Birth Control Pills

What You Should Know About Birth Control Pills

Are you thinking about taking birth control pills? Here is some information you should know. If you have any questions, ask your provider.

Key warnings you should know:

  • You should not smoke while taking birth control pills. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of serious heart and blood-related side effects. This risk increases with age (older than 35 years of age) and with heavy smoking (15 or more cigarettes per day).
  • Birth control pills do not prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • This medicine does not mix well with some medicines. Serious reactions may occur. Tell your provider about all medicines you are taking. You will need to use backup contraception if you take an antibiotic or seizure medication during a cycle while you are on birth control pills.

Tell your provider:

  • If you are allergic to any medicine. Make sure to tell about the allergy and how it affected you. This includes telling about rash, hives, itching, shortness of breath, wheezing, cough, swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat, or any other symptoms involved.
  • If you become pregnant.

Possible side effects:

  • Typical side effects include weight gain, headache, swelling, breast enlargement, and belly pain.
  • Any nausea or vomiting is usually temporary. Small frequent meals, frequent mouth care, sucking on sugar-free candy, or chewing sugar-free gum may help. Taking the medication at night will also help.
  • Menstrual changes, including lots of bleeding, spotting, or bleeding between cycles, which are usually temporary.
  • Rarely, gallbladder disease, blood clots, heart attacks, and other vascular problems can occur.

You should not take birth control pills

  • If you have any of the following conditions:
  • Blood clots
  • Breast cancer
  • Diseased arteries in the brain
  • Disease of a heart valve with complications
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver disease
  • Liver tumor
  • Severe headache
  • Tumor where estrogen makes it grow
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • If you have had major surgery and need bedrest.
  • If you are a heavy smoker (more than 15 cigarettes per day).
  • If you are older than 35 years of age and smoke.
  • If you turned yellow during pregnancy or with estrogen-based or hormone contraceptive use.

How are birth control pills best taken?

  • Take each pill at a similar time each day.
  • Take with or without food. Take with food if it causes an upset stomach.

If you miss a pill:

  • Take a missed pill as soon as possible the same day and return to your regular schedule.
  • If you miss one day, take two pills the following day, one in the morning and one in the evening. If you miss two days, take one pill twice a day for two days. If you miss three days, you will likely have some irregular bleeding. Use backup protection until you start your next pill cycle.

Precautions you should take:

  • Avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice.
  • Do not take St. John’s Wort with this medicine. It may make the pills less effective.
  • If you are taking birth control pills and have high blood pressure, talk with your provider before using over-the-counter products that may increase your blood pressure, such as:
  • Cough or cold remedies
  • Diet pills
  • Stimulants
  • Ibuprofen or similar products
  • Certain natural products or supplements

If you have any questions about what to eat or what to avoid while you are pregnant, ask your doctor.

Reasons to call Cheyenne Women’s Clinic immediately:

  • Signs of a life-threatening reaction:
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Fever
  • Itching
  • Bad cough
  • Bluish skin tone
  • Swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Chest pain or pressure, fast heartbeat, or difficulty breathing
  • Change in strength on one side of your body, difficulty speaking or thinking, change in balance, or blurred vision
  • Swelling of or pain in a leg or arm
  • Dark urine or yellow skin or eyes
  • Rash
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