What Are The Side Effects Of Oral Birth Control?

Oral birth control is a very popular form of birth control and is often used alone or with other methods (such as condoms) to prevent unwanted pregnancy. However, oral birth control isn’t for everyone. There are a number of side effects that go along with taking it, ranging from a little weight gain to more serious side effects such as stroke and decreased libido. Here’s what you want to know about oral birth control and its associated side effects.
Question: I was wondering if you could do a video on the side effects of oral birth control. By this, I don’t mean what we normally hear like weight gain and possibility of a stroke (if you smoke while on the pill), but I mean the stranger side effects like loss of sex drive, insomnia, and depression! I know it didn’t even strike me that the pill could cause these things, so I’m betting other people don’t know either. So if you could make a video to help inform woman of some of these strange side effects, I think that would be really great! Thanks!
–YouTube Viewer
Quick Birth Control Facts
  • Oral birth control is 99.9% effective against pregnancy when used correctly – that means, taking it at about the same time every single day.
  • It does not prevent STD’s of any kind, including HIV, AIDS, chlamydia, herpes, etc.
  • Antibiotics and other medicines will reduce the effectiveness of birth control.
  • Women on birth control should not smoke due to increase in rare but very serious side effects.

Common Birth Control Side Effects

There are many side effects that are caused by oral birth control, ranging from very mild side effects to more serious ones. Some women who take birth control won’t experience any side effects at all, others may experience some side effects that aren’t bothersome, and others may experience very serious and uncomfortable side effects that may mean they need to discontinue using the medication.

  • Nausea
  • Weight gain
  • Sore or swollen breasts
  • Spotting between periods or lighter periods
  • Mood changes
  • Decreased sexual libido

More Serious Birth Control Related Side Effects

While most of the side effects that are related to birth control aren’t serious, some of them are and require immediate medical attention. These side effects are more rare, but they can happen. Every woman who takes birth control should be aware of the more rare but serious side effects of the medication so they can contact their doctor as soon as possible if they experience any of these more serious side effects.

  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Visual disturbances such as blurred vision or spots or flashes in your vision
  • Mild headaches or severe migraines
  • Swelling and aching in the legs and thighs

Other Forms Of Hormonal Birth Control

You may think that the “pill” is the only form of birth control that has side effects, but quite the opposite is true. Many popular forms of birth control contain the very same mix of hormones that the pill does! Other forms of hormonal birth control can be even stronger than some pills and can produce similar but stronger side effects than the those associated with the pill.

  • The Ortho Evra patch
  • The Nuva ring
  • Mirena – the hormonal IUD (intra-uterine device)
  • Depo-Provera injection and other birth control injections
  • Hormonal implants
  • Plan B – the “morning after” pill

Barrier Methods

While oral birth control is among the most popular ways to practice safe sex, it is not the only way. Oral birth control doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted diseases, but some other methods of safe sex (called “barrier” methods) do.

  • Condoms – protects against STD’s
  • Female condoms – protects against STD’s
  • Copper IUD
  • Diaphragm
  • Cervical Cap
  • Spermicidal sponge, foam, cream or film

Talk To Your Doctor To Find Out If Birth Control Is Right For You

Always talk to your doctor to find out whether or not oral birth control or other forms of birth control is right for you. Your doctor can help explain to you why you should or should not take birth control, and will tell you how to use it correctly so it is most effective. Some women should not take birth control at all, because the risk of side effects are too great. Your doctor will look at your entire health history to determine whether or not hormonal birth control is the right choice for your health and lifestyle.

Who should not take birth control:

  • Women over 35
  • Women with a history of blood clots
  • Women with a history of heart or liver disease
  • Women with a history of breast or uterine cancer
  • Women who have experienced undesirable side effects from birth control previously

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