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Birth Control Side Effects

Pay attention to your body

Birth control is considered by many to be an essential of everyday life. There is a vast range of options available for women, from barrier methods to permanent surgical solutions. However, some of the most commonly used methods are hormonal control contraceptives. This article focuses on the side effects of the combined pill, the progesterone-only pill and the Depo-Provera injection.

These forms of contraceptives alter the balance of hormones in your body, working to suppress ovulation and / or make the womb an inhospitable environment for a fertilized egg. The recorded success rate of hormonal control methods available on the market is very high: approximately 99.75 percent when used correctly. However, none of these methods protect you from sexually transmitted diseases.

There are side effects that should be considered when choosing your method of contraception, including:

  • Missed periods
  • Spotting between periods
  • Breast tenderness
  • Weight gain and water retention
  • Nausea
  • Mood swings and decreased sex drive

The contraceptive pill can have more severe (though rare) side effects as well, including:

  • Blood clots
  • Jaundice and liver tumors
  • Gallstones
  • High blood pressure

The Depo-Provera injection is given once every three months. It is a very convenient, successful and safe method of hormonal contraception. However, in addition to the general side effects listed above there are some key factors that any user should be aware of when considering using the drug:

  • Irreversible loss of bone density can be experienced with prolonged use
  • Irregular, heavy or complete loss of menstrual cycle often occurs.
  • Loss of fertility for up to 18 months after treatment is stopped.
  • Patients may experiences muscle pains, headaches, nervousness, or heavy or prolonged bleeding.

For many women, their main concern is unexpected changes in their menstrual cycle, such as irregular or non-existent bleeds, or spotting between periods. In most cases, these are just expected side effects and everything will return to normal within approximately one month. However, if you have severe bleeding or continuous spotting you should talk to your medical practitioner, as it may be a symptom of a more severe underlying medical condition.

Minor Side Effects

Although adverse effects from using these types of contraception are rare, they can seriously affect your everyday life. Minor side effects such as mood swings or a decrease in sex drive can have a negative impact on your relationships with family and loved ones. They can reduce your ability to concentrate at work or lead to depression. If you experience these problems while on birth control, it is essential that you reassess your options with a health-care professional. Contraception is about making a sensible lifestyle choice, not suffering in silence.

It is up to you to make a well-informed decision with regards your contraceptive needs, and your health professional will clearly outline the options available to you based on your medical history and lifestyle. Information is the key; researching the available contraceptive methods yourself will help you decide what is best for you. It will also help you assess the risks of any potential emotional or physical side effects, as well as the effectiveness of the contraceptive.

By A. Bertram

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