Oral Contraceptives, Hormones and the Gallbladder

Mar 1, 2023 | Gallbladder Support, Horemones | 0 comments

Oral Contraceptives, Hormones and the GallbladderOral Contraceptives, Female Hormones and Risk of Gallbladder Disease

Studies show that women are two to three times more likely to develop cholesterol gallstones than men.1 Researchers believe the hormonal differences between men and women, primarily estrogen and progesterone, are to blame. Estrogen increases cholesterol production in the liver and increases the amount of cholesterol in bile, while progesterone slows gallbladder motility which increases risk of gallstone formation.2-4

Since we know sex hormones affect the health of our gallbladder, we would expect that altering our hormones with birth control pills can play a role in gallstone development. Studies support this – younger women taking oral contraceptives are at higher risk for developing gallstones due to estrogen content of the pills. New lower estrogen contraceptive pills may not have the same effect.1 

Oral Contraceptives, Hormones and the GallbladderEstrogen Dominance

There is plenty of talk of hormones on social media these days and how imbalances affect overall health. You may have heard of the term “estrogen dominance.” As we discussed earlier, high levels of estrogen play a role in the development of gallstones. Someone with estrogen dominance is at higher risk for developing gallbladder disease.

First of all, what is estrogen? Estrogen is considered the “female sex hormone”, where testosterone is the “male sex hormone.” Both females and males make a certain amount of both estrogen and testosterone, but estrogen is naturally higher in females and testosterone in men.5 

Estrogen and progesterone, our two female sex hormones, work together to regulate the menstrual cycle and affect how the entire body functions. Estrogen and progesterone oppose each other and help prevent the uterus lining from getting too thick. 5

Oral Contraceptives, Hormones and the GallbladderHigh Estrogen with Low Progesterone and/or Testosterone

When estrogen levels get too high while progesterone and testosterone are low, it is called estrogen dominance. Symptoms of estrogen dominance are many. They include:5

    • Increased breast tissue density
    • Bloating 
    • Worsening PMS and irregular periods
    • Mood swings
    • Hair loss
    • Anxiety and mood disorders
    • Weight gain
    • Fatigue
    • Brain fog or memory issues
    • Low sex drive

…If you are experiencing many of the symptoms on this list, consider getting your hormones tested to see where your levels are at

Action steps to support the gallbladder- I can add these if needed

    • Discuss alternative birth control with doctor- fertility awareness method
    • Support estrogen metabolism
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