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How do side effects and contraindications of birth control methods differ?

Boston Women's Health Book Collective
Boston Women's Health Book Collective
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Sometimes the difference between side effects and contraindications is confusing. Side effects are the changes that can occur in our bodies as the result of using a particular medication or device. Side effects can be mild or severe and can vary greatly from person to person. For example, the side effects of hormonal methods may include mood changes, breast tenderness, and mild headaches. A side effect of some barrier methods may be an increase in urinary tract infections.

Often it is the minor side effects that influence our choices in contraception. Contraindications are the physical conditions or circumstances that put some people at risk of danger from using a particular medication or device. For example, it is contraindicated for a woman who is over age thirty-five and smokes to use birth control pills, because they will considerably increase her risk of stroke. As another example, having current breast cancer is a contraindication to using any hormonal method. A contraindication means that by using that particular method of birth control you may increase your risk of a serious problem.

Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

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Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

America's best-selling book on all aspects of women's health With more than four million copies sold, "Our Bodies, Ourselves" is "the" classic resource that women of all ages can turn to for...

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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.