Although highly effective, using oral birth control does not ensure that a woman will not get pregnant. In fact, according to Kidshealth.org, about 8 percent of couples who use oral contraception get pregnant by accident in any given year. While this number may seem quite high, remember that this is just an average percentage; your odds of getting pregnant while taking the pill are greatly increased if you sometimes forget to take the pill. When taking the pill exactly as prescribed, your chance of getting pregnant is less than 1 percent, but even taking the pill correctly can result in accidental conception.
Signs of Pregnancy While on the Pill
Women who are taking birth control pills are likely to experience most of the same pregnancy symptoms as women who are not taking birth control pills. However, every woman's body reacts to pregnancy with a different set of symptoms. If you are pregnant, you may experience the following early pregnancy symptoms:
- Missing a period
- Feeling overtired
- Becoming nauseous, especially in the morning
- Having headaches
- Experiencing increased urination
- Having tender breasts
If you experience some of these symptoms, especially if you have several of them together or have a missed period, it is a good idea to take a home pregnancy test. Alternatively, you can visit your doctor to discuss your symptoms. Be aware that pregnancy tests are not always accurate, so even if your result is negative you may indeed be pregnant. Keep an eye on your symptoms, retake a pregnancy test, and visit your physician if the symptoms persist.
Discontinuing Birth Control
Many women who are actively using oral contraception or other forms of birth control don't realize right away that they are pregnant. It's always a good idea to monitor your body and check how it feels for signs of pregnancy, especially if you are on a type of oral contraceptive that suppresses your period for several months at a time, such as Seasonique. For most women, the most sure-fire sign of being pregnant is missing periods; if your birth control method already suppresses your periods, you need to pay extra attention to the signs of pregnancy. If you are pregnant, you should make several changes in your lifestyle, including stopping your birth control pills.
If you want to become pregnant, discontinue the use of your birth control and start taking a prenatal vitamin to start preparing your body for pregnancy.
Oral Contraceptive's Effects on the Baby
While you should always discontinue the use of an oral contraceptive if you are pregnant, there is very little evidence that unknowingly continuing birth control during pregnancy has a negative impact on the baby. According to the Mayo Clinic, several studies investigating cases where women didn't realize that they were pregnant and continued taking birth control pills revealed that no negative effects existed for the baby.
Despite this, there have been cases where medications high in synthetic estrogen, such as diethylstilbestrol (to prevent miscarriage), were linked to cancer. For this reason, the Mayo Clinic recommends discontinuing use of birth control as soon as you find out you are pregnant. However, rest assured that if you have remained taking it for a month or so because you didn't realize you were pregnant, there is little cause for concern.
Visiting the Doctor
If you are pregnant or think you may be despite your use of oral contraceptives, visit your doctor as soon as possible to discuss further prenatal care. For women who are in the position of an unwanted and unplanned pregnancy, it is essential that you talk the options over with your healthcare provider right away. Weighing the various options requires a lot of information-gathering and soul searching. Your doctor can help guide you to the appropriate people in your community for dealing with this difficult situation, as well as providing the necessary medical care that you and your baby need.