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The Pill: Side Effects, Benefits and FAQs

Side Effects

The Positive

Positive “side effects”? You bet. There are actually lots of things about birth control that are good for your body as well as your sex life.

  • Easy to use—just swallow with water
  • Doesn’t interrupt the heat of the moment
  • Might give you lighter periods
  • Gives you control over when you have your period
  • Some pills clear up acne
  • Can reduce menstrual cramps and PMS
  • Some pills offer protection against some nasty health problems, like endometrial and ovarian cancer, iron deficiency anemia, ovarian cysts, and pelvic inflammatory disease

The Negative

Everyone worries about negative side effects, but for many women, they’re not a problem.* And if you do experience side effects, they’ll probably go away. Remember, you’re introducing hormones into your body, so it can take a few months to adjust. Give it time.

Things that will probably go away after two or three months:
  • Bleeding in between periods
  • Sore breasts
  • Nausea and vomiting
Things that may last longer:
  • A change in your sex drive

If you still feel uncomfortable after three months, switch methods and stay protected. You’re worth it.

*For a very small number of women, there are risks of more serious side effects.


  • What if I want to start taking my pill at a different time?

    That’s fine—the easiest thing is probably to finish out your current pack on schedule and start the next pack at the time you prefer. In that case you shouldn’t need any backup.

    If you can’t wait for your next pack, just make sure you don’t allow more than 24 hours to pass between pills. So, for example, if you want to switch from morning to afternoon, you have to take 2 pills in one day—one at the old time and one at the new time. That’s probably better than waiting 36 hours and worrying about backup for a week! Only catch is you may also have to relabel your pill pack, because if you take the “Wednesday” pill on Tuesday night and forget to change the rest of the pack, confusion may abound.

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Our partner health centers are focused on you. They provide access to all methods of birth control and free or low-cost birth control to those who need it.