Categories: Drugs

7 side effects of birth control pills and what to do

Discover the 7 side effects of birth control pills and what to do.

The contraceptive pill is the method most used by women to avoid the onset of pregnancy since it is easy to use and has high efficacy against unwanted pregnancies.

This medicine works by inhibiting ovulation, thus preventing fertilization; In addition, it also prevents the dilation of the cervix, which reduces the entry of sperm and prevents the uterus from having the necessary conditions for the development of the baby. 

However, the contraceptive pill, due to the hormonal alterations that it causes in the woman’s body, can cause some side effects such as headaches, weight gain, or the appearance of pimples, for example, so on certain occasions, it is necessary to Go to the gynecologist to change the type of contraceptive or alter its dose. 

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The main side effects of birth control pills include the following:

1. Headache and nausea

Some premenstrual symptoms such as headaches, abdominal pain, and nausea, are common in the first week of use of the contraceptive pill due to the great hormonal alterations.

What to do: it is recommended to consult a gynecologist when these symptoms prevent the performance of daily activities or take more than 3 months to disappear, since it may be necessary to change the type of contraceptive. 

2. Altered menstrual flow

Commonly, there is a decrease in the amount and duration of bleeding during menstruation, as well as bleeding between each menstrual cycle, especially in the use of low-dose contraceptives that make the lining of the uterus thinner and more fragile. 

What to do: it may be necessary to take a contraceptive with a higher dose whenever breakthrough bleeding or spotting occurs with more than 3 menstrual cycles in a row.

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3. Weight gain

Weight gain can occur when hormonal changes caused by birth control pills increase the urge to eat. In addition to this, some contraceptives can also cause fluid retention due to the accumulation of sodium and potassium in the body tissues, causing an increase in body weight. 

What to do:  A healthy and balanced diet should be maintained, as well as regular physical activity. However, when the woman suspects that she has fluid retention, due to swelling of the legs, she should consult the gynecologist to change the contraceptive pill or take a diuretic medicine. 

4. Appearance of pimples

Although the contraceptive pill is often used as a treatment to prevent acne in adolescence, some women who use the mini-pill (progesterone-only pills) may experience an increased number of pimples in the first few months of use.

What to do: when acne arises or worsens after starting the contraceptive pill, it is advisable to inform the gynecologist, and if necessary, a dermatologist should be consulted to adapt the treatment or start the use of creams to treat pimples.

5. Mood alterations

Mood alterations arise mainly with prolonged use of the contraceptive pill with a high dose of hormones, since high levels of estrogen and progestin can decrease the production of serotonin, a hormone that improves mood, and may increase the risk of depression.

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What to do: it is recommended to consult the gynecologist to change the type of contraceptive pill or start a different contraceptive method such as IUD or diaphragm.

6. Decreased libido

The contraceptive pill can cause a decrease in libido due to the reduction of testosterone production in the body, however, this effect is more common in women with high levels of anxiety.

What to do: the gynecologist should be consulted to adjust the hormonal levels of the contraceptive pill or initiate hormonal replacement to avoid a decrease in libido.

7. Increased risk of thrombosis

The contraceptive pill can increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis when the woman has other cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol, for example.

What to do: you should maintain a healthy diet and do regular physical activity, as well as regularly consult your general practitioner to evaluate your blood pressure, blood sugar level, and cholesterol to avoid the formation of blood clots that can cause deep vein thrombosis.

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When should you change your birth control method?

It is recommended to consult the gynecologist and evaluate the possibility of using another method to avoid unwanted pregnancy, whenever side effects arise that prevent daily activities or when symptoms take more than 3 months to disappear

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