The Effects of Hormonal Birth Control on Your Body

/ Lifestyle

Birth control pills, stick-on patches, insertable rings for the vagina, implants, and shots are all forms of hormonal birth control that help in preventing unwanted pregnancy and regulating hormone levels in women. According to a survey, the most common contraception method in the UAE is birth control pills. In the UAE, over the counter pills are readily available at retail stores and pharmacies. Some of them can be purchased whilst for others, a doctor’s prescription is needed. For other methods of birth control, a specialist’s appointment is needed so that your body can be examined, pre-existing health conditions can be discussed, and the best form of birth control can be given to you. It should be noted that the emergency contraceptive pill is banned in the UAE.

How do I know which birth control will work well for me?

Your health care provider can be the best judge of what is good for your body. However, do inform the doctor if you’re breastfeeding, are on epilepsy medications, have depression, diabetes, liver or kidney disease, have any allergies or skin conditions and if birth control has created issues for you in the past. IUD’s and implants have the highest probability of preventing pregnancies. However, pills, shots, and rings are also quite effective provided they are used in the instructed manner.

If I am traveling to the UAE, can I bring my birth control pills?

Yes, you can. However, if you want to purchase it from a pharmacy in the UAE, you will need your prescription.

How can birth control alter my body?

With all its benefits including lessening acne, regulating the menstrual cycle and eliminating symptoms of PCOS, birth control has other effects on your body as well. Here’s what birth control does to your body:

·        Not all women experience betterment in acne. Some feel that it worsens the condition and causes them to break out more often.

·        Birth control can either help get rid of migraines or cause them to occur more frequently. It varies from woman to woman.

·        Your breast size can increase and even when not on your period, you can experience tenderness.

·        Birth control can have a huge impact on one’s mood. There can be depression, anxiety, and extreme happiness. Sometimes, it’s the exact opposite and women experience reduced mood swings.

·        Some women complain of fatigue and tiredness.

·        There can be an increase or decrease in appetite depending on the type of birth control being used.

·        Following the above point, women might experience weight fluctuations.

·        Women can get bloated and feel nauseated. Sometimes it lasts throughout the process, other times the body gets used to the birth control.

·        Research suggests that birth control can ‘act as a shield’ against cancer.

·        Because there are no eggs to fertilize, there is a lower risk of pregnancy.

·        Most women experience reduced hair growth, especially facial. However, some women have reported having increased hair growth.

·        Being on birth control for a long period can cause high blood pressure.

A specialist giving a birth control shot to a woman.
A specialist giving a birth control shot to a woman.

How does each birth control option work?

The patch has to be placed on the skin and should be changed every week. Rings are worn inside the vagina and are to be changed every month. Both the patch and the ring release hormones into the body. There are different types of IUDs. They’re put in the uterus by a specialist. Some IUDs are hormone-free. The IUD is no longer effective after its expiration date and can also cause infections leading to infertility if left inside. IUD removal time depends on the type that you have. It can range from 4 to 12 years. Birth control shots are injected by the doctor every three months. An implant can last up to three years and is placed in the upper part of your arm by a doctor. The pills have to be taken daily. If missed, your chances of getting pregnant increase.

What common side effects does birth control have?

Most women experience at least one of these issues and it is common to experience multiple of them: spotting, skin irritation, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, muscle spasms, vagina discharge, mood swings, and swollen breasts.

How do I know if birth control is not working for me?

If you experience the following symptoms after taking birth control, then please contact your specialist immediately: signs of a stroke, insomnia, breast lump(s), sudden vision loss, signs of pregnancy, jaundice, blood clots, shortness of breath and other signs that are not normal side-effects of the birth control.

Woman applying a birth control patch.
What a birth control patch looks like.

Do I have to use birth control if my partner uses a condom?

Condoms are effective 98% of the time which means that roughly 15 out of 100 women do get pregnant whilst their partner is using the condom. However, using birth control and having your partner wear a condom significantly reduces any chance of pregnancy.

How long before I can conceive if I stop using birth control?

This entirely depends on the type of birth control that you’re on. Age also plays a role. If you’re on the pill, it might take you four to six months before ovulation starts again. However, some women end up conceiving in one month as well. With a vaginal ring or patch, your fertility may take up to three months to return. After a birth control implant is removed, your fertility should return within a month. The expected period is the same for an IUD.

Illustration of an IUD inserted in the uterus.
Illustration of an IUD inserted in the uterus.

Birth control is very effective for couples who’re not yet planning a family. It may also be prescribed to unmarried women due to conditions such as PCOS. However, understand that leaving it won’t make you pregnant right away. If you plan to conceive soon, talk to your doctor about the type of birth control you should be on. If you’re not being able to get pregnant after having left the birth control, opt for infertility treatments. Some women choose to be on birth control for most parts of their life and there is nothing wrong with that. If this lifestyle choice causes a barrier between you and your spouse-to-be, you can lay things in front of a marriage counselor.

The Effects of Hormonal Birth Control on Your Body
Share this

Subscribe to Hakeem