Contraceptive Pill Side Effects
Side effects are a fairly common consequence of contraceptive pills. If they do occur, they are usually only noticeable during the first few months of use, after which point they should begin to subside. If they persist beyond this time, you might be advised to change the type of pill you are taking. There are many to choose from and you should be able to find one that is more suited to your body.
As with all hormonal medications, the side effects can vary in their level of severity depending on your body. If these side effects persist, it is best to contact a doctor or family planner to discuss your options.
Headaches are a common side effect of contraceptive pills. More serious headaches and migraines are less common.Gastric
Stomach upsets are fairly common and can occasionally result in vomiting. Some women experience slight weight gain, but weight loss is rare.Gynaecological
Some women who take a contraceptive pill will experience changes in their libido.Breast
It is quite common to experience breast soreness or tenderness in the first few weeks or months after starting a new pill. In very rare cases, you may notice breast discharge.
How common are side effects?
Some side effects are more common than others, but such side effects are also very mild and only temporary. More serious side effects are very rare but will require medical assistance as a matter of urgency. You should also seek the advice of a medical professional if you are concerned about any particular side effect, or if a mild side effect persists or worsens.
In the table below, "common" refers to side effects that between 100 and 1,000 women in 10,000 experience. "Uncommon" side effects are experienced by between 10 and 100 women in 10,000. Those side effects which are deemed to be "rare" affect between one and 10 women in 10,000.
Who has a higher risk of experiencing side effects?
There are ways that you can try to minimise the level of severity of side effects, because there are actually a few factors that can increase them. If you experience, partake in or suffer from any of the following, you might actually be more susceptible to experiencing side effects.
- If you are a smoker
- If you have a history of thrombosis
- If you are overweight
- If you have high blood pressure or cholesterol
- If you are older than 50
Are contraceptive pills safe?
There has been a great deal of debate as to whether there is a greater risk of cancer when taking contraceptive pills. In the past, it was thought to increase your risk of developing breast cancer, but more recently studies have shown that there is no overall risk in users of contraceptive pills. There may be a slight increase in your risk of developing cervical cancer, but this is preventable with regular smear testing. Contraceptive pills are actually known to decrease your risk of several cancers, including ovarian, womb and bladder cancer.
To make sure that you use contraceptive pills safely, use them exactly as instructed and monitor yourself while you are on them. If you feel particularly uncomfortable using a particular birth control pill, you should maybe explore a pill that contains different types of ingredients or is available at a lower dose.