Pros and cons of birth control pills

Women have enjoyed the benefits of birth control pills since they were approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on May 9, 1960. These pills are actually one of the most researched and researched drugs. Most women can safely use the contraceptive pill, but taking the pill may have certain risks and / or side effects.

Here is a summary of the pros and cons of using oral contraceptives, including common side effects. Read the table for more details.

Verivell / Cindy Chang

Advantages of birth control pills

The benefits of the pills include:

  • Pills are a very convenient form of birth control.
  • The pill may provide some protection against pelvic inflammatory disease (which, if left untreated, can cause infertility).
  • This can make your period easier or help regulate it .
  • It is a safe method of contraception.
  • Birth control pills can reduce menstrual cramps.
  • This allows for sexual spontaneity.
  • Pills can help you time your period; combination pills can be taken to regulate (change the time and frequency) of your period or to skip it altogether.

Non-contraceptive benefits

Combination birth control pills , which contain both estrogen and progestin, can also provide health benefits. They can offer you some protection against:

Pills and Cancer Protection

Studies show that birth control pills reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by 27% and the risk of endometrial cancer by 50% compared to those who have never taken oral contraceptives .

Protection against developing these cancers can last up to 30 years after you stop taking combined birth control pills. In addition, this protection increases with each year of use. So if you take the combination pills for 6 years, using them can reduce your risk of ovarian or endometrial cancer by up to 60%.

Research shows that taking birth control pills may slightly increase your risk of breast cancer. Studies show that the risk of colorectal cancer in women who take birth control pills is reduced by 15% to 20% .

Cons of birth control pills

If you are taking birth control pills, you may experience unwanted side effects. The good news is that most of these side effects will go away in the second or third month of use as your body adjusts to the progestin and / or estrogen pill.

Side effects of birth control pills can include :

  • Headache
  • Tender breasts
  • Nausea (sometimes with vomiting)
  • Bleeding between periods

Also, combined birth control pills can:

  • Cause depression
  • Change sexual desire

Progestin-only birth control pills can cause spotting and irregular bleeding (at least more often than with the combination pill).

Side effects

You should read the paper insert inside your specific pill box to learn more about the use and risks of your birth control pill. Furthermore, the leaflet should also explain when to take the contraceptive pill (and what to do if you miss a pill … or two).

You can take birth control pills with dinner or before bed to relieve nausea and / or vomiting. Try not to stop taking the pills, even if you are very nauseous.

Side effects are a common reason people stop using birth control. Talk to your doctor about what you are experiencing and whether switching to a different brand of pills might help.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you still experience side effects from your birth control pills after three months; This may mean that you may need to change your brand of birth control pills.

Risks and complications

Serious problems with the pill are rare. Birth control pills are often much safer than pregnancy and childbirth.

Women who take combination birth control pills may be slightly more likely to have certain medical problems than those who do not. The risk increases:

  • With smoking women
  • 35 years or older
  • Having conditions associated with a heart attack (such as high cholesterol , high blood pressure , diabetes, and conditions that increase the risk of blood clotting)

The most serious complication of taking combination birth control pills is a blood clot in the heart, lungs, brain, or legs. Women who take the combined pill and are confined to bed rest or a cast seem to have a higher chance of developing a blood clot.

If you are planning major surgery, you should inform your surgeon that you are taking combination birth control pills.

If you have a history of depression, you may not be able to continue taking birth control pills if your depression worsens.

Additional cons / risks of birth control pills to watch out for include:

  • There is a link between not taking pills and weight. This means that the effectiveness of the pills may be reduced if you are overweight .
  • You should also pay attention to the medications you are taking while taking the pills. Certain medications can reduce the effectiveness of the tablets .
  • Drospirenone tablets like Yaz and Beyaz can suppress hormones that regulate water and electrolyte levels in the body, so these tablets can interact with drugs that increase potassium.
  • When visiting any healthcare provider, it is very important that you include the brand of pills on the 'Drug List' that you are currently taking.

Verywell's Word

When deciding whether to take a pill or not, you and your healthcare provider should discuss the pros and cons, as they apply specifically to you. Be sure to discuss possible interactions with other medications you may be taking if you both feel the pros outweigh the cons and you are a good candidate for the pill.

Most women who stop taking pills do so for reasons other than side effects. With that said, keep in mind that trial and error may be required with different brands of pills until you find the brand that works best for your body.

Frequently asked questions

  • Research shows that birth control pills do not cause weight loss or gain.

  • When taken correctly, birth control pills prevent pregnancy by 99%. But remember that birth control pills do not protect against STDs, so a different method must be used to prevent illness.

  • It is safe, but combined birth control pills can reduce your milk supply. Progestin-only pills are an alternative because they do not reduce milk production in breastfeeding women.

  • Birth control pills prevent pregnancy for up to 7 days after the first cycle.

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