The Pill may hurt...
OC's slash libido-friendly testosterone in two ways: First, they quiet the ovaries, halting their production of testosterone. Second, the liver pumps out a protein called the sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which gloms onto sex hormones (including testosterone) like bargain shoppers on Black Friday sales. But while OC's lower testosterone levels in all women, they lower libido only in some, Dr. Keder says. And even if the Pill does affect your mojo, plenty of other factors -- like anxiety about getting preggers -- affect it, too. If you have serious problems below the belt, ask your doctor about switching to a different med.
Chances are, you've heard this warning speed by during more than one birth control pill commercial. But before you reach for a bottle of Bayer, let's put things into perspective: Each year, 7 in 10,000 women experience blood clots. Birth control triples your chances, while pregnancy and childbirth raise your chances five- to ten-fold. As long as you don't have cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes or a pack of cigs in your purse, the increased risk shouldn't be too serious," says Dr. Keder. But if you experience any signs of a blood clot, such as chest pain or a swollen leg, immediately stop the pill and see your doctor for an evaluation.
Spotting isn't fun, but don't worry -- it isn't very serious, either. Most commonly occurring with low-dose birth control pills, it's believed to be caused by hormones making the endometrial lining thinner and more fragile, and more susceptible to wear, tear and falling out. Studies have shown that the longer you take the pill, the less likely you are to experience breakthrough bleeding.
It's a mood-saver for many women, but it's a mood-killer for others. Pill users are twice as likely to be depressed as nonusers, according to research from the Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre in Australia. "It's really pretty unusual," says Dr. Keder. "But any emotional side effects can generally be alleviated by using a different pill formulation." So don't suffer -- tell your doc if you have any worsening of depression symptoms.
If you're breastfeeding, steer clear of pills that contain estrogen; they can decrease breast-milk production by up to 5 percent. Progestin-only pills like Nor-Qd or Orthomicronor don't interfere with lactation, but have to be taken at the same time every day, since they are slightly less effective than combination pills.
Faux premenstrual symptoms
Headaches, breast tenderness, water retention, mood swings, nausea... While none of these are signs of health gone awry, they can all make you pretty miserable. Women who experience these side effects usually notice that they go away after they've taken OC's for a few months. If you feel like there's no end in sight, ask your doctor about an OC with drosperinone, a progesterone with fewer antiandrogenic properties, Dr. Wilcox suggests. The switch might be all you need to start feeling like yourself again.
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