Does Combination Birth Control Have Side Effects?

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Acne is one possible side effect of combination birth control. Stock_colors/Getty Images

Question: Does Combination Birth Control Have Side Effects?

When it comes to hormonal contraception, it is also important to remember that common side effects may occur when taking these birth control methods. Most women, however, will not experience any side effects.The following lists apply to combination birth control pills, the NuvaRing and Ortho Evra Patch (birth control that contains both estrogen and progestin).

Answer: Frequently Occurring Side Effects (if a woman does, in fact, experience side effects, the following are the most common):

  • Breakthrough bleeding (the most common side effect; will often resolve after the first 3 cycles)
  • Nausea and vomiting (particularly for the first few cycles)
  • Vaginal infections
  • Increase or decrease in acne
  • Dizziness/Headaches
  • Mood changes
  • Loss of libido
  • High blood pressure
  • Breast tenderness
  • Bloating
  • Amenorrhea
  • Minimal weight gain - 2 lbs. on average (may occur as the progestin can cause a woman to be more hungry; weight gain will not occur if a woman sticks to her old eating habits)

Less Common Health Complications:

  • Blood clots in legs, lungs, heart or brain
  • Heart attacks
  • Stroke
  • Jaundice (rare)
  • Liver tumors(rare)
  • Gallstones (rare)
  • Possibly cervical cancer


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