increase the risk of a skin condition called melasma, which can make your face break out in some brown-colored splotches. Research shows that this is more likely to occur in people who have a family history of the skin issue. Switching from the Pill to an IUD may resolve this, several case studies suggest.

21. Lower sex drive. Some patients report decreases in their libido once they begin the Pill, Dr. Jackson-Bey says. But it's tricky. "It makes sense because you're not having your normal fluctuation of hormones that you would without the Pill." But she points out that much of this may be due to birth control's other side effects like vaginal dryness and breast pain. That said, many peoplereport that their sex drive picks back up again — or even gets stronger than pre-Pill levels — about nine months into taking the Pill, according to a study published in the journal Contraception.

22. Mood improvements. Yes, some people with a history of emotional issues have found the Pill worsens their symptoms. But others claim it's offered a boost to their psychological well-being. Evidence suggests the Pill can, for many, decrease depression.

23. Stronger ligaments (maybe). Apparently, birth control pills are linkedwith lower incidences of knee injuries, according to the National Library of Medicine. The researchers who found this correlation peg it to birth control's regulation of estrogen, which — if too high — may weaken younger user's ligaments.

24. Changes in mate preference. Studies have also found a fascinating link between the use of oral contraceptives and user's preference for certain traits in their partners. Going on birth control can, according to some evidence, make people more inclined to choose nurturing partners over sexually exciting ones.

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What causes heartburn? - Rusha Modi

What to know about birth control nausea

Some people who take birth control pills have no side effects. However, for others, nausea is common.

Birth control pills, or hormonal contraceptives, are a way to prevent pregnancy. They can also help regulate periods and reduce associated pain. These pills contain one or more hormone that helps stop the production of eggs and prevent sperm from reaching the uterus.

This article explores why birth control pills can cause nausea. It also describes how to reduce nausea and other side effects of hormonal contraception.

Why does birth control cause nausea?

Doctors believe that the hormones in birth control pills can cause nausea.

For example, while the hormone estrogen, in birth control pills, helps control menstruation, it can also cause nausea and other side effects. Estrogen can irritate the stomach lining, and the higher the dosage of estrogen in the pill, the more likely that a person will feel nauseous.

Progesterone, another hormone in birth control pills, can also cause nausea. Some indicates that progesterone and estrogen cause this side effect by relaxing the smooth muscles, which can change the way that the stomach empties.

Emergency contraception pills, such as Plan B and Ella, contain a high dose of artificial progesterone, and nausea is a common side effect.

Some regular birth control pills contain only progestin, a synthetic form of progesterone. Another name for progestin-only pills is the “mini-pill,” and it contains no estrogen. The mini-pill can cause nausea, although this is a rare side effect.

Other possible side effects of birth control pills include:

  • enlarged breasts
  • weight gain
  • sore breasts
  • headaches
  • mood changes

While some nausea is a common side effect of birth control pills, severe stomach or abdominal pain can signal a medical emergency. Anyone taking birth control who experiences this pain should receive immediate medical care.

Other symptoms that can indicate a medical emergency, such as a blood clot, include:

  • severe leg pain
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath

How long does nausea last?

According to the Center for Young Women’s Health, most side effects of birth control pills go away after the person has been taking the pills for a few days.

A person will usually experience fewer side effects after taking the pills for 3–4 months. This is because the body becomes more accustomed to the hormones over time.

Home remedies

One way to reduce nausea from birth control pills is to take the pill at dinner or with an evening snack. Taking this type of pill on an empty stomach may increase the risk of nausea.

When a person is feeling nauseous, it can help to eat bland foods, such as bananas, mashed potatoes, applesauce, or plain crackers.

The following may also help reduce nausea:


Fresh ginger and other forms, such as ginger tea or candied ginger, can help reduce nausea, according to a review in the journal . The authors refer to multiple studies in which researchers have described the roles of various ginger preparations in treating nausea.


This practice of ancient Chinese medicine involves applying pressure to certain points on the body to reduce discomfort and illness.

According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, a person can use the Neiguan pressure point to help relieve nausea.

To find this pressure point:

  • Position a hand so that the palm faces the body and the fingers and thumb point upward.
  • Using the other hand, place the index, middle, and ring fingers in a row below the palm. The pressure point is located at the bottom of the wrist, just below where the index finger lay.
  • Using the thumb, apply pressure to this point, using firm, circular motions, for 2–3 minutes.
  • Do the same on the opposite wrist.

Medical treatment

A doctor can prescribe antinausea medications if nausea is a lasting, disruptive side effect of birth control. They may prescribe ondansetron (Zofran) or meclizine. Antivert is the brand name of prescription-strength meclizine, but the drug is also available over the counter, as Dramamine.

Another option is to ask the doctor to prescribe a progestin-only pill, also known as the mini-pill, instead of pills that contain both estrogen and progestin. The mini-pill is less likely to cause nausea.

Or, a doctor may prescribe a pill that contains less estrogen than the person’s current birth control pill. A low-estrogen pill can have fewer side effects, reducing the risk of nausea.


Some people take antinausea medication as a precaution before taking their first birth control pills. This can reduce the risk of nausea.

Staying hydrated and taking birth control pills on a full stomach can also help. In addition, a person may be less likely to experience nausea if they take their pill before bed or after a snack.

Avoiding spicy or acidic foods, such as citrus fruits, can also reduce the risk of nausea.


Nausea is a common side effect of birth control pills, especially in the first few days or weeks. In most cases, the nausea goes away as the body adjusts to the additional hormones.

If a person has taken their pills for several months and still has nausea, they should talk to their doctor about alternatives.

The doctor may recommend a pill that contains no or low levels of estrogen. One option is the mini-pill, which contains a different hormone. Another option is an intrauterine device, or IUD, that contains no hormones.


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