Going on birth control for the first time can be somewhat intimidating especially when taking the pills. It is common knowledge that birth control reduces the chances of pregnancy and the length of the period, while also lightening the flow. While all of this may be true, there are still a few things that no one tells you when taking birth control pills for the first time. These are not meant to scare you; they’re simply to make sure that you’re aware of the possibilities.
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Something that I personally was never told was that I had to take my birth control pills every day at the exact same time. I thought all I needed to do to prevent pregnancy and reduce my period leakage was take my birth control every day. In reality, you need to take one pill every day at the same time to create consistency. Taking it during different times each day can confuse your body and increase the chance of unwanted pregnancy. It’s also important to know that birth control pills have a 9 percent failure rate, so taking it consistently is key to its success.
In terms of the period cycle, it may take the body some time to adjust to this change. If you take a pill at the same time every single day, you may miss your period one month. However, this won’t occur until your body is used to the pills -- and that’s completely normal. Taking the pill consistently will make the uterine lining very thin. This means that you won’t have anything to shed, so there is no bleeding. Evidently, it’s perfectly normal to miss a month if you are consistently and correctly taking your pill.
Relatedly, going on birth control does not always guarantee that your period leakage will be reduced. I can speak from experience, as I started taking birth control when I turned 19 for this very reason. I have a heavy flow during my time of the month -- I had no choice but to use a pad and a tampon at the same time -- and I wanted to lighten it. I took birth control for a couple of years, but my flow did not reduce. I still had a heavy flow, and after mentioning it to my nurse practitioner, she recommended that I still stay on the pill but just switch to a different brand. However, after years of taking birth control, I can honestly say that I saw no change in my flow. This is different for everyone, but I am living proof that a decrease in leakage is not guaranteed. About 1 in every 3 women will experience a heavy period like I do and for those who take birth control pills to reduce it, about 80% of women will respond to the birth control pills. I am part of the small percentage of women with a heavy flow that does not respond well to birth control pills.
While it is important to take the pill consistently, there are side effects that everyone should be aware of. Not everyone will experience them, but there is that possibility. Starting birth control can cause anything from headaches and emotional disorders. Another side effects many doctors and nurses often don’t mention is that you may become nutrient deficient while on the pill. When going on birth control, your body may not always absorb nutrients properly. Consequently, your body may be depleted of vital minerals and several B vitamins such as riboflavin and folic acid. Pills can also deplete your body of vitamin C and magnesium. Without magnesium, your bones may not be as strong as before and may affect your immune system and nervous system. Each of these vitamins play a huge role in your body and lacking in them can cause anxiety, nervousness, and tension.
The most important thing that no one tells you about is that birth control doesn’t address the root cause of certain symptoms you may be taking it for.. Going on the pill actually makes you ignore what your body is trying to tell you. For example, irregular cycles, premenstrual syndrome, infertility, acne, and painful periods are all indicators of a health problem that should be addressed. So although the pill may help you mask or manage your symptoms, it may also cause you to ignore what your body is trying to tell you.
Finally, for those of you who are considering going on birth control for the first time, it is important to know that becoming pregnant in the future may be more challenging. If you take the pill correctly every day for years, you may have problems becoming pregnant when you are ready to start a family. This is due to a change in the mucus production in your cervix. So for those of you who would like to start a family one day, it is important to know that it may become harder the longer you take the pill.
While all of these things may sound scary, they’re all important to know. Understanding both the risk factors and the benefits can lead you to the decision that is best for you.
My name is Linda Tran. I'm 24 years old from Boston and I'm majoring in Marketing with a concentration in Social Media at the Southern New Hampshire University. A fun fact about me is that I learned coding and HTML at the age of 11.