The Strange Truth About the Side Effects of the Birth Pill

Updated on March 21st, 2020
birth control pill

Oral contraceptive pills (also called “Pill” and birth control pills) are a type of birth control method and are very effective at avoiding pregnancy. These contraceptive pills are small tablets that you can swallow every day. The majority of the pills contain two types of synthetic or human-made female hormones: progestin and estrogen. These are similar to the progesterone and estrogen found in female ovaries.

These pills are also termed “combination oral contraceptives,” and there are multiple types.

The hormones in the medicine prevent pregnancy by suppressing the pituitary gland, which stops the development and release of the egg in the ovary (ovulation).

The progestin hormone aids in stopping the sperm from reaching the egg and changes the lining of the uterus; this could be a vital function. Another type of contraceptive pill contains only one hormone (progestin).It is called either the “mini-Pill” or the “progestin-only pill,” It works by stopping ovulation and by helping to prevent the male’s sperm from reaching the egg.

Side Effects of Birth Control Pill

Common side effects of oral contraceptives include:

1. Eye changes

Hormonal changes caused by the birth control pills have been related to a thickening of the cornea(1). Oral contraceptive use scientifically has not been related to a higher risk of eye infection, but it may indicate that contact lenses no longer fit reasonably.

Contact lens wearers should immediately consult their ophthalmologist if they experience any abnormal changes in vision or lens tolerance during pill use.

2. Vaginal discharge


Vaginal discharge changes may occur when taking the pill. Vaginal discharge may be a spike or a reduction in vaginal lubrication or a difference in the nature of the release. Lubrication can help make sex more comfortable if vaginal dryness persists.

These changes are usually not harmful, but changes in odor or color could point towards an infection. Concerned people should speak with their medical providers about such changes.

[ Read: Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy ]

3. Decreased sex drive

The hormones in the contraceptive pill can affect libido or desire in some. If decreased libido persists and is worrisome, this should be informed with a medical practitioner.

In a few cases, the birth control pill can increase libido, for example, by removing concerns about pregnancy and reducing the painful symptoms of menstrual cramping, premenstrual syndrome, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids.

4. Skipped periods

Even with proper pill usage, periods may be sometimes missed. Various aspects can influence this, including illness, stress, travel, and thyroid or hormonal imbalances. If a period is skipped or is very light while using the pill, a pregnancy test is suggested before starting the next box.

It is not abnormal for a flow to be very light or missed altogether on occasion. If concerned, seek medical advice.

5. Mood changes

The latest studies indicate that oral contraceptives increase the risk of depression and could impact the user’s mood and other emotional changes. Anyone experiencing mood swings during pill use should contact their medical practitioners.

6. Weight gain

Sudden gain body weight

Clinical studies have not found an impactful link between weight fluctuations the use of birth control pills. But, fluid retention may appear, especially around the hips and breasts and.

According to one popular review, most studies have found an average weight gain of under 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) at six or twelve months with a progestin-only birth control method.

The latest reviews of other birth control methods showed the same increase. Some types of hormonal contraceptives have been linked to a decrease in lean body mass.

[ Read: Natural Methods of Birth Control ]

7. Headaches and migraine

The hormones in birth preventing pills can increase the frequency of headaches and migraines. Pills with different types and doses of a hormone may trigger various symptoms.

Using a low-dose pill may reduce the chances of migraines. Symptoms usually improve over some time, but if severe headaches start when you begin taking the pill, you should seek medical support.

8. Breast tenderness

Birth control pills may cause enlargement of breast tenderness. This tenderness typically resolves a few weeks after starting the medicine. Anyone who has persistent pain or tenderness or finds a lump in the breast or who has or severe breast pain(2) should seek a doctor’s advice. Practical tips for relieving breast tenderness include reducing caffeine and salt intake and wearing a supportive bra.

9. Nausea


Some people experience the sickening feeling when first taking the pill, but symptoms usually stop after a while. Taking medicine at bedtime or with food helps. If nausea is severe or lasts for longer than three months, you should seek medical guidance.

10. Intermenstrual spotting

Vaginal bleeding is common between expected periods. This spotting usually resolves within three months of starting to take the pill. During spotting, the pill is still active, as long as it has been taken in the right dosage, and no doses are skipped.

Anyone who experiences four or more days of bleeding while on active pills, or heavy bleeding for three or more days, should contact a healthcare professional.

It may happen because the uterus is adjusting to having a thinner endometrial lining or because the body is adjusting to having different levels of hormones.

[ Read: Stop Heavy Periods Naturally ]

Can Anybody Take Birth Control Pills?

Almost all young women and teens and can take contraceptive pills. There are multiple reasons why your healthcare provider might feel that you need to choose other methods of birth control. These reasons are called “contraindications.”

Contraindications for Taking Combined Birth Control Pills Include

You have a genetic condition(s) that increases your risk of blood clots or a history of blood clots.

Migraine headaches with aura (spots and wavy flashing lights or trouble seeing that occur 5 to 30 minutes before the problem starts), loss of speech, or neurological symptoms like numbness is one of the essential contraindications.

Certain kinds of heart diseases.High blood pressure that is not restrained with medication, surgery or any other condition that prevents you from moving or getting up and walking (immobilized).


All this indicates that, like any medication, the birth control pills got its own pros and cons. The trick is to find the right combination of hormones for you and allow about 3 months for your body to make that important decision!

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