One of the safest methods of preventing unwanted pregnancies is Hormonal Birth Control method. Birth control pills have had a positive psychosexual effect on women as a whole; it has put them in a position of control over their sexuality and lifestyle.
In today’s day and age with better health care facilities and heightened awareness towards individual health, many potential side effects of birth control pills have been documented. Indiscriminate usage of hormonal birth control pills to prevent unwanted pregnancies over the years hasn’t helped either. While deciding on the “Pill” women should be aware of the side effects if any of this method of contraception. So that women can weigh birth control side effects versus its advantages before making the final decision.
How Does The Pill act?
Hormonal birth control methods broadly fall under five primary categories with the oral contraceptives or Pills being the most popular, other less popular options consists of contraceptive rings, birth control contraceptive patches, birth control implants and shots.
The primary mechanism of action of all the birth control pills is to prevent the ovulation of the ovum developing in the ovaries of female reproductive system by blocking the action of the FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone).
Release of these two hormones follows negative feedback mechanism i.e. release takes place when there occurs a drop in the hormonal estrogen and progesterone levels in preparation of the uterus for ovulation during the menstrual cycle, when higher levels of estrogen and progesterone are maintained by oral dosage then there occurs no release of FSH and LH thereby cutting short the process of ovulation.
How Safe Is Hormonal Birth Control?
Each method of birth control comes with its own set of pro’s and con’s, the very same goes for the hormonal birth control pills and there are certain birth control side effects, intensity and severity of these follows the pattern of “to each his own” and varies considerably from one individual to the next depending on genetic, medical history, usage patterns and duration of usage. To some birth control side effects may be limited general feelings of discomfort while in some it may manifest in more serious complications. But as a rule of thumb no hormonal method of contraception is totally free of side effects.
Birth Control Side Effects
Hormonal birth control pills will never be prescribed to females suffering from underlying medical conditions like liver cirrhosis, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and tumors, cancers in general and more specific of cervix or breast tissues, to those having clotting defects of any kind or those having genetic predisposition for rheumatoid arthritis etc.
Side effects are common after starting the pill as the body tries to initially adjust to increased estrogen and progesterone levels, most of these side effects transient and go away after the body recalibrates itself to the change in hormonal levels commonly observed side effects are:
- Having a constant feeling of nausea
- Morning sickness
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Loose bowel and bloating
- Mood swings
- Depression (in rare cases)
- Irregular vaginal discharges and increased susceptibility to infections as the changes in hormonal levels affect the endometrial tissue in a deleterious manner.
- Tenderness of breasts
- Loss of libido
- Hypertension and changes in the lipid profiles
- Increased fluid retention attributing on some level towards weight gain
- Decreased calcium retention in kidneys leading to bone loss and osteoporosis
- Hair and follicular changes are also seen.
Long Term Birth Control Side Effects And Risks
No clinical correlation as of yet has been observed between breast cancer and oral methods of contraception. But there are certain birth control side effects with prolonged and indiscriminate usage these include:
- Optical problems like increased susceptibility for cataract
- Increased number of gallstones
- Cardiac failure and transient ischemic attacks in very rare cases.
- Decreased resistance towards seasonal infections.
- In females the risk of ectopic pregnancies is exponentially related to the period of usage of hormonal contraceptives.
- Increased susceptibility towards endometrial and cervical cancers because of poor nutrition and lack of hormonal balance in endometrial tissues.
- Jaundice, clotting and thrombosis on rare circumstances.
As a note of caution always start any Hormonal Birth Control method only after due consultation with your GP or Gynecologist after carefully weighing in pro’s and con’s associated with it.