Women Cholesterol Check: Contraceptive Pills and Cholesterol Levels

Question: What is the ideal age for women to test their cholesterol? Before prescribing contraceptive pill why does the doctor want to know the patients cholesterol level? What about the newer forms of the pill?

Women Cholesterol Test

Before the age of eighteen, generally women with a family history of heart disease should have a lipid profile test done. Thereafter one should be closely monitored.  However, women without a family history of heart disease should have a complete cholesterol check-up at the age of thirty and definitely before menopause, when the lipids change.

Contraceptive Pills and Cholesterol

Earlier contraceptive pill were more powerful, contained high doses of estrogen and were not lipid friendly. Women consuming the pills faced three times increased risk of death as compared to women not taking the pill. Studies have also shown that oral contraceptives containing progesterone can cause blood clots and can even change fat and carbohydrate metabolism. The pills had its positive and negative effects. The earlier version of pills contained high dose of estrogen that boosted triglyceride and the good HDL, but not enough to compensate the high LDL levels.

The high dose of progesterone also raised the LDL.

The newer versions of contraceptive pills are of a lower dose and contain less potent estrogen and progesterone. They seem to increase LDL only mildly while increasing HDL. But a complete lipid profile is essential before taking an oral contraceptive. Besides that a yearly check-up is also essential. If cholesterol levels are above 220mg/dL or triglyceride level is above 190mg/dL some doctor’s rule out the usage of the pill. Other doctors feel that one should not necessarily rule out pill use because of high cholesterol or triglyceride level because the estrogen component can cancel out harmful LDL and Triglycerides. But if one has very high blood pressure, is extremely overweight or smokes, then oral contraceptive is forbidden.