Marketed as a safe option to prevent pregnancy, oral contraceptives are a type of hormonal birth control many women resort to when they become sexually active.
Coming in two types, combination pills which contain two hormones-oestrogen and progestin, and progestin-only pills that contain progestin-only, they simply work by essentially preventing ovulation.
But as is the case with every drug, birth control pills also have side effects.
Whether administered orally, intravenously or placed surgically, birth control reacts differently with different people.
Here are some of the side-effects you need to be on the lookout for.
1. Breast tenderness
Breast enlargement is one of the side effects of birth control pills. Going from the experience of many women, this usually manifests a few weeks after being on the pill. Having known that, persistent pain should be considered unusual. You should seek medical help if it happens that there are prolonged tenderness or if you feel a lump in the breast.
2. Intermenstrual spotting
Vaginal spotting usually resolves a few months after you start taking the pill. Bleeding normally occurs because the uterus has to adjust to having an endometrial wall that is thinner. Bleeding could also be caused by hormonal imbalance. This is common and should not worry you to the extent of interfering with the prescribed intake of the pill. If the bleeding occurs frequently or heavily for three or more days, then contacting a health care professional for guidance would be advisable.
3. Headaches and migraine
The chances of experiencing headaches and migraines can increase due to the hormones embodied in the birth control pills. The levels and types of hormones incorporated in the pills trigger different reactions in the body. Inquiring on the contents and dosage amount could be helpful in configuring the type of birth control that works for your system. So find out!
Nausea incidences may occur for some women the first few times they use the pill. The side effects, however, subside after a while. To lessen nausea, it is recommended that you take the pill with food or just before you go to bed. Severe and persistent nausea lasting more than three months requires medical attention.
5. Weight fluctuations
There are clinical studies that relate weight changes to the use of birth control. Some types of contraceptives have shown a decrease in lean body mass. The most common body change, however, is weight gain. This can be attributed to fluid retention around the hips and breast hence the change in body weight.
6. Low sex drive
For some people, the hormones found in contraceptives can affect their libido. This becomes an unsettling incidence when it prolongs and thus needs to be discussed with a medical practitioner. In other instances, increased sex drive may occur. Increased libido is usually attributed to factors such as reduced menstrual cramps and relief that comes with not worrying about unwanted pregnancies.
7. Vaginal discharge
Vaginal discharge as a side effect of birth control can occur when there’s excessive or reduced vaginal lubrication. Vaginal discharge is to be considered harmful only when the colour and odour are unusual. Make sure you always check just to be sure all is well.
Side effects are common when introducing certain drugs to our bodies. This is because the body identifies the drugs as foreign and thus will react to contain it. Hormonal imbalances may also occur. If you notice changes out of the ordinary always seek medical assistance.
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