Understanding Birth Control Side Effects: All You Need to Know

Manish Choudhary
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
Dr. Akansha is a licensed Clinical Pharmacologist. She possesses remarkable knowledge in Pharmacovigilance, prescription analysis, drug information, and drug safety services. Additionally, she is a keen learner and an educator.

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birth control side effects

Birth control has been a revolutionary advancement in reproductive health.

It plays a crucial role in empowering individuals to make choices about family planning. 

While the benefits of birth control are evident, it’s essential to address the often-overlooked aspect of potential side effects. 

However, they may come with side effects such as nausea, breast tenderness, mood swings, and changes in libido.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various side effects associated with birth control methods and provide practical insights on managing them effectively.

Birth control side effects

While birth control methods come with their benefits, it’s essential to acknowledge the potential side effects that individuals may experience.

Understanding these side effects is the first step towards making informed choices about your reproductive health. 

Let’s delve into the common side effects associated with different birth control methods:

Birth control pills

Woman holding birth control pillsSource: towfiqu_ahamed_barbhuiya
Woman holding birth control pills

Birth control pills are a popular choice, but they may come with side effects such as:

  • Nausea
  • Breast tenderness
  • Changes in mood
  • Headaches
  • Irregular bleeding

These side effects often subside within the first few months of use as your body adjusts to the hormonal changes. 

If persistent or severe, consult your healthcare provider to explore alternative options or adjust the prescription.

The first oral contraceptive, Enovid, was initially approved to treat menstrual disorders before its groundbreaking role in birth control.

Birth control implants

Implants, a long-term contraceptive option, may lead to:

  • Irregular menstrual bleeding
  • Headaches
  • Changes in weight

These side effects are typically temporary, and regular check-ups with your healthcare provider can help monitor and manage any concerns.

Intrauterine devices (IUDs)

Both hormonal and copper IUDs are popular choices, each with its set of side effects:

  • Hormonal IUDs: Hormonal IUDs like Mirena may cause changes in bleeding patterns, headache, acne, breast tenderness, and mood changes.
  • Non-hormonal IUDs: Copper IUDs may lead to heavier periods, and pain may cause early removal

Understanding these potential side effects allows you to choose the option that aligns best with your preferences. 

Regular check-ups are essential for proper monitoring.

Injectable contraceptives

PCOS AcneSource: Africa_images
Acne – PCOS symptom

Injectable contraceptives, administered every few months, may have side effects such as:

  • Headaches 
  • Acne
  • Hair loss
  • Decreased sex drive 
  • Mood swings

If you experience persistent side effects, consult your healthcare provider to explore alternative methods.

Barrier methods

Barrier methods, including condoms and diaphragms, are non-hormonal options with minimal side effects.

However, some individuals may experience allergic reactions to certain materials, emphasizing the importance of exploring options that suit your body.

Recommended Article
Low-dose birth control methods have been researched to reduce the risk of side effects. Read ” Understanding the Nuances of Low-Dose Birth Control Pills” for a detailed account of the same.

How to manage side effects of birth control

Managing birth control side effects involves a combination of proactive measures, open communication with healthcare providers, and a commitment to your overall well-being.

These include:

  • Equal consideration: Physicians shouldn’t favor one combination of oral contraceptives over another for minimizing side effects like weight gain, headaches, breast tenderness, breakthrough bleeding, mood swings, acne, or nausea
  • Progestin-only concerns: Avoid prescribing Progestin-only contraceptives for those worried about breakthrough bleeding
  • Hormone-free intervals: To address breakthrough bleeding with continuous contraceptives, introduce a three- or four-day hormone-free interval
  • Limited benefits: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and estrogens provide temporary relief for heavy menstrual bleeding in users of progestin-only contraceptives
  • Nausea management: Patients with a history of nausea and vomiting from emergency contraceptives should receive antiemetics as a pretreatment
Birth control side effects may trigger irregular bleeding, headaches, and weight changes. Regular check-ups for monitoring are crucial.


Birth control has transformed reproductive health, granting autonomy in family planning.

Yet, understanding potential side effects is crucial for informed choices.

From birth control pills to implants, IUDs, and injectables, understanding potential issues empowers informed choices. 

Side effects, like nausea, irregular bleeding, breast tenderness, mood changes, and headaches, often diminish over time, but consultation with healthcare providers is essential. 

Managing side effects involves proactive measures and open communication. 

Physicians should consider all options, address concerns, and tailor prescriptions for optimal well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main cause of birth control side effects?

Birth control side effects are primarily caused by the hormonal changes induced by contraceptive methods. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional to find the most suitable option for you based on your preferences, health conditions, and lifestyle.

Can birth control cause weight fluctuations?

Yes, some individuals may experience weight changes as a side effect of certain contraceptives. Monitoring these changes and consulting with healthcare professionals can guide appropriate responses.

How long do birth control side effects typically last?

The duration of side effects varies among individuals and the type of contraceptive used. In most cases, side effects may diminish after the body adjusts, but consulting with a healthcare provider is essential.

Can I switch birth control methods if I experience side effects?

Yes, it’s possible to switch birth control methods if you’re experiencing side effects. However, it’s crucial to consult with your healthcare provider to ensure a smooth transition and find an option that better suits your needs.

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