Three key nutrients depleted by the pill

July 13, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Research, Spinewave Bulletin 

oral contraceptive chiropractic

There has been evidence accumulating over the years that certain nutrients may become depleted while a woman is on an oral contraceptive1.

While there are likely dozens of nutrients that are important in maintaining fertility and the monthly cycle, there are a few in particular that are extremely important in supporting the menstrual cycle.


Zinc is a critical nutrient to consider. Many healthcare providers recommend an increase in zinc intake for females on oral contraception or struggling with loss of menstruation following the use of the pill. There is evidence demonstrating that women who take oral contraceptives have lower plasma zinc levels2. Some healthcare practitioners theorise that taking oral contraception might either cause zinc deficiency or copper overload, which could contribute to the loss of healthy menstrual function.

Zinc can be sometimes difficult to replenish without short term therapeutic supplementation, even in the context of a whole foods diet. If you’re willing to eat lots of shellfish (oysters and clams), red meat, pumpkin seeds and poultry, you may be able to avoid supplementing with zinc. 15-30mg of zinc per day is recommended for someone with post birth control syndrome. If you do supplement, be sure to take it with a meal otherwise you may get sudden, intense nausea.

Further reading: Consequences of zinc deficiency



While many in the healthcare community feel that everyone can benefit from daily magnesium supplementation, it’s especially important for those on birth control (or coming off birth control) to supplement with magnesium.

Magnesium is difficult to get enough of in our modern diets, and some evidence shows that serum magnesium levels are reduced by oral contraceptive use3. If you have a history of birth control use, using a chelated form of magnesium is recommended, taking 200-400mg daily to supplement what you’re getting from food.


Vitamin B6

Finally, vitamin B6 can be helpful in restoring menstrual function in women with post birth control syndrome or those taking oral contraception. A 2011 study found that those who used oral contraceptives had lower plasma vitamin B6 concentrations4, and one type of amenorrhoea caused by high prolactin levels was able to be treated using B6 supplementation5, suggesting that supplementing with B6 may be beneficial in post birth control syndrome.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxal-5-phosphate) is found in a variety of foods and is generally safe to take as a supplement at doses below 100mg per day.

P5P vitamin B6


  1. Palmery, M. Oral contraceptives and changes in nutritional requirements. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2013. 17 (13): 1804-1813.
  2. Fallah S, et al. Effect of contraceptive pill on the selenium and zinc status of healthy subjects. Contraception. 2009. 80 (1): 40-3.
  3. Blum M, et al. Oral contraceptive lowers serum magnesium. Harefuah. 1991. 121(10): 363-364.
  4. Wilson, SM, et al. Oral contraceptive use: impact on folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 status. Nutrition Reviews. 2011. 69: 572–583.
  5. McIntosh, EN. Treatment of women with the galactorrhea-amenorrhea syndrome with pyridoxine (vitamin B6). J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1976. 42(6): 1192-1195.

Can anti-inflammatory drugs make you infertile?

July 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Research, Spinewave Bulletin 

NSAIDResearchers found non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) “significantly inhibit ovulation”.

NSAIDs are among the most commonly used drugs worldwide, and are taken by more than 30 million people every day. Available without prescription, they are largely used for the treatment of pain, inflammation and fever; common features of conditions involving joint and muscle pain.

NSAIDs include naproxen, diclofenac, ibuprofen and aspirin.

The results of a study presented at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress (EULAR 2015) show that diclofenac, naproxen and etoricoxib significantly inhibit ovulation in women with mild musculoskeletal pain. Of the women receiving NSAIDs, only 6.3 percent (diclofenac), 25 percent (naproxen) and 27.3 percent (etoricoxib) ovulated, compared with 100 percent of the control group.

These findings suggest that readily available NSAIDs could have a harmful effect on fertility, and should be used with caution in women wishing to start a family.

“After just ten days of treatment we saw a significant decrease in progesterone, a hormone essential for ovulation, across all treatment groups, as well as functional cysts in one third of patients,” said study investigator Professor Sami Salman, Department of Rheumatology, University of Baghdad, Iraq. “These findings show that even short-term use of these popular, over-the-counter drugs could have a significant impact on a women’s ability to have children.”

Thirty-nine women of childbearing age who suffer from back pain took part in the study, and received diclofenac (100mg once daily), naproxen (500mg twice daily) and etoricoxib (90mg once daily) or placebo. Treatment was given for 10 days from day 10 of the onset of the menstrual cycle; hormonal analysis (progesterone level) and follicle diameter were conducted via blood sample and ultrasonography respectively. At the end of the NSAID treatment period, the dominant follicle remained unruptured in 75 percent, 25 percent and 33 percent of patients receiving diclofenac, naproxen and etoricoxib respectively. Rupturing of the dominant follicle, and subsequent release of an oocyte (unfertilised egg), is essential for ovulation to occur.


Salman S, et al. Effects of some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on ovulation in women with mild musculoskeletal pain. EULAR 2015; Rome: Abstract OP0131

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