Unexpected Side Effects of Oral Contraceptives: What to Watch For

Of all the choices out there, oral contraceptives can be the best choice for birth control for many people. The pill does come with some side effects, but how each person is affected is determined by their unique biology and history, as well as the medication, says Amanda French, MD, a pediatric and adolescent gynecologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

“The best type of contraception for any given person is the one they feel most comfortable on,” she says.

How Does the Pill Work?

Let’s start with a little background. These days there are a number of different types of contraception to choose from. Oral contraception is always hormonal, but there are differences in the types and doses of hormones different pills contain.

“Anytime we’re giving hormones we’re altering what’s already occurring in the system and there is always a chance you will encounter side effects,” says Alexandria Wells, MD, an ob-gyn in Complex Family Planning Fellowship in Seattle and a fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health.

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