Overcoming side effects of oral contraceptive treatment
The use of one class or another of oral contraceptive (OC) medication is common amongst women as a convenient method for family planning.2
The down side to oral contraceptives
Unfortunately, they are associated with side effects. Common side effects of OCs may include nausea, mild headaches, tender breasts, irregular bleeding, spotting and/or mood changes.2,3
Special attention must also be given to medical cases such as hypertension, arterial disease, diabetes and epilepsy.2,3
Nutritional deficiencies that may be caused by oral contraceptive use
The use of OCs is also associated with essential nutrition deficiencies such as vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folic acid and zinc. When these essential nutrients are deficient, there is an increase in a substance called homocysteine, which in turn increases the risk for cardiovascular disease.3
The reasons why these nutrients are essential
Zinc plays an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system and healthy cells.5
A lack of folate or folic acid my lead to a reduction in DNA production and cell division, which could result in conditions such as anaemia.5
Vitamin B12 is essential for cell division and cell replication, while vitamin B6 is important to keep homocysteine levels low.4, 5
OC-GAP assists in the maintenance of these essential nutrients that may be depleted as a result of oral contraceptive use. Only one capsule a day is required.1
For more information on contraception, click “here“
Contraception is one of the most powerful public health tools for any country1
- Access to safe and effective contraception is a critical element of women’s health1
- Enabling women to make choices about their fertility is empowering1
- Offers women better economic and social opportunities1
Common side effects of combined Oral Contraceptives (OCs)
Common side effects of combined OCs1
- mild headaches
- tender breasts
- irregular bleeding or spotting
- mood changes
Common medical disorders
Common medical disorders that require special attention in terms of contraceptive method1
- venous thromboembolism
- arterial disease
Role of vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folic acid & zinc in the use of oral contraceptives
- Women taking estrogen-progestin combination agents had evidence of vitamin B6 deficiency
- Mean serum vitamin B12 levels were significantly lower in women using OCs than in non-users
- OC users had lower mean serum levels of folate and higher percentage of subnormal folate levels than a control group
- Women using OCs had lower plasma zinc levels than women who were not
Folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 take part in the metabolism of homocysteine5
Increased homocysteine is involved in5
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Vascular damage that predisposes to:
- Thrombogenesis and arteriosclerosis
Effects of vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folic acid & zinc
OC-GAP assists in the maintenance of the
essential nutrients that may be depleted as
a result of oral contraceptive use7
Dosage & directions for use
Take one (1) capsule daily7
Please note: This is an educational information leaflet only and should not be used for diagnosis. For more information on contraception, consult your healthcare professional.
- OC-GAP approved package insert, Adcock, 2017
- Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, Birth Control Pills (Oral Contraceptives) List of Names and Side Effects, MedicineNet, 2018
- Lori Smith BSN MSN CRNP, 10 most common birth control pill side effects, Medical News Today, Jan 29, 2018
- Joseph Pizzorno, Homocysteine: Friend or Foe?, Integr Med (Encinitas). 2014 Aug; 13(4): 8–14
- ScienceDirect, Essential Nutrients, Overview, 2018
1. Department of Health, Republic of South Africa 2012. National Contraception Clinical Guidelines. [cited 2017 April 25]; Available from:
http://www.gov.za/sites/ www.gov.za/files/Contraception_Clinical_Guidelines_28jan2013-2.pdf. 2. IMS TPM February 2017 Oral contraceptives market.
3. Population reference bureau. World population data sheet 2013. [cited 2017 April 25]; Available at: http://www.prb.org/Publications/Datasheets/2013/2013-world-population-datasheet/world-map.aspx#map/southern_africa/familyplanning/total.
4. Palmery M, Saraceno A, Vaiarelli A and Carlomagno G. Oral contraceptives and changes in nutritional requirements. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2013;17(13):1804-1813.
5. de la Calle M, Usandizaga R, Sancha M et al. Homocysteine, folic acid and B-group vitamins in obstetrics and gynaecology. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2003;107(2): 125-134.
6. Chasapis CT, Loutsidou AC, Spiliopoulou CA and Stefanidou ME. Zinc and human health: an update. Arch Toxicol. 2012 Apr;86(4):521-34. doi:
10.1007/s00204-011-0775-1. Epub 2011.
7. OC-GAP approved package insert, 2017.