Oral contraceptives (birth-control pills) prevent pregnancy by using estrogen and progestin to prevent ovulation, change the lining of the uterus to prevent pregnancy from developing, and change the mucus at the cervix to prevent sperm from entering. Oral contraceptives are also sometimes used to treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder (severe PMS), heavy or irregular menstruation, and endometriosis.
Oral contraceptives may cause side effects including nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, gingivitis, changes in appetite and weight, acne, unusual hair growth, spotting between periods, changes in menstrual flow, painful or missed periods, breast tenderness, enlargement or discharge, irritation of the vagina, and vaginal discharge.
More serious side effects may include: severe headache, severe vomiting or stomach pain, speech problems, dizziness, weakness or numbness of limbs, chest pain, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, leg pain, vision problems, yellowing of skin or eyes, loss of appetite, extreme tiredness, fever, discolored urine or stool, swelling of hands, feet, ankles or lower legs, depression, rash, unusual bleeding, or menstrual bleeding that lasts longer than 7 days. Although rare, oral contraceptives may also increase the risks for:
Studies have shown that women using oral contraceptives containing drosperinone (Beyaz, Gianvi(™), Loryna, Ocella(™), Safyral, Syeda, Yasmin, Yaz, and Zarah) may be more likely to develop deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The FDA has required label changes to address these newly discovered risks.
As of the February 2014, Bayer, the maker of YAZ(™) and Yasmin(™) had reached agreements to settle approximately 8,250 claims for venous blood clots (deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism) for a total of $1.69 billion. Approximately 4,600 claims are still pending. Additionally, in 2013, Bayer agreed to pay $24 million to settle over 9,000 lawsuits in which plaintiffs allege gallbladder injuries. More lawsuits are expected.
 National Institutes of Health, "Estrogen and Progestin (Oral Contraceptives) (07/18/2012).
 Bayer Annual Report 2013 (February 28, 2014).
If you have experienced adverse events or side effects from birth control find help here.
Cigarette smoking increases the risk of serious side effects from oral contraceptives, including heart attacks, blood clots, and strokes. This risk is higher for women over 35 years of age and heavy smokers (15 or more cigarettes per day). If you take oral contraceptives, you should not smoke.
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