birth control side effects

Birth Control Side Effects – What You Need to Know

Is birth control OK for everyone? No. Do many women use birth control on a daily, weekly or monthly basis? Absolutely, and in greater numbers than ever before. Does that mean it’s acceptable for you? Not necessarily. The Turning Point Pregnancy Resource Center can help discuss birth control alternatives with you in a non-judgmental, compassionate setting.

Many questions and uncertain answers have defined the birth control debate in recent years. To some women, birth control risks are a minor inconvenience. On the other hand, many women choose to not risk the effects of hormonal contraceptives. For these women, the risks of using birth control are considerably higher than not using the pill or a common contraceptive.

If you’re wondering why you shouldn’t take birth control pills, consider the following side effects. They’ll help you weigh the various birth control risks:

Birth control pills contain synthetic progesterone and synthetic estrogen -- something that is clearly not advantageous if you want to maintain optimal health. In 2002, one of the largest and best-designed federal studies of hormone replacement therapy was halted because women taking these synthetic hormones had a greater risk of breast cancer, heart attack, stroke and blood clots.1

These are the same hormones that are found in birth control pills!

A year after millions of women quit taking hormone replacement therapy, incidents of breast cancer fell dramatically -- by 7 percent! 2

Cancer: Women who take birth control pills increase their risk of cervical and breast cancers, and possibly liver cancer as well.

  • • Fatal blood clots: All birth control pills increase your risk of blood clots and subsequent stroke. And if your prescription contains the synthetic hormone desogestrel, your risk of fatal blood clots nearly doubles! 4
  • • Long-term sexual dysfunction: The Pill may interfere with a protein that keeps testosterone unavailable, leading to long-term sexual dysfunction including decreased desire and arousal. 7

Oral contraceptives (also including patches and rods) are SYNTHETIC hormones that the body is not designed to process. Long-term use will invariably increase the user's risk of developing serious chronic illness.

On top of these more serious chronic health impacts, many women also report awful more immediate side effects including:

  • • Migraines and nausea
  • • Weight gain and mood changes
  • • Irregular bleeding or spotting
  • • Breast tenderness
  • • Yeast overgrowth and infection
It is also important to remember that birth control pills can deplete the following nutrients:
  • • Vitamin B2
  • • Vitamin B6
  • • Vitamin B12
  • • Folic Acid
  • • Vitamin C
  • • Magnesium
  • • Zinc

What about the IUD?

Intrauterine devices are small, plastic, T-shaped sticks with a string attached to the end. The IUD is placed inside the uterus and prevents pregnancy by rendering the sperm unable to fertilize an egg, and by changing the lining of the uterus so that it is less supportive for an embryo. It also works by releasing hormones into your body, specifically a progestin hormone called levonorgestrel, which is often used in birth control pills. 9

One of its major advantages, and what contributes to its increased effectiveness rate, is that it essentially eliminates the compliance failure issue as all you do is insert it once. There is no daily task to remember to do. However, it, too, carries significant risks, including some that are unique to a foreign body being placed inside your uterus. Among them:

  • • Pelvic infection: IUDs may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, a serious infection
  • • The device may attach to or go through the wall of the uterus
  • • Pregnancy while using an IUD can be life threatening, and may result in loss of the pregnancy or fertility
  • • Ovarian cysts may occur
  • • Bleeding and spotting

What about more natural methods that do not have negative repercussions for a woman’s health? Are there any that are effective?

Women don't need a patch, pill or implantable rod, as there are plenty of safer, more natural birth control alternatives available that are just as effective.

Male and female condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, and cervical sponges can be very effective (89 - 98%) when used consistently and correctly. The diaphragm and cervical cap needs to be properly fitted by a qualified doctor.

Many people are familiar with these barrier methods, and less familiar with natural family planning (NFP) tools, which a woman uses to track when she is ovulating, and then avoid sex during that time (or does so only using a back-up barrier method). Many women feel empowered by NFP because it allows them to get in touch with their body and fertility cycle. There are a number of different NFP methods, such as the Billings Ovulation Method, and we can provide you with information regarding these methods which work with the natural rhythm of a woman's body.

Learn the Risks of Contraceptives

Besides the obvious negative consequences listed above, here’s another birth control risk: the pill or other forms of contraception aren’t 100% fool-proof. From the pill to condoms to barrier type contraceptives, there isn’t one single method that’s never fails.

Fact: the only 100% successful form of contraception is abstinence. Turning Point has a counseling program in place to discuss all the methods of birth control available, including some you may not have thought of.

To understand the different dangers of birth control, and certain birth control risks to be aware of, please call the Turning Point Pregnancy Resource Center for free, no-obligation counsel. We’ll discuss certain dangers associated with birth control, which methods may work for you, and different alternatives as well. Learn more about birth control risks by calling a Turning Point counselor at (858) 397-1970, or email us at Before you consider birth control, get educated on the side effects. Call us today!


Reference: and links within the article.


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  • 9 Grimes DA (2007). Intrauterine devices (IUDs). In RA Hatcher et al., eds., Contraceptive Technology, 19th ed., pp. 117–143. New York: Ardent Media.