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What Are the Side Effects of Combination Birth Control Pills?

As with any form of birth control option, combination birth control pills can cause side effects in certain users. Common side effects are typically mild and similar to symptoms that you will naturally experience during a normal cycle. Some of the more common side effects of combination birth control pills include:

  • Spotting and breakthrough bleeding – Breakthrough bleeding, or bleeding between expected periods, is a common side effect that, in most cases, rectifies itself within the first three months. This can happen as a result of the body adjusting to the hormones. If the pill is taken properly, spotting between inactive pills will not reduce the effectiveness.
  • Nausea – Some women will experience nausea, especially when first starting on combination pills, as their body adjusts to the new hormone levels. You can reduce nausea by taking your pill with food or scheduling your dosing before you go to sleep.
  • Tender breasts -When taking the pill you may notice your breasts become more sensitive and may feel fuller. This usually occurs in the first couple of months and can be alleviated by reducing salt and caffeine intake.
  • Headaches – Some users experience headaches or an increase in migraines when starting the pill. This is usually caused by the dosing, and a lower dose option may be better.
  • Weight gain – Weight gain and water retention are possible side effects of combination birth control pills, especially around the breasts or hips.
  • Decreased sex drive – Some women will experience decreased libido related to the levels of hormones in the pill. If the problem becomes troublesome, different dosing can be tried.
  •  Elevated blood pressure – The estrogen in combination pill control pills can lead to elevated blood pressure. Women with high blood pressure are often prescribed progestin-only pills or other forms of contraceptive.

Major side effects are rare with combination birth control pills but should be watched for. Combination birth control can lead to heart problems, gall bladder or liver disorder, and blood clots. Smoking can increase many of these problems and is not recommended when taking combination birth control pills.

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