a doctor explaining the negative effects of contraceptives

Negative Side Effects of Contraceptives

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There’s no doubt that contraceptives have revolutionized reproductive health. From oral contraceptives (a.k.a. “the pill”) to intrauterine devices (IUDs), these products have benefited women worldwide. However, like most medical treatments, contraceptives have some negative side effects associated with them. While most are not life-threatening, they nonetheless may influence some women’s decisions about whether to use these products. Here is a look at six of the most common side effects caused by different types of contraceptives.

Blood Clots

Women who are on the pill have about triple the chance of developing blood clots as those who aren’t using oral contraceptives. However, most doctors agree that as long as you have no other risk factors for clots (like high blood pressure or diabetes) birth control doesn’t pose any serious danger for this condition, since the risk is so low to begin with.

Continuous Premenstrual Symptoms

During the first few months of using the pill, some women experience premenstrual symptoms on a regular basis. These symptoms include headaches, nausea, moodiness, and water retention. Normally they will diminish over time, but if that’s not the case, then your doctor may consider switching you to another brand of oral contraceptive to help provide relief.

Uterus Perforation

While the risk is low, there is a chance that the uterus will be perforated by an IUD. This can lead to hemorrhaging and may cause the device to migrate to other areas of the body—which will require it to be removed surgically. Perforation most commonly occurs during the process of inserting the IUD.

Spotting

Spotty bleeding between periods is possible with both the pill and IUDs, but in most cases this is simply a nuisance and not a medical emergency.  The hormones in these products may cause the lining of your uterus to become more fragile, which can spur on unexpected bleeding, but as long it’s not too heavy or regularly occurring, it’s not a cause for concern.

Libido

Oral contraceptives may also negatively impact your libido, because they stop some production of sex hormones in your ovaries. Switching to a different brand may be able to help improve this condition, though.

Ovarian Cysts

Some types of IUDs may promote the growth of ovarian cysts. While these cysts are noncancerous and typically resolve themselves, they can become painful or even cause bleeding if they are inadvertently twisted or rupture. 

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