Women who get pregnant while using birth control pill may carry a gene that breaks down the hormones common in contraceptives, a new research conducted by scientists from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus has found.
Experts define birth control as the use of any practices, methods, or devices to prevent pregnancy from occurring in a sexually active woman, it is also referred to as family planning, pregnancy prevention, fertility control, or contraception; birth control methods are designed either to prevent fertilization of an egg or implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus.
Aaron Lazorwitz, the study’s author and assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus explained that the findings mark the first time a genetic variant has been associated with birth control.
According to the research, birth control pills are not 100 percent effective but the reasons they fail have never been fully explained. Women are usually blamed for not using the medication properly.
But Lazorwitz, a medical doctor and his colleagues suspected that there may be other reasons at work. They looked at 350 healthy women with a median age of 22.5 years old and a contraceptive implant in place for between 12 and 36 months.
The researchers found that 5 percent of women tested had a gene called CYP3A7*1C that is usually active in fetuses and then switched off before birth. But some women with this gene continue to make the CYP3A7 enzyme into adulthood.
Lazorwitz said that the enzyme breaks down the hormones in birth control and may put women at a higher risk of pregnancy while using contraceptives, especially lower dose methods. The variant could be found during genetic screening.
“When a woman says she got pregnant while on birth control the assumption was always that it was somehow her fault,” Lazorwitz said. “But these findings show that we should listen to our patients and consider if there is something in their genes that caused this.”
The findings according to sciencedaily pointed to how pharmacogenomics, a relatively new field which analyzes how genes affect a person’s response to drugs, has the potential to dramatically alter the field of women’s health.
“Especially in light of the social, financial, and emotional consequences of contraceptive failure and the breadth of indications for steroid hormones throughout a woman’s life-span,” the study showed.
Lazorwitz noted that the study may help spur the development of more precise medical tools that can help tailor treatment to individual patients.