What Are the Side Effects of Birth Control Pills?

Pills in hand

Birth control pills are the most frequently prescribed form of contraception in the U.S. wherein nearly 25% of women aged 15-44 who use contraception at present reported using the pill as their method of choice.

What are Birth Control Pills?

Birth control pills or also known as oral contraceptives are medications taken by mouth to prevent pregnancy. It contains small amounts of hormones, man-made forms of estrogen and progestin. These hormones are naturally made in a woman’s ovaries. There are two kinds of birth control pills: Combination pills that have both estrogen and progestin and the most common type of birth control pill. And the other one is Progestin-only pills.

How does it work? The pill works by preventing the sperm from joining with an egg. When an egg is released from your ovary and then fertilized by the sperm, you become pregnant. During ovulation, hormones in your body control the release of the egg from the ovary and prepare your body to accept the fertilized egg. Birth control pills inhibit your body’s natural hormones to prevent pregnancy. It stops the body from ovulating.  It also thickens the mucus on the cervix. This thicker cervical mucus blocks sperm so it can’t swim to an egg.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Birth Control Pills

Side effects vary widely for every person and different pills bring about different side effects. Let’s start with the advantages. The pill is over 99% effective if used correctly by following the instructions. You just need to stick to your daily pill schedule and see to it that you start your new packs on time. 

Birth control pills also have health benefits. It can help reduce your menstrual cramps, lighten periods and lower your risk of ectopic pregnancy. Also called a tubal pregnancy, this occurs when a fertilized egg implants and grows outside the uterus. It can’t proceed normally because the fertilized egg can’t survive, and the growing tissue may cause life-threatening bleeding if left untreated. 

This pill can also help with your acne breakouts. It provides some protection against bone thinning, cysts in your breasts and ovaries, endometrial and ovarian cancers, serious infections in your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus, and iron deficiency. Birth control pills can help your periods be more regular.

And if you think you are ready to have kids, the pills are reversible. Just stop taking the pill and you can get pregnant right away. You can even use this to safely skip your period. Progestin-only pills may be safer for women who can’t tolerate estrogen therapy, smokers, older than 35, who have a history of blood clots, and who want to breastfeed.

Now, how about the disadvantages? Remembering to take your birth control pill every day can be hard at times. Not taking the pill right on time and regularly will not protect you from pregnancy. The pill doesn’t protect you against sexually transmitted diseases so you will still have to use another protection for this. 

Some of the common side effects are spotting or bleeding between periods, sore breasts, lower belly pain, tiredness, dizziness, nausea, increase in vaginal discharge, decreased libido, mood changes, headaches or may aggravate migraine attacks. There could also be changes in your period like being early, late, or completely stopping. 

This pill affects your hormones so if you are just starting taking it, give time for your body to adjust to the hormones. Depending on the individual, this may happen or not for those who take the pill. But oftentimes it would go away after 2 or 3 months. 

Birth control pills overall are very safe but there are very rare serious complications such as heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and liver tumors. It can be taken safely by most women but it’s not recommended for women over age 35 who smoke. 

How Does Taking Birth Control Pills Affect Our Fertility and Pregnancy

According to the National Library of Medicine, one study shows that women who used birth control pills for one year of “continuous use” were monitored for return of fertility, and 97% of women had spontaneous menstruations within 90 days after discontinuation of these pills. 

You can get pregnant right after you stop taking birth control pills. Even if your period does not return to its normal cycle, it’s still possible for you to get pregnant when you are not taking the pill. There’s a very small chance that you get pregnant if you take the pill every day but if it does happen without you knowing and you are still taking the pill, it won’t increase the risk of birth defects. Stop taking the pill once you learn you’re pregnant. 

One study also shows that people who had used birth control pills for more than three years were more fertile than the study participants who used the pills for less time. WebMD states that 75.4% of women who used the pill for more than five years conceived within six months of trying compared to 70.5% of women who never used birth control pills. At times there may be a fertility delay that may seem like it negatively affected your fertility but it should return within about three months of stopping birth control pills, if not sooner. 


Birth control pills are safe, convenient, highly effective, and easy to use. But there may be side effects that you need to be aware of. That’s why it’s better to talk with your doctor to find an option that works for you. Want to improve your fertility and overall reproductive health? Check our products like our Belta Folic Acid supplements here!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *