Is your current pill is causing you to break out? Gaining weight even though you don’t deserve it? Your birth control could be to blame. It can take two to three months for your body to adjust to the hormones in a new birth control pill (or other form or hormonal birth control like the patch or shot), and that can mean side effects like acne or weight gain (though this is usually water retention, not extra fat). As long as the symptoms aren’t awful the Nurx medical team usually advises our patients to wait until three months have passed before they consider switching prescriptions.
But if you’re thinking of switching to another kind of birth control, our medical team can help. Nurx providers will listen to your issues with your current method and learn whether you have goals for birth control beyond pregnancy prevention (like preventing acne or PMS, or skipping periods). We can prescribe birth control online, from wherever you are, on your schedule, and you’ll get an affordable brand-new prescription delivered discreetly to your doorstep.
Here’s what you need to know about how long it takes to adjust to a new birth control pill, what side effects are normal and when you should consider switching.
Common Side Effects You Might Experience
It’s no secret that switching to a new birth control can produce side effects. These vary by woman and by pill formula, however, you can expect these symptoms to disappear after two or three months. At this point, your body will have adjusted to the hormones.
So what are some side effects you might experience when switching? Here are some possible symptoms, and how to cope:
- Nausea, especially if you take the pill on an empty stomach. To combat this, try eating before you take a pill or taking your pill right before bed.
- Headaches caused by the fluctuation of hormones. Reduce your pain with over-the-counter pain medications.
- Tender breasts, which are triggered by hormonal fluctuations. There’s not much you can do about this, except take some over-the-counter pain relievers if you’re very uncomfortable.
- Unscheduled bleeding, which can be annoying and alarming, but is actually quite normal. Don’t panic; just make sure you’re prepared with the necessary supplies.
- Emotional fluctuations, similar to what you might experience during PMS. Try to take a deep breath and remember it’s your hormones talking (easier said than done, we realize!).
How to Know If Your Birth Control Is Right for You
If you’re experiencing some of the above side effects as your body adjusts to birth control, this is normal. However, there are a few side effects that are not normal and could be a sign your new pill is the wrong choice for your body. These include:
- Extreme weight gain, especially in the first few days after you’ve started the pill.
- Migraines or bad headaches that don’t respond to OTC treatment.
- Severe cramping and abdominal pain.
- Symptoms that don’t go away after four months. At this point, your body should be adjusted, so if you’re still experiencing side effects, your body may need to break up with this pill.
Steps Involved in Switching to New Birth Control
If you’ve decided you should switch to a different birth control pill, the Nurx medical team can help.
If you’re switching from one combination pill (which contains both estrogen and progestin) to another, you’ll finish the entirety of your old pill pack, including any placebo pills. Then, on day one of your new cycle, start on your new pill. If done correctly, you should not require a back-up method like condoms, but check with your provider to know for sure.
If you’re switching from a combination pill to a progestin-only pill. You’ll begin taking your new pills right away. However, if it’s been five or more days since your last period, you’ll need to use back-up birth control for the next two days until the pill kicks in.
If you are switching from the progestin-only pill to a combination pill, you can start these right away as well. The only difference is that you’ll need to use back-up protection for the next seven days if it’s been five or more days since your last period.
Tips for Handling the Adjustment Period
Let’s be real — adjusting to new birth control isn’t always easy. Just keep your eye on the prize at the end of the road — 99 percent effective pregnancy prevention, lighter and shorter periods, and reduced period pain.
If the symptoms of switching are starting to get to you, try out some of the following to make your experience more positive:
- Eat healthy and exercise. This shouldn’t be a shocker, as you probably already knowing eating well and being physically active can make you healthier overall. But they are also great tools for regulating hormone fluctuations and feeling better in general.
- De-stress. Stress is a major contributor to out-of-whack hormones, so do all you can to relax. Meditate, do yoga, or listen to calming music.
- Take pain meds. Don’t make this a regular habit, but if you’re experiencing nasty headaches or cramping, don’t be afraid to throw back some Advil or Tylenol. Just follow the recommended doses and read the label for any contraindications.
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This blog provides information about telemedicine, health and related subjects. The blog content and any linked materials herein are not intended to be, and should not be construed as a substitute for, medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. Any reader or person with a medical concern should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other healthcare provider. This blog is provided purely for informational purposes. The views expressed herein are not sponsored by and do not represent the opinions of Nurx™.