Do birth control hormones show in a blood test? (+1 facts)

In this article, we will discuss whether birth control hormones show up in a blood test. Birth control is used to prevent pregnancy before it begins. Birth control is also known as fertility control, contraception, and anticonception.

Do birth control hormones show in a blood test?

Birth control hormones do not typically show up in a blood test. Most blood tests will not show if you are taking birth control pills. If your doctor is specifically looking for birth control hormones, then he might detect that particular hormone in a specific blood test (1).

Birth control devices contain one or more hormones which prevent you from getting pregnant. These hormones include estrogen and progestin. Progestin is a synthetic form of progesterone. It has the same pharmacological effect as progesterone but a different chemical structure.

Estrogen, contained in birth control devices, may be detected in the blood or urine test through estradiol test. Birth control hormonal therapy can be given via pills, implants, vaginal rings, patches, injections, and intrauterine devices.

How long do birth control hormones stay in your system?

The stay of estrogen and progestin in the body depends on the dosage form used for birth control. Hormones may take 48 hours to leave your blood when given as a pill (estrogen and progestin), or mini-pill (progestin only) (2).

In the case of implants, the hormones stay in the body for 7-14 days due to the sustained release of hormones in the bloodstream. The hormonal levels go down within 48 hours after the ring is removed from a vagina. The same is true for birth control patches (3).

In the case of an intrauterine device, the hormones leave the system immediately after the device is removed. In most of the cases, the hormonal levels go back to ‘normal’ within three months of stopping the birth control. However, an early pregnancy is also possible.

How do birth control hormones go into your bloodstream?

The hormones present in birth control go into your bloodstream, irrespective of the route of administration. When taken orally, the hormones become available in the bloodstream through the digestive tract. In the case of injection, the hormones are directly given to the bloodstream.

When patches are used, the hormones travel through the epidermis to reach the dermis where there is a network of blood vessels. The same is true for a vaginal ring, where the hormones are absorbed into the bloodstream through the vaginal wall (3).

Because birth control intrauterine devices release hormones directly into the uterus, their effect is mostly paracrine rather than systemic, It means the hormones do not become available in the blood. However, as implants are inserted under the skin, the hormones become available in the bloodstream (4).

Factors that may influence birth control hormones in the blood

Several factors may influence the estrogen and progesterone levels in the blood, including (5, 6, 7):

  • Menopause: During menopause, estrogen levels are fluctuating rapidly. This may affect the proper detection of estrogen in the blood test.
  • Diet: Some fruits (such as apples, berries, and grapes) and grains (such as barley, oats, and wheat) may boost estrogen levels in the body.
  • Obesity: Adipose tissues are known to increase estrogen levels. Having a high percentage of body fat may boost the estrogen levels in the blood.
  • Liver problem: Estrogen is metabolized in the liver. Therefore, if you have a liver problem then too much estrogen may accumulate in your body.

Do birth control hormones affect your blood?

Birth control has been known to increase the occurrence of blood clots. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some birth controls have higher chances of forming blood clots than others (4).

FDA states that birth control containing synthetic drospirenone is more prone to form blood clots than birth control that contains progestin. FDA recommends that women should talk with their healthcare provider about the possibility or history of blood clots before starting birth control (4).

Birth control is an effective way of delaying pregnancy. Most of the time it is 93% effective. However, you should never start taking birth control before consulting your doctor. In case you miss a dose, you should immediately take a birth control pill.

You may experience side effects while taking birth control, including breast tenderness, breast pain, mood changes, nausea, abdominal pain, vaginal irritation, cramps, and spotting. In rare cases, blood in stool is also noted after taking a birth control pill.

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