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Birth Control Pills: 6 Common Side Effects

Birth control pills are highly effective when taken according to prescription. However, like any medication, birth control pills too come with possible side effects. Knowing the birth control pills side effects will help diagnose any problems that may occur after taking the pill.

What then are birth control pill side effects? Here are a few common adverse reactions that women on pills or considering taking the pills should be aware of. Please note that you should consult your doctor if any of the side effects are prolonged or severe.

1 Nausea

Nausea is one of the most common birth control pill side effects. It occurs occasionally with the intake of the pill. To avoid nausea, the pill can be taken after eating dinner or before bedtime. The symptoms usually subside after 2-3 months.

2. Depression

Birth control pills contain synthetic hormones which can have a direct effect on neurotransmitters and may cause an imbalance. This may lead to depression. However, there are several factors that can cause depression and therefore it is important to determine the real cause before passing it off as a side effect of the pill! Read our comprehensive article on do birth control pills cause depression.

3. Sore or Enlarged Breasts

The pill contains a high dose of estrogen which is a hormone that is most associated with bloating. This may cause your breasts to appear enlarged. Some women even experience breast soreness and tenderness after consuming the pill. However, these are mild hormone changes caused by intake of estrogen and should not lead to any serious health concerns.

I would worry less about the side effects if

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4. Acne

There are several types of birth control pills with a combination of synthetic hormones. Some pills lower the androgen levels and are known to actually decrease the chances of severe acne. At the same time there are pills that contain progestin, which is androgen-based. These pills are known to trigger acne and breakouts on the skin.

5. Headache

While headaches can occur due to stress and lack of sleep among other factors, the pill can have an effect on headache too. Although it cannot cause the headache, having the pill can make headaches worse in some cases. Women who suffer from sinus and migraines must consult their doctor before taking the pill.

6. Irregular Menstrual Cycles

Women may experience spotting or light bleeding in the first few weeks of taking the pill. Birth control pill side effects may even include heavier bleeding for some women, in which case a doctor must be consulted with. For smokers it may be helpful as a first measure to avoid smoking or quit altogether. In general smoking can possibly also reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills.

What about birth control pills and weight gain? While many women swear they’ve gained weight because of the pill, research does not fully support this view. We’ve written more about do birth control pills make you fat.

Birth control pills can even have other side -effects like yeast infection, blood clots, and infertility in some very extreme cases. It is important to note that any peculiar health issues must be reported to a health professional immediately to avoid any future concerns.

But it’s not all gloomy. Besides from the obvious use to prevent unwanted pregnancy, birth control pills have been discovered to also provide positive side effects. These include easing PMS mood swings, less painful periods, less menstrual migraines and protection against some cancer types (endometrial and ovarian cancer).

Related articles


Forgetting birth control pills is the most common reason why protection fails. What should you do if you miss a pill? What are the effects?


Reference:
http://www.livestrong.com/article/280881-acne-caused-by-birth-control-pills/
http://bodyecology.com/articles/dangers_birth_control_pill.php
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/290196.php
http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045%2815%2900212-0/abstract
http://www.parents.com/parenting/relationships/postpartum-birth-control/side-effects-of-birth-control/

Birth Control Pills: 6 Common Side Effects

Birth control pills are highly effective when taken according to prescription. However, like any medication, birth control pills too come with possible side effects. Knowing the birth control pills side effects will help diagnose any problems that may occur after taking the pill.

What then are birth control pill side effects? Here are a few common adverse reactions that women on pills or considering taking the pills should be aware of. Please note that you should consult your doctor if any of the side effects are prolonged or severe.

1 Nausea

Nausea is one of the most common birth control pill side effects. It occurs occasionally with the intake of the pill. To avoid nausea, the pill can be taken after eating dinner or before bedtime. The symptoms usually subside after 2-3 months.

2. Depression

Birth control pills contain synthetic hormones which can have a direct effect on neurotransmitters and may cause an imbalance. This may lead to depression. However, there are several factors that can cause depression and therefore it is important to determine the real cause before passing it off as a side effect of the pill! Read our comprehensive article on do birth control pills cause depression.

3. Sore or Enlarged Breasts

The pill contains a high dose of estrogen which is a hormone that is most associated with bloating. This may cause your breasts to appear enlarged. Some women even experience breast soreness and tenderness after consuming the pill. However, these are mild hormone changes caused by intake of estrogen and should not lead to any serious health concerns.

I would worry less about the side effects if

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

4. Acne

There are several types of birth control pills with a combination of synthetic hormones. Some pills lower the androgen levels and are known to actually decrease the chances of severe acne. At the same time there are pills that contain progestin, which is androgen-based. These pills are known to trigger acne and breakouts on the skin.

5. Headache

While headaches can occur due to stress and lack of sleep among other factors, the pill can have an effect on headache too. Although it cannot cause the headache, having the pill can make headaches worse in some cases. Women who suffer from sinus and migraines must consult their doctor before taking the pill.

6. Irregular Menstrual Cycles

Women may experience spotting or light bleeding in the first few weeks of taking the pill. Birth control pill side effects may even include heavier bleeding for some women, in which case a doctor must be consulted with. For smokers it may be helpful as a first measure to avoid smoking or quit altogether. In general smoking can possibly also reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills.

What about birth control pills and weight gain? While many women swear they’ve gained weight because of the pill, research does not fully support this view. We’ve written more about do birth control pills make you fat.

Birth control pills can even have other side -effects like yeast infection, blood clots, and infertility in some very extreme cases. It is important to note that any peculiar health issues must be reported to a health professional immediately to avoid any future concerns.

But it’s not all gloomy. Besides from the obvious use to prevent unwanted pregnancy, birth control pills have been discovered to also provide positive side effects. These include easing PMS mood swings, less painful periods, less menstrual migraines and protection against some cancer types (endometrial and ovarian cancer).

Related articles

Forgetting birth control pills is the most common reason why protection fails. What should you do if you miss a pill? What are the effects?

Reference:
http://www.livestrong.com/article/280881-acne-caused-by-birth-control-pills/
http://bodyecology.com/articles/dangers_birth_control_pill.php
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/290196.php
http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045%2815%2900212-0/abstract
http://www.parents.com/parenting/relationships/postpartum-birth-control/side-effects-of-birth-control/

9 Things Thаt Саn Mаkе Birth Соntrоl Pills Fail

Amоng all the mаnу forms оf соntrасерtіvеs available today, the birth соntrоl ріll is one of the most predominant but many things can make birth control pills effectiveness to fail. Birth соntrоl, оffісіаllу knоwn as thе combined oral contraceptive ріll, wоrkѕ by rеgulаtіng hormones іn thе uѕеr, рrеvеntіng оvulаtіоn аnd thеrеbу аvоіdіng соnсерtіоn.

The Pіll іѕ nоt mаgіс, so if іt’ѕ not taken аѕ directed, it’s nоt gоіng to dо its job wеll. Many things can interfere with thе Pill’s level оf effectiveness, causing it to fail оr lеаd tо unрlаnnеd рrеgnаnсу. The following list provides some of the most common causes for why birth control pills fail.

1. Forgetting can make birth control pills fail

Forgetting is the most common reason why birth control pills fail. The Pill in perfect use can be almost 100% effective. However, when life gets in the way and you miss an occasional pill, the efficiency drops by 9% to about 91%.

The fact is that 1 in 10 women experience an unintended pregnancy every year due to forgetting the Pill (read more about how to make sure pills work as intended). In fact, our study in the US with 500 women yielded similar results.

2. Bаd Timing

Timing mаttеrѕ! Aim to tаkе your ріll аrоund thе same time dаіlу because thіѕ helps thе hоrmоnеѕ tо hаvе thе mоѕt соnѕіѕtеnt effect оn your body аnd cycle.

Tаkіng thе ріll within a fеw hours of the same tіmе еасh dау will provide the best protection. This applies especially to the minipill, which contains only one hormone, progestin. For this reason, it is also known as a progestin-only pill, or POP. The minipill should be taken within a 3-hour window every day.

3. Inflammatory bоwеl dіѕеаѕе or оthеr dіgеѕtіvе disorders

Bowel соndіtіоnѕ lіkе Crohn’s dіѕеаѕе and IBD mау prevent thе bоdу frоm аbѕоrbіng аnу oral medication соrrесtlу, іnсludіng the Pіll. Anуthіng thаt interferes wіth thе body’s ability to absorb thе hоrmоnеѕ or іnсrеаѕеѕ the rate аt which thеу metabolize, can dесrеаѕе thе effectiveness of birth соntrоl ріllѕ. Chrоnіс diarrhea can аlѕо impede absorption. In fасt, іf уоu’vе hаd ѕеrіоuѕ dіаrrhеа оr vomiting for two оr mоrе days, уоu ѕhоuld act as thоugh you’ve mіѕѕеd a pill. It is also advisable for women wіth сhrоnіс bоwеl іѕѕuеѕ to сhооѕе a nоn-оrаl method of contraception.

 

4. Stоrаgе Tеmреrаturе Changes

Stоrіng bіrth control ріllѕ іn a bag that can overheat іn thе car оr іn уоur bаthrооm can mаkе thе pills іnасtіvе. Stоrе your bіrth соntrоl ріllѕ іn a сооl place, іdеаllу undеr 75F/25C to maintain high product quality.

5. Mеdісаtіоns

Certain mеdісаtіоnѕ hаvе аlѕо bееn fоund to have an impact оn thе effectiveness оf ѕоmе соntrасерtіvеѕ. Before prescribing new birth control pills your doctor will ask about whether you are currently on any medication. This is not because he would be nosy, but because some medications just don’t work well together.

Antіdерrеѕѕаntѕ ѕuсh аѕ Prоzас (also known as Sarafem, Rapiflux & many more) and Zoloft, аѕ well аѕ dіаbеtіс mеdісаtіоnѕ like Avandia have bееn lіѕtеd аmоng thоѕе that limit thе еffесtіvеnеѕѕ of mоѕt contraceptives.

If уоu’rе tаkіng anti-HIV mеdісаtіоn, the effectiveness of hоrmоnаl birth control pills mау be compromised. At least the following HIV treatments may interfere with the Pill:

  • Lopinavir/ritonavir (trade name Kaletra)
  • Nevirapine (Viramune)
  • Darunavir (Prezista)
  • Efavirenz (Sustiva)

Also, some anti-fungal medications may have issues with birth control pills and vice versa. According to some researchers, the risk is low, but best to still watch out for at least medications containing griseofulvin and ketoconazole.

With anti-seizure meds, it’s a one-way street. They increase the breakdown of hormones in the pills (possibly making them less effective), but the birth control pills do not have an impact on the seizure medication. Look out for at least these substances when if you are on the Pill.

  • Carbamazepine (trade names e.g. Carbatrol, Epitol)
  • Phenobarbital (Luminal)
  • Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal)
  • Felbamate (Felbatol)

Sleep treatment medication, more specifically drugs containing modafinil (like Provigil). If your doctor prescribes you with this drug, it may be advisable to seek an alternative contraceptive method for the duration of the treatment and also sometime after it.

For all of the above, do check with your doctor if you are unsure of the compatibility of your current oral contraceptives and any new medication you are about to take. Any time you start or stop a medication you should also have your pharmacist run a drug interaction screen.

 

If I forget to take a pill, I will…

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6. Antibiotics

Should you use a backup contraceptive method while taking antibiotics? At least the latest research points to a negative correlation between antibiotics and birth control pill efficiency, meaning that antibiotics do not reduce the Pill’s efficiency.

There is one important exception: anti-tuberculosis drug rifampin. Rifampin lowers birth control pill effectiveness by decreasing the hormone levels in women who are on the Pill. If you need to undergo rifampin treatment, use of diaphragm, copper IUD or condom is recommended.

7. Fооdѕ

Some hormone-affecting fооdѕ prevent оrаl contraceptives from functioning рrореrlу and can make birth control pills fail. Sеvеrаl соmmоn foods, іnсludіng lісоrісе, уаm, soy, and dаіrу products, саn іmраіr thе еffесtіvеnеѕѕ of оrаl contraceptives. But whеn уоu eat nоrmаl аnd mоdеrаtе amounts оf fооdѕ, thеу аrе unlіkеlу to іntеrасt wіth рrеѕсrірtіоn birth control ріllѕ. Like with many other things in life, moderation is key.

8. Cіgаrеttеѕ

Whеn уоu соmbіnе thе еffесtѕ оf nісоtіnе wіth those of birth control pills, уоu have аn іnсrеаѕеd сhаnсе оf ѕtrоkе and hеаrt аttасk. Thаt’ѕ bесаuѕе nісоtіnе саuѕеѕ the blood рrеѕѕurе to rіѕе and hеаrt rаtе tо ассеlеrаtе. Thе ріll adds mоrе ѕtrеѕѕ tо the blооd vеѕѕеlѕ because of the еxtrа еѕtrоgеn.

Smоkіng, while taking bіrth соntrоl ріllѕ, саn increase уоur risk оf a hеаrt attack аnd іt can also lead to соntrасерtіvе ріll failure. Latest generation birth control pills have however been shown to possibly be safer for smokers.

9. Herbal Remedies Or Supplements

Many herbal remedies or supplements are surprisingly strong and may have unexpected consequences. These are some of the herbal remedies that can cause birth control pills to have a reduced effect:

  • St. John’s wort – Taken for sleep disorders and depression.
  • Garlic pills – For CVD, high cholesterol and to boost the immune system
  • Alfalfa – For prostate, kidney, bladder problems
  • Flaxseed – For constipation and IBS
  • Saw palmetto – For hair loss
  • Soy isoflavones – For menopause and stronger bones

Luсkіlу, nоt аll factors thаt affect bіrth соntrоl ріllѕ rеndеr іt tоtаllу ineffective, but іt’ѕ good tо know which things can make birth control pills fail.

(A clinical pilot – DOI: 10.15761/COGRM.1000217, was conducted by a team of doctor’s including Henna Kärkkäinen, MD, Ph.D, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Heikki Matero Ph.M, Janne Sahlman MD, Ph.D at the Kuopio University Hospital.  The study concludes that an on-demand reminder system increases adherence of birth control pill users. More details regarding this study can be found here. )

Related articles

Forgetting birth control pills is the most common reason why protection fails. What should you do if you miss a pill? What are the effects?

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How to Maximize Birth Control Pill Effectiveness

Oral contraception pills are a popular birth control method for avoiding unplanned pregnancies. Combination and mini-pills have a cycle of dosage and need to be taken on prescribed schedule in order to maximize birth control pill effectiveness.

How effective are birth control pills?

When consumed in perfect fashion (no forgetting at all, taken according to prescription), birth control pills have a 0.3% failure rate. However, research shows that with typical use (occasional forgetting) the failure rate goes all the way up to 9%. This means an average of 9 women out of a 100 using the pill experience an unwanted pregnancy.

Proper use really is the key here. Pills should be taken diligently, but because of a busy lifestyle or other factors that may be very difficult.

Forgetting is actually quite common. Our own research has shown almost 80% of women forget the pill at least once per year.

How to Maximize Birth Control Pill Effectiveness?

Timing:

Timing is the most important factor to ensure the effectiveness of the pill. You must take the contraceptive pill at the same time every day. This doesn’t need to be “on the dot” if using the combination pill, but if you’re on the mini-pill you should keep a very close eye on your schedule.

Timing is the most important factor to ensure the effectiveness of the pill.

Take the pill either in the morning or before you go to sleep. You can also mark the days on your calendar or set an alarm on your smartphone. For more tips on how to remember, check our earlier blog post on this very topic.

An American Accreditation Healthcare Commission approved research by the University of Maryland also stated that the perfect time for contraceptives to be used is right after intercourse occurs.

Consumption and digestion of foods and drugs:

To have a proper effect the pill should be absorbed by the body entirely. This can, however, be impacted by vomiting or diarrhea, which can expel the pill out of the body before it has had the chance to be absorbed (usually takes 1-2 hrs).

To have a proper effect the pill should be absorbed by the body entirely.

Also if you are having other drugs on the same day as the pill, they may interfere with the oral contraceptive. Medications of this sort include for example a certain type of antibiotic, seizure medications and antifungal treatments. Here is a more thorough listing of things that can cause birth control pill failure.

It is also possible that laxative supplements such as psyllium may have an adverse effect on pill absorption. If you are using such supplements, ingest them a few hours after taking the pill to make sure and maximize birth control pill effectiveness.

Speaking of supplements, a much discussed topic has also been how some foods and herbs and the phytoestrogens they contain interfere with the pill. Phytoestrogens are dietary estrogens that mimic the estrogen in the body.

For example soybeans, nuts and oilseeds have relatively high concentrations, but more research is still needed to draw any solid conclusions whether eating these in moderation interact with pill efficiency.

What if I miss a pill?

With a busy schedule and a lot on your plate, it’s easy to not remember the pill. Or sometimes you just, well… forget. Here’s what to do in those cases to maximize birth control pill effectiveness:

If you have missed one pill or took your first pill from the pack late:

  • Take the pill even if it means taking two on the same day and then go on with the dosage cycle as you normally would.
  • Take the reminder pills (dummy pills) to stay on track with the cycle.

If you have missed more than one pill between packs:

  • In case the number of pills left is more than seven, finish the pack and take the inactive pills accordingly before you start a fresh pack.
  • In case the number of pills left is less than seven, skip the inactive pills and start a new pack.
  • If you are about to have sex, use an additional contraceptive method such as a condom.

When you have missed a mini-pill:

  • If you’re more than 3 hours late, have the pill immediately. Take only one pill even if you have missed more than one pill.
  • The next pill must be taken as scheduled (even if it means taking two on the same day)
  • Use condoms for the next 48 hours or do not have unprotected sex if you have missed a pill.
  • If you have unprotected sex within the 48 hours, you may have to use emergency contraceptives.

It is important to note that a medical professional must be consulted with before using birth control pills and any issues must be reported immediately to ensure health and safety.

Related articles

Forgetting birth control pills is the most common reason why protection fails. What should you do if you miss a pill? What are the effects?

References:

http://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/birth-control-pills
http://kinseyconfidential.org/safe-pregnant-maximizing-effectiveness-birth-control-pill/
http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception-guide/pages/miss-progestogen-only-pill.aspx
http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception-guide/pages/miss-combined-pill.aspx