“The Pill” as the birth control pill or oral contraceptive pill is called, may be one of the easiest methods of preventing an unwanted pregnancy. However, it does not come without its fair share of misgivings, myths, and bad rap.

One of the most common concerns you may have heard about the pill is that it comes along with a wide range of side effects, and also increases the risk of certain health problems. Let’s find out more about them. But first, how do birth control pills work?

How do Birth Control Pills Work?

Typically, you ovulate once a month, when your ovary releases an egg that journeys down a fallopian tube. Eventually, it reaches the uterus (womb), where it would get implanted if fertilized by a sperm.

If the egg is not fertilized by a sperm, then the lining of the uterus that had built up in preparation for the fertilized egg is not needed and is shed from the body in the form of blood.

The birth control pill works by preventing your body from producing an egg, so that there is nothing for the sperm to fertilize and pregnancy cannot occur. There are two main types of birth control pills. The most commonly used pill is a combination pill, which contains estrogen and progestin (the synthetic form of progesterone). Progestin-only pills or mini pills are also available. 

What Are The Side Effects of The Pill?

The pill comes with certain commonly reported side effects, but the specific side effects vary from person to person. Many of these side effects occur because of your body’s response to change in hormonal levels due to the pill. 

Common side effects include:

  • Tender and/or larger breasts

  • Weight gain

  • Acne

  • Nausea and/or vomiting

  • Mood swings

  • Irregular bleeding or spotting between periods

  • Headaches and migraine

  • Missed periods

  • Reduced libido (sex drive)

  • Vaginal discharge

  • High blood pressure

  • Depression

  • Fatigue

  • Bloating

  • Dizziness

  • Increased appetite

  • Insomnia

  • Diarrhoea

What Are The Risks Associated With Taking The Pill?

The pill is regarded to be safe in most cases. However, it is associated with certain rare but serious health risks. Research suggests the following risks:

  • Increased risk of blood clotting

  • Increased risk of heart attack and stroke

  • Higher risk of cervical and breast cancer

  • Gallbladder disease

  • Liver tumours

If you are on the pill and the side effects are severe or long-lasting, consult your gynaecologist for alternatives. It is advisable to research the pros and cons of any form of contraception before use. 

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.