Just getting started on your birth control journey? Congrats on taking a big step for your health and future family! These days, there’s no shortage of pill options, and things can get a bit confusing when you’re trying to balance your new daily medication routine while keeping a close eye on all the potential side effects.
Most prescription meds will have some side effects, and the birth control pill is no different. Depending on your individual body chemistry and possible pre-existing medical conditions, you might not even notice anything’s changed (except the extra money in your wallet from ditching condoms!). But as with any new med, it’s important to watch for the mental and physical cues that could mean your body needs a different mix of hormones.
In short, the pill works by preventing ovulation through the use of artificial hormones. If you’re not ovulating, there are no eggs for sperm to fertilize. If you’re taking COC pills, otherwise known as combination pills, you’ll be ingesting both progestin and estrogen. COC pills are the most common type of pill-based birth control. You might also consider progestin-only pills, also called the mini pill, which must be consumed within the same 3-hour window each day to effectively prevent pregnancy.
Your doctor will go into detail about your options and how each affects your body, but there are a few common symptoms to know before considering the pill as a viable option for preventing pregnancy.
If you’re just starting a new birth control pill, you’ll probably run into at least a handful of the following side effects. The more you know, the better informed you can be at your next doctor’s appointment!
#1: Pregnancy…..unless you’ve been on the pill for at least 2 weeks
If you’re brand new to the pill, you might be surprised to find out that it’s not an instant fix to your contraception situation.
Within the first 14 days, or 2 weeks, after starting the pill, your body is adjusting to the influx of artificial hormones. Just like many prescription medications, the desired effects aren’t instantaneous. If you run home to your partner and celebrate your new family planning venture with a night of amazing sex, don’t be surprised if you wind up with the exact opposite outcome you expected: pregnancy!
Use a reliable form of birth control, like condoms or a diaphragm, during your initial 2 weeks on the pill to ensure that you stay child-free by choice. After this, you’re game to go bare!
#2: Moderate aches and pains
Sex without condoms feels like a breeze, but not so fast, chica! There’s a bit of a less-than-graceful period you’ll have to endure before your body is totally adjusted to birth control.
Remember, birth control introduces your body to artificial hormones that effect everyone differently, meaning it’s not always a perfectly smooth transition while you adjust to your new pill regimen. During the first few months , you might experience nausea, headaches, sore breasts, or light spotting in-between periods.
If these initial side effects don’t recede within 3-6 months, or they’re unbearably painful or uncomfortable, check back with your doctor or gynecologist. Not everyone reacts the same to the many different types of birth control pills, and often there’s an easy remedy by changing your dosage or switching to another kind of pill. Talk to your doc before doing anything drastic!
#3: Menstrual easy street
Not all side effects suck! One of the best reasons to try birth control is that it eases a lot of the typical pains associated with monthly periods.
Once your body falls in love with it’s daily dose of pregnancy prevention, monthly periods get a lot easier . Many women report that their flow is much lighter, and their cramps lessen to the point that they’re ready toss that huge bottle of Ibuprofen under the sink. If you’ve always experienced irregular periods, you can finally start to see Aunt Flo show up around the same time each month. Some women also report clearer skin after a few months on the pill since the hormones help prevent acne from forming.
If any of these concerns are on your mind before starting the pill, talk to your doctor, as they’ll likely be able to point you in the direction of a medication that can knock out several period woes with one stone.
#4: Curves ahead
Don’t be alarmed if your body takes on some sensual curves post-pill poppin’. Though it doesn’t happen to everyone, some women report gaining weight after starting hormonal birth control.
The cause is usually retention of water weight , not an increase in body fat. Though your most gorgeous parts, like the breasts, hips, and booty, feel like they’re putting on fat, your cells are actually just holding on to water.
Higher levels of estrogen, which is exactly what the pill is infusing into your body, are often accompanied by water retention in women. This is why you’ll often become bloated right before starting your period as your estrogen skyrockets.
Try limiting your salt and fast food intake, which can cause water retention all on their own. If you’re still feeling uncomfortably bloated, talk to your doctor about switching to another pill prescription, or the possibility of waiting it out until your body adjusts.
Or just enjoy your new sexy shape! There’s nothing wrong with loving those new curves.
#5: Mood swings and depression
If you’ve ever experienced PMS, you already know the power hormonal changes can have on your mood. Even on a perfect day, chemical changes in your brain – which can be triggered by your period – can make it seem like the world is falling apart.
Since birth control pills have a direct effect on hormone levels in your body, some women report feeling depressed after starting the birth control pill. By contrast, other women might even feel an upswing in their mood.
Like the rest of the pill’s possible side effects, it all depends on what type of hormones you’re taking, and what health conditions you had previously. If you’ve already dealt with bouts of depression or bipolar disorder, it’s imperative to tell your doctor, as certain pill brands are better or worse for taking while managing mental health issues.
Depression can have serious consequences that require immediate medical attention, like suicidal thoughts and the inability to function normally, which can make just getting out of bed feel impossible. If you’re experiencing serious mood swings – which those around you may notice even before you realize something’s up – see your doctor as soon as possible, and don’t hesitate to visit an emergency room or call a suicide help line if you’re feeling desperate.
Please note that advice offered by Intimina may not be relevant to your individual case. For specific concerns regarding your health, always consult your physician or other licensed medical practitioners.
Colleen began her sexual wellness career as a sex toy educator in manufacturing and retail. She has since branched out as a writer and marketer, covering all facets of sexual health and anatomy. At Intimina, she specializes in women’s medical care and health concerns, menstruation, sex and pregnancy, and birth control. Colleen frequently confers with top sex educators and intimate wellness experts to stay on top of the constantly changing sexual wellness space.