What are common side effects of using birth control pills?

Beyond controlling reproductive cycles, the pill can be used to treat a variety of conditions. However, there are typically side effects that can dictate whether or not someone is able to tolerate the pill. Side effects of the pill are interesting because some of them are the very symptoms that the pill helps to improve. They can include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • hypertension
  • headaches
  • mood changes
  • alterations in libido

Common side effects of using birth control include headaches and nausea. The estrogen component in birth control may increase the risk of thrombus formation, or blood clots. Also, because estrogen is metabolized by the liver, there could be some adverse issues in people with gallbladder disease and hepatitis.

Common side effects of conventional birth-control pills include:

  • Spotting or bleeding between periods
  • Missed periods
  • Breast tenderness
  • Nausea
  • Weight gain from fluid retention
  • Mild headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Mood changes
  • Decreased acne
  • Increased sex drive

Side effects of birth control pills can include weight gain, emotional irritability, hair loss, acne, gastric reflux, constipation and decreased sex drive. If you are adversely affected by a low libido, then at least you'll know it's because of the pill and not necessarily because of the relationship itself.

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The Fatigue Solution: Increase Your Energy in Eight Easy Steps

Every day, all over the world, millions of women are grappling with many of the same mind and body issues: low sex drive, weight gain, sexual dissatisfaction, chronic stress, anxiety,...
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Family Practitioner

Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, depression, high blood pressure, blood clots, breakthrough bleeding, spotting, changes in menstrual flow and missed periods. Other side effects may include breast tenderness, enlargement or secretion. Women who use birth control pills are more likely to get blood clots in their legs or lungs. They are also more likely to develop liver, cervical or breast cancer, but these complications are uncommon.

This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition, or find a doctor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.