The birth control pill is a life-saver for many women, but just like any other form of medication, it can come with some unexpected bodily changes. Although some women fear weight gain or a drop in libido, there are a number of other surprising side effects of birth control that you might not know about. It's important to note that everyone's body reacts differently than others, and sometimes different pills can have different effects on your body, but knowing the potential accompanying symptoms to taking the pill can make you better aware of what to expect when taking birth control.
"Many women are not aware of these side effects because OBGYNs are forced to see patients so quickly," says Brian A. Levine, M.D., M.S., F.A.C.O.G. in a phone interview. "Many people don't have the time to sit down wth their doctor to go over key stuff. They need to see a board certified OBGYN who is aware of this information, but sometimes its really hard to find the time to do this and go over it."
Not all side effects of the birth control pill are negative, but some of them may seem unexpected. Here are 11 surprising side effects of taking the birth control pill that you might not know about.
1. More Yeast Infections
Some women experience more frequent yeast infections while on the birth control pill, and you have estrogen to thank for that. Higher levels of the hormone increase your risk for yeast infections, and some women find they're more likely to get yeast infections at specific times in their menstrual cycles, according to WebMD.
2. Dry Eyes
If you suffer from dry eyes, your birth control bill may be to blame. Hormone changes from the pill can dry out your eyes, according to Healthline, which can cause irritated and watery eyes and affect your vision.
3. Higher Risk Of Depression
Taking hormonal birth control might be associated with an increased risk for depression compared with those who don't use contraception, according to a study from the journal JAMA Psychiatry. The sex hormones estrogen and progesterone have an influence on many women's mood, so the synthetic hormones found in birth control pills could play a role.
4. Clear Skin
"For most women, their skin looks beautiful on the pill," says Dr. Tina Koopersmith, founder of West Coast Women’s Reproductive Center over email. "Acne can clear up, and those excess chin hairs or mustache hairs may stop growing. This is because the pill lowers the levels of testosterone produced."
5. Increased Migraines
"People who have migraines (chronic headaches) of any types should not take the birth control pill," says Levine. This is one that really shock people. It can worsen the migraines and could cause swelling in head, resulting in serious complications."
6. Not Getting A Period
You might find that you don't get your period each month, and while you definitely don't miss buying tampons, you might be concerned. "If on birth control long enough, some women can get to the point of no periods," says Dr. Nicole Scott, OB/GYN at IU Health over email. "Birth control can also be taken continuously to avoid periods, and this is perfectly safe."
7. Reduced Risk Of Ovarian Cancer
Here's a side effect to celebrate: Women who used oral contraceptives for five or more years have about a 50 percent lower risk of developing ovarian cancer compared with women who never used oral contraceptives, according to the American Cancer Society. "The risk decreases for each year a woman takes the pill," says Dr. Kelly Kasper, OB/GYN at IU Health, over email.
8. Blood Clots
Although birth control doesn't cause blood clots, it can increase your risk, especially for women who smoke. "If you’re over the age of 35 and you smoke many cigarettes a day, you should not be taking the pill because of the increased risk of blood clots," says Levine. "This a life-threatening, dangerous side effect."
9. Increased Attraction To People Like You
It might sound strange, but the pill can influence the type of person you're attracted to. Normally, we are attracted to partners with genes different than ours, a biological preference that has evolved to help offspring survive, according to the Scientific American. But a study from the Proceedings of the Royal Society B found that women on the birth control pill prefer men who share similar genes.
10. Bigger Breasts
"Some women notice their breasts are larger while on the Pill, sometimes a whole cup size larger," says Koopersmith. "This may be from the hormones affecting proliferation in the breast tissue or from some water retention."
11. Hair Loss
Very few women are aware the hormonal birth control can actually trigger hair loss, according to WebMD. This is especially the case for women who are predisposed to hormonal-related hair loss or who are hypersensitive to the hormonal changes. However, on the flip side, the Pill can actually be prescribed to help with androgenetic alopecia (female pattern baldness).
If you experience any unwanted side effects, talk to your doctor about switching methods or looking for other options better suited for you.
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