NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CBS Connecticut) – According to a new study, birth control pills may make a woman’s eggs “look old.”
The study found that younger women who took the pill had hormone levels that were associated with older women.
The researchers did not suggest birth control pills prematurely aged a woman’s egg; instead, they found the pill obscures a woman’s underlying reproductive status.
“Women should not be freaking out that they are losing their eggs if they are taking birth control, Dr. Lubna Pal, director of the menopause and polycystic ovarian syndrome programs at Yale University, and who was not involved in the study, told LiveScience. “These tests are yardsticks that should be applied only in the context of fertility assessments.
Ovarian reserve is used to determine the capacity of the ovary to provide egg cells that are capable of fertilization resulting in a healthy and successful pregnancy.
Many doctors access ovarian reserve by measuring the levels of anit-Mullerian hormone in the blood, as well as by conducting a vaginal ultra sound to count the number of early-stage structure called follicles in the ovary.
Researchers looked at both markers of ovarian reserve in over 800 Danish women between the ages of 18 and 46. Some of these women used oral contraceptives.
The researchers found that out of the women who were taking birth control pill had 19 percent lower levels of AMH and 16 percent fewer early stage follicles.
Their ovaries were also much smaller than those women who were not taking birth control pills.
“So, if you suppress the ovarian function, particularly with higher-dose oral contraceptives, you are slowing that production line,” Pan said.
The findings were presented on July 1 at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference.