Birth Control Side Effects
Hormonal Manipulation and You
Ever read those little information pamphlets that come with your hormonal birth control prescriptions? Ever see the long list of potential birth control side effects and wonder just how much of risk there really is?
Interestingly enough, many women today don’t really know or understand the health risks that are associated with the manipulation of their hormones through hormonal birth control methods. Your endocrine (hormonal) system is part of a complex network that also impacts your vascular health and brain function. In the old days, when receiving a prescription for hormonal birth control, women were required to sign a piece paper stating that they were aware of the health risks involved – when was the last time you had to do this? And while the pill in particular has seen many changes since it was first released in 1962, many of the same potential side effects remain.
How many of these common birth control side effects are you familiar with?
- Nausea, vomiting, constipation, or bloating
- Irregular menstruation and spotting
- Breast swelling or tenderness
- Decreased libido
- Weight gain or loss of appetite
- Mood swings, anxiety, nervousness or depression
- Changes in vaginal discharge and vaginal infections
- Headaches, dizziness and fatigue
- High blood pressure and cholesterol
- Acne or permanent discolouration of the face
- Fluid retention
- Bone density loss
- Hair loss or changes in hair growth
- Enlarged ovarian follicles
And how about these potential long-term complications of hormonal birth control?
- Eye problems or vision impairment
- Gallbladder disease and gallstones
- Resistance to Insulin
- Immune system suppression
- Heart attack
- Breast tumors and liver tumors
- Ectopic Pregnancies
- Links with certain cancers such as cervical cancer
- Blood clots in legs, lungs, heart and brain
Sounds scary, doesn’t it? These potential health risks are not something to be taken lightly – manipulating your hormones is serious business. Remember all of the fuss when HRT was found to be more dangerous than previously thought for women in their menopausal years? Why, then, is it still considered “safe” to manipulate women’s hormones during their fertile years?
It all comes down to choice.
We’re not telling you all of this to scare you – many women will continue to use hormonal birth control methods, and will be pleased with their effects. Our goal is simply to empower you with all of the information, so that YOU can make the best choice for YOU. As it stands, the last 70 years or so is the first time in human history that we’ve manipulated female hormones to this degree. Hormonal imbalances are common in women, and infertility is at an all-time high. Can we say for sure this is all connected? No, but we also can’t say for sure that it isn’t. With so many options available for re-connecting with our cycles as a powerful source of our feminine energy, why take the drug?
*Want to learn more?*
If you’re interested in reading more about hormonal birth control, here are a couple of good articles to start with:
Health Risks of Hormonal Birth Control, from the Women’s Health Information website
Is the Pill Playing Havoc with Your Mental Health? from the Aphrodite Women’s Health website
Need more Hormone Help?
If you’re needing some health upgrading, it’s time you started you looking into what’s going on with your hormones.
I’ve designed a 4 day hormone detox and evaluation to help you understand exactly what’s out of whack and how you can start getting back to balance so that your hormones no longer have to suffer.
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Jennifer Cabral says
Wanted to take over my hormones so stopped taking the pill this week. Any tips on helping my body in this process. And no babies, please. We don’t plan to have kids.
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My moms putting me on the pill so I wanted to know what’s bad and what’s good I’m 14 and isn’t if it could be bad if I’m still I virgin cus she is making me and stuff
Thank you for writing in! It’s great that you are already thinking about your body and how it will be affected by what you put in it:)
Above you’ll find some of the side effects and and long-term complications of the birth control pill. Perhaps you can review it together with your mother and discuss why she may want you to take it and what other options there may be.
Yours in Health,
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My O.B.G.Y.N put me on birth control b/c after my partial hysterectomy I was feeling extremely tired. She said it was do to my progesterone dropping. I have been on birth control now for 3 months, and STILL feel tired.What is going on???? I have NO energy!
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I’m sure pills is the best way to control birth. I’ve started taking it 7 years ago then stopped for getting pregnant and started again after my baby birth. I love it! My husband calls it pills against headache)
I was on the pill for 3 years until i developed unrelated stomach problems with shocking nausea. Every doctor/specialist I went to thought the nausea was from the pill so I was put on 3 different pills (seperately) over the course of 4 to 5 months and none of them improved my nausea. I started developing various side effects – headaches/migraines being the worst. Finally my stomach disease was diagnosed so I was allowed to go back on my original pill that I was on for 3 years. I am still experiencing headaches, low libido, pretty much the top ten side effects listed above plus hair loss too. Its all because my hormones have been messed around so much when my nausea was from something unrelated. My message to you is always look into other possible causes for your symptoms because there could be something else going on. It is so frustrating being passed from specialist to specialist just to have all these different opinions about what you might have.
I’ve been on birth control forabout 8 years because of my severe periods. And im very young. It sucks but I really have no choice because of the severity of it. The doc told me I could bleed to death and I was anemic. I’ve noticed weird heart beating! Arrthymia. I’m low on energy all the time, I’ve checked myself for diabetes but don’t have it. The scariest time was when I was flying for 7 hours and my legs felt like they’re going to explode. I’ve thought this was connected with the pill as well. No exaggerations here either.
Hi there. Have they ever checked your thyroid function? An under active thyroid can cause the symptoms you are describing.
I have been on jadelle for the lst 4 years and have not been on my periods since, is this a healthy situation.
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i went out wid a girl for nearly four year.she had used birth-control pills in previous rlatnship.she had heart problems during our rlatnship.on top of that she got pregnant four times n miscarried all of them.
i tink dat dis alteration of hormonal releases is unnatural n dangerous.women out there should watch out n use condoms instead.babies are bound to be made when we hav sex at the right time.be wise..!!
I have just started taking birth control Sunday and I have been getting really bad sharp pains in my stomach and I feel like im going to throw up I have tried other birth controls and they would make me want to throw up but I never did would anyone no why im getting these sharp pains in my stomach? And why the pill makes me want to puke
Doctors need to tell the truth and let people know the SIDE EFFECTS!
They want you to take it – it keeps them rich and the drug companies rich.
Did God put us on the earth to take pills constantly? Make sure it is the best choice – think things through first. Your body is nothing to play with.
I do know preventing pregnancy is important. I do not think it is ok to harm your body in the process.
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I have been on the pill now for 16 years due to originally having irregular periods.
I have recently discovered I suffer from spondylolithersis and I am questioning whether taking the pill long term has made my L5 and s1 ligaments as the chiro says “”spongy”” due to hormones and being on the pill my body things I am pregnant. Has anyone ever heard of this??
Crystal Weekusk says
I’m 46, have been having medical issues for 3 years now. Today, I went to different doctor who told me to get off oral contraceptive today. Previous doctors did not connect my medical problems with the 16 years I’ve been on contraceptive. I’m worried I may have done harm to my overall health
I can’t agree more on how this has altered my hormones. For 10 years I struggled with bulimia, anxiety and depression. All through that I was on the pill (for 14 years), but they kept saying to continue using it to help keep my period, which I never really had a normal one. Along with high cortisol, low progesterone and a cont. emotional struggles. I have been off now for 1.5 years and now struggle with my fertility for which I am currently going all natural. I’m 36 and have a small window for pregnancy, but would love to see my body return to normal. I welcome my period its a blessing and beautiful thing. I hope to avoid using more meds to get ovulation going or go as far as IVF at this time.Not that I’m against it, i’m just a little more jaded by the medical system in regards to pushing the pill and me not looking further into the side effects (and linking them all together).
I have been on birth control almost 8 years. And I haven’t had any issues. I think it all depends. Some womens bodies can’t handle the hormones. Sometimes there’s to much estrogen. But I have. Decided that maybe next year I will retire of them .
Hai, iv been on the pill for 9 months, my boyfriend and I have had intercourse before, many times. I have been getting these weird symptoms or whatever it is, like nausea, higher sense of smell, abdominal cramps (like period), abdominal bloating, breast pains, headaches, I get hungry all the time for certain things, I have lower back pains also. And I get hot flashes? I’m 17. So many things I can’t even remember all of them. My boyfriend and I think I’m pregnant not sure HELP please !! And I have taken 5 tests and all of them come back negative??
Try the mini pill I got the same symptoms on the combined pill, the mini pill im on now cerazette gives me a little more acne but its better than being 9 mths pregnant…theres hundreds of types just ask your doctor..the minipill you need to take everyday at same time so if it works the injection that lasts 3 months has the exact same hormones….it might be something to look at later…just ask your doctor or the nuva ring is brilliant like a tampon that sits inside …you can take it out for a couple of hours in between…youre very young not to take double precautions don’t rely on condoms my sister got pregnant at 18..maybe review things when your 25..sorry to sound like your mam
I spent my entire life thinking contraception was bad for the body ..why pump hormones in if you don’t need them etc.I also found out I was allergic to one type of pill and didn’t try other options
I was diagnosed with stage four endometriosis a condition which will if not noticed(not everyone gets pains etc) WILL leave you infertile after a few years, decades ago women gave birth young and had many children which prevented the average women between 13-30 years old having 200+ period cycles….
Endometriosis affects around 10% of women and can lead to more complications….id protect your fertility until you 30’s or until you are ready to have children then change to something more organic its not like a machine that will just shut down if its stopped a while..it doesn’t get rusty just give it a break until you are close to ready… the other side affects eg weight gain etc try the mini pill etc but id rather gain a few lbs than get pregnant!
Zanele Simesihle says
Tell me where u able 2 find cure for endometriosis?
I’ve had severe acne for several years now. I’m 15 and I’ve tried everything non-oral that could help, but nothing works. So my doctor said he could prescribe me either the birth control pill to treat my acne or accutane. The accutane is a little too controversial and has too many possible risks so I’m looking into the birth control pill. It seems like most people think the birth control pill is great, but it’s pretty much something that messes with your hormones so I’m a little apprehensive. Any thoughts?
there may be other ways to help with that but i just had a collegue pass away on wednesday due to blood clots on her brain due to birth control pills and she was only 23 years old something that seem so harmless can be the thing that takes you away from your loved ones so please be careful and do enough research on the medication you intake.
I had SEVERE acne as a child. I took two rounds of Accutane. The second time was a couple of years after the first round ended (acne returned). My doctor took me off the second time a week or two in due to severe migraines, issues with dizziness, and vision. Oh, and there was the liver issues. I still have lasting vision issues. The first time my symptoms included deeply blushing randomly for no reason at all (embarrassing!), staw-like hair it was so dry, cracked, bleeding lips, dark dry patches of skin on my back and arms, etc. I could go on but you get the idea. DO NOT TAKE ACCUTANE. I know how desperate you feel; I did too. In this instance, birth control is a much safer option. I began using birth control at 18 (I’m in my 30s) and it works well without those side effects. Some day I hope to not have to take anything–every doctor I’ve consulted has rolled their eyes at this and said “yeah right”. We’ll see. Good Luck!
Zanele Simesihle says
I just started my birth control pills its now 5dais but i have abnormal back pains,i puke nd my moods changes frm now and than..is it safe if i pull out now?
Please go see your doctor asap!
I have been on birthcontrol for 11 weeks, and just stopped taking it yesterday due to swelling , mood swings, acne, and weight gain. I was wondering how long it takes for my bodies horomones to balance back and for my body and mood to become normal again? Is there anything I can do to help this process?
Side note: I know 11 weeks is nothing (compared to some other women) so will my body just go back to normal in a couple days with no extra help?
Hi Lauren, do the 4 Day Hormone detox (it’s free) to help you reset yourself. http://www.floliving.com/hormonedetox xoxo Alisa
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Many people are saying they’ve been on the pill for less than 10 years and see no terrible side effects. I am 22 (23 in a few weeks) and am suddenly having the WORST of side effects. I’ve been on numerous brands with various levels of hormones and only have slight problems with headaches a few times. Now I am dealing with bloating that never goes away, fatigue that no amount of sleep has helped, achy breasts, and irritability that I rarely deal with. I started when I was 11 years old and 12 years later these things are finally hitting me.
My doctors knows they’re the problem and I decided to not quit taking them, but it only escalated. Seriously contemplate whether you want to continue with this. I’m going to stop while I’m still relatively young.
Allie, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re in this situation, but I’m glad to hear that you’re on a new path. In my opinion, being put on OCP’s at the age of 11 to manage period problems is irresponsible of doctors because it is totally unresearched – no studies have been done to determine if it is safe for children to be taking synthetic hormones. That’s the bad news, the good news is, you are still young and you have plenty of time to get back in your FLO. Please use any and all of the resources and programs we have for you to help you improve these symptoms fast. Thank you for sharing your story Allie, I hope it inspires more women to think about whether or not to take the pill or let their daughters take the pill. Much love to your ovaries, Alisa
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Hello, I just started my first pill for the 4th pack of birth control.. I had gotten put on birth control because I ended up having emergency surgery because a mass was crushing my fallopian tubes and twisted my ovaries. They are saved but alot of damage was done and he did alot of work down there also had to open me up due to alot of scar tissue from past surgeries, but he put me on it right after.. since I’ve been on it, I’ve had horrible headaches, dizzy still, spotting alot (last pack I didn’t get my period it’s usually just all brown spotting I believe), I did have blood 2 times in one month during the 2nd pack.. now beggining my 4th pack my stomach still feels weird like it’s bloated and tight like a weight is on it.. I’ve never been on birth control and I always had irregular periods but since I’ve had alot wrong female wise down in that area as well as endo.. he put me on it.. I do take pregnancy tests alot because I do Google symptoms and it does say it will make your body tricked into thinking you are prego when you aren’t… They have all been negitive. I have also had on and off cramps.
Is this normal? should I try a different brand? I’m not sure what is going on with my body.. what do you suggest/think? If I stay on this type it’s called; Mylan Desogestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol tablets USP (0.15, 0.02,0.01mg)
I’m worried and slightly confused with what is happening.
I’ve been taking the pill for three years now and I just all of a sudden became so weak to the point of fainting and not being able to hold anything up. I e been tested for everything and I am completely healthy soo feel this is connected to my birth contro Since weakness is a side effect. I stopped taking it today when I realized it could be connected to my recent health issues and was wondering when I’ll start to feel better?
Ugh, I am so sorry to hear it! It may take a few months to get back to your new normal without hormonal interference. At that point you will want to see if there are remaining symptoms and address those with the protocol. Hang in there, and let me know if we can help!
I started the pill about a week ago. I’m 13. I’m having severe lower back pain. And lower stomach pain. I have no idea what is wrong. It started like the second day I started. I can’t find ANYTHING about it. Please help!
Please go back to your doctor right away to discuss this.
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As a hormonal method of birth control, the vaginal ring can have similar side effects to the pill, including intermenstrual spotting, headache, and reduced libido.
Raquel Juries says
I really hope you can help me. I’ve been taking the birth control for two weeks now. And I have not been feeling good. I’m vomiting, my breasts are tender and I have the worst pain in my lower abdomen. I can’t stomach any food. Only water with lemon and dry toast. Could this be due to the pill? I really feel like dying
Yes, it can. Please consult with your prescribing doctor!
I’m someone who is very sensitive to medication and birth control, After having a baby I went back on birth control to get my hormones under control because I was very moody when not on BC. So for a little it was working great and i was no longer moody and my period stopped. Then came some side effects AND by the way never take BC with anxiety medication. You won’t be able to think straight and you will feel out of it, i’d call it “dopey”…my decision making skills were sub par as well… no one warned me about this and i guess it is my responsibility to educate myself but i had no idea. I flooded my entire bathroom because i left the sink on. That is how stupid it made me. THEN came the daily stomach pain and nausea, this is every day and i’ve been on the pill awhile now. I am also 35 AND they don’t warn you that age could possibly be a factor as well. Sure it is in the fine print right but there is ALOT of fine print, my obgyn says everything is normal and the nurses say the symptoms will pass because my body was “adjusting” but it has been awhile now. The third symptom(s) was chest tightness under arm pain and feeling like my blood pressure was way too high and very tense muscles, like feeling very stressed. I don’t know if being on this long term is a good idea. I am 100% sure it weakens your immune system even tough but this could depend on the kind of pill or bc method… i was on the pill in my twenties and wound up getting shingles because my body immune system were already so fatigued and worn down. I just feel like the doctor should educate you before just prescribing it or recommending it, and yes it will deter more people from using it-but maybe it isn’t for everyone…
Hey:) I’ve been on the combination pill for about 1 month and a week. I have been feeling nauseous some nights, mostly every night and feeling very weak Sometimes too. I don’t know if it’s bc I don’t take my pill with food…I take it empty Which I am now taking it with food now! My breast are always sore also, I know nausea and breast tenderness are side effects of the pill But I’ve been a little scared bc I overthink a lot and I do not want to get pregnant!! Although I always take my pill on time and never miss a day. This is my first time on birth control pills pls help
Alisa Vitti says
It certainly sounds like you are having a reaction to the hormones. Please speak with your doctor about this – you may need to find another pill that suits you better.