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Birth Control And High Cholesterol

by Irene Parks

Research shows that there's a possible link between birth control pills and high cholesterol (LDL). But that doesn't mean that if you've got a cholesterol problem that you can't use birth control. You just need to know how to choose the right birth control for you.

Most birth control pills contain estrogen and progestin-they're called combined pills because of this combo. The estrogen in the pill actually helps increase "good" cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol), and a decrease in "bad cholesterol" (low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol).

Sounds perfect, right? But there's a downside too: The progestin in the pill does the opposite. It can raise LDL cholesterol levels and lower HDL levels. If you have low HDL and high LDL levels to begin with and take a high progestin birth control pill, then you may see a jump in your "bad" cholesterol levels. For many people the increase is insignificant, but if you have a cholesterol problem to begin with, then even an insignificant increase could put your LDL levels too high.

If you have a cholesterol problem or find that your regular combined pill is increasing your cholesterol too much, then you may want to consider switching to a low-dose birth control pill. These pills are just as effective as regular combined pills but contain much less progestin.

An added benefit of switching to a low dose pill (besides for lowering high cholesterol) is that it can increase libido. While there's no known connection between high cholesterol and low libido, if you happen to suffer from both these conditions, then reducing progestin is definitely the best thing you can do for your body, your heart, and your sex life!

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