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Common Side-effects Of Anti Pregnancy Pills

7 min read

There are several methods to avoid pregnancy if you are not ready for it. Using anti-pregnancy pills (also called contraceptive pills) is one among them.
Woman contraceptive pills

What Are Anti-pregnancy Pills?

Anti-pregnancy pills are pills taken orally to avoid getting pregnant. There are pills that can be taken within three days after unprotected sex or there are 28 days and 21 days packs, which are supposed to take from the first day of a period, and the first Sunday followed by the first day of period respectively. Actually, the anti-pregnancy pills consist of synthetic female hormones.

What Are Active And Inactive Pills?

As we already mentioned anti-pregnancy or contraceptive pills come in two kinds of packs. The pack, which contain 28 pills and pack that contain 21 pills.

  1. In the 28 pills pack, there will be four rows with seven pills in each row. Pills of the first three rows are “active” pills, which mean that they are hormonal pills. On the other hand, the last row consists of pills (usually it will be of different color) that do not contain hormones. Hence, they are called “inactive pills”. Inactive pills help the intake of a pill routine (same time everyday), so that you will not forget to restart it after a break of seven days
  2. In the 21 pills pack, the last row of inactive pills will be missing and all the 21 pills will be hormone pills and hence “active”. You are supposed to take it from the first Sunday followed by your first day of period irrespective of the presence or absence of bleeding. Using active pills without a break will cease your periods and hence used to stop the periods for a while when treating the endometriosis, severe menstrual cramps etc.
How Many Types Of Anti-pregnancy Pills Are There?

There are two types of anti-pregnancy pills.

  1. Combined Oral Contraceptive Pills:
    • Combined oral contraceptive pills contain both the female hormones, estrogen, and progestin
    • They work by ceasing ovulation (ejection of an egg) and by hindering with the movement of sperms
  2. Progestin-Only Pills (also called mini-pills):
    • Progestin-only pills contain just one hormone, a progestin
    • They work by thickening the cervical mucus so that the sperm cannot be able to reach the egg. It also makes the lining of the uterus thinner so that even if the egg is fertilized, implanting will be impossible. Sometimes they will also stop ovulation

Combined oral contraceptive pills are found to be more effective.
Anti pregnancy pills

How Do Anti-pregnancy Pills Work?

Anti-pregnancy pills mainly focus on stopping the process of ovulation. If no egg is released, then there will be no fertilization. The ovulation happens when pituitary gland releases hormones FSH and LH. These hormones prompt the ovaries to release the egg. The pituitary gland gets stimulated only if the estrogen level peaks, which generally happens towards the middle of the menstrual cycle. As we already mentioned, the anti-pregnancy pills mainly consist of synthetic female hormones estrogen and progestin. Estrogen equalizes the hormone levels (not allowing the estrogen level to peak), thereby ceasing the ovulation.
Progestin hinder with the production of LH by the pituitary gland. It, likewise, makes the lining of the uterine wall thin, so that implantation of a fertilized egg will be impossible. It will make the thickness of the cervical mucus to increase, therefore the movement of the sperm is hindered. It will also partially freeze the ability of the sperm to fertilize the egg.

Are Anti-pregnancy Pills Used For Only Birth Control Purposes?

No. Though the name is related to pregnancy, the anti-pregnancy pills are also used in treating various other medical conditions, which require the stabilizing of the female hormones and regulating the menstrual cycle, as these pills steadily supply the synthetic female hormones. They are used among the teens to regulate irregular periods . Some conditions that are treated by using anti-pregnancy pills are:

  • PCOS: Poly cystic ovary symptom is a condition develop due to the imbalance of the sex hormones, estrogen, and progesterone. For the girls and women suffering from this condition, usually, contraceptive pills are prescribed, which helps to regulate and maintain the hormonal levels. The pills will help to reduce acne and hair fall that usually accompanies PCOS
  • POI: Primary ovarian insufficiency is a condition that refers to the failure of the ovary to produce normal amount of estrogen hormone and not releasing eggs regularly. Infertility is the common consequence of POI. Estrogen therapy is the treatment and contraceptive pills are prescribed
  • Endometriosis: Anti-pregnancy pills (active pills are used) are effectual in treating endometriosis. Endometriosis cannot be fully recovered by the taking the anti-pregnancy pills. However, it might help with controlling the pain by ceasing your periods and keeping endometriosis from deteriorating
  • Heavy and prolonged bleeding during periods (menorrhagia): As the anti-pregnancy pills hinder the development of uterine lining, when the girls and women suffering from heavy bleeding during periods take contraceptive pills, they will experience less bleeding. The reason is simple. Less lining=lighter periods. Logical. Isn’t it?
Can All Women Use Anti-Pregnancy Pills?

Not all women are permitted to take anti-pregnancy pills, as they are hormonal. Therefore, it is better to consult a gynecologist and seek advice, especially if:

  1. You are above 35 years
  2. You have a habit of smoking because cigarettes have anti-estrogenic effect
  3. You are experiencing migraine frequently
  4. You are battling with issues connected to heart and lungs
  5. You or your near relatives (family history) have issues due to blood clots developed in lungs, arms, and legs
What Are The Side-Effects Of Anti-pregnancy Pills?

Most women show no side effects when taking anti-conception medication pills, yet a few women do encounter some reactions. Anti-pregnancy pills can influence each woman differently. Mostly, the side effects disappear with the first three to four cycles. However, you should report your distress with your gynecologist. If the symptoms don’t disappear or lessen after two to three cycle, then your gynecologist will prescribe different pills.
Anti pregnancy tablets
Here are some commonly found side effects while using anti- pregnancy pills:

  1. Nausea: Some people experience mild nausea if they are first time on the pills, but symptoms usually subside after a short period. Taking the pill with food or at bedtime can help lower the probability of being nauseous. However, persistent nausea is worthy to be reported to your gynecologist. Pills with lesser estrogen may help to get rid of this issue
  2. Missed periods: In spite of using the pills as directed by your doctor, sometimes, you may miss your periods altogether. If you are missing two consecutive periods or if you seldom bleed while you are on pills, it is better to stop the pills and take a pregnancy test or seek a medical advice before going ahead with next course of pills
  3. Intermenstrual spotting: Approximately 50% of women using the pills experience intra menstrual spotting – also known as breakthrough bleeding – during the initial 3 months when you start to take the pills. Usually, this gets solved itself by the time you take the third pack of the pills. Inter menstrual spotting usually happens due to the uterus adjusting itself to the thinner lining of endometrium, or it could be the body’s way of adjusting to the new and different hormone levels. Either way, the bleeding will be milder, that you may only have to wear a panty liner rather than a sanitary pad. However if you still experience intermenstrual spotting even after three months or the bleeding is heavy consult your doctor immediately
  4. Headaches: Hormones in the anti-pregnancy pills can develop or trigger a headache or migraine. Usually it improves over time. However, if the intensity of the headache is bothering you, it is better to seek medical advice
  5. Decreased sex drive: The sex drive or libido is found to decrease in some women who take the anti-pregnancy pills. In the event that decreased libido prolong and if it is annoying, this ought to be talked about with your gynecologist. However, sometimes, the anti-pregnancy pills are found to increase the libido. This is because while taking the pills you will get relieved from the painful symptoms such as menstrual cramping, premenstrual syndrome, and bothering signs of endometriosis, which otherwise stood in the way of experiencing a good sex
  6. Change in vaginal discharge: While taking the anti-pregnancy pills, you will experience changes in the vaginal discharge. The vaginal lubrication can either increase or decrease. Decrease in the vaginal lubrication can hinder with the comfortable sex and hence should be brought into the notice of your doctor.This usually happens when you are taking ‘mini pills’- the pills with only progestin. On the other hand, if you are taking combined pills, the estrogen component of the pill will bring out increased vaginal discharge, which is quite normal. No need to worry about it, unless it is accompanied with a foul smell or itching, which are signs of infections. But, if it is quite excessive and bothersome, tell your doctor and he will switch you to pills with more progestin component and less estrogen component
  7. Less fitting contact lenses: The hormonal changes that happen during the intake of anti-pregnancy pills can result in fluid retention. This may affect the shape and size of the cornea as it swells. The contact lenses you used to wear may not fit your cornea anymore. Fluid retention in breasts and hip area might make you appear as though you have put on weight
  8. Sore breasts: Anti-pregnancy pills may bring about tenderness to the breasts and the breasts seem to increase in size. This side effect may disappear after a couple of weeks after starting the pill, but if you find any irregularity in the breast sor experience persistent pain,you should immediately seek medical help
  9. Mood swings: Ebb and flow of emotions are quite common amongst the women who take anti -pregnancy pills. Therefore, if you encounter with mood changes while using these pills, you ought to contact your gynecologist. Particularly, if you have a history of depression, mention it to your doctor before starting to take pills as the chances of reoccurring of depression while using the pills are high
  10. Breakouts: Though mostly the anti-pregnancy pills help in reducing or eliminating the issues of acne, very rarely they are also found to bring out acne or aggravate the existing acne
When Should I Seek Immediate Medical Attention?

Anti-pregnancy pills with estrogen may bring about blood clots in the legs, eyes, and lungs. On the off chance that you experience any of the issues mentioned below, call your doctor or seek immediate medical attention from the nearby clinic as soon as possible:

  • Severe pain in abdomen or stomach
  • Severe chest pain or shortness of breathe
  • Blurring vision
  • Severe pain in calf or thigh
  • Severe head ache
  • Prolonged numbness in any part of body
How Effective Are Anti-pregnancy Pills To Avoid Pregnancy?

When taken correctly as indicated on the pack, anti pregnancy pills are 99% effective in preventing an unintended pregnancy. One in 100 women may get pregnant even when using anti pregnancy pills, in just the first year of use. Missing a pill, however, could raise your chances of getting pregnant by 30 to 80 times, claims a study.

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