The type of birth control you use is a personal decision, and there are many options to choose from. If you’re a sexually active female, you may consider birth control pills.
What Are the Benefits of Birth Control Pills?
Birth control pills have a number of benefits:
- They protect you 24/7. You don’t have to worry about birth control during intimacy.
- They’re effective. They protect against pregnancy better than most other birth control options.
- They help regulate your menstrual cycle. This can be helpful for women with irregular or heavy periods.
- They’re fully reversible. This means when you stop taking them your cycle will return to normal and you can get pregnant later.
There are also benefits depending on the type of pill. Combination pills may also provide some protection against:
- ectopic pregnancy
- thinning bones
- non-cancerous breast growths
- endometrial and ovarian cancer
- heavy periods
- severe menstrual cramps
Progestin-only pills have other benefits as well, such as being safer for women who:
- can’t tolerate estrogen therapy
- are smokers
- are older than 35 years
- have a history of blood clots
- want to breastfeed
What Are the Disadvantages of Birth Control Pills?
Birth control pills don’t protect against sexually transmitted infections. To make sure you’re protected against these infections, you need to use condoms in addition to your daily pill.
Also, you have to remember to take your pill every day. And you need to make sure you always have a new pack ready to go when you finish a pack. If you miss a pill or delay starting a new pack after finishing a cycle, your risk of pregnancy increases.
Side Effects and Risks
While birth control pills are safe for most women, they do come with some side effects and risks. Every woman reacts differently to the hormones in birth control pills. Some women have side effects, such as:
- decreased sex drive
- bleeding between periods
- breast tenderness
If you have these side effects, they will likely improve after a few months of using the pill. If they don’t improve, talk to your doctor. They may suggest that you switch to a different type of birth control pill.
A serious risk of using birth control pills, especially combination pills, is an increased risk of blood clots. This can lead to:
- deep vein thrombosis
- heart attack
- pulmonary embolism
Overall, the risk of a blood clot from using any kind of birth control pill is low. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, out of 10,000 women, fewer than 10 will develop a blood clot after taking a combination pill for a year. This risk is still lower than the risk of developing a blood clot during pregnancy and immediately after giving birth.
However, the risk of a blood clot from the pill is higher for certain women. This includes women who:
- are very overweight
- have high blood pressure
- are on bed rest for long periods
If any of these factors apply to you, talk with your doctor about the risks of using a birth control pill.