Hormonal Contraceptives: Side Effects And Everything Else

hormonal contraceptives

What Are Hormonal Contraceptives?

Hormonal contraceptives are birth control pills that act on the endocrine system. Primarily these pills are chosen for the prevention of pregnancy. Its other uses can be found in treating polycystic ovary syndrome, and menstrual disorders like Menorrhagia and Hirsutism.

The two types of hormonal contraceptives available in the market are:

  • A combined formulation which consists of estrogen and progestin
  • A progestogen-only formulation that contains only progesterone

The difference between these two types lies in the fact that one constitutes two hormones while the other has only one. Apart from this, a progesterone-only pill does not raise your blood pressure but may fail to control your periods like the combined-formulation pill does.

Akin to other drugs, hormonal contraceptives have their benefits and side effects. It is vital to know about the effects of contraceptives on your body before you choose to consume them. So, if you are someone who wants to know the side effects of hormonal contraceptives, this article is for you!

What Are the Side Effects of Hormonal Contraceptives?

Based upon the type of hormonal contraceptive, the side effects vary. We have classified the adverse effects into combined pill effects and progesterone pill effects. If you are someone experimenting with these contraceptives for the first time, do take advice from your medical professional before consuming the pills.

The below-mentioned effects tend to wear away with time. However, if these effects persist for long, it is a matter of concern.

Without further ado, let us dive into the effects of combined pills on the human body:

1. Preliminary Effects:

You are likely to feel headaches, nausea, migraine, and frequent mood changes in the first few hours of having the pill. If the pill is not absorbed into your bloodstream completely, it can also lead to vomiting. In case of vomiting, do not worry and take another pill immediately. Your body will take time to reciprocate.

2. Other Effects:

You will notice a change in your breasts. They will either become sore or tender. In either of the cases, the change is normal. This is also a sign to know that the pills have started working. Mild edema and withdrawal bleeding can also be experienced within the early 2-3 months. All these effects are temporary and not a cause to panic.

3. Adverse Effects:

Everybody reacts differently and it is highly possible that the effects which you are facing, somebody else might not. The success rate of the pill boils down to your body’s defence mechanism. The below-mentioned effects may or may not exist in your case but you need to be aware of the same:

Elevated Blood Pressure:

With the intake of the combined pill, your blood pressure shoots up. Due to the presence of estrogen, these pills heighten the risk of hypertension and can lead to dangerous complexities or even death if not treated in time.

Blood Clots:

Intake of pills can pass out larger than usual blood clots during periods. If you are facing chest pain, shortness of breath, swelling in the calf, leg pain or rapid heartbeat due to blood clots, get medical aid at the earliest.

Breast Cancer:

If you are someone with a history of breast cancer, these pills can be risky for you. The level of breast cancer risk advances with age. So if you are someone older in age thinks twice before consuming the combined pills!

Cardiovascular Problems:

Due to the formation of blood clots, the combined pills increase the risk of heart diseases like a heart attack or even a stroke. It is recommended that you take assistance before including these pills in your routine.

Keep in mind the above-mentioned side effects, take necessary precautions to stay safe and, you are good to go!

Progesterone pills have comparatively milder side effects than those combined pills. Looking out for its advantages and disadvantages can help you in making a judicious decision. It is a safe option for many women. The progesterone-only pill affects your body by showing the following effects:

1. More Common Effects:

With the initial intake of progesterone-only mini-pills, you will notice the below-mentioned effects. These effects are observed because the body is undergoing changes, and these effects will also not last long. If they are recurrent, contact your health professional to discuss your further course of action.

Increase in Appetite:

Due to the consumption of pills, you will feel the urge to eat more than required. This will increase your appetite and can even lead to an increase in body weight as a result.


Accompanied with cold and flu-like symptoms, you are expected to have a high fever with the intake of these pills.


The hormonal fluctuations increase the oil production within the pores causing breakouts and worsening situations of acne.

Changes in Libido:

The mini-pills work by affecting the hormone levels in the body. The ovaries continue to be active and help in regulating the sex drive. The absence of estrogen causes frequent changes in the libido functioning.

Increase in Body Temperature:

Lack of estrogen in the pill can cause your body temperature to rise, making it uncomfortable and hotter than usual.

Spotting or Bleeding:

You will not have periods, but spotting or withdrawal bleeding can be seen because the uterus is changing to adapt to the thinning of the vaginal lining.

2. Less Common Effects:

You need to know your body and its responses. If you observe the below-mentioned effects after taking the progesterone-only pill, stop the intake immediately. The less frequent ‘alarming’ effects are:

Change in Vaginal Discharge:

Along with vaginal dryness, if you see a change in the colour and odour of your discharge, there is a possibility that it could be the beginning of some dangerous infection.

Change in Breasts:

In rare scenarios, the pill can cause the nipple to invert, and lead to bloody discharge from the nipple, dimple the breast skin, and redden the breast. It can also cause a lump in the breast or arm or even soreness in the breast which may be difficult to heal.

Mood Swings:

Depression, confusion, tension, anxiety, and worry are some moods that you will find yourself in. If you continue to face these mood changes for more than three weeks or so, it is a cause to worry.

With this, we have covered all the possible side effects of hormonal contraceptives which you need to know before making up your mind (whether to choose pills or find other alternatives?).

Caution! Having contraceptives will not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases. You must use condoms to stay protected from HIV and other infections.

Bonus Read: You can even buy progestin-only pills such as Plan B One-Step at a discounted price from our website.

Did You Know?

Females below the age of 16 can get a contraceptive free of cost! The medical professional will keep it confidential and not let your parents know unless you understand the information given to you and abide by the same. They can ask you to tell your parents but they cannot force you to do the same.


Hormonal contraceptives are widely used across countries because they promise the best results. 1 out of every 3 women of reproductive age has a pill daily. As mentioned earlier, every human body will react differently to the use of these pills. If you are experiencing some uncommon effects, do not delay in acquiring the right consultation.

If you take the contraceptives at the same time each day and follow the prescribed schedule, you are safe from unwanted pregnancy and any sort of future complications. Remember, these pills are harmless if you start their consumption after thorough research and understand the related factors.

As this article comes to an end, we hope we were able to shed light and impart significant knowledge on the side effects of hormonal contraceptives that you need to be aware of. If you want to know about other birth control methods, you can check them out here.


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