15 Side Effects of Oral Contraceptives Pills You Should Definitely Know

Oral contraceptive pill (OCP) or commonly known as birth control pill is highly efficacious at preventing pregnancy. These are small pills which are to be taken by mouth each day. The hormones in the pill – estrogen and progestin – prevent pregnancy by suppressing the pituitary gland which stops the ovulation process in women. However, just like any other medication, it too comes with possible side effects. In the case of prolonged or severe side effects of oral contraceptives pills, consult your doctor immediately.

15 Side Effects of Oral Contraceptives Pills – 

Read on to know about the adverse effects of contraceptive pills on women.

1. Nausea

Nausea is the most common side effect of taking a pill. Some women experience mild to moderate nausea at first but the symptoms usually subside after 2-3 months. To avoid nausea, take the pill after having dinner or before bedtime. If nausea hangs on, make an appointment to see your doctor.

2. Breast Tenderness

Contraceptive pill may cause your breasts to become sore and tender due to the hormones present in them. This may cause them to appear enlarged for a while but it should not lead to a major concern. In case you find a lump in your breast or persistent pain, seek medical guidance immediately as there is a relatively high risk of breast cancer in women who pop the pill.

3. Bloating

The hormone that is responsible for bloating – estrogen – is present in high amount in birth controls. There is a high chance of this undesirable effect in women who have irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal tract disorders. Although this will recede after 6 months into the pill regime.

4. Irregular Menstrual Cycle

There are various causes of irregular periods and taking a pill happens to be one of them. In the first few months of use, bleeding can be affected and your periods may be heavier or lighter than normal. On some occasions, a woman may not get her period at all. A pregnancy test is recommended in such cases before starting another pack of birth control.

5. Blood Clots

According to a study, there is an increased risk of developing blood clots in women using contraceptives. It is atypical but one of the potentially serious side effects of hormonal birth control. Breathing problems, chest pain or swelling in the leg are some of the alarming signs of blood clotting.

6. Increased Appetite 

Although there is no definitive proof that the contraceptive pill directly affects weight, an increase in appetite is noticed due to alteration of estrogen and progestin. This can lead to fluid retention, especially around breasts and hips, resulting in an illusion of weight gain. Changes in hormonal birth control and advances in combination forms of the pill may solve this issue.

7. Decreased Libido

There is a difference in sex drive with the consumption of birth control in women. Few complaints about decreased libido were common after-effects of the pill. Nevertheless, the sex drive picks up and sometimes even gets stronger than the pre-pill levels after nine months of regular use.

8. Painful Intercourse

Intercourse may be painful due to low libido and decreased lubrication in women. There are chances of experiencing chronic pelvic pain. Have a word with your doctor in case of grievous pelvic pain to rule out other conditions like uterine fibroids and endometriosis. Consider changing contraceptive method if the intercourse is dreadful.

9. Headaches

Women who have sinus or migraine issues may observe that their headache gets worse when they are on the pill. This may be more prevalent before the arrival of your period or later in the menstrual cycle. Most headaches will go away as the body adjusts to the new oral contraceptives.

10. Mood Swings

Women who have a history of insomnia, anxiety or other emotional issues tend to see a rise in their mood swings with the use of these pills. This may be because of the synthetic hormones present in the pill which affects the brain chemistry. Surprisingly, a study found that the mood recuperates while taking the pill, making this a debatable issue.

11. Depression

There are various factors responsible for depression but those who take the pill can experience dysfunction in the neurotransmitters of the brain which leads to depression in women. However, before passing it off as the side effect of the pill, it is important to determine the actual cause of depression and look for the signs and symptoms to improve the condition.

12. Yeast Infection

There is a chance of developing an itchy and irritating yeast infection in women who have a high consumption of sugar or alcohol, poorly controlled diabetes or a weak immune system. In most cases, over-the-counter vaginal antifungal creams or prescribed medication can cure this infection. But, if the symptoms persist for long, switch birth control after talking to your doctor.

13. Vaginal Discharge

There may be an increase or decrease in the vaginal discharge or change in the nature of discharge while you’re on the pill. As long as it is odourless and colourless, there is nothing to worry. If there is a foul smelly discharge, it may be a sign of infection. Intimate hygiene wash should be used to clean the vagina rather than bar soap to maintain the PH level.

14. Acne

Oral contraceptives have various combination of synthetic hormones in them. There are some pills which contain a high amount of progestin and are known to trigger acne or breakouts on skin. While negative effects linger, some pills do lower the androgen levels and may alleviate severe acne conditions. Thus it can be both, a blessing in disguise or a complete malison.

15. Eye Changes

Hormonal birth control pills may cause thickening of the cornea and other eye diseases. Women who wear contact lens can notice they don’t fit properly post the usage of the pill. They should contact their ophthalmologist immediately to mitigate further complications. Dry eyes are also a repercussion of gobbling the pill which can lead to serious eye problems in the long run. Over-the-counter saline drops should be used to ease the burning sensation caused by dry eyes.


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