Most Common Side Effects of Birth Control Pills

February 15, 2011

Dizziness, Nausea and Breast Tenderness

Because birth control pills contain hormones, it is quite likely that you will have some sort of side effects when taking them, whether they are minor, or severe. Occasionally, women who find themselves having dizzy spells from the pill switch to the ring or the birth control patch and the dizziness subsides. Most doctors tell their patients that if they are experiencing minor side effects after going on the pill that most of those effects will likely subside after a few months. However, if the side effects do not go away, or worsen, you should definitely discuss the situation with your doctor who may suggest an alternative method of birth control. Most women will experience some degree of headache, dizziness or breast tenderness once they begin taking the pill, however these symptoms generally subside, and if they don't, switching brands may help. The nausea that some women experience can be lessened by taking your pill with food, and if you're using the ring or the patch, then you might need to switch methods.

Breakthrough Bleeding

One symptom which tends to annoy women more than any other is the breakthrough bleeding often experienced once you begin taking the pill. Doctors say that if you take the pill at exactly the same time every day you are less likely to have this type of breakthrough bleeding. If you are using the shot, the mini-pill or the implant-all methods which use progestin only-you are more likely to experience breakthrough bleeding as they thin the uterus to the point where it tends to slough off. The more positive side of this breakthrough bleeding is that most women who have breakthrough bleeding occasionally also have much lighter periods-or no periods at all. If the spotting is really messing with your life, you can sometimes add ibuprofen or another anti-inflammatory drug, or switch to a pill which contains small amounts of estrogen.

Mood Swings and Decreased Sex Drive

For women who suffer a noticeable decrease in sex drive, you may need to find another birth control method entirely, or have your doctor switch you to a pill that has more androgenic traits. If the birth control pill is severely affecting your mood, you may need to switch to a non-hormonal type of birth control, although some women find that taking an antidepressant along with their pill can lessen the severity of the mood swings.

Acne and Other Side Effects

Although many women find that the pill makes their acne worse, others experience just the opposite effect, and their skin actually clears up. Many women experience at least some level of bloating, constipation and nausea, as well as headaches, spotting, and fatigue. In rare cases birth control pills can lead to high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels. More severe side effects can include vision impairment, heart attack, jaundice, stroke, blood clots or suppression of the immune system. If you have any symptoms which are more severe or last a significant length of time, discuss this with your health care provider immediately.

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