The fact that we have birth control available to us today is thanks to years of long legal battles and demands from all the ladies before us. They fought for our right to take the pill, and then looked out for our safety once it was made legal. (How awesome were they?) What I'm saying is, don't take your birth control for granted. But I also know that for all the good it does, there are also a long list of pesky side effects that are enough to make you curse the day the pill was ever made.
And yet so many of us take it anyway, because the benefits usually far outweigh the negatives. Oral contraceptives can help rein in a crazy period, stop menstrual migraines, ease endometriosis, help with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and even lower the risk of some cancers.
Of course, it also helps prevent pregnancy. And it's really darn good at it, too. According to WebMD, hormonal contraception, when taken correctly, is up to 99.9 percent effective. It works so well because pills, patches, and vaginal rings contain a small amount of man-made estrogen and progestin. These hormones inhibit the body's natural cyclical hormones to prevent pregnancy. They also usually stop the body from ovulating, and they change the cervical mucus so it's difficult for sperm to get into the cervix and find an egg. Pretty cool, huh?
Every woman, when starting birth control, weighs the pros and the cons. So if you've started taking it, then you already decided it was worth the risks and side effects. But oh, those side effects! Many women don't experience a thing, and just go on their merry way not having babies or headaches or PCOS symptoms. (Good for you!) And then there's the rest of us, who seem to fall apart with all the bizarre side effects. If that sounds familiar, then this list is for you.
1. You Suddenly Have A Problem Wearing Contacts
If you've been wearing contacts for forever, but now they make your eyes all red and scratchy, it may be the pill that's to blame. Hormonal changes brought on by the pill can cause dry eye symptoms, which can make wearing contacts feel impossible, according to Everyday Health.
2. There Will Be Blood (Or At Least Spotting)
One of the cool things about oral contraceptives is that some brands can finally free you from your period. To do this, you'll want the kind of pill you take every day, and not the kind with a week of inactive or low-dose days. But be warned — if you keep trucking right on through the month, don't be surprised if you get some spotting or bleeding. As noted in an article published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, this is a very common occurrence when you first start taking the pill.
3. You Have To Go Bra Shopping
This can be an exciting prospect for some, or an unwelcome side effect for others. Either way, larger breasts may be on your horizon. Boob changes are caused by the hormone estrogen, which can also cause breast tenderness, according to an article published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine. So all I can say is, happy shopping!
4. Sex Is The Furthest Thing From Your Mind
It seems so unfair. Here you are taking a pill to have (somewhat) worry-free sex, and suddenly, it's the furthest thing from your mind. Your nonexistent libido may be due to a mix of hormonal changes, as well as a lack of ovulation, which some women report makes them feel a bit more in the mood, according to WebMD. If this happens, you can ask your doctor for a pill that's more androgenic (testosterone-like), as suggested by an article on Health.com, and hopefully you'll feel like yourself again soon.
5. You Throw Up
Women throw up when they're pregnant due to hormonal changes, and the steady dose of estrogen and progesterone in a pill or patch can cause the same problem, according to an article on Livestrong.com. Whether it's nausea or worse, be sure to take your pill with some food. Or, switch methods until you find the one that doesn't make you feel so crummy.
6. You May Get More Yeast Infections
Yeast infections can crop up while you're taking birth control, especially if you have poorly-controlled diabetes, a sugary diet, or a weakened immune system, notes EverydayHealth.com. To combat the problem, see your doctor, so they can suggest over-the-counter yeast infections treatments or switching to a new contraceptive method.
7. Don't Be Alarmed By Bleeding Gums
If your birth control contains progesterone, it can lead to inflamed gums, which are caused by the body freaking out over toxins produced by plaque, notes WebMD. It might not be pretty, but it's usually nothing to worry about. Just be sure to tell your dentist.
8. It Might Be Painful To Have Sex
Low-dose birth control may be linked to chronic pelvic pain, according to EverydayHealth.com, and therefore uncomfortable intercourse. (Boo!) This is due to a dip in estrogen, which can cause low libido and decreased lubrication. And yeah, that's never going to lead to a good time.
9. You Now Have Migraine Headaches
While the pill can help existing migraines by preventing an estrogen drop during your period, it may also lead to migraines like you've never had before, according to the Mayo Clinic. Again, this is due to hormonal changes.
10. There May Be Some Dark Patches On Your Skin
When hormone levels change, it's possible to get hyper-pigmentation on the face, which may look like brown or gray patches on the skin, according to Livestrong.com. It can be shocking and embarrassing, but definitely nothing to worry about.
11. You're Suddenly Moodier Than Ever Before
It's so common for women to report mood changes while on birth control that it's impossible to ignore. Of course, science is divided as to whether this is a "true" side effect. But hey, if you feel it, you feel it.
The pill can be a wonderful thing, saving you from all sorts of period and hormonal-related woes, but it can also cause a bunch of side effects. It's important to keep an eye on them and seek help if any become too worrisome. And remember, you can always stop taking it. Just do so as directed by your doctor.
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