One of the most common contraceptives around the world, the birth control pill has been a staple of modern relationships for the last 50 years. Easier for women to take control of than many other forms of birth control, “The Pill” (as it is commonly called) has been used by about 80 percent of female Americans at some point in their lives. Of course, like every drug, the birth control pill has its fair share of side effects in addition to its benefits. Here is a look at the pros and cons of taking the pill so that you can decide if it’s the right contraceptive for you.
Pros of “The Pill”
. When taken correctly, birth control pills are about 99.9 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. If you choose to combine the pill with a barrier method such as condoms, it is all but impossible for you to get pregnant.
. Most women notice that they have less bleeding and cramping during their periods (and some women have their periods stop altogether). If you are particularly prone to menstrual pain, the pill can save you from monthly strife.
. Taking the pill for at least five years can lower your chances of developing ovarian or uterine cancer. The odds of developing benign ovarian cysts are also decreased.
. Certain birth control pills have been proven to reduce acne because they decrease testosterone (which is often responsible for breakouts).
. If you suffer from endometriosis, taking the pill can help lessen the pain associated with this condition. It can also decrease the chance of endometriosis leading to infertility over time.
. When used as your only method of birth control, you don’t have to interrupt foreplay or delay intercourse to put a condom on. Instead, you can have sex worry-free as long as you know that STIs are not an issue.
Cons of “The Pill”
. In order to be effective, the pill needs to be taken every day at approximately the same time. Some women are unable to get accustomed to this schedule, which can increase your chances of accidentally getting pregnant.
. The pill doesn’t do anything to protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which includes HIV. You need to combine birth control pills with a barrier method in order to protect yourself against these infections.
. When you first start taking birth control pills, you may notice that you gain weight as you retain more water. The pill can also increase your appetite, which may lead to more weight gain.
. The pill has been blamed for side effects like mood swings, sore breasts, dizziness, and upset stomach for many women. These reactions tend to pass after a month or two as hormone levels begin to even out.
. Over time, birth control pills have been proven to significantly decrease libido for some women. Often, this side effect can be managed by simply switching pills to a different brand, however, so talk to your doctor if it becomes a problem.
. The extra estrogen introduced into your system by the birth control pill can thicken your blood and make you more likely to develop blood clots. The risk is increased if you are over 35 and gets much higher if you smoke.
. Very rarely, women will experience much more serious side effects when taking birth control pills. Heart attack, stroke, and extreme hypertension, as well as kidney and liver failure have occurred.