Symptoms of Birth Control Side Effects

The symptoms of birth control, particularly hormone-based contraceptives, can have side effects ranging from mild annoyances that quickly go away to major physical symptoms and mood alterations that can have you seeking other methods of birth control.

Some Common Birth Control Side Effects

  • Nausea. Depending on the sensitivity of your stomach, you may feel nauseous within the first couple of months of using birth control.  If you're taking oral contraceptives, taking your pill with food may help. If you're on the ring or patch, talk to you doctor about alternatives.
  • Headache and dizziness. These are both common side effects of the birth control pill and usually go away after several months.
  • Breakthrough bleeding. Bleeding in between periods is an annoyance for some women on birth control, because it is so unpredictable. If you're on a birth control pill, doctors recommend taking the pill at the same time every day. Other solutions include taking an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen and adding a small amount of estrogen.
  • Decreased libido. With so many kinds of hormone based birth control methods, some have an effect of decreased libido in some women. One solution may be to switch to a pill that is more androgenic, that is more testosterone-like.
  • Mood swings, anxiety or nervousness. Some women find that the added hormones in their bodies cause mood swings and other changes in behavior. If you think your birth control is causing mood swings or increased anxiety, talk to your doctor about antidepressants or switch to another method.
  • Weight gain. Some methods of birth control can cause women to gain up to 10 pounds in the first year of use. Most women find they can easily lose the weight after going off the method.
  • Increase or decrease in acne. The Pill is prescribed to some women to control acne, while other women can get outbreaks of acne when taking birth control pills.
  • High blood pressure. You should regularly have your blood pressure checked if you're on a hormone-based birth control method.

Serious, Uncommon Side Effects of Birth Control
In rare cases, birth control can cause a serious health risk, including:

  • Blood clots in legs, lungs, heart or brain.
  • Stroke.
  • Heart attack.
  • Cervical cancer.
  • Ectopic pregnancy.
  • Very rare side effects, including liver tumors, gallstones and jaundice.

See your doctor immediately if you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, severe headaches, blurred vision, leg or arm numbness, leg or arm pain, or severe abdominal pains.

If you are taking a hormone-based birth control method, see your doctor regularly, so he can monitor your health and the effects of the contraceptive.

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