Birth control side-effects

A look at the side-effects associated with birth control

WRITTEN BY: Janelle Vreeland
Birth control side-effects

Although some birth control options are more effective than others, no birth control method is 100 percent effective. Many college students take birth control as a way to control their cycle, reduce cramps and improve acne, in addition to preventing pregnancy. Others, however don’t take birth hormonal birth control for the fear of side-effects.

Birth control side-effects vary based on age, strength of the medication, frequency of usage, reason of usage and pre-existing aliments. Commonly known side-effects are attributed to the most familiar forms of contraception.

There has been a great deal of controversy over the side-effects of birth control. College students, especially, have been increasing the usage of birth control since its public availability in 1957. There are a couple of common forms of birth control used including the pill, patch, IUD, contraceptive rings and condoms. Condoms are still the most effective form of birth control that prevents the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), while the others are primarily methods of pregnancy prevention.

In an interview with Time magazine, director of the Center of Women's Health at the University Hospital of Tübingen in Germany, and one of the study's authors, Alfred Mueck said, "to our knowledge, this is the largest study in which the effect of hormonal contraception on sexual function has been evaluated. We had a large and homogeneous group and our results lead us to believe that hormones may indeed influence sexual function."

Many factors may influence the effectiveness of the various birth control options. Other considerations regarding contraception are lifestyle and personal factors to consider when determining the best method for you. There is still the small chance of pregnancy, even if it is meticulously taken. The typical failure rate is generally lower if the method is used perfectly. Usually, methods that require less for you to do (shot vs. the condom) tend to have lower failure rates.

Studies have also shown that it can also cause a reduction in sex drive, headaches, decreased calcium retention in kidneys leading to bone loss and osteoporosis, mood swings and cause minimal amount of weight gain. The “pill,” in rare cases, causes infertility and blood clots.

A May 4, 2010 study of the “Journal of Sexual Medicine” revealed new evidence arguing the effects of oral contraception in regards to a woman’s sexual function. Using questionnaires to evaluate more than 1,000 female medical students in Germany, researchers discovered that women who used a hormonal method of birth control — generally oral contraceptives — had lower levels of sexual desire and arousal than women who used non-hormonal means such as condoms or no contraception at all, according to Time magazine.

Hormonal contraception has an obvious increase of side-effects, as opposed to barrier method, such as a diaphragm or condom. It is more common, though, for college women to be on a form of hormonal birth control then any other age group.

According to eHow Health.com, “gaining weight is another side-effect many women experience when taking hormonal contraceptives—this is due to the amount of estrogen in the body. During puberty, a female may start to gain weight in the stomach, waist and thighs to prepare her for child bearing--birth control pills fool the body into thinking it is pregnant, which is why you may start to pick up a few pounds in these areas.”

However, weight gain does not happen to all women. If you are one of the few that do, your doctor might want to prescribe a different dosage or brand. Different combinations of estrogen or progesterone have different effects -- and side-effects -- on the body. Each brand of pill may offer a slightly different type of the hormone, at different doses. Hormonal contraception is personalized to fit what is most effective, but this results in potentially different side-effects for different women.

Good sexual health is a part of good overall health. For more information concerning birth control side-effects, contact your doctor.

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