Side Effects of Commonly Prescribed Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills have now been used for decades as an effective method for preventing pregnancy. Today there are now many different types of birth control pills available on the market. Birth control pills are taken orally and can be up to 99.9% effective when taken correctly. Even so, birth control pills do not provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV, and they can result in several side effects. Some of the most common side effects caused by birth control pills include:

• Weight gain
• Nausea
• Swollen breasts
• Lighter periods
• Spotting between periods
• Mood changes

While these side effects are relatively minor, in some cases birth control pills can also cause rare, but much more serious side effects. Such symptoms or side effects can indicate the presence of a serious health condition, such as blood clots, stroke, liver disease, heart disease or high blood pressure. These more serious side effects include:

• Chest pain
• Stomach or abdominal pain
• Severe headaches
• Blurred vision
• Swelling or aching in the legs

Unfortunately, some women may not know which types of birth control pills they are able to tolerate until they have actually tried them to determine whether they are more prone to experiencing certain side effects and how severe those side effects might be.

Breast Tenderness, Dizziness and Headaches
These are perhaps some of the more common side effects experienced by many women taking birth control pills. In many cases, such side effects are only temporary and will dissipate once you have been on the pill for awhile. If the side effects do not go away after awhile; however, it may be necessary to consult your doctor about changing brands.

Nausea is another of the more commonly reported side effects of birth control pills. In many instances, this will go away within a couple of months. Taking the pill with food can sometimes help to ease the nausea.

Spotting, also sometimes referred to as breakthrough bleeding, is not a side effect that all women on birth control pills experience, but it can certainly be a nuisance. One of the reasons this side effect is so bothersome is because it is typically so unpredictable. Making sure that you are taking the pill at the exact same time each day may be able to help with this problem. The spotting is typically caused due to the fact that the lining of the uterus is thin and sloughs off some in between periods. The benefit of this to some women is that they often report experiencing lighter periods while taking birth control pills.

If the spotting becomes problematic, it is important to speak to your doctor. In some cases taking an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen or taking a small amount of estrogen can help with this problem.

Mood Swings
Some women who take birth control pills also report experiencing mood swings. Unfortunately, in most instances, switching birth control pills will not usually resolve this problem. If you experience mood swings and depression while taking birth control pills it may be necessary to switch to a non-hormonal method of birth control. In other cases the doctor may recommend prescribing an antidepressant in conjunction with the birth control pill.

Decreased Sex Drive
Like other side effects of birth control pills, this one can be particularly bothersome as well. Some women may find relief by simply switching to a different birth control formulation, but that is not always the case. For some women the problem may only be resolved by using a completely different method of birth control.

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