The Effects Of Hormonal Birth Control On The Body

effects of hormonal birth control

In this article, we’ll discuss some common effects of hormonal birth control on your body along with a brief on how it works.


Each type of contraceptive has its pros and cons. The hormonal birth control options like Yasmin birth control have their own set of benefits and risks as well. Apart from preventing unwanted pregnancy, these manage menstrual symptoms, improve skin, lower the risk of cancers, and a lot more.

But hormonal contraceptives such as birth control pills, implants, patches, vaginal rings like NuvaRing Generic, injections, and intrauterine devices, also have side effects. These effects are usually mild. But people with pre-existing health issues may face a few complications.

To understand which type of hormonal birth control works the best for you, the doctor will observe the treatment results over some time. In the post below, we will discuss how contraceptives work, and their good and not-so-good effects on health.

How Does Hormonal Birth Control Work?

The ovaries produce mature eggs during ovulation. This activity is regulated by two female hormones – progestin and estrogen. Hormonal birth control contains the synthetic version of these hormones. There are progestin-only birth control and combined mini pills (estrogen and progestin).

The contraceptive has a higher-than-normal level of these hormones. When the medicine starts to function in the body, it stops the ovaries from releasing an egg. Due to the absence of an egg, the sperm is unable to carry out fertilization. Progestin also alters the cervical mucus.

The cervix becomes sticky and thick. This makes it difficult for sperm to enter the uterus. Further, the birth control pill restricts implantation. The process successfully prevents a pregnancy.

Health Effects Of Hormonal Birth Control

Here are the effects to expect from hormonal contraceptives:

1. Menstrual Health

Hormonal birth control may lead to shorter and lighter periods. It can also provide relief from premenstrual symptoms such as menstrual cramps. So those with PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) can depend on the contraceptive pill, patch, implant, etc. The doctor may even prescribe this as a treatment for endometriosis. Here, you can expect relief from heavy periods and associated pain. While your body is adjusting to birth control, a few side effects may occur.

These include breast tenderness/enlargement, vaginal irritation, change in libido. You may also encounter spotting between periods, extra bleeding, or loss of menstruation.

2. Nausea And Bloating

One of the initial side effects is nausea. This may last for a couple of weeks. Another change you may notice is bloating. This also is for the time being. It is more often due to water retention. The body takes some time to adjust to birth control. After this, the effects fade away.

3. Acne

Birth control pills and other forms of hormonal contraceptives have several benefits. One of these relates to facial acne. On using the contraceptive, many women see a reduction in acne. Few may not see any difference in facial acne breakouts.

Others may experience a temporary breakout of acne. We can never tell how exactly hormonal birth control may affect a female. This is because every woman’s hormone levels and health are different. A routine follow-up and symptoms can predict the best suitable contraceptive.

Also Read: Birth Control Pills For Acne

4. Cancer

Here is the good news. Birth control containing hormones decreases the risk of certain cancers. The lowered risk of cancer is for ovaries and endometrial. Long-term usage of such contraceptives will decrease the risk further. This may also protect from ovarian and non-cancerous breast growths.

For a few, the risk of breast cancer may increase due to pre-existing conditions. Then it may also hike the possibility of cervical cancer. However, experts feel the latter may be due to an increased risk of HPV because of exposure to frequent sex.

If you stop taking the contraceptive, you will resume menstrual periods in a short time. But the cancer prevention benefits may last for several years.

5. Body Hair

One of the most common effects of hormonal birth control is linked to bodily hair.

Due to abnormal levels of hormones, females may get unwanted body hair. This happens on the face, neck, chest, thighs, genital area, etc. Hormonal birth control may help reduce unwanted hair growth. But at times, it may also cause an increase in it.

An oral contraceptive can manage hirsutism. This is a condition that causes dark and coarse hair growth on the abdomen, back, and face.

6. Cholesterol Levels

There are choices in birth control pills. You can either choose progestin-only or combination pills that have estrogen and progestin. Estrogen may impact the total cholesterol level and triglyceride level. It can lower LDL ‘(bad cholesterol). This hormone can also increase HDL (good cholesterol).

Progestin may lead to the rise in bad cholesterol. It can lower good cholesterol. But, these changes (if any) are at a small level. So, there is no significant effect on health at the downside.

7. Appetite And Weight

It is possible to encounter a change in weight and appetite after taking hormonal birth control. But there is not enough evidence to link contraceptives to weight gain. Researches suggest that weight gain may happen due to appetite change. It may also occur due to the lifestyle practice of a person.

As hormones regulate eating habits, a shift in the eating pattern may happen. This may in turn lead to changes in weight. Some even lose weight. Any extra pounds you may put on are usually related to water retention. You can easily maintain an optimum BMI through diet and lifestyle changes.

8. Mood Swings

It’s common knowledge that hormonal birth controls affect the mood and could lead to mood swings.

Taking hormonal birth control brings a few alterations in health. Most of these alterations are good. But your body has to simultaneously balance the hormones. This can give rise to slight mood swings and depression in few users. But otherwise, there is no such effect on the central nervous system. These do not have a direct impact on the mental well-being of an individual.

9. Cardiovascular System

If a woman does not smoke, then severe side effects of birth control are unlikely. However, a few women may notice an increase in blood pressure. Also, the risk of blood clots is higher for females with diabetes and pre-existing cardiovascular disorder. This risk also exists for those with hypertension.

It may also affect smokers and females over 35 years of age. Those who are overweight and take an oral contraceptive may have higher chances of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Though these are rare effects, anyone who encounters it should consult a doctor.

Some of the warning signs include severe headache, chest pain, dizziness, cough-up blood, numbness, and weakness in limbs, and speech issues. Also, for a few users, Estrogen in pills can make migraines worse.

10. Vaginal Discharge

After taking hormonal birth control, the consistency of vaginal discharge may change. The difference is possible like discharge. Also, the vaginal lubrication may increase or decrease. In case of slight dryness, vaginal lubrication may help.

However, if the dryness interferes with your lifestyle, then you can contact your healthcare provider. He/she may tell you the exact solution to it.

11. People With History Of Gallstones

It is not advisable for women with a history of gallstones to take hormonal birth control. Taking such contraceptives can cause the faster formation of stones. Also, there is an increased risk of liver cancer and benign liver tumors. In turn, alternate non-hormonal contraceptives are available.

If you notice yellowed eyes and skin (jaundice), vomiting, and severe pain then visit a doctor soon. Also, other serious side effects may include light-colored stool or dark urine.

Also Read: Best Non-hormonal Birth Control Options

Effects Of Hormonal Birth Control: Conclusion

If you experience problems with your current hormonal birth control, then talk to your doctor. Let the healthcare provider know about the side effects. If you feel any discomfort, then report that too. At the same time, if there are any positive effects, report that too.

The doctor will analyze these effects to conclude if the particular birth control is right for you or not. He/she may ask you to continue the course of treatment to observe further. If the need arises, he/she will ask you to switch to another pregnancy-prevention method.


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