I started taking birth control pills when I was 16-years-old, and for almost 10 years, I was an advocate for this form of pregnancy prevention. I gushed about how much the pill had helped with my menstrual cycle, and I encouraged everyone to take it. I was an advocate for birth control pills, and I didn’t see an end in site. But about a year ago, I said goodbye to the pill – and I can say for certain that I’ll never take it again.
What happened? I’ve written about this before, but here’s the quick and dirty: my birth control pills started messing with both my body and my mind. First, one brand was giving me terrible headaches and bloating, which made my gynecologist nervous that I might become more prone to blood clothes. Then, the second brand I went on made me feel crazy – it changed my emotions, giving me awful mood swings, making me feel depressed, angry, and completely alone, and causing me to feel like a stranger in my own body. It was horrible.
Here’s what I learned from this experience: gynecologists are extremely hesitant to ever say anything bad about the birth control pill. In fact, they will go to great lengths to convince you that the birth control pill is a good fit for you, and that any negative side effects you’re worried about aren’t anything you should think about. In reality, birth control pills are not a good fit for everyone, and I’m sick of doctors acting like they are.
I get why gynecologists push birth control pills: they’re an effective way of preventing pregnancy, and they do have other positive side effects. Birth control pills regulate your menstrual cycle, and can help with PMS such as bad cramps, headaches or breast soreness. I’m not saying birth control pills are bad for you! In many ways, they’re great. But just like any other medication out there, the Pill does not work the same way for everyone, and it also comes with many negative side effects. Just because it can do positive things doesn’t mean these negative side effects should be ignored.
I spent almost a year complaining to various gynecologists about my birth control pills, and every single time, it felt like they were brushing me off. When I told them I felt like the Pill was making it difficult for me to lose weight, they said that wasn’t possible (in fact, the Pill can make you retain water, which can make you look and feel more bloated). When I complained about my headaches, they waved them off for a while until they couldn’t ignore them any more. When I expressed my concerns about taking Yaz because of the warnings I’ve heard about blood clots, they insisted it was so rare that I didn’t need to think about it. When I said the Pill was messing with my emotions, they nodded, but didn’t give me any answers.
I can’t explain how frustrating it was. After a while, it became clear that these doctors weren’t going to admit that the Pill wasn’t a good choice for me, and I went off it on my own. I’ve heard many similar stories, and I don’t think it’s fair. I’m not sure if gynecologists push the Pill because they really want to prevent unplanned pregnancy or because they make money off the required visits that accompany the Pill.
Either way, I think it’s really important for every girl to know the truth: birth control pills can be great, but they can also suck. They might not work for you, and they might not be your best option. And they CAN have negative side effects, no matter how hard your doctor tries to overlook them. Here are 10 things no one tells you about the birth control pill:
The Pill May Be Linked To Crohn's DiseaseA new study just came out that says that the Pill may be linked to Crohn's disease. Researchers found that if you have a family history of Crohn's disease and you use the Pill, your risk of getting Crohn's can be five times higher. In case you're not familiar with Crohn's, it's a gastrointestional disease that makes your life pretty miserable. Not only does it cause severe stomach issues that can leave you with diarrhea, bloody stool, and fatigue, it also means you will have to have surgery on your colon at some point. Crohn's is a terrible disease to live with, and researchers have noticed the upsurge in diseases like this one in young women and the use of birth control pills. Although there is room for discussion here, this isn't the first time I have read about the Pill being linked to serious stomach problems. And as someone who took the pill for close to 10 years, and deals with serious gastrointestinal issues, I can't help but feel worried about whether or not both things are linked. Source: ShutterStock
It Lowers Your Sex DriveA very common side effect of the Pill is that it lowers your sex drive - it actually makes you want to have sex less, even though you're taking it so that you can have sex without worrying about getting pregnant. Seems weird, huh? Look, there are far worse things that can happen to you, but this is something that isn't always discussed. In fact, many women think there's something wrong with them because their sex drive is low, and they don't know it's because of their birth control pills. It's not until they ask a gynecologist that that side effect is discussed. I know that personally, I was never told this when considering the Pill. I think it's something important to consider. Source; ShutterStock
It Can Make You More At Risk For Yeast InfectionsCertain birth control pills can make you more susceptible to yeast infections. I was never told this by any doctor. I was told that certain antibiotics could increase your risk of yeast infections, but not the Pill. Yeast infections are painful and very annoying, so it's definitely something to think about. Source: ShutterStock
The Pill May Be Linked To Breast CancerIs the birth control pill REALLY linked to breast cancer? Some people would say no, but recent studies have proven that it might be possible. Some studies show that prolonged use of the Pill, especially when you're younger, can slightly increase your risk of breast cancer. But after 10 years of not using the Pill, the risk goes back down. Source: ShutterStock
The Generic Is Often DifferentIf your health insurance doesn't cover the birth control pill your gynecologist prescribes you, typically what happens is that the pharmacy gives you the generic brand of that Pill. They'll give you this generic if it's covered by your insurance, or if it's cheaper. In many cases, the pharmacy and your doctor won't tell you you're getting the generic - your doctor probably won't even realize - and you won't even realize, unless you notice the brand name is different when you pick up the Pills. This happened to me: I used one birth control pill for five years, and I loved it - never had problems. One day, I picked up my pills and noticed the name was different. My pharmacist said it was the generic, and promised it wouldn't be different. It was. For months, I noticed a lot of changes from the Pill. My doctor insisted the generic was the same, before finally saying maybe it could cause some differences, but nothing major. But hey, I know my body. Anyway, keep this in mind. Source: ShutterStock
It Can Mess With Your EmotionsI already wrote my story about my birth control pills, but it's worth talking about. Your pill can really mess with your head. I had never heard about this side effect, and when my pill started giving me major mood swings, I genuinely thought something was wrong with me. It was terrifying. I had been on the Pill for so many years, and I couldn't believe that I wasn't warned of this side effect once from any kind of doctor. Going off my pill was the best thing I could have done for myself - I finally feel like me again. Source: ShutterStock
Antibiotics Can Mess Up Your PillsIf you're on birth control pills and you get prescribed an antibiotic if you get sick, you have to know that that antibiotic can cancel out your birth control - in other words, use a condom, because you're way more at risk of getting pregnant. Not everyone knows this, and although I have been informed of this by doctors, it's definitely worth repeating. Source: ShutterStock
Some People Claim Being On The Pill Makes It Harder To Get Pregnant LaterAlthough you may not be thinking about getting pregnant right now, it might be something you think about in the future. Many people insist that taking birth control pills for a long time can make it harder, or even impossible, to get pregnant later in life - Khloe Kardashian is famously one of those people. There is no scientific evidence to support this, and I guarantee that if you ask any doctor about this, they'll tell you it's not true. I wouldn't stop pressing my gynecologist about it, and she finally told me that the Pill itself won't make it harder for you to get pregnant... but if you're on it for a while, you may ignore the signs that you have a fertility problem, and you'll only realize you do once you're off the pill. Source: ShutterStock
The Risk Of Blood Clots IS RealWhen I first started taking Beyaz, my major concern was getting a blood clot. I'm sure you've all heard about the lawsuits concerning birth control pills and blood clots. Basically, certain things make it more likely that it will happen - smoking cigarettes, having high blood pressure, etc. My gynecologist told me the risk is so low I didn't have to worry about. Now, maybe that's true, but it's still something you need to consider before taking the Pill! Our own editor Caitlin almost died from this. Source; ShutterStock
The Pill Can Change Who You're Attracted ToRecently, a study came out that says that being on the Pill can change who you're attracted to. The study is kind of weird, and definitely questionable, but it was big news. Is this a reason not to prevent pregnancy? No, not really. But it's still something to consider. Source: ShutterStock
It’s important to remember that birth control pills can work really well for some people. I’m not trying to tell you you shouldn’t take the Pill and I’m not trying to scare you. I just think you have the right to know what a pill like this might be able to do to your body. And if you’re going to choose against the Pill, please use another method of birth control, like condoms or an IUD.