HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Contraceptives are used by people across the country. Birth control is generally taken to prevent pregnancy but a recent study suggests it may not be as effective in some women, for a reason.
“Contraception is something that affects a very large portion of the population. And there are very few things that would explain why contraception didn’t work.”
That’s why Troy Moore, a Huntsville genetic scientist, says a recent study regarding birth control effectiveness stands out.
“When you ingest a hormone you want it to release in a very controlled way. In fact for this study the authors took out the variability of having to take it orally,” explained Moore. “They looked at an implant so that it’s a constant dosage within the body.”
The scientific author, Aaron Lazorwitz, focused in on a particular gene called CYP3A7*1c.
“What they found was some of these women, out of 350 women studied, 18 of them had a lower level of a hormone in their body, and they also had a particular set of changes in one gene,” added Moore.
That gene is normally found in fetuses but switches off in most infants.
In some women, the gene never switches off and the CYP3A7 protein still generates.
The authors say it breaks down the hormones used in birth control rendering it less effective.
“The birth control itself is 99 percent effective,” explained Moore. “We don’t know exactly the rate of variation of this one particular gene but we should keep in mind that it is actually very rare that we know.”
Moore says this study could be one step in the right direction for improving and specializing preventative care.
Some work may take place right here in the Rocket City.
“We offer genetic testing and it was one of the things that caught my attention when I read this study. I thought, ‘maybe we should think about developing a test for these particular genes, so that women that have concerns about it could get tested,'” he said.