As with many things in life, hormonal birth control involves taking the good with the not so great. Since it keeps you from getting pregnant when you don’t want to conceive, the positive probably outweighs the negative sign.
Hormonal birth control poses a small risk of some serious health issues for a tiny percentage of people, including strokes, high blood pressure, and heart attacks. But it’s often the more minor side effects of birth control that concern women most. Those are the ones they deal with routinely.
Before you chuck your hormonal birth control and decide to rely on condoms or abstinence to prevent pregnancy, though, read on. There are ways you can reduce the side effects of hormone-based birth control.
When you start a hormonal birth control method, it can throw your body for a loop. After all, you are altering your body’s balance of hormones, among other things. Just give it some time.
Within three to five months, those side effects you might have experienced when you first began may resolve themselves. If not totally resolved, they might diminish. So stick with a method long enough to figure out how well it will work for you.
Part of sticking with it is being consistent. Getting your birth control online will help because your prescription appears on your doorstep like clockwork. You can avoid the panic that comes with realizing you’re out after the pharmacy is closed.
The convenience of online ordering will also help you stick with a particular method. Consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, but at least that little mind won’t be attached to a newborn!
Knowing how a hormonal birth control method works means knowing what it’s made of, so do your homework. Estrogen has many potential side effects, including headaches, nausea, and breast tenderness. Progestin (synthetic progesterone) shares these side effects and may also worsen acne.
Women over age 35 who smoke may have an increased risk of stroke if using birth control containing estrogen. Estrogen can also increase the number and severity of migraines. On the upside, it may help make periods more regular.
Progestin-only contraception can be used while breastfeeding, but it must be taken at virtually the same time every day. It also tends to make periods irregular.
Many birth control methods combine estrogen and progestin to control ovulation and make the cervical mucus hostile to sperm. Knowing how each hormone works can help you and your healthcare provider monitor any potential side effects. Then you can work to reduce them or switch to a different method.
The timing might be everything with birth control. Missing a regular dose means using additional contraception for a while. But proper timing may also reduce the occurrence of some side effects.
If nausea or vomiting is one of the side effects you’re experiencing with the pill, maybe your timing is off. Avoid taking it on an empty stomach. Take it after dinner or with a snack at bedtime instead.
If you’re taking the progestin-only pill (mini-pill), remember you need to take it at the same time every day. As your dinnertime may vary from day to day, always have a couple of crackers on hand. You might also try taking an antacid about 30 minutes before you take your pill.
One of the benefits of progestin is that it doesn’t cause nausea. If you find you can’t tolerate birth control with estrogen, the mini-pill may be an option.
You are what you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat. Changing up your diet might reduce some common birth control side effects.
Start with healthy nutrients. Studies show that oral contraceptives deplete folic acid, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and vitamins B2, B6, B12, C, and E. It would help if you talked to your healthcare provider about supplements that can replenish these.
Avoiding greasy, fried, and sugary foods should mitigate several side effects, including nausea, weight gain, and fatigue. Instead, consume more fruits and veggies. Doing so may both tackle your unpleasant side effects and replenish those depleted nutrients.
You might also try eating more frequent and smaller meals, which will make it easier to time the taking of your pill with food. Finally, stay hydrated. Good hydration is truly one of the primary keys to a healthy body.
Moderate exercise is critical to a healthy mind, body, and spirit. If you haven’t been exercising before you start a birth control method, it’s time to start. If you aren’t exercising enough, take it up a notch.
Garnering the benefits of exercise doesn’t mean buying a gym membership. It just means moving more, getting your heart rate up, and burning more calories.
Those benefits can reduce many potential side effects of birth control. Exercise helps control weight, reduces the risk of stroke, lowers blood pressure, and reduces the incidence of depression, anxiety, and mood swings. It can also help you sleep better and increase your energy levels.
Finally, regular moderate exercise can lead to better sex. Isn’t that why most women take birth control in the first place?
Potential side effects shouldn’t scare you away from hormonal birth control. Many women never experience any side effects at all. In contrast, being sexually active without consistent, effective contraception may lead to that greatest sexual side effect of all: pregnancy.
Maybe you’re new to hormonal birth control. Perhaps you want to change the method you use. In either case, having a sound relationship with your healthcare provider is key.
You and your provider can discuss all the pros and cons of the range of birth control methods. That might lead to set some priorities about cost, convenience, and side effects. For your overall health and well-being, you need to find a method that suits you best.
You may need to set priorities about the side effects alone. You may decide that a few extra pounds are OK, but depression is unacceptable. Only you can determine which side effects you can live with and which ones you can’t.
Whether you use the pill, shot, ring, or patch, the benefits of hormonal birth control probably far outweigh potential side effects. If you suffer from any side effects, you can take steps to reduce or eliminate them together. You’ll probably find that a little bad is well worth a whole lot of good.