A lot of women use contraceptive pills as their method of birth control. When you think about the positive side of contraceptive pills, convenience is something that stands out the most. You may not always have condoms with you all the time and being on pills will just let you do it whenever you want to. However, this small bit of advantage comes along with a big chunk of disadvantages. Contraceptive pills work by altering the hormones in your body and it can have many short term as well as long term side effects.
Even if contraceptive pills prevent pregnancy, they do not provide you any protection against sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS. Also, not all women can use these pills safely. If you are above 35 and you smoke, have blood clots in limbs or lungs, have serious heart or liver issues, breast or uterus related cancer, high blood pressure, or migraines with aura, you may have to consider other forms of birth control (1). Even if you are far away from all these problems, consumption of contraceptive pills can introduce you to new ones. So, before you choose these pills as your method of birth control, here are 12 most common side effects you need to be informed about:
Use of contraceptive pills might make you nauseous (2). The intensity of the feeling varies from person to person and it usually subsides after a while. Taking the pill right after your meal or just before bedtime may help in lowering its intensity. In case the nausea is too much or if it persists for more than three months, consult a doctor.
2) Intermenstrual Spotting
You may experience a bit of spotting between your estimated period days, during the first three months of pill consumption (3). This is probably because the uterus is adjusting to the thinner endometrial layer or due to the change in hormones. The pills are effective even during the spotting as long as you’re taking them regularly. Consult a doctor in case the bleeding is heavy or if it lasts for more than five days.
3) Missed Periods
If you’ve missed a period or if it’s very light, it’s better to take a pregnancy test at home and be sure about it- yes, even when you’re on pills. While there are other reasons like stress, sickness, travel, and hormonal/thyroid imbalances that can cause missed periods, get it checked (4). Also, seek medical help if necessary.
4) Tender Breasts
During the beginning of the pill consumption, you may experience enlargement and/or tenderness in your breasts (5). This usually goes off after the first few weeks and if persistent pain is there, seek medical help. Also, consult a doctor in case you notice any lumps in your breasts.
5) Headaches And Migraine
You may experience headaches and migraine due to the hormone alterations that the pills make (6). Try to take low-dose pills and if the headache persists after one or two weeks, consult a doctor.
6) Weight Gain
An increase in weight may happen during contraceptive pill consumption due to fluid retention in the body (7). Studies have found that there’s an average gain of 2 Kilograms at 6 or 12 months of pill consumption.
7) Mood Changes
You may experience certain ups and downs when it comes to your mood (8). This is due to the hormonal fluctuations caused by the pills. There are higher chances of getting depressed during the consumption of contraceptive pills which is why you need to consult a doctor if the mood changes are bad.
8) Lower Libido
A decrease in libido can happen during pill consumption (9). However, some people may feel better in bed because they no longer have to worry about getting pregnant or having the pre-menstrual syndrome.
9) Change In Discharge Form And Flow
You may experience an increase or decrease in the discharge once you start using contraceptive pills (10). You can use a lubricant during lovemaking in case it feels dry. These changes are not harmful but if there is a significant change in the color and odor of the discharge, seek medical help to be on the safer side.
The point of understanding these side effects is that you know when things are not normal and when you should go see a doctor. Contraceptive pills are not always effective and you can use a condom to be entirely sure about things. Also, prolonged use of these pills are not healthy and they might cause cardiovascular problems and increase the risk of certain types of cancer (11). But don’t worry because you always have other methods of contraception that are less risky.