9 Common Birth Control Pill Effects To Be Aware Of

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9 Common Birth Control Pill Effects To Be Aware Of

The pill is one of the most commonly used forms of birth control. It works by preventing the body from producing an egg, meaning that there is nothing for the sperm to fertilize, and pregnancy cannot occur. However, it is used nowadays for more than just birth control. It can be prescribed to help with irregular, painful, or heavy periods, endometriosis, acne, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Before you take the pill, there are some birth control pill side effects that you should be aware of.

*This article is not a medical recommendation and not an alternative for consulting a doctor. This article should not be construed as a medical reference and in any matter related to your health, you should consult your healthcare provider or OBGYN.*

9 Common Birth Control Pill Side Effects

1. Breakthrough Bleeding

Also known as spotting, breakthrough bleeding refers to bleeding between menstrual cycles. It may appear as light bleeding, or brown discharge, and is one of the most common side effects of birth control pills. Taking the pill as prescribed, at the same time each day, can help prevent breakthrough bleeding

2. Nausea

This is not uncommon, especially for people who take the pill for the first time. Taking the pill while eating, or at nighttime may help with nausea. Nausea should not occur all the time. If you experience severe nausea or nausea that persists for several weeks, you should speak to your healthcare provider.

3. Breast Tenderness

When you start taking the pill, your breasts may feel more tender than usual. Wearing a supportive bra can help to reduce the tenderness. Birth control pills can also make your breasts get bigger.

If you have breast pain or a new lump in your breast, speak to your healthcare provider.

4. Headaches and Migraines

Experiencing headaches and migraines is not uncommon for people who take the pill. Symptoms can depend on the dosage and the type of the pill. If you have a low dosage, you are less likely to experience migraines and headaches.

However, if you are prescribed the pill to help with PMS, then taking the pill may reduce these symptoms for you.

girl with headache

5. Weight Gain, Or Weight Loss

One symptom that isn’t yet proven, but is listed as a possible side effect is weight gain. Where some people think that birth control pills may lead to fluid retention or water weight, other people report that they experience weight loss when taking the pill.

But there is no such evidence to conclude which one is the case yet.

6. Mood Changes

Hormones play an important role in someone’s emotions. Changing the level of hormones, such as when taking the pill, may change someone’s emotions for better or worse. One study in Denmark found that there was a link between women who took hormonal contraception, and depression.

If you notice a change in your mood, and this was different before taking the pill, speak to your healthcare provider to see whether you need another pill instead.

7. Missed Periods

Depending on the type of pill you are taking, a period may be skipped, or your period may appear lighter than usual. This is down to the hormones that are inside the pills. You may also have skipped a period because of stress, illness, travel, hormonal problems, thyroid problems, and more.

If you miss your period, it is best to take a pregnancy test as pregnancies can still occur when taking the pill, especially if it is not taken properly.

8. Decrease, Or Increase In Libido

The pill can affect a person’s libido, due to hormonal changes. Some people experience a loss of libido. Other people may experience an increase in libido such as if symptoms of PMS decrease.

9. Vaginal Discharge

Changes in vaginal discharge may occur when taking the pill. Birth control can change your discharge, it can cause you to have more discharge or less. You may experience thick white discharge while on birth control, or experience vaginal dryness.

If you experience a change in vaginal discharge color, such as yellow or green discharge, this is also common, but may also be a sign of infection.

Alternatives To The Pill

Taking the pill is one form of contraception. Nowadays, there are many different types of contraception that you can explore should you find yourself struggling with symptoms from taking the birth control pill.

  • Condoms
  • Diaphragms
  • Vaginal Rings
  • Intrauterine Devices
  • The Implant
  • Birth Control Injections
  • The Temperature Method

girl taking temperature in bed

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Do Birth Control Pill Side Effects Last For?

Birth control side effects usually last around 2-3 months and then resolve themselves. Sometimes, side effects can persist. If you are concerned about some side effects, or are worried if some haven’t gone away after 3 months, speak to your healthcare provider.

Are Birth Control Pills Safe To Use?

Yes, in the United States around 14% of females aged 15-49 take oral contraceptive pills. They are safe for most women to take over long periods of time. Sometimes, you may need to try out a few types of pills before you find one that works for you. Speak to your healthcare provider for advice on which is the best pill for you to take.

Who Is The Pill Not Safe For?

The pill may not be safe for some people. Here is a list where you should consider other forms of contraception:

  • If you have untreated hypertension
  • Smoke, and are over the age of 25
  • Have a history of heart disease
  • If you have migraines with aura
  • You have a history of breast cancer or endometrial cancer

What Is The Cost Of Birth Control?

Birth control pill prices can vary. In the US, one pack, which lasts for 1 month, can cost between $0-$50. You also may need to pay for an appointment with a healthcare provider before getting your prescription. These can cost between $35-$250 dollars. Most insurance companies will cover these appointments, as well as the pills themselves under the Affordable Care Act. It is recommended to reach out to your insurance provider to find out which types of pill they cover.

No Medication Comes Without Side Effects

If you are wondering what it really is like to be on the pill from first-hand experience, or are looking for free expert advice, try one of the great courses on the Fertilty course category. Hear from experts in the field that will give you honest answers to all your burning questions.

No form of medication exists without having some potential side effects. The birth control pill is no different. Being aware of these side effects, and the alternative options available can help you figure out if this is the right form of contraception for you.

Most importantly, if you are unsure, speak to your healthcare provider who will be able to advise you more in this area. Having the freedom that the pill gives you might seem great at first, but it won’t be if you are suffering from other symptoms. Being open with your doctor is the first step to finding the right form of contraception that works for you.