How Birth Control May Cause Heartburn, Acid Reflux or GERD

05. 07. 2018

May is Women’s Health Month, a time to remind women to take care of themselves and to make their health a priority. Women’s health issues can be particularly complicated because of fluctuations of hormones, especially during menstruation and pregnancy. These fluctuations can cause physical symptoms like bloating, weight gain, mood swings, depression and migraine headaches.

Birth Control and Heartburn Symptoms

Birth control pills, patches and IUDs can alter hormone levels and cause completely different symptoms than those we normally associate with PMS. Women may notice an increase in heartburn, stomach pain, burning in the throat, nausea and indigestion when they take birth control pills that contain progestin, a form of progesterone. This hormone has been known to weaken the lower esophageal sphincter (the muscular valve that closes off the stomach from the esophagus) allowing gastric acid to escape. When stomach contents backflow into the esophagus, it’s known as acid reflux.

Don’t Assume Heartburn and Acid Reflux Symptoms are Caused by Food

If you are taking contraceptives and are experiencing increased heartburn, you might assume your symptoms were triggered by food. But your body could be trying to send you a message that it is not handling added progesterone well.

Chronic acid reflux, or GERD, is a serious health issue and can cause tooth sensitivity, erosion of enamel, strictures and a persistent cough. When the esophageal lining is continuously exposed to acid, the eroded tissue becomes inflamed and begins to resemble the tissue of the small intestines. This condition is known as Barrett’s esophagus and if not treated properly, it can put you at higher risk for stomach or esophageal cancer.

Visit a Gastroenterologist if You Have Heartburn

Don’t just ignore your heartburn or blame it on something you ate. With the abundance of over-the-counter medications, it probably sounds easier to manage your symptoms using pills for heartburn. But this could mean delayed treatment of a serious problem.

During Women’s Health Month, make a commitment to your digestive health and overall wellness. Click here to enter your zip code and find a board-certified gastroenterologist in your area. At your appointment, discuss your concerns with a specialist to get answers to your questions and relief from your heartburn.

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