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The Pill can Age the Reproductive System, Study Reports

Update Date: Jul 02, 2014 12:59 PM EDT

Even though the pill can prevent unwanted pregnancies, a new study is reporting that it can also age the reproductive system. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that within the initial months after getting off of the pill, women's fertility is compromised.

For this study, the research team examined 822 female participants between the ages of 19 and 46. All of them had sought care from a fertility clinic and some of them were on the pill. The team specifically measured the women's anti-Mellerian hormone (AMH) and antral follicles (AFC) levels. Both measurements are considered indicators of fertility.

"We expected to find an effect of the pill. But during the project we were surprised at the quantified effect on ovarian reserve parameters as defined by anti-Mullerian hormone, antral follicle count and ovarian volume," Dr. Kathrine Birch Petersen, of Copenhagen University Hospital, said reported by DailyMail.

The researchers found that women who were on the pill had AMH and AFC levels that were 19 and 16 percent lower respectively. The team added that women under 30 had the greatest drops in their levels. Low AMH and AFC levels meant that women were less fertile even though they had stopped taking the pill. Despite reduced fertility, the researchers believe that the effects of taking the pill are not permanent. They stated that women who are on the pill should measure their biological clock roughly three months after getting off the pill. The researchers added that many women get pregnant six months after they stop taking the pill.

"We do not believe the pill changes the ovaries in any permanent way," Dr. Birch Petersen added. "But we still need to know more about the recovery phase after women stop the pill. The pill is unlikely to change the basal ovarian biology of egg depletion - but it certainly changes the appearance of the ovaries and the secretion of AMH."

The study's findings were presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in Munich, Germany.

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