Birth Control Pills vs. Shots : Effects and Side Effects

There is a lot of debate about the right birth control method. Most debated among these is Birth control pills vs shots. It is totally one’s personal choice along with a lot of other factors like age, overall health condition and duration of dosage that are deciding factors for which method to opt for.

Both Birth control pills and shots are the most commonly used and are highly effective as well. Both of these measures have their own pros and cons, and for every woman, it is really important to make an informed decision before opting any of these preventive measures. Try to gather as much information as you can and reach out to your doctor to clarify all doubts and concerns.

Here, we have tried to gather all the information about birth control pills and shots to make your decision making easier.

Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills are taken orally. They consist of the synthetic hormones progestin and estrogen that help in preventing pregnancy. Not only are these pills taken to avoid unwanted pregnancy but are also recommended by doctors to treat problems such as acne, heavy period flow and ease out problems like PCOD.

There are two kinds of birth control pills available- one is the mini pill that contains only one hormone and the other one is a combination pill that contains both the reproductive hormones i.e progestin and estrogen.

The pills work in two ways; firstly they prevent ovaries from releasing eggs so that nothing is left for sperms to fertilize, and secondly they build a thick wall of mucus around the cervix area so that even if a sperm enters the female body, it cannot near the egg to fertilize. At times instead of thickening the mucus wall, it can also thin the lining of the uterus so that even if the egg is released it doesn’t get attached to the lining after fertilizing with a male sperm.

As compared to all other methods available, pills are highly effective and are used by most of the women. However, if not taken at the same time every day, the effectiveness of the pill can decrease to even 91%. Once you stop taking these pills, you may experience withdrawal bleeding for the first month and after that, your reproductive cycle will bounce back to normal.

Birth Control Shots

Commonly known as Depo-Provera, these birth control shots are hormonal injections that help to prevent pregnancy for at least three months. The shots in these injections are primarily progestin.

The working of these injections is similar to that of the birth control pill. Like birth control pills these injections also prevent ovulation along with mucus thickening and thinning the uterus lining.

The shots are also 99% effective and are to be injected once every three months to prevent pregnancy. Once you stop taking these shots, you will not bounce back to normalcy immediately. It will take around 8 to 10 months for you to conceive. For all those women who are looking for short term preventive measures and who want to get pregnant in another three-four months, these birth control shots may not be the right choice.

There is one thing that you must know about these pills and shots, that none of these are a preventive measure for any of the sexually transmitted diseases(STDs). The only measure to prevent STDs is to use male or female condoms.

Side effects of Birth Control Pills Vs Shots

1. Disturbed reproductive cycle

Once you start taking pills, for the first two to three months, you may face irregular periods or breakthrough bleeding. However, once your body gets adapted to these pills, your cycle will get back to normal. In the case of birth control shots, this problem may prevail for 6 to 12 months.

2. Weight Gain

There is no clinically proven theory behind weight gain while taking these pills or shots. However, because of increased intake of synthetic hormones, our body starts retaining water that in turn leads to weight gain.

3. Change in sex drive

Once you start taking synthetic hormones in the form of these injections or pills, your libido may increase or decrease leading to a change in your sex drive. Usually, it decreases your interest in sex leading to frustration and decreased intimacy level among the couple.

4. Migraine or headache

The artificial intake of these synthetic hormones also leads to an increase in blood flow leading to problems like migraine and headache.

5. Nausea

For the initial few months, one may also encounter issues like nausea and vomiting. The intake of these pills may  lead to changes in appetite too.

6. Mood swings

There is no denying that hormones have an immense effect on our mood and behavior. That is why when anyone starts taking these medicines and increases the intake of hormones, there are incidences of changes in mood and behavior. Sometimes it may lead to depression or frustration too.

Though we have spoken about these side effects, it is not necessary that every female using these pills or shots will face all of these. Side effects vary from person to person. There is also a chances that your body will get adapted to these synthetic hormones from the very first day and may not result in any side effects at all.

To avoid any risks like heart stroke or any other cardiovascular problems,the following women must avoid taking either of these pills or shots:

  • The ones with a history of blood clots in the family
  • Those who already have migraine
  • Habitual smokers and above 35 years of age
  • The ones with a family history of diabetes for over 20 years
  • Women with a family history of heart attacks and cardiovascular problems
  • Those who have or had any type of cancer especially breast or cervical cancer

Pills vs shots : Comparative analysis of Pros and cons 

Advantages of Pills over shots

  • Side effects have lesser intensity and go away sooner as compared to shots.
  • Once you stop taking these pills, you can easily get pregnant within 3 to 4 months.

Cons of Birth control pills

  • It has to be taken every day for effective results.
  • As compared to shots, it is slightly less effective.

Advantages of shots over pills

  • Shots have to be taken once in three months, unlike pills.
  • Shots are also highly effective and there is less than one percent of chance to get pregnant if you continuously take these shots.

Cons of shots

  • As the dosage of synthetic hormones is high in one shot, the side effects are intense and prolonged.
  • Once you stop taking these shots, it takes at least a year to get back to normal fertility and get pregnant.

Now that you know everything about birth control pills and shots, it will become easy for you to decide which one to opt for. However, don’t make any choice right away and take your own time to gather as much information as you want to.

Whenever you are ready with your decision, reach out to your doctor and tell him/her what you feel is the best.  Looking at your medical history and lifestyle your doctor will recommend the best preventive measure for you. If after taking any of the preventive measures you feel that this one is not for you, you can always switch to another one but only after consulting your gynecologist.


Also recommended

5 Important Side Effects of Birth Control Methods You Should Know

15 Side Effects of Oral Contraceptives Pills You Should Definitely Know

6 Safe and Natural Birth Control Methods- Including Consuming Ayurvedic Herbs

Shyamala Rajasekar

Foodaholic with an untrustworthy appetite. Meat lover. She cannot write bios.

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