A woman speaking to her doctor about birth control side effects.

Birth Control: Benefits and Side Effects

There are many benefits to using birth control pills. One of the most significant benefits and most common uses is to prevent pregnancy. There are several other benefits and also some side effects that come with birth control as well. If you’re on the fence about using birth control, here are the facts. 

Benefits of Birth Control 

Birth control pills and medications are incredibly popular and have been widely used since 1960. Newer birth control pills have lower amounts of hormones and fewer side effects than when they were originally released. Birth control can make periods lighter, shorter, and more manageable. Some women who complain of extreme pain and cramps say that birth control greatly reduces their symptoms as well. Birth control studies show that people that take the pill have lower rates of pelvic inflammatory disease and cancer of the uterus and ovaries.

Some pills are designed to limit your period to only a few times a year, which is definitely convenient. Many people who take birth control report that they have less mood swings and PMS symptoms while on the pill. The lower hormone birth control pills do not make most women gain weight, which was a big complaint from pills from the past. Birth control can lessen heavy bleeding, pain, and severity of endometriosis and fibroid tumors.

Side Effects of Birth Control

Some women may have medical conditions that prevent them from using birth control pills, while other women may be at higher risk for side effects due to age or smoking status.The birth control pill can lead to a higher risk for blood clots, heart attack, and stroke in women who smoke, especially if they are over 35 years of age. Combination estrogen and progestin birth control (including the pills, ring, or patch) should NOT be used by women who are over 35 years of age and smoke. If you miss a pill it’s important to use a method of back up birth control.

There can also be drug interactions with other medications so it’s very important to make sure you properly research the other medications you are currently taking. Spotting (breakthrough bleeding) may occur for the first few months of birth control use as your body adjusts to the changes in hormone levels. Breakthrough bleeding may be worse with extended- or continuous-cycle birth control pills. After stopping the pill, it may take several months or longer to begin ovulating again if pregnancy is desired.

If you have any questions about birth control methods it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider.

Last Updated: July 07, 2016