Birth control pills are one of the most popular options for the prevention of unwanted pregnancy and the management of certain reproductive conditions, including endometriosis, painful periods, and more. Birth control pills, which are used by about 14 percent of women ages 15 to 49,  are one form of hormonal birth control; other forms include hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs), vaginal rings, birth control shorts, birth control implants, and birth control patches. 

 

Hormonal birth control is associated with many unpleasant side effects, and women commonly find themselves asking, “Is birth control causing me headaches?”

 

 

How does hormonal birth control affect your body?

 

Hormonal birth control works to prevent pregnancy by acting on the release of hormones in the body. Hormones are chemicals that are produced by the body in order to direct the body to maintain or begin certain functions, such as growth or menstruation. A woman’s menstrual cycle is guided by the body’s release of hormones called estrogen and progestin. When the body releases estrogen, the ovaries are directed to release an egg, the cervical mucus thins to allow easy entry of sperm, and the lining of the uterus thickens. 

 

Most hormonal forms of birth control work to prevent pregnancy by changing the hormone levels in the body and preventing the release of estrogen. Hormonal forms of birth control even out the levels of hormones in the body so that levels of estrogen and progestin do not rise and fall as dramatically.

 

 

Can hormonal birth control cause headaches?

 

Headaches are one of the most common side effects of hormonal birth control. Some women experience headaches as a normal part of their menstrual cycle because changing hormone levels throughout the menstrual cycle can trigger headaches. For women who experience headaches as a normal part of their menstrual cycle, birth control pills may actually help to prevent headaches or make them less painful. 

 

However, other women who do not experience headaches as a normal part of their menstrual cycle may find that they start having headaches when they begin using hormonal birth control due to the changes in hormone levels that occur. Additionally, hormonal forms of birth control can cause nutrient depletions if women do not adjust or supplement their diets to address nutrient deficiencies that can occur while using hormonal birth control. 

 

 

What nutrient depletions are linked to headaches?

 

The nutrient depletions that can result from hormonal birth control are widely recognized, including by the World Health Organization, which recognized that key nutrient depletions caused by hormonal birth control include folic acid, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. 

 

The side effects caused by hormonal forms of birth control are linked to these nutrient depletions. Of these nutrients, magnesium deficiency in particular plays a strong role in the development of headaches while taking hormonal birth control. The American Headache Society found that addressing magnesium deficiencies can be effective at preventing migraines and headaches related to hormone level changes, including menstrual migraines and those caused by hormonal birth control.

 

 

How can headaches caused by birth control be prevented?

 

Preventing or diminishing the pain associated with headaches caused by hormonal birth control use requires a two-pronged strategy that addresses the common reasons why the headaches occur. 

 

Hormonal birth control can cause headaches due to changing hormone levels in the body as well as induced magnesium deficiency caused by the use of birth control. 

 

One of the best ways to prevent birth control-induced headaches is to take a nutritional supplement that is designed to support hormone balance and address nutritional deficiencies caused by hormonal birth control. Such supplements are specifically designed to provide a daily therapeutic dose of the vitamins, minerals, and mitochondrial antioxidants that can be depleted by hormonal birth control use, including magnesium, which has been found to contribute to headaches. 

 

As noted by the World Health Organization, hormonal birth control depletes the body of key nutrients and supplement support should be considered a top priority to balance the body. 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/contraceptive.htm 

https://www.healthline.com/health/birth-control/birth-control-headaches 

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322354 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23852908/ 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507271/ 

https://americanheadachesociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Menstrual-Migraine-Feb-2014.pdf 

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