The Birth Control Pill Has Serious Side Effects
The Searle Pharmaceutical Corporation developed Enovid, the first birth control pill, in the late 1950s.
Enovid and other highdose pills have generally fallen out of favor in the United States. However, they are still used in some developing countries. They contain from 1 to 12 milligrams of progestin and/or 60 to 120 micrograms of estrogen, a natural female hormone. This high dosage had a variety of side effects, including blurred vision, nausea, weight gain, breast pain, cramping, irregular menstrual bleeding, headaches, and possibly breast cancer.
Beginning in about 1975, pill makers, reacting to extensive publicity about the severe side effects of the highdosage pills, steadily decreased the content of estrogen and progestin in their products. However, the patient information pamphlets for the various brands of birth control continue to feature a long list of very serious side effects, including venous thromboembolism , stroke, hyperkalemia , carcinomas of the breasts and reproductive organs, liver disease, high blood pressure and gallbladder disease. They also list a host of less dangerous side effects, to include headaches and nausea, weight gain, back pain, bleeding irregularities, depression and breast tenderness, most of which have an incidence of between 8% and 33%.9
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When Hormones Aren’t An Option
According to the Nature commentary, about one-third of women globally discontinue hormonal birth control methods within the first year of taking them, often because of side effects.
That was the case for Lenise Sunny Wilson, who attributes severe depression to the birth control pills she had been taking.
It completely changed who I was as a person, said Wilson, 38, of Tucson, Arizona. It messed with my emotions and my mental health so intensely.
Wilson has since stopped taking the pill and, for the most part, she said, has returned to her sunny self.
Some women, including those with certain cancers and heart conditions, cant take hormonal birth control. Erica Twidle, 33, from Gallatin, Tennessee, was diagnosed with a rare heart condition called peripartum cardiomyopathy while pregnant with her daughter, Della. The condition made Twidles heart weak and enlarged, and although she eventually recovered, Twidles doctors told her she shouldnt take hormonal birth control, or get pregnant, ever again. Both would jeopardize her heart.
Twidle, whod had a bad experience with the copper IUD in the past, decided to track her cycle. But nine months after having Della, she was pregnant again. I cried when I found out, she said. I was terrified. I had a child I needed to stay alive for.
Twidle calls herself one of the lucky ones, since her heart stayed strong enough to support pregnancy. But had things taken a turn, Twidle was prepared to get an abortion to stay alive.
About The Birth Control Pill
Talking to your kids about sex can be a challenge. But discussing things like abstinence, sexually transmitted diseases , and birth control can help lower teens risk of an unintended pregnancy or getting an STD.
Discussing these issues like any other health topics not as something dirty or embarrassing makes it more likely that your kids will come to you with any questions and problems. As awkward as it can be, answer questions honestly. And if you dont know something, its OK to say so, then find out and report back.
If you have questions about how to talk with your kids about sex, ask your doctor. Lots of parents find this tough to tackle, and a doctor may offer some helpful advice.
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How To Start Taking The Minipill
Before starting the minipill, talk to your doctor about what day to begin.
You can start using this pill on any day of your menstrual cycle, but depending on where you are in your cycle, you may have to use a backup birth control method for a few days.
If you start taking the minipill during the first 5 days of your period, you should be fully protected, and you wont need any additional contraception.
If you start on any other day, youll need to use an extra method of protection for at least 2 days.
If your period has a short cycle, you should use additional birth control until youve been on the minipill for at least 2 days.
All oral contraceptives have potential side effects, and they vary in intensity from person to person.
The Cleveland Clinic reports these side effects from the progestin-only minipill:
If you want hormonal birth control without estrogen, the minipill is just one option. There are several other progestin-only birth control options. Each one works differently and has unique side effects and risks.
Heres a quick rundown of your options.
Depo-Provera is an injection. It works the same way as the progestin-only pill. It thickens the mucus around your cervix to prevent sperm from reaching an egg. Additionally, it stops your ovaries from releasing eggs.
Each injection lasts around 3 months.
Like the minipill and progestin injection, an implant releases small amounts of progestin into your system.
Are You Looking For An Alternative To The Pill
The pill is the most common type of birth control you can get with a prescription. It contains the female sex hormones estrogen and progestin . The pill can also treat heavy bleeding and pain related to menstruation. But, in order for it to work well, the pill must be taken every day.
The pill is a great option for many women, but its not for everyone. Perhaps youre not a fan of taking pills, or maybe you dont want the responsibility of remembering to take it every day. Some people want an option that doesnt include hormones. Its not fun to worry about pill efficacy if youre sick with vomiting or taking other medications.
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There Is No Best Birth Control
Verma says that healthcare providers have changed the way they talk to their patients about choosing birth control. “When the long-acting reversible contraceptive methods came out, there was a lot of excitement about them and a lot of pushing of these methods,” she said.
But these days, Verma and her colleagues have largely shifted their approach toward talking to women about all their birth control options , and then helping them decide which one best fits their lifestyle.
What works for some might not work for others, Verma said. “No one can tell you what’s doable for you.”
This resource was created with support from Evofem Biosciences.
Are There Any Permanent Non
The only permanent form of non-hormonal birth control is sterilisation. This has a number of disadvantages though:
- They can still fail they arent 100% reliable
- They involve surgery there are risks to the procedures for men and women
- If pregnancy does occur, the risk of ectopic pregnancy is increased pregnancy can sometimes occur outside of the womb as a result of these procedures
- They are not easily reversed they can sometimes be reversed but its not a sure thing. If you want biological children in the future this might not be worth the risk
There are some contraceptives that you can keep using without stopping:
- The withdrawal method there is no reason to stop using this, except that it isnt reliable
- The rhythm method you can keep using this as long as your periods stay regular
- Abstinence or different forms of sex these methods can be used consistently but they arent reliable or practical for everyone
There are also non-hormonal contraceptives that last a long time :
- The coil this can last 5-10 years
- The cup this can last up to 1 year
- The diaphragm this can last up to 1 year
The Withdrawal Method :
If youve ever fallen back on this method I want you to know youre not alone. The majority of women in my practice have admitted to using this non hormonal birth control option at least once in their sexual history.
You might be surprised to hear this method is more effective than sex-ed or your doctor would tell you. With perfect use, only about 4 women will become pregnant in a year. But if the guy isnt on his game then that number is more like 22 or 1 in 5. So, because of the risk involved, we wouldn’t recommend this as the best non hormonal birth control option.
While I wouldnt advocate for this method if youre serious about a baby-free life, it is good to know that there is some efficacy to the practice.
Eliminating your dependency on hormonal contraceptive, whether it be for hormone imbalances or preventing pregnancy, is not as difficult as you might think. In fact, this is what we help women with every day in my clinic, RubusHealth. Discovering the root cause of your hormone imbalances can help you enjoy amazing hormone health without the dependency on the pill.
Here’s to incredible hormone health!
Dr. Jolene Brighten
Discouraged By The Cost Of Birth Control We Can Help
We do our best to help you afford the birth control method you choose no matter what your situation is. Whether you have your own health insurance, are on your parents plan, or dont have insurance at all, weve got you covered. Find a health center near you.
Many insurance plans, including Medicaid, cover Planned Parenthood services.
Well help you navigate your states health insurance plans. Learn more
Is health insurance not an option for you? We can get you set up with state or locally funded programs that help cover the cost of your birth control.
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Benefits Of Birth Control Pills
Besides being an effective means for birth control, studies show that birth control pill users have a decreased risk for ovarian, endometrial, and colorectal cancer when compared to non users. The pill has also been seen as a useful method for chemoprevention across women with varying levels of cancer risk. Other potential advantages of birth control pills include lighter, less painful periods, more regular periods, and less acne .
Often doctors will prescribe the pill to address symptoms such as painful periods, acne, migraines, and excessive hair growth, but at Parsley Health we aim to address the underlying causes. Once we do that, it frees our patients up to pick the best birth control method for their needs.
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What Is Non Hormonal Birth Control
Non hormonal contraception simply means a method of birth control that contains no synthetic hormones that work to prevent pregnancy. Non hormonal contraception comes in various forms be that internal like the copper IUD, external barrier methods like condoms or a natural way of calculating when you are fertile and avoiding unprotected sex at this time.
Theres been some interesting developments in natural non hormonal birth control methods in recent years. Digital contraception like the Natural Cycles app uses smart tech and algorithms to create a method of contraception thats been shown to be 93% effective with typical use. Essentially, an updated version of the historic symptothermal and cycle tracking methods, known as Fertility Awareness Methods .
But its not all cycle tracking and working out your fertile days! While tracking methods can make you feel more in tune with your natural menstrual cycle and hormone fluctuations, all that admin isnt for everyone. The copper coil is a non-hormonal long acting reversible contraceptive , a great option for those who just want to set it and forget it as once fitted it can last for years. And of course, theres always the trusty condom which unlike the rest of these methods, helps to protect you from STIs.
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Where Do You Get A Diaphragm
You need a prescription to get one, so see your doctor or other health care professional. A traditional diaphragm requires fitting the Caya, a newer type, is a one-size-fits-most .
Youâll have to replace it at least every 2 years or more often if your diaphragm gets damaged. You may need a different size if you get pregnant, have pelvic surgery, or gain or lose more than 15 pounds.
Determining Your Fertile Days
To determine the length of your longest cycle and subtract 11 from the total number of days of your longest cycle. For example, if your longest cycle is 35 days, subtract 11 from 35 which equals 24. In this example, the first day of your cycle is the first day you bleed and the 24th day of your cycle is your last fertile day. To avoid pregnancy dont have sex during your fertile days- so using the previous examples, no sex from day 8 through day 24. Keep recording your cycle lengths every month to make sure that you are accurately recording your fertile days.FYI certain factors like illness, travel or medicine can affect the exact timing of ovulation so adding another birth control method like a condom is strongly encouraged. Truthfully, fertility tracking does take some getting used to and requires a certain level of commitment. On average 12-24 % of women will get pregnant using the FAM method so if its too soon for breast pumping and diaper changing, think about adding another birth control method.
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+ Birth Control Withdrawal Fertility Tracking Protocol
I recognize many women are hesitant to get off the pill because they arent yet ready to get pregnant, but luckily there are a ton of other fertility awareness methods on the market that can help you effectively track your cycle in order to prevent pregnancy.
PS If youre thinking about eventually getting pregnant down the road, getting to know and track your cycle now can really help prepare you for when that time comes . Its also a key indicator into any other imbalances you may be experiencing hormonally.
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Implants Iuds Rings And More
If you are interested in contraception that doesnt involve the pill or surgery, know that there are plenty of options for preventing unplanned pregnancy. Some of these options also help with period discomfort or heavy bleeding.
These options take many forms, such as implants and IUDs that are placed by a healthcare provider. Several contraceptive options are self-managed, meaning you can put them in place yourself. Some have hormones and some dont. How long they provide protection against pregnancy varies.
In this guide, weve categorized prescription contraceptive options by ease of use. We also review efficacy , side effects, and risks. Last, youll find a handy chart for comparison.
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Why Is There Estrogen In Birth Control Pills
Why is there estrogen in birth control pills? The purpose of estrogen in combined hormonal birth control is to make bleeding predictable . Progestin-only methods can cause changes in menstrual bleeding . So essentially, synthetic estrogens are added to these types of contraceptives to make your withdrawal bleed look more like a normal period.
What does the estrogen in birth control do? The estrogen component of the combination birth control pill serves 3 important functions: it exerts negative feedback action on the secretion of gonadotropins it provides stability to the endometrium, preventing irregular shedding and unwanted breakthrough bleeding and it increases the potency of the progestational
Why is estrogen bad in birth control? Birth control pills work well. The catch is that the more estrogen you take, the more likely you are to have side effects such as headaches, nausea, breast tenderness, and rare but potentially fatal blood clots.
Is estrogen in birth control bad? And estrogen-containing birth control pills may decrease the risk of ovarian cancer and colorectal cancer. On the other hand, research suggests that long-term use of estrogen-containing birth control pills is associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer. This risk increases the longer you take the pills.
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Who Is Phexxi Best For
“Phexxi is great for those who are looking for contraceptive alternatives, don’t desire hormones, and are possibly not sexually active consistently,” Jessica Shepherd, MD, ob-gyn, CEO and founder of Sanctum Med Wellness, told Health. Phexxi can be a good fit for those who aren’t interested in taking a daily pill or using a long-acting form of birth control like an implant, IUD, or ring, Dr. Shepherd said.
Phexxi may also be an important choice for people who can’t use hormonal forms of birth control. “Not every woman can use a hormonal birth controlwomen who are at risk for blood clots, hormone-driven cancers like certain forms of breast cancer and other gynecological cancers may be advised to use a non-hormonal method,” Dr. Wider said.
For women who use lifestyle methodslike fertility awareness of the withdrawal or “pull-out” methodPhexxi may be a good addition to their routine, , an ob/gyn at The Women’s Group of Northwestern, in Chicago, told Health. “At worst, it’s 86% effective, but it could be much better if women are watching their cycle,” Dr. Levitt said.
There’s also this to consider, Dr. Wider added: “Non-hormonal methods would likely eliminate some unwanted side effects that women can experience on hormonal birth control like mood swings and weight gain.” If you are especially concerned about any of these things, talk to your healthcare provider about trying Phexxi.
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