Progesterone is an important hormone for the female reproductive system. Progestins are synthetic progestogens. In the case of low progesterone in women, the drugs of this type are prescribed during preparation for conception and during pregnancy (at early stages). However, its use in medicine is not limited to this. Synthetic versions of this hormone can be applied as components of oral contraceptives.
What are the types of progesterone pills for birth control? Can you find effective over the counter progesterone pills on the market?
Prescription of Progesterone-Based Birth Control Pills
In May 2010, the FDA approved estradiol valerate as well as estradiol dienogest (progestin-like agent). In specialized medical literature, estradiol valerate is often referred to as E2V. Brands of the combined medications based on these two hormonal substances are Natazia and Qlaira. The cost of the pills is approximately 80 dollars per 6-month supply.
Estradiol valeriate is a substance that is derived from natural raw materials. Its effect on the organism is equal (bioidentical) to the female sex hormone’s action. It has a milder effect than the early contraceptive ethinylestradiol, hence the name “natural contraceptive”.
Researchers made several attempts to develop a contraceptive drug based on estradiol valerate, but despite the mildness of its effect, its use was associated with possible intermenstrual bleeding. To prevent this negative effect, creators of Qlaira used dienogest, which regulates the growth of the endometrium, and elaborated a special dynamic dosing regimen.
After absorption and reaching the liver, the medication’s components undergo hydrolysis and produces estradiol, providing reliable contraception (natural, safe and harmonious). Natural estrogen’s “partner” is a progestin (one of the female hormones, contained in an active substance called dienogest). The dosages of both substances are dynamic, namely, the quantity of the hormone during the administration 28-days course is decreased, in contrast to progestin, which is increased. This balance ensures reliable contraception, regulates the menstrual cycle, reduces excessive bleeding. Scientists revealed the dosage, featuring excellent tolerability.
As for the dienogest, researchers managed to develop this completely new gestagen, which is well tolerated and combines the benefits of natural progesterone with the metabolic stability of synthetic 19-norgestagens. It acts very selectively, that is, it practically has no effect on metabolism, and is very quickly excreted from the body. In addition, dienogest has the anti-androgenic effect which women like very much. This means that it is able to reduce the manifestations of the excessive influence of male sex hormones, which occurs in some women and improve the skin condition.
According to G. Dikke, the pronounced endometrial effect of dienogest has made it an appropriate progestin for use in progesterone birth control pills containing estradiol valerate. The combo of dienogest and E2B in Qlaira in the four-phase dosing regime with a step-down estrogen component and the simultaneous increase (“step up”) of the progestin component, is likely to make the endometrium stable.
Potential side effects of this drug include:
- headache, migraine, and dizziness;
- the sensation of tension in the breasts;
- increased weight;
- acceleration of hormone-dependent neoplasm growth;
- premenstrual syndrome; spotting;
- uterine hemorrhage;
- temporary skin pigmentation in the form of small-sized high color spots.
To minimize the likelihood of side effects, the medication should be used only on prescription, issued by a specialist. Only a doctor can determine the optimal regimen and the correct dosage (low or high dose).
Other two-component drugs of this group include:
- Peliette by Pelpharma;
- Climodien by Bayer;
- Dienobel by EFFIK Benelux;
- Dienorette by Leon;
- Stella by Stada Arzneimittel;
- Velbienne by Ladee Pharma;
- Zenadea by Zentiva;
- Mistra by Gedeon Richter;
- Mayra by Madaus;
- Ammily by Orivas;
- Starletta by HEXAL;
- Bonisara by Pfizer.
Medicines containing solely dienogest include Visannette, Visanne, Visabelle, Dinagest, Disven, and Alondra.
Over-the-Counter Natural Progesterone Pills: Are They Really Effective?
If you are offered OTC pills on a purely natural basis, aimed at preventing unwished pregnancy, it’s most likely a scam. Herbs have been used for meditative purposes for several centuries, but in the past, people didn’t have access to effective hormonal remedies for precluding pregnancy.
As far as plant supplements are concerned, some of them can have a drug-like effect and therefore pose risk to female health. In addition, despite a great number of such supplements being available in local pharmacies and groceries, most of them have not been countenanced by the American FDA.
Their brands include Prometrium, Fertilica, and Sanigest.
Katie Spears representing Wellness Mama has researched extensively the issue of family planning by natural methods. Instead of taking birth control pills she tries to avoid unprotected sexual intercourses on the days favorable for fertility. She is against using herbs for the purpose of conceiving control, substantiating this standpoint by the following reasons:
- Components inducing abortion and causing miscarriage can be contained in some plants.
- Some natural supports can trigger some negative consequences similar to those produced by hormonal tablets.
- As there are no absolutely effective herbs, they can pose a threat to the fetus.
Some herbs are able to block prescription oral contraceptives, which can trigger an unplanned pregnancy. For example, in Great Britain cases of women’s pregnancy in spite of taking contraceptives, are fixed. It was the result of consuming St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum). It’s scientifically proved that feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), ginger, and ginkgo biloba can reduce the impact of aspirin (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) used by millions of people to avert heart attacks.
The Bottom Line
Before taking such hormonal contraceptives you have to visit a healthcare professional. If you have decided to give preference to this type of contraception, tell your doctor about your wishes and concerns. The specialist will determine the best option, considering your characteristics. Fortunately, the contraindication of hormonal contraceptives is rare. Especially if it’s a medication approved by the FDA and tried by thousands of patients.
With regard to purely natural products based on plant extracts (pure natural progesterone pills), they aren’t medicines and, accordingly, are under the FDA’s control or similar public authorities in other countries. (The same goes for OTC steroids.) Therefore, you shouldn’t trust “herbal scammers” (websites) and buy herbal contraceptives. Most likely, they won’t work and you will be under the threat of unwanted pregnancy. Always consult a doctor to choose a hormonal contraceptive that is suitable for you.