Birth control pills: Drug Facts and risks of side effects

Birth control pills are an effective way to avoid unplanned pregnancy. Although oral contraceptives continuously improve and become safer for health over time, these pills can cause side effects.

All birth control pills side effects can be divided into three groups:

  1. adverse effects that pass as the body gets used to the drug;
  2. adverse effects that require replacement of the medication;
  3. adverse effects that require immediate discontinuation of the drug.

It should be noted that skipping a dose of birth control pills for more than 24 hours increases not only the risk of conception, but also the likelihood of side effects.

The first group of side effects, caused by administration of birth control pills, includes adverse reactions that gradually disappear by themselves as women continue taking them, and do not require discontinuation of contraceptive or any special treatment.

The following undesirable effects are usually observed during the first three months of administration of birth control pills and have a weakly expressed character:

  • headache,
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • spotting,
  • breast engorgement and tenderness.

During the adaptation period, frequent mood swings are also possible, including irritability and nervousness. If these side effects persist after 3 months of birth control pills use, you should contact your doctor and choose another oral contraceptive.

A reason to replace the current birth control pills can be the manifestation of such unwanted secondary effects, as:

  • a sharp decline in libido, depression;
  • dryness of the mucous membranes of the vagina;
  • prolonged spotting or breakthrough bleeding;
  • periodic accumulation of fluid in the body (edema).

Replacing oral contraceptive is suitable when the negative symptoms persist for more than 3-4 months since the beginning of use. It should be noted that consulting with a doctor is a must, since the above adverse effects may indicate the presence of a gynecologic pathology.

During the use of birth control pills, some serious side effects may manifest, which require immediate drug discontinuation. Development of the following reactions requires immediate discontinuation of the drug and medical care:

  • feeling of heaviness in the chest,
  • blurred vision or hearing,
  • labored or rapid breathing.

One of the most frequent side effects observed with the administration of birth control pills that almost all women fear of is weight gain. The composition of many oral contraceptives includes synthetic analogs of hormones progesterone and estrogen that can increase weight.

However, most modern medicines contain low doses of these hormones, so their impact on the metabolism is minimal. This effect is still possible due to the fact that birth control pills increase appetite, which leads to overeating.

The main factor that increases the risk adverse effects during the use of birth control pills is smoking. The risk group includes women aged 35 years and older, who daily smoke more than 15 cigarettes.

Smoking itself has a negative effect on a woman’s health. When combined with hormonal pills, it significantly increases the likelihood of the blood vessels blockage. Therefore, regardless of age, she will need to give up smoking.

When birth control pills are used correctly and in compliance with the instructions, the risk of side effects considerably decreases.

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