A recent study shows that certain DNA traits makes hormonal contraception less effective in some women.
By Anna Bonet
Your genes might influence how effective your birth control is, according to a new study published in the Obstetrics & Gynecology journal this week. In the first research of its kind, scientists from the University of Colorado School of Medicine found that some women carry DNA that could render hormonal contraception less reliable than it is for others.
The fact that people respond to other types of medication differently led the researches to look into whether this could be true for birth control too. They tested the levels of etonogestrel in 350 women with the implant, and found those who had a particular gene variant had a 23 per cent lower concentration of the birth control hormone circulating.
Scientists found that some women carry DNA that could render hormonal contraception less reliable.
‘When a woman says she got pregnant while on birth control the assumption was always that it was somehow her fault,’ said Dr Aaron Lazorwitz, lead author of the study. ‘These findings show that we should listen to our patients and consider if there is something in their genes that caused this.’
Although this is a preliminary study, it marks an important step towards medical professionals finding new ways to reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy.
This marks an important step towards finding new ways to reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy.
‘Missing a pill can sometimes, for some women, be a big deal,’ Lazorwitz went on to say. ‘Genetics could play a big role. Some women miss a pill and are fine, some miss a pill and get pregnant.’
However, this initial study should not put women off using hormonal birth control such as the implant and the contraceptive pill, as failure rates are still very low.
What birth control is right for me?
🔹 Long acting reversible contraceptives: these need to be administered less than once a month and include implants, injections, IUS and IUD.
🔹 Barrier contraceptives: these are designed to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg, and include condoms and diaphragm.
🔹 Oral hormonal contraceptives: there are two types of oral contraceptives, the combined hormonal pill and the progestogen only pill.
🔹 Sterilisation: this is a permanent contraceptive method and includes a vasectomy for men and a laparoscopy for women.