Positive and Negative Side Effects of Birth Control

Julie Kirk
Birth Control

There are a number of different types of hormonal birth control available. Prior to making a decision, your doctor can inform you of the positive and negative side effects that may occur with each of the hormonal birth control options.

Side Effects of Hormonal Birth Control With Estrogen and Progestin

There are potential positive side effects and negative side effects that may occur when using the combination birth control pill, the birth control patch or the birth control ring.

Positive Side Effects

The following are some of the possible positive side effects of hormonal birth control that contain estrogen and progestin:

  • They are highly effective if used correctly
  • Lighter periods
  • Lowers the risk of ovarian cysts
  • Reduction of cramps
  • Improvement of acne

Negative Side Effects

The following are some of the possible negative side effects that could occur:

Rare Serious Side Effects

Although rare, more serious side effects could also occur. You are also at increased risk if you are over 35, a smoker, have diabetes or high blood pressure. These include:

  • Blood clots
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Severe headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Shortness of breath
  • Leg pain/cramps
Gynecologist consultation

Side Effects of Hormonal Birth Control With Progestin-Only

There are possible side effects that may occur with progestin-only birth control which include the minipill, the hormonal IUD, the birth control implant and the birth control shot.

Positive Side Effects

The following are some potential positive side effects of progestin-only birth control.

  • Because there is no estrogen in this type of birth control, it is a safer option for women who are at increased risk of stroke or heart disease.
  • This type of birth control is also beneficial if you're breastfeeding. It will not affect your milk production.
  • It is recommended for overweight women and also for women who have never been pregnant.

Negative Side Effects

The following are some of the potential negative side effects with progestin-only birth control.

  • Irregular bleeding or spotting
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Breast tenderness
  • Acne may increase or decrease
  • Mood changes
  • Sex drive may be affected

Additional Side Effects

There are additional side effects that may occur with the hormonal IUD, birth control implant, birth control ring and birth control shot which include:

IUD

Complications that may occur with the hormonal IUD include expulsion of the IUD, possible perforation of your uterus and pelvic infection.

Birth Control Implant

After your implant is inserted, you may notice bleeding and bruising. You may also experience pain, itching or burning. There is also the slight chance of infection at the site of the implant.

Birth Control Shot

The birth control shot is the only progestin-only birth control associated with possible weight gain for some women.

Woman receiving an injection in her arm

Birth Control Ring

The birth control ring may cause vaginal itching, discharge and possible vaginal infections.

Making the Right Choice

When deciding on the appropriate birth control, it is important to understand the side effects that may occur. Keep in mind that the side effects listed may only be temporary and also only happen to some women. If you experience severe side effects, you should speak with your doctor about changing your form of birth control.

Positive and Negative Side Effects of Birth Control