Contraceptive pills are a boon to modern women as it allows you to control your reproductive system. However, these pills are chemical formulations and they affect your body on many levels. Some of the known effects are necessary but there are many effects (common and unusual) that are not favorable for your health. Some of the common side-effects of the pill are:
- Weight gain
- Menstrual cycle changes
- Breast tenderness
- Diminished libido
- Mood swings
In addition to these, there are many other side-effects that are yet to become common knowledge. Some of the unusual side-effects of the pill can be harmless but some can be life-threatening as well. The unusual side-effects which have been recognized by several health experts are listed below.
1. Yeast Infection
The pill can cause a dip in your estrogen levels which can change the vaginal environment. Thus, yeast infections can become more frequent in this case, especially if you have other associated risk factors. Diabetes, consumption of excessive sugar and alcohol and weakened immune systems can all make you more prone to this infection, especially when you are on the pill. Over-the-counter medication can usually solve this problem. But if your problem has become chronic, then you should consider switching to other modes of contraceptives.1
2. Dry Eye And Vision Problems
It has been speculated that hormonal changes can often cause dry eye in women. Oral contraceptive pills can increase your chances of getting dry eye, especially if you are contact lens user.2 This problem may seem small but it can give rise to corneal ulcers in some severe cases.3 Thus, if you are having dry eye-like symptoms along with discharge and other vision problems, then you should immediately consult a doctor. Some infections can imitate the symptoms of dry eye and can cause bigger problems later if not treated immediately.
A lot of women have admitted to having intense headaches while being on the pill. The reason can be attributed to the dip in the level of estrogen that can be caused by the pill. Your ovaries release eggs after estrogen peaks in your body. Since the pill works to stop the process of ovulation, it can cause a dip in your estrogen levels. A 2014 research study has confirmed that estrogen can play a role in migraines in women, specifically during reproductive years.4
4. Painful Sexual Intercourse
Oral contraceptive pills can cause your estrogen to dip which can cause chronic pelvic pain and painful sexual experience in some women. A dip in the levels of estrogen can cause a lack of lubrication, low libido while making the whole sexual experience more painful.5
Yes, shocking as it may sound but taking the pill can really increase your chances of depression. Your hormones play a big role in maintaining your body and this includes your sex hormones. The synthetic constituents of the pill can take interact with your molecules to produce certain unwanted effects like depression.6
6. Blood Clots
This is an uncommon problem but it is a very serious problem. This is a side-effect that has been noted by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). According to their data, three to ten women out of every ten thousand women who are on the pill develop blood clots.
There are some other factors as well that play a part in this. Women who are overweight, over 35, have given birth recently and also women who smoke are more at risk. Women must be mindful of their bodily symptoms to recognize this problem. If you are having breathing trouble or chest pain, it can be a sign of a clot in your lungs or heart. Pain, swelling, and warmth in the leg can be due to a clot as well. So, if you are having any such problems, then consult your doctor today.7
Alternatives To The Pill
The pill is greatly effective when it comes to contraception. But since the associated side-effects are quite a few, you can try out some other alternatives as well. Some of the alternatives to using the pill are listed below.
- Condoms: Condoms (male and female) are incredibly effective and come with very little side-effects. So, maybe you should think about giving condoms a try. And male condoms come in all kinds of variants too, for extra pleasure.
- Diaphragms: It is a silicon cup-shaped barrier that covers the cervix and stops sperms from coming in contact with the eggs. This works best when used with spermicide creams (a substance that destroys sperm). Talk to your gynecologist to know more.
- Know Thy Cycle: This is a natural mode of contraception known as Natural Family Planning. This method allows you to have sex without protection right after your period until the time you ovulate. Pregnancy is a possibility when you have a functional egg inside which happens right after ovulation till the egg remains viable. Ovulation happens before 14 days of your period, but this differs among women. You need to track your cycle and keep a check on other aspects like basal body temperature and cervical mucus to know for sure. Even though this process has no any side-effects and completely economical, inaccuracy and miscalculation can prove to be counter-productive. If you want to give this method a try, make sure you do your homework right because your miscalculation can end up making you pregnant.8
- Intrauterine Device (IUD): It is copper T inserted into the uterus to prohibit sperms from reaching the eggs. It is a reversible process and is done by medical specialists.
- Vaginal Ring: This is a small and soft plastic ring that is placed inside the vagina. It releases estrogen and progesterone and prevents ovulation. It can be used for 21 days. Consult your doctor for more information about this.
Talk to your doctor about the side-effects of the pill you are taking and your other options for contraception to take better decisions about your reproductive system.
|↑1||Oriel, J. D., Betty M. Partridge, Maire J. Denny, and J. C. Coleman. “Genital yeast infections.” Br Med J 4, no. 5843 (1972): 761-764.|
|↑2||Chen, Sarah P., Giacomina Massaro-Giordano, Maxwell Pistilli, Courtney A. Schreiber, and Vatinee Y. Bunya. “Tear osmolarity and dry eye symptoms in women using oral contraception and contact lenses.” Cornea 32, no. 4 (2013): 423.|
|↑3||What Causes Corneal Ulcers? American Academy of Ophthalmology.|
|↑4||Chai, Nu Cindy, B. Lee Peterlin, and Anne H. Calhoun. “Migraine and estrogen.” Current opinion in neurology 27, no. 3 (2014): 315.|
|↑5||Bouchard, Céline, Jacques Brisson, Michel Fortier, Carol Morin, and Caty Blanchette. “Use of oral contraceptive pills and vulvar vestibulitis: a case-control study.” American journal of epidemiology 156, no. 3 (2002): 254-261.|
|↑6||Skovlund, Charlotte Wessel, Lina Steinrud Mørch, Lars Vedel Kessing, and Øjvind Lidegaard. “Association of hormonal contraception with depression.” JAMA psychiatry 73, no. 11 (2016): 1154-1162.|
|↑7||Potential Increased Blood Clot Risk with Newest OCs. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologist.|
|↑8||Natural Family Planning. American Pregnancy Association.|