Birth control pills (BCPs) were introduced to help with population control and family planning issues. Soon, they became an alternative to condoms and diaphragm. While they’re completely safe and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as with any medications, they also have potential side effects and risks. These pills also referred to as oral contraceptives, contain synthetic versions of the hormones progestin and oestrogen. Ovaries naturally produce these hormones. BCPs may solely contain progestin or may contain both of these hormones. Both hormones suppress ovulation, or the release of an egg during a woman’s menstrual cycle. They accomplish this by altering the body’s normal hormone balance. This hormonal imbalance can affect your body negatively.
Side effects of taking birth control pills
Health Shots spoke to Dr Teji Dawane, Senior Consultant, Obstetrician and Gynecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Whitefield, Bengaluru, to find out the side effects of using birth control pills.
Dr Dawane says, “These birth control pills also encourage the thickening of cervical mucus in the opening of the uterus, the cervix, and the endometrium, the lining of the uterus acting as a barrier between sperm and any eggs that may be released. Consumption of hormonal birth control pills can cause an array of side effects which are mostly mild in nature and may resolve within two to three months.” Let us know a few of the side effects.
1. Spotting between periods
Spotting is a common side effect of birth control pills which occurs when the uterus is adjusting to a thinner lining along with the body adjusting to the changing levels of hormones. Breakthrough bleeding or spotting is a condition when vaginal bleeding occurs between menstrual cycles due to birth control pills.
2. Headaches and migraine
According to a 2005 study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 10 per cent of users experience a headache within a month of starting the medication. According to Dr Dawane, “The changes in the hormones oestrogen and progesterone may trigger or increase the frequency of headaches and migraine.”
Also read: Is it safe to skip periods using birth control pills? Let’s find out
3. Weight gain
Weight gain as a potential adverse effect of birth control pills. They may increase fluid retention or water weight combined with fat or muscle mass. It specifically occurs if you take it by injection. And the fat leaves your body once you stop taking it.
4. Breast tenderness
Consumption of birth control pills often causes breast tenderness along with increased breast sensitivity. This causes the breasts to grow bigger. In cases of breast pain, breast changes, or a lump, it is important to consult a doctor.
5. Mood changes
Hormones play a crucial role in influencing a person’s mood and emotions. While taking a birth control pill, changes in hormone levels may result in mood fluctuations.
Besides the mentioned symptoms, other possible side effects include increased blood pressure, bloating, insomnia, and fatigue.
The birth control pill is a popular, effective way to prevent unintended pregnancy and is accepted as a safe method of birth control. If you face difficulty in adjusting to the pill or if you experience side effects for a prolonged period, consult a doctor for further observation.