Birth Control: The Positives and Negatives


Abby LeCheminant, Staff Writer

Birth control pills are taken daily for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, they’re typically taken to avoid unwanted pregnancies, but also for alleviating symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), improving acne, irregular and/or heavy periods, and endometriosis among others. It is a contraceptive taken orally, designed to prevent pregnancy.

The majority of birth control pills are made up of a combination of the hormones estrogen and progestin, while others are only progesterone. The effectiveness of the mini-pills, the progesterone-only ones, are lower than the effectiveness of the combination pills. Regardless, out of 100 people regularly taking the pill, only between two and three people conceive.

The hormones work together to prevent ovulation from occurring during the menstrual cycle. Ovulation is when an egg is released, therefore making someone unable to get pregnant if no egg is released. Additionally, they cause the mucus in the cervix to thicken, which aids in preventing the sperm from reaching the egg. In order for the pills to remain effective, they need to be taken every day, at the same time. If someone forgets to take one of the pills, if it’s been more than a day, use a second method of contraception for the next seven days. 

When first beginning to take birth control pills, it’ll take seven days for them to fully kick in. Side effects are possible and can be different for every person. Most commonly, mood changes, nausea, headaches, dizziness, and breast tenderness occur. Weight gain, acne, fluid retention, and spotting/bleeding between periods can also happen. Typically, few people experience side effects and most will resolve after three months of taking the pill. If they don’t resolve and worsen it’s best to talk to a doctor and see other options for pill medication.   

Some positive effects also take place, such as the reduction of the risk of ovarian, endometrial, and colorectal cancers. They can make menstrual periods lighter and cramping less severe as well. Doctors will prescribe the pills to help regulate irregular periods or other problems with a person’s period. It decreases the risk of anemia, which is a lack of iron or blood, by lessening the amount and frequency of blood being lost through menstrual cycles.

Birth control pills are an easily accessible way to prevent pregnancies and help with other problems. They can be prescribed by your local doctor. Birth control pills come with both pros and cons, make sure to do research to find what will work best for you.