Birth Control Side Effects

Important info about side effects for birth control

While oral contraceptives and the patch are convenient contraception methods, they are not without their risks. Before you commit to going on the pill or the patch, it's very important that you're educated about possible birth control side effects and risks, and proceed according to the advice of your doctor.

Side effects for birth control are largely caused by the hormonal ingredients that prevent pregnancy. The expected set of secondary reactions is fairly consistent, no matter whether you're using a pill or patch that provides monophasic, biphasic or triphasic contraception. Common side effects of the birth control patch or pill are also fairly stable regardless of how much estrogen and progestin your contraceptive contains.

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Side Effects and Health Problems in Relation to Birth Control Pills

Some of the common, milder birth control side effects you may encounter include headaches, nausea, weight gain and breast soreness or tenderness. Birth control spotting can also occur, as can other irregularities like low menstrual volume or breakthrough bleeding. In most cases, these symptoms occur when you first start taking oral contraceptives and normalize or subside after a few months. There has also been much discussion about the birth control pill and PMS symptoms, and many women claim that PMS symptoms such as cramping have decreased or even disappeared with their use of the pill.

With long-term use, you may be increasing your risk for more serious medical conditions. There seems to be a correlation between birth control pills and liver disease in women who use certain muscle relaxant medications, especially for those over the age of 35. Oral contraceptives or the patch may also cause an increase in blood pressure and increase your risk of blood clots, stroke or heart attack. These risks are elevated for women over 35, especially those who smoke.

If you unknowingly become pregnant just before starting a course of birth control medication, you may be putting the fetus at increased risk of birth defects. Physical and cognitive abnormalities are said to occur in about 7 of 10,000 cases of fetal exposure to birth control pills. Clinicians have also suggested there may be links between birth control pills and high cholesterol, and between depression and birth control.

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