Entire list of birth control side effects including major and minor side effects, check whole list of problems faced by individuals while taking birth control pills. BCP, like any medication, can have side effects that you need to be aware of. It’s important to note that not all individuals will experience these side effects, and their severity can vary from person to person. When considering a birth control method, it is crucial to carefully evaluate the benefits, potential side effects, and associated risks. Prior to making a decision, it is recommended to compare the available options to determine the most suitable choice for your needs.
- 1 Minor Side Effects of Birth Control Pills
- 1.1 Nausea
- 1.2 Breast tenderness or enlargement
- 1.3 Headaches
- 1.4 Spotting or Breakthrough Bleeding
- 1.5 Missed Periods or Amenorrhea
- 1.6 Weight Gain or Weight Loss
- 1.7 Mood Swings / Changes in Mood
- 1.8 Decreased Sexual Desire
- 1.9 Vaginal Discharge
- 1.10 Contact Lens Use
- 2 Rare But Serious Side Effects of Birth Control Pills
- 2.1 Blood Clots Formation
- 2.2 High Blood Pressure
- 2.3 Liver Tumors
- 2.4 Breast Cancer Risk
- 2.5 Cervical Cancer Risk
- 2.6 List of 22 Potential Side Effects of Birth Control Pills
- 2.7 What are Alternative forms of contraception
- 2.8 List of Alternative Forms of Contraception:
- 2.9 Obtaining Birth Control Pills: A Step-by-Step Guide
Consult with Your Doctor: If you have any concerns or questions regarding how each form of birth control may impact your body, it is important to have a discussion with your doctor. They can provide personalized guidance based on your medical history and help you make an informed decision. Additionally, conducting research on your own can enhance your understanding of the different types of birth control methods available.
Combined Hormonal Contraception: Combined hormonal birth control encompasses methods such as birth control pills, the vaginal ring (Annovara or NuvaRing), and the patch (Xulane). When used correctly, these methods are highly effective in preventing pregnancy. It is important to take the pill at the same time every day, replace the vaginal ring once a month, and change the patch weekly.
The effectiveness of these forms of contraception is approximately 99% when used correctly. However, with typical use, the chances of getting pregnant may slightly increase.
Minor Side Effects of Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills (BCPs) have both minor and rare but serious side effects. Minor side effects include nausea, breast tenderness or enlargement, headaches, spotting or breakthrough bleeding, missed periods or amenorrhea, weight gain, mood changes, decreased sex drive, vaginal discharge, and potential changes in contact lens use. Here we are explaining some of the minor side effects faced by users on taking birth control pills (BCP’s):-
Some individuals may experience feelings of nausea, especially while starting taking birth control pills for the 1st time. Usually, nausea goes away within a short time. Taking your birth control pill with food or taking it before bedtime may help but in case you have persistent problems or unusually severe nausea, contact your local healthcare provider.
Breast tenderness or enlargement
Some individuals may experience breast tenderness or swelling. The mild breast tenderness or enlargement may occur after starting birth control pills. In order to reduce tenderness, decrease your caffeine and salt intake and wear a bra with good support. Usually tenderness gets better within a few weeks of starting the pill but if you notice persistent discomfort or a discrete lump, make an appointment with your local healthcare provider.
Birth control pills can occasionally cause headaches or migraines. If you experience severe or persistent headaches, it’s recommended to consult your healthcare provider.
Spotting or Breakthrough Bleeding
Vaginal bleeding can sometimes occurs to users during their active pills. It is a common side effect during the first 3 months of usage of birth control pills and upto 50% of users may experience this issue. After taking 3rd pack of pills, 90% of users are no longer experiencing spotting. Some users may notice some mild menstrual cramping with the spotting but it should resolve for most by the third pack of pills as well. Contraceptive effectiveness is present even with spotting, as long as no pills have been missed.
As we have told that in the first few months of using birth control pills, some people may experience breakthrough bleeding or spotting between periods. If you are experiencing light bleeding on your active pills that lasts longer than 5 days, or heavier bleeding lasting more than 3 days, consult your healthcare provider.
Missed Periods or Amenorrhea
Even on taking birth control pills correctly, some users will not get a period. This can happen due to stress, illness and travel and sometimes due to thyroid or other hormonal issues. A pregnancy test is advised before starting a new pack of pills. In case you have missed pills and don’t get your period, or your period is very light, it is particularly important to take a pregnancy test. If you continue to experience amenorrhea (absence of your period), contact your doctor. A change to another birth control pill can help in resolving the issue of missed periods.
Weight Gain or Weight Loss
Although not everyone experiences this, some individuals may notice slight weight gain or weight loss while taking birth control pills. Several studies have revealed that weight changes in people on birth control pills are no different than among people who don’t take birth control pills. 3 placebo-controlled randomized clinical studies have demonstrated birth control pills do not cause weight changes. However, some users may react to the hormones with mild fluid retention in some tissue around the breasts and hips.
Mood Swings / Changes in Mood
Some users may see observable changes in their emotional status including depressed mood or emotional instability. If you have a history of depression, discuss it with your doctor and monitor your progress carefully while starting taking birth control pills. If you see any changes in your mood on taking birth control pills, promptly contact your provider.
Decreased Sexual Desire
While your sex drive is affected by many things, the hormonal changes on taking birth control pills can be a factor in decreased sex drive. In some cases, birth control pills can decrease sexual desire. If this is a concern for you, discussing alternative contraceptive methods with your healthcare provider is recommended.
A slight increase in the amount of discharge from the vagina can occur for some users. Other BCP users may notice decreased lubrication with intercourse. Neither change is harmful and added lubrication can be used as needed to make sex comfortable. This vaginal discharge increase or decrease is usually temporary while taking birth control pills and is not a cause for concern.
Contact Lens Use
Sometimes users who wear contact lenses may notice some visual changes or change in lens tolerance due to birth control pills. In such cases, you must consult with your opthalmologist.
Rare But Serious Side Effects of Birth Control Pills
Long-term use of birth control pills is generally safe for most females. However, there are potential risks associated with prolonged usage. These risks include an increased risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart attack, stroke, and blood clots, especially with certain types of pills. It is important for individuals with uncontrolled high blood pressure or a personal or family history of cardiovascular problems to consult their healthcare provider for alternative contraception methods. Hormonal birth control methods can also affect the risk of different types of cancer.
While the risk of breast cancer is slightly higher in birth control pill users, the risk of ovarian, endometrial, and colorectal cancers may be reduced. However, long-term use of the pill is associated with a higher risk of cervical cancer, although most cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus. Only a few users of birth control pills may experience these serious side effects. However, these rare users must take notice of the serious symptoms and visit their doctor after observing any of the below mentioned symptom to stay safe.
Rare but serious side effects include blood clots, high blood pressure, liver tumors, increased risk of breast cancer, and slightly increased risk of cervical cancer, here we are explaining each one of them in detail.
Blood Clots Formation
Although rare, birth control pills can make users slightly more prone to the risk of formation of blood clots, including deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism. A blood clot can occur in a vein or artery and can have different symptoms depending on where it forms. Clots can occur in the legs, abdomen, heart, lungs, eye or brain. In the brain, a clot could manifest as a stroke. The risk of these events occurring is very low, but increases in people over 35, in smokers and in those with high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, clotting tendency or a family history of clotting abnormalities. The warning signs of a blood clot spell out the word ACHES.
- Abdominal pain
- Chest pain (also shortness of breath)
- Headaches (especially those that are new, severe or associated with persistent dizziness, difficulty speaking, fainting, numbness or weakness in extremities
- Eye problems (blurred vision or loss of vision)
- Severe leg pain (and/or redness and swelling in the calf or thigh)
If you develop any of the ACHES side effects or jaundice (a yellowing of the eyes or skin) while on birth control pills, call Health Services right away. If you need emergency medical attention, call EMS. If you are out of town, contact a local health provider or go to a hospital emergency room.
High Blood Pressure
Birth control pills can raise your blood pressure. Your medical provider will check your blood pressure a few months after you begin taking the birth control pills.
Birth control pills have been associated with an increased risk of forming benign liver tumors. This is a very rare occurrence, but you should contact your local healthcare provider if you develop upper abdominal pain while taking birth control pills. Additionally, birth control pills may accelerate the formation of gallbladder stones in users who have a strong family history of gallstone disease.
Breast Cancer Risk
Many patients ask about how birth control pills affect their future risk of developing breast cancer. Most of the literature suggests that use of the birth control pill has little if any effect on the risk of breast cancer. One more recent study did show an elevated risk of breast cancer among long term users of the pill, but the increase in risk was still small.
Cervical Cancer Risk
The risk of developing this type of cancer is slightly increased in birth control pills users. Fortunately, routine Pap smear testing is an excellent screening tool.
List of 22 Potential Side Effects of Birth Control Pills
- Breast tenderness or enlargement
- Fluid retention
- Increased appetite
- Melasma (dark patches on the face)
- Blood pressure above your usual range
- Spotting or breakthrough bleeding
- Missed periods or amenorrhea
- Weight gain
- Mood changes
- Decreased sex drive
- Vaginal discharge
- Changes in contact lens use
- Blood clots
- High blood pressure
- Liver tumors
- Increased risk of breast cancer
- Slightly increased risk of cervical cancer
What are Alternative forms of contraception
There are several alternative forms of contraception available for individuals who experience severe side effects from the birth control pill.
Some options include condoms, diaphragms, vaginal rings (such as NuvaRing), contraceptive injections (like Depo-Provera), contraceptive implants, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and vasectomy for male sterilization. Each method has its own set of considerations and potential side effects.
List of Alternative Forms of Contraception:
- Condoms: Barrier contraceptives that prevent sperm from reaching egg cells.
- Diaphragm: A rimmed cup placed in the vagina along with spermicide to block the cervix.
- Vaginal Ring (NuvaRing): A plastic ring inserted into the vagina that releases hormones.
- Contraceptive Injections (Depo-Provera): Hormonal injections that suppress ovulation.
- Contraceptive Implants: Small plastic rods implanted into the upper arm that release hormones.
- Intrauterine Devices (IUDs): Small devices inserted into the uterus that can be hormonal or non-hormonal.
- Vasectomy: A surgical procedure for male sterilization.
Each method may have specific side effects and considerations that should be discussed with a healthcare provider.
Obtaining Birth Control Pills: A Step-by-Step Guide
- Obtain a Prescription: In the United States, birth control pills require a prescription. Family planning clinics are available to provide prescriptions, ensuring access to appropriate contraceptive options.
- Consult with a Healthcare Professional: During an appointment, a healthcare professional will discuss the individual’s medical history and physical health to determine the most suitable pill for their needs.
- Online Prescription Options: In certain states in US, it is possible to obtain a prescription for birth control pills online or directly from a pharmacist, offering additional convenience and accessibility.
The birth control pills are generally safe for most females to use. However, research has linked its use with certain risks. There are minor side effects and also rare but serious side effects of taking birth control pills for individuals, you must check them before usage.