Taking "The Pill" to Reduce PCOS Symptoms? You May Need Vitamins

Are you taking birth control pills for the purpose of reducing symptoms of PCOS? These artificial hormones do more than just give you the appearance of a "normal" monthly rhythm. They have other effects.

For example, a study from Shiraz University of Medical Sciences in Iran has shown that birth control pills can cause "oxidant stress". Oxidant stress is where you have unstable, reactive molecules in your cells that can cause damage because there are not enough antioxidants to neutralize them. Some oxidant stress is normal. But too much oxidant stress may increase chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a big driver of the symptoms you're suffering from. So it is critical to control oxidant stress, especially when women with PCOS already have higher levels to begin with.

The Shiraz study is interesting because it divided 120 women into three groups. One group took just birth control pills. Another group took birth control pills, as well as vitamins C and E. A third group did not take anything (no pills or vitamins). Compared to the group who took nothing, the birth control pill group had more oxidant stress.The group taking both birth control pills and the vitamins had less oxidant stress that the ones not taking the vitamins.

This information suggests that, if you're taking birth control pills, it would be smart to also take antioxidant vitamins such as vitamins C and E. A good multi-vitamin/mineral would provide a spectrum of antioxidant protection. You can also get a good supply of antioxidants from whole plant foods such as vegetables.

Source: Zal F e tal, Effect of vitamin E and C supplements on lipid peroxidation and GSH-dependent antioxidant enzyme status in the blood of women consuming oral contraceptives, Contraception, 2012 Jul; 86(1):62-6.

Inositol + Birth Control Pills Works Better for PCOS

Are you taking birth control pills for managing PCOS? Are you less than pleased with the results you're getting? We don't recommend birth control pills for a lot of reasons. One of the reasons is the Pill does not improve "insulin resistance", which is thought to be the #1 underlying cause of PCOS. However, if you're committed to taking birth control pills, we have some exciting news: you may also want to take the nutritional supplement "inositol," according to new research. Inositol is a member of the B-vitamin family.

A clinical study at La Sapienza University in Italy studied 155 women who had PCOS. One group took only birth control pills. The other group took birth control pills, plus 4 grams of supplemental inositol daily. The women who took both inositol and birth control pills clearly had better results than the women taking birth control pills alone.

The inositol group showed improved control of their insulin function, whereas the other group had no improvement. Both groups had a reduction in their testosterone levels, but the inositol group had a bigger drop in their testosterone. The inositol group also had an improvement in their cholesterol profiles.

The researchers concluded: "Our data show that a combination of combined contraceptive pill and inositol may be more effective in controlling endocrine, metabolic, and clinical profile in patients with PCOS than contraceptive pills alone, and may reduce insulin levels and insulin resistance. Hence, combined treatment may become a more effective long-term therapeutic choice for controlling PCOS symptoms."

In other words, if you want to better control your PCOS symptoms this new research indicates that taking inositol along with your birth control pills is more likely to give you the results you're looking for. We recommend that you take supplemental inositol, either as inositol powder, or the inositol derivative that is in the d-pinitol formula (a more comprehensive supplement for PCOS). If you decide to take the inositol powder, how much would you take? The women in the study took 4 grams per day, which is one slightly rounded teaspoonful.

Source: Minozzi M et al, The effect of a combination therapy with myo-inositol and a combined oral contraceptive pill versus a combined oral contraceptive pill alone on metabolic, endocrine, and clinical parameters in polycystic ovary syndrome, Gynecol Endocrinol. 2011 Mar 21. [Epub ahead of print]

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