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What Are the Side Effects of Birth Control Pills?

Birth control pills deliver a dose of hormones to alter your body’s hormone levels and prevent pregnancy. Some birth control pills contain a combination of estrogen and progestin (combination pills); others progestin only. The hormone fluctuation can cause common side effects that tend to fade over time as your body adjusts to the new hormone levels.

Common Side Effects of Combination and Progestin-Only Birth Control

Most common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Mood changes
  • Breast tenderness
  • Period changes, including stopped or heavier periods
  • Heightened migraine pain
  • Irregular bleeding and spotting between periods
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Weight gain

Common Side Effects of Progestin-Only Birth Control Pills

The side effects most commonly associated with progestin-only birth control pills are:

  • Period changes, including cessation of periods or heavier bleeding
  • Irregular bleeding and spotting between periods
  • More intense cramping

Rare Side Effects of All Birth Control Pills

Rare side effects of birth control pills include:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Hypertension
  • Blood clots

If you experience common or rare side effects of birth control pills, tell your prescribing healthcare provider.

For a more detailed list of the possible side effects of birth control, see the insert that came with your birth control pills or contact a Nurx medical provider.

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