12 Things You Have To Know About Birth Control Pills Before Going On Them

When it comes to preventing pregnancy, birth control pills seem to be the most popular option out there. The Pill is pushed more than any other birth control product out there (except condoms). Doctors recommend it before recommending anything else, magazines and websites write about it constantly, and people discuss it like it’s no big deal. The most common facts about the Pill are widely known – it can help your annoying period symptoms, it might make your boobs bigger, it comes with the danger of blood clots, and it keeps you from having an unplanned pregnancy. But there is so much more about the Pill that isn’t discussed until it absolutely has to be, and that’s not okay – there are some things you have to know about birth control pills before you make the decision to use them.

The Pill has become so common and popular that it feels like it’s no big deal. Girls go on without researching other options and don’t really think about what they’re doing to their bodies. The fact is, while the Pill might be helpful in a lot of ways, it can still have some negative (or positive!) side effects that can really change your body and even your emotions. It’s not something that should be taken as lightly as it is.

This is kind of close to my heart, because I had a negative experience with the Pill. I was on it for close to 10 years, but towards the end of our run together, the Pill turned on me. It made me feel anxious, depressed, furiously angry over nothing, and very lonely. My out-of-control emotional state almost ruined my relationship with my boyfriend and made me feel like there was something genuinely wrong with me. It took me a long time to realize the Pill was the cause of this, because no one ever told me that it could be. And if I had known that, maybe I would have made a different birth control decision.

I don’t want any of you to take the Pill because you think it’s easy, and then be stuck with a whole bunch of crappy side effects. Let’s learn from others’ real experiences, like the girls who discussed this in an Ask Reddit thread about what we need to know before taking the birth control pill. Check it out for yourself so that you can make your own decisions with all of the necessary information:

It Can Make You Depressed

RagingClitGasm: I wish I'd known that even if the first few years were free of side effects, I should still look at it as a potential cause of problems I have later on. That would have saved me a very rough couple of years of struggling with severe depression. I have Mirena now and am loving it so far, but you better believe I'm keeping a close eye on things.

I was never told the Pill could make you depressed, and so when I started feeling very depressed, I didn't even consider that possibility. I thought I was having serious mental issues, which was really upsetting. I didn't find out the Pill could be the issue until I mentioned something to my gynecologist. I wish I had known before!

Source: iStock

You Can Use It To Skip Your Period

sunshinecliffs: Well first and foremost that I never needed to do a "skip week" and could have stopped having periods right away.

Some birth control pills have placebo weeks where you take sugar pills while you get your period. A lot of people don't realize that you can skip that week and go straight into the next week if you want to skip your period.

Source: iStock

It Can Make You Gain Weight

AberNaturlich: Weight gain!! I've gained about ten pounds a year since starting birth control. I was on the pill, switched to the depo shot, and then recently got the Nexplanon. I love not having a period, but dang 🙁

When I went on the Pill, my gyno insisted it wouldn't make me gain weight, but that wasn't true for me. The Pill made me retain more water weight, and it also felt like it made it harder for me to lose weight. I definitely noticed a difference when I went off it.

Source: iStock

It Can Cause Yeast Infections

raster_raster: I wish I would have known that it causes yeast infections. Some people have persistent long term yeast infections that can never be cleared up or reversed.

This doesn't happen to everyone, but the Pill definitely can cause more yeast infections in some women.

Source: iStock

It Makes You Not Want To Have Sex

maryjanesandbobbysox: That it would kill my libido. It took a few months after being off birth control for it to start coming back. It wasn't worth being on birth control when I had zero desire to have sex.

Some doctors will tell you about this possible side effect, but considering how counterintuitive it is, others don't even say anything. Doctors want you on the Pill - so you don't have an unplanned pregnancy - and they don't want to dissuade you from using it, so it kind of makes sense that they wouldn't mention this. But it's also not fair to you to not know that. The Pill can definitely kill your libido.

Source: iStock

Your Period Will Change When You Get Off It

mystery79: For me it's more like - what happens when you get off it. I was having really light menstrual cycles for a few years. My dr put me on the mini pill - I would at times not even have a monthly cycle (it's cool, saves money on tampons/pads but I did take a test a couple times just to make sure it was the pills and not pregnancy), when I did get it, it was like 2 days of very light bleeding and then over. Got off them and damn. My mid 30s cycle is heavier in the beginning and a real PITA the first couple days as I recall it being before the pill in my 20s.

Yup, going off the Pill can seriously change your period. Two months after going off the Pill, I found that my period was heavier than it had been in years and my cramps are way worse every month.

Source: iStock

It Might Help Acne Only Temporarily

rhodocop: That if I go off of it, my face would explode with an array of forehead and chin pepperonis. I didn't make an appointment with my physician one year after having been on the pill for about three years, and it took a month for my face to explode. Before BC I was fine, maybe had a few spots but never worried about makeup. During I hardly had any spots, clearest skin I ever had. Going off of it a few months was terrible, and it was totally my fault for not being more active in scheduling my appointment. I'm back on my usual pill, have been for a few years since that incident, but my face has never gotten back to it's former glory.

One of the biggest advantages of taking the Pill, for many people, is that it can help get rid of annoying acne. Unfortunately, the Pill is not a miracle cure. Most women find that once they go off it, their acne comes back with a vengeance. When I was on the Pill, it helped with my acne, and going off it did make me break out more - but only for a few months. Then my hormones chilled out and things got better.

Source: iStock

That It CAN Be Great

snapkangaroo: That it can have good side effects as well as bad ones. You just tend to hear horror stories about the bad ones more often. Had I known how much easier birth control would make my periods, I'd have gotten on the pill a decade earlier.

It's true: you definitely hear more bad stories about the Pill than good ones. People love to spread negative news and talk about the sucky stuff, but for some people, the Pill works great. It's important to know that!

Source: iStock

There Are High Blood Pressure Risks

segmentedcat: There are risks associated with HBC if you have a family history of high blood pressure. No one mentioned this to me at all, and it was very frightening when I started getting heart palpitations while on the pill. A few months later my friend whose aunt was an OBGYN mentioned to me that her aunt told her not to take HBC because of their family history of high blood pressure.

Since the average 16-year-old girl isn't stressing over her blood pressure, this is something that isn't often discussed. That's why it's so important for you to keep your family's medical history in mind whenever considering going on a new long-term medication.

Source: iStock

There Are Other Options

chaotic_great_: That IUDs were an option. I didn't learn about those until years after trying a variety of other things.

The birth control pill is definitely not the only thing out there that prevents pregnancy. Aside from condoms, there are IUDs, the NuvaRing, and the patch. Doctors most often discuss the Pill and condoms the most, and either don't even mention the other options, or only mention them if they feel like they need to. The Pill might not be right for you, so do research aside from just talking to your doctor.

Source: iStock

It Can Give You Crazy Mood Swings

psychocutiepie: That it can really affect you psychologically. I go batshit crazy on any sort of hormonal BC.

This is what happened to me. The Pill made me depressed, irrationally angry, and extremely anxious. It can definitely mess with your head in a lot of ways.

Source: iStock

Sometimes You Have To Try A Lot To Find One

PsiSangBoom: That there would be so much trial-and-error. Took so long to finally find a pill that agrees with me.

Commercials and mainstream media can sometimes make it seem like all you have to do is go to the gyno, get a prescription, and start taking the Pill. Not true! A lot of women have to experiment and try different pills to find the one that is right for them. Plus, you have to wait a few months in between each one to actually get a sense of how it will affect you. Finding the perfect Pill can sometimes take years!

Source: iStock

What are your thoughts on the birth control pill? What did we forget to include? Tell me in the comments.

You can follow the author, Jessica Booth, on Twitter or Instagram.


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