Birth Control Pills: How To Use Them & Birth Control Pills Side Effects

Everyone who is sexually active and does not want to have kids any time soon, or at all, knows that birth control is an effective and essential way to prevent pregnancy. Birth control comes in many ways and forms. Apart from the usual and most talked about, condoms and birth control pills, there are also other methods of contraception. In fact, there are around 12 plus methods of preventing pregnancy.

What are birth control pills?

The birth control pill is one of the hormonal contraception methods. It is taken orally, and if taken properly and according to instructions, it proves to be 99.9% effective. According to Planned Parenthood, there are different types of birth control pills.

– Combination pills:

These pills contain two types of hormones, estrogen, and progestin. They put an end to ovulation, thicken the cervical mucus, and make the lining of the uterus thinner, this way it’s harder for the egg to attach there. Combination pills come in 28-day pills, 21-day pills, and 91-day pills.

28-day pills: If you’re taking these pills, you’re supposed to take one each day for 28 days in a row, and start a new pack on the 29th day. The last pills on the pack are hormone-free pills, that may contain iron or other health supplements. The reason you take these hormone-free pills during the last days is that they serve as reminder pills, so you don’t forget to start your next pack on time. Different brands have different amounts of time in which you take the hormone-free pills, however, it’s usually 7 days, and sometimes it’s less. The hormone-free pill week us usually the week you get your period. You will still be protected from getting pregnant even in the hormone-free pills week.

21-day pills: You should take the pill each day for three weeks. They are different from the aforementioned ones because they have no hormone-free pills. Meaning, in the fourth week you don’t take any pills at all. They prevent pregnancy even if you have intercourse during the week you took no pills. However, make sure to stay on track and start the next pack right on time, meaning after not taking your pills for seven days.

91-day pills: You take these pills for 12 weeks in a row, and they are also followed by one week of hormone-free pills. If you’re taking these pills means that you’ll get your period once every three months.

– The mini-pills:

These pills only contain progestin. According to research, they were made for women who are sensitive to estrogen. They prevent pregnancy by thickening the cervical mucus as well as make the lining of the uterus thinner. You should take these pills within the same three hours every day in order to prevent pregnancy, as Planned Parenthood suggests.

birth control pills side effects

What are the birth control pills side effects?

There are side effects to birth control pills, but the majority are not serious. The side effects include:

– Nausea: Medical News Today claims that some people may experience mild nausea while on the pill. However, the symptoms tend to wane after a while. However, if nausea continues even after three months, you should consult your doctor.

– Weight gain: Although there is no direct link between birth control pills and weight gain, MNT claims that fluid retention around the breasts and hips may occur.

– Sore or swollen breasts: This should go away a few weeks after starting to take the pill. If you notice a lump on the breast or have persistent pain, seek the advice of your doctor.

– Spotting, or light amounts of blood between periods: According to Healthline, spotting is also one of the side effects of the birth control pill. It is common in the first three to four months after you have begun taking the pill. However, once your body starts to get used to the pill, the spotting should go away. And if the bleeding becomes heavy, contact your doctor.

– Mood swings: According to Medical News Today, studies have shown that birth control pills may cause mood changes and increase the risk of depression. If you notice mood changes during the pill, contact your medical provider.

– Decreased libido: Some people may experience a decreased libido, however, if it tends to be bothersome or continues for a long time, consult your doctor. There are also cases when the pill increases libido, meaning there are no concerns of pregnancy.

However, according to WebMD, there’s a number of side effects that are not common but for which you should consult your doctor, go to urgent care, or emergency room for evaluation, immediately. So, if you experience the following, visit your doctor right away:

– Abdominal pain (Stomach pain)

– Chest pain

– Headaches

– Swelling or aching in the legs and thighs

– Eye problems (blurred vision)

What are the risk factors of the pill?

Healthline also suggests that there may be risk factors when taking the pill. More specifically, women who take progestin-only pills, are at a higher risk of spotting. And if you smoke cigarettes, make sure to let your doctor know about your smoking habits before taking the prescription so you can be notified about potential complications.

Reportedly, the pill has been related to blood clotting. Blood clotting can lead to a stroke, heart attack, deep vein thrombosis, or pulmonary embolism. But, the risk of blood clotting is low, unless you smoke, have a high blood pressure, are overweight, or are on bed rest for a long period of time.

What are the other birth control methods?

Apart from birth control pills, other types of birth control methods include:

1. Birth Control Implant

2. IUD

3. Birth Control Patch

4. Birth Control Vaginal Ring

5. Birth Control Shot

6. Male Condoms

7. Female Condoms

8. Birth Control Sponge

9. Diaphragm

10. Cervical Cap

11. Spermicide

To read more about each, head over to our article on Types Of Birth Control: 12 Different Birth Control Methods here.


Disclaimer: The contents of this article: text, graphics, images, and other materials contained are strictly for informational purposes only. The Content is NOT intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice, or treatment. Please ALWAYS seek the advice of a qualified health provider with all the questions that you have related to, or about, a medical condition.