Melasma is a common condition of pigmentation that causes the appearance of brown or gray patches on the skin, especially on the face.
The most prevalent places in which melasma occurs on the face include:
- the bridge of the nose
- the forehead
- the cheeks
- the upper lip
Melasma can also occur in other areas of the body, especially those that are exposed to a great deal of sunlight. These areas may include:
- the forearms
- the neck
- the shoulders
About 10 percent of all cases of melasma arise in men, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The risk of contracting melasma is higher for women with darker complexions and who are pregnant.
Doctors do not truly grasp why melasma develops. It may be due to the malfunction of the skin’s melanocytes (color-making cells), causing too much color to be developed.
As a result, as they have more melanocytes than people with lighter skin, people with darker skin tones are more likely to develop melasma.
Potential melasma causes include:
- changes in hormones during pregnancy (chloasma), hormone treatment, or while taking birth control pills
- sun exposure
- If they irritate the skin of a human, such skin care ingredients
There may also be a hereditary aspect of melasma, since it is more common for individuals whose close relatives have undergone melasma to acquire it themselves.
The appearance of discolored patches of skin is the main symptom of melasma. Although it does not trigger any other noticeable signs, the existence of these patches is bothersome for some persons.
The most common area for patches of melasma to appear is the face. Uncommon areas include the upper lips, nose bridge, cheeks, and forehead.
An individual can also have patches on their arms and neck, less frequently.
During a visual examination, dermatologists find most cases of melasma easy to diagnose. However, as melasma can be similar to other skin disorders, at the initial visit, a dermatologist can perform a small biopsy.
For further study in a laboratory, a biopsy involves taking a very small part of the tissue.
A practitioner can also use a system called a Wood’s light to look at the skin more closely.
Melasma does not necessarily need medication.
If hormonal changes have induced melasma, such as those arising during pregnancy or when taking birth control drugs, it can disappear after delivery or until a person stops taking the medication.
Melasma will last for years for other people, or even for the remainder of their lives. An individual should seek medication to help remove or fade the patches if the melasma does not fade with time.
Not all treatments, however, work for all, and even after good treatment, melasma can come back.
Melasma treatment options include:
As the first line of therapy for melasma, doctors also use hydroquinone. As a lotion, cream, or gel, hydroquinone is available.
An individual should add the hydroquinone substance directly to the discolored skin patches.
There is hydroquinone sold over the counter, but stronger creams should also be administered by a doctor. Hydroquinone works by rendering skin patches brighter in colour.
Corticosteroids and tretinoin
It comes as creams , lotions, or gels containing corticosteroids and tretinoin. Both corticosteroids and tretinoin can help lighten the color of the melasma patches.
In certain cases, a dermatologist can choose to administer hydroquinone, corticosteroids, and tretinoin-containing combination creams in one. These are called triple creams.
Additional topical medications
Azelaic acid or Kojic acid can also be administered by a dermatologist in addition to or in lieu of other medicated creams. These acids function to lighten the skin’s dark regions.
If topical medications do not work, a doctor may suggest procedures such as:
- chemical peel
- laser treatment
- light therapy
Any of these options for treatment include side effects or can cause further complications with the skin. It is safer to chat about all the potential dangers with a doctor or dermatologist.
If a person has previously had melasma, they may try to prevent causes by:
- limiting sun exposure
- wearing a hat when outside
- using sunscreen
Melasma causes dark spots, most commonly on the face, to form on the skin. While these changes in the skin are harmless, certain individuals can find them bothersome.
For certain patients, therapy is successful. When hormone levels return to normal, melasma that is due to hormonal changes can also diminish over time.
Things to know about natural birth control methods
People who can not or do not want to use hormonal birth control to avoid conception can utilize natural birth control. There are a variety of natural birth control options available, but some are less effective than hormonal contraception.
Birth control, often known as contraception, refers to a variety of procedures, medications, and technologies used to prevent undesired pregnancy. People looking for birth control have a range of options.
Barrier contraception prevents sperm from reaching the female egg, preventing conception. Hormonal birth control works by preventing the generation of hormones that can lead to pregnancy.
Barrier contraception can be used by someone who employs natural birth control methods like tracking ovulation and taking basal temperature measurements.
The various natural birth control methods are discussed in this page, as well as how they operate and how effective they are.
Natural birth control, often known as fertility awareness, is a way of preventing conception that does not include the use of devices or hormone modification. To anticipate ovulation, people track things like menstruation, cervical mucus, and basal temperature.
The ovary releases an egg during ovulation, which is a hormone-driven process. The person menstruates if the sperm does not fertilize the egg or if pregnancy does not occur.
The fertile window for a woman begins 5 days before ovulation. People who use contraception of any kind should be aware that sperm can survive for 2–5 days in the female reproductive tract.
A person may abstain from sex or use barrier contraception, such as a condom, throughout the ovulation period or reproductive window. Barrier birth control is hormone-free and can help prevent unintended pregnancies during a woman’s most fertile period.
People can use a calendar or an online calculator to track their ovulation cycles, such as the ovulation calculator from the Office on Women’s Health.
People who use fertility awareness approaches, on the other hand, may have a higher risk of unintended pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), traditional fertility awareness approaches have a 2–23% failure rate. This indicates that up to 23 out of every 100 people who use this approach become pregnant each year.
Advantages and disadvantages
Before deciding to utilize natural birth control techniques, it’s a good idea to weigh the benefits and drawbacks.
Before deciding to utilize natural birth control techniques, it’s a good idea to consider the advantages and disadvantages.
- The majority of natural birth control options are free.
- Devices that calculate ovulation windows are available for purchase.
- Natural birth control has no effect on the amount of hormones produced by the body.
- Birth control devices and prescriptions do not require a doctor’s appointment.
- Natural birth control does not cause the same adverse effects as hormonal birth control, such as headaches and nausea.
- Natural birth control might have a failure rate of up to 23%.
- This method’s efficacy is contingent on a person’s willingness and capacity to precisely document their menstrual cycles in order to determine an expected ovulation window.
- People who have irregular or missing periods may find it difficult to track their fertility and may need to adopt a different method of contraception.
- During their ovulation window, people will have to either avoid vaginal sex or utilize another kind of birth control.
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are not protected by natural birth control.
A person can pick from a variety of natural birth control methods. In addition, some businesses may market goods that help people track their fertility.
However, according to the CDC, traditional natural birth control methods are only 77 percent effective at preventing unintended pregnancy. To improve the effectiveness of this kind of contraception, people may want to consider utilizing supplementary birth control methods, such as condoms.
Basal body temperature method
This method needs a person to take their temperature every day when they first wake up with a basal thermometer. People should check that an oral or digital thermometer measures in tenths of a degree Fahrenheit (°F) when measuring basal body temperature.
Ovulation is marked by a prolonged temperature increase of roughly 0.5°F. Although a person with a longer or shorter cycle may experience the temperature spike on different days, ovulation normally occurs around day 14 of a 28-day period.
To reduce the risk of an unintended pregnancy, people should use another type of contraception or refrain from vaginal sex during ovulation.
Apart from ovulation, there are other things that might affect a person’s basal body temperature, including:
- jet lag
- drinking alcohol
People can also buy ovulation tracking and charting kits from firms that sell them. Natural Cycles, for example, offers a fertility tracking smart app that allows people to enter data such as basal body temperature. People can also purchase a basal thermometer from the company to get more precise data.
Ovulation prediction kits
These tests look for the presence of luteinizing hormone (LH) in the urine to see if a woman is ovulating.
To determine when a person is most likely ovulating, most ovulation prediction kits detect an LH surge. Others check estrogen levels, which rise right before ovulation.
Cervical mucus method
To determine ovulation, this approach evaluates the volume and quality of cervical mucus.
Cervical mucus can be checked in a variety of methods. Before urinating, wipe the vaginal area with white toilet paper and observe the color and texture of the discharge. Another option is to check the color and texture of the discharge in your underwear or by inserting clean fingers into the vaginal canal.
The chart below lists the many sorts of discharges that a person can expect throughout the month.
|During menstruation||disguised by blood flow||not applicable||less likely to be more fertile|
|Directly after menstruation||no mucus||no mucus||may be fertile, depending on cycle length|
|Before ovulation||yellow, white, or cloudy||sticky or tacky||may be more fertile|
|Right before and during ovulation||clear or looks like egg whites||slippery and stretchy||most likely to be fertile|
|After ovulation||no mucus, or cloudy mucus||none, or sticky||less likely to be fertile|
Rhythmic technique or calendar
This method involves calculating the most fertile times of the month by charting the menstrual cycle. A calendar or menstrual cycle app, such as Flo, can be used to automatically estimate ovulation after entering menstruation data.
To determine a person’s ovulation window, Planned Parenthood suggests using the following formula:
- Find the shortest tracked cycle.
- Subtract 18 days from the total number of days in that cycle.
- Use this number to count from the start – including day 1 – of the current cycle and mark that day. This is the start of a person’s ovulation window.
To have a better knowledge of when they ovulate, people should track at least 3–6 cycles. This strategy is less likely to work if a person’s cycles are normally shorter than 27 days.
The withdrawal method, also known as pulling out, is removing the penis from the vaginal opening before ejaculation.
This approach has a 4% failure rate when used perfectly. However, this approach is only 78 percent efficient in most cases. In a year, about one out of every five people will become pregnant using this approach. Because pre-ejaculate, the fluid that comes out of the penis just before ejaculation, contains sperm, this procedure has such a high failure rate.
Breastfeeding or lactation amenorrhea
Breastfeeding people can use this approach to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
This approach is only suited for people who match all three of the following criteria, according to the CDC.
- Those who are not menstruating — amenorrhea.
- Those who are exclusively or almost exclusively breastfeeding.
- Those who have given birth no more than 6 months previously.
According to the CDC, this is a temporary method of birth control. If a person does not fit one of the above conditions, they should use an alternative approach.
Any sexual action that does not include vaginal sex or allowing semen into the vagina is considered outercourse.
Some examples of outercourse are as follows:
- using sex toys
- dry humping or grinding
- mutual masturbation
This approach, however, does not protect against all STIs. An STI can be passed from one person to another through skin-to-skin contact.
Hormonal vs. natural birth control
Individuals may wish to see a healthcare practitioner before deciding on a method of birth control to explore the effectiveness and acceptability of various choices.
Natural birth control, male condoms, and the pill, a prevalent form of hormonal birth control, are all described in the table below.
|Effectiveness||Side effects||STI protection||Availability||Cost|
|Natural birth control||77–98% effective||none||none||widely available||none|
|Male condoms||85–98% effective||none||helps prevent STIs||widely available||around $1 each condom|
|The pill||91–99% effective||• mood swings|
• breast tenderness
|none||widely available||$0–$50 per month|
The following are some frequently asked questions concerning natural birth control.
Who should consider about nonhormonal, natural birth control?
Natural birth control is an option for anyone who wants to avoid an unintended pregnancy without utilizing a hormonal type of contraception.
However, a person may desire to speak with a healthcare expert about the various types of contraception available to ensure that they are selecting the best option for them.
What are the most effective natural birth control methods?
According to the CDC, all natural birth control methods, also known as fertility awareness methods, are successful in 77–98% of cases.
If a person wishes to make natural birth control more effective, they should consider using an alternative kind of contraception, such as male or female condoms.
What can I use instead of birth control?
If a person does not want to get pregnant and does not want to take birth control, they should avoid sexual behavior that involves vaginal sex or where semen might enter the vagina.
Natural birth control, also known as fertility awareness approaches, reduces the risk of unintended pregnancy by employing techniques such as basal body temperature, the rhythm method, and the withdrawal method. These techniques can assist in predicting a person’s ovulation window, which is the time when a person is most likely to become pregnant following vaginal sex.
Natural birth control, on the other hand, isn’t as effective as most hormonal and barrier techniques. To lower the odds of an unintended pregnancy, a person who employs fertility awareness methods may want to use another nonhormonal type of contraception, such as condoms.
Birth control and the development of breast cancer: What’s the link?
Hormonal contraception can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer by a small amount. Depending on the type of contraceptive they use, this can vary. The advantages of birth control, on the other hand, frequently outweigh the disadvantages. Hormonal contraception, for example, may avoid unintended pregnancies and can also protect against other cancers.
Hormonal contraception appears to be linked to a small rise in the risk of breast cancer. This could be due to the fact that oral contraceptives use hormones to prevent women from being pregnant, which could overstimulate breast cells and raise the risk of breast cancer.
Other than oral contraception, there are other forms of birth control. Unintended pregnancies can be avoided without increasing the risk of breast cancer.
Hormonal contraception, on the other hand, can have certain health advantages, such as a lower risk of ovarian cysts and other cancers.
The relationship between birth control and breast cancer will be explored in this report. It will also clarify the advantages of hormonal contraception and provide some options to those who are concerned about the risks. It will also provide details on other breast cancer risk factors.
Is birth control linked to the development of breast cancer?
Hormonal contraception can slightly increase a person’s risk of breast cancer, according to a 2017 report.
A total of 1.8 million Danish females aged 15 to 49 took part in the survey. The women had never had cancer or had undergone fertility therapy.
The researchers discovered that women who used hormonal contraceptives had a significantly higher risk of breast cancer than women who did not. This suggested that one out of every 7,690 participants developed breast cancer.
Other factors, such as age, can influence a person’s risk of developing breast cancer, according to the researchers.
The risk of developing breast cancer was lower in participants under the age of 35. Just one out of every 50,000 women who had been using hormonal contraceptives for a year developed breast cancer.
After around 5 years, a person’s risk of breast cancer appears to return to normal if they avoid using hormonal contraceptives.
Females who still use or previously used contemporary hormonal contraceptives had a higher risk of breast cancer than those who had never used hormonal contraceptives.
Longer periods of usage increased the risk, but the actual increase in risk was minimal.
A type of multiphasic pill is the triphasic pill. According to a person’s period, it switches the hormone dose three times. Monophasic tablets, on the other hand, use the same dose of hormones during the cycle.
In a 2010 survey, 116,000 female nurses between the ages of 24 and 43 were followed. The investigation began in 1989. There was a small rise in the risk of breast cancer, according to the report. Those taking the triphasic pill were the ones that were most at risk.
Another 2014 research found evidence of a correlation between the triphasic pill and an increased risk of breast cancer.
While triphasic pills are still available, they have become less common in recent years. If people taking these pills are concerned about their cancer risk, they should see a doctor.
Is it possible for a woman with breast cancer to use birth control?
Breast cancer patients may want to avoid birth control pills or hormonal intrauterine products (IUDs). Since these approaches can influence the growth of tumour cells in people with hormone-sensitive cancers like breast cancer, they are not recommended.
An individual with breast cancer, on the other hand, has a variety of non-hormonal options.
Alternative methods of birth control
If an individual is concerned about the slightly increased risk of breast cancer associated with hormonal birth control, or if they need to avoid it because they have breast cancer, they could consider:
- Barrier methods: One of the many types of barrier methods available may be a safe alternative to hormonal contraception, such as: condoms, diaphragm, spermicide
- Non-hormonal IUDs: A non-hormonal IUD will prevent pregnancy while also lowering the risk of breast cancer.
- Permanent birth control surgery: If a person is certain they do not want to have children, they should look into the permanent surgical options available to those seeking alternatives to more temporary birth control methods. A man, for example, may consider a vasectomy.
Why should you use birth control?
The advantages of birth control frequently outweigh the risks, according to medical professionals. In the parts below, we’ll go through some of the possible advantages of birth control in greater depth.
Risks associated with pregnancy may be increased.
When compared to the socioeconomic and health threats that an accidental pregnancy will carry, the increased risk of breast cancer is negligible.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the maternal mortality rate in the United States was 26.4 deaths per 100,000 females in 2016.
This mortality rate is more than double the figures in the Danish report for increased breast cancer risk due to hormonal contraceptive use (13 additional cases for every 100,000 participants).
The birth control pill is 99.7% effective when taken according to directions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The risk of cancer is lower in general.
Some types of birth control have been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers in women. For example, a systematic review published in 2013 discovered that oral contraception can reduce a person’s risk of:
As a result, despite the slightly increased breast cancer risk, those who use hormonal contraceptives can have a lower overall cancer risk.
Other health benefits
Oral contraception may have additional health benefits, such as:
- a more consistent menstrual cycle
- Premenstrual syndrome symptoms are lessened.
- a lower chance of ovarian cysts
- endometriosis symptoms are reduced
- perimenopause symptoms are reduced,
- acne symptoms can improve
Breast cancer risk factors
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in American women, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Breast cancer is caused by a number of factors, including:
- Inherited risks: Risks from family history include mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
- Older age: Age is the main risk factor for breast cancer. The risk increases with advancing age.
- Personal history of breast cancer and breast cancer treatment: A person may be more at risk of breast cancer if they have ever had:
- invasive breast cancer
- ductal carcinoma in situ
- lobular carcinoma in situ
- benign breast disease
- radiation therapy to the chest or breast
- Menopause medications: A person who is using hormone replacement therapy for the symptoms of menopause may have a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer.
People may take steps to reduce their risk of cancer by doing things like:
- stopping smoking, if applicable
- maintaining a moderate weight
- exercising regularly, where possible
- following a healthy diet
Hormonal contraceptives have been linked to a significantly increased risk of breast cancer, according to research.
Breast cancer is more likely in people who have other risk factors, such as advanced age, a family history of breast cancer, or a personal history of breast cancer.
Hormonal contraceptives, on the other hand, have certain health advantages, such as a lower risk of ovarian and uterine cancer. Whether or not they use hormonal contraception, young women in good health are at an average risk of breast cancer.
Non-hormonal birth control strategies, such as barrier methods, non-hormonal IUDs, or permanent options, such as surgery, may be used by people at greater risk of breast cancer and others who have breast cancer or have already recovered from it.
- Appendix D: Contraceptive effectiveness. (2014).
- Beaber, E. F., et al. (2014). Recent oral contraceptive use by formulation and breast cancer risk among women 20 to 49 years of age [Abstract].
- Breast cancer prevention (PDQ)–Patient version. (2021).
- Is there a link between birth control and breast cancer? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/birth-control-and-breast-cancer?
- Do hormonal contraceptives increase breast cancer risk? (2017).
- GBD 2015 Maternal Mortality Collaborators. (2016). Global, regional, and national levels of maternal mortality, 1990–2015: A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015 [Abstract].
- Gierisch, J. M., et al. (2013). Oral contraceptive use and risk of breast, cervical, colorectal, and endometrial cancers: A systematic review [Abstract].
- Hormonal contraception and the risk of breast cancer. (2018).
- Hunter, D. J., et al. (2010). Oral contraceptive use and breast cancer: A prospective study of young women [Abstract].
- Mørch, L. S., et al. (2017). Contemporary hormonal contraception and the risk of breast cancer.
- Nathan-Garner, L., et al. (2016) The pill and cancer: Is there a link?
- Pernambuco-Holsten, C. (2018). Birth control and cancer risk: 6 things you should know.
10 most common birth control pill and their side effects
A hormone-based tool for avoiding pregnancy is the oral contraceptive pill, widely known as “the pill.” This may also help overcome intermittent menstrual syndrome (PMS), painful or extreme cycles, endometriosis, acne and premenstrual syndrome.
“The pill” is used in the United States by about 16 percent of women aged 15 to 44 and has both benefits and disadvantages. Individuals with various risk factors may be recommended to use a particular type of pill.
There are various types of birth control pills. They all contain synthetic forms of estrogen , progesterone or both of the hormones. The word progestin is called synthetic progesterone. Combination pills include the oestrogen and progestin. The “mini pill,” only contains progestin.
The monophasic pills all contain the same hormone balance. Two or three different types of pills are taken each month with phasic pills, each with a different hormone balance.
“Everyday pills” and “21-day pills” are another option. A pack of daily pills lasts 28 days, but seven of the pills are inactive. The daily pill may be easier to use properly, because the routine is the same every day.
Used correctly, the pill is highly successful, but because people make mistakes, it is thought that 6 to 12 pregnancies in every 100 occur each year when using it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC) has set a failure rate of 9 percent for both pill types.
Common side effects of oral contraceptives include:
- intermenstrual spotting
- breast tenderness
- headaches and migraine
- weight gain
- mood changes
- missed periods
- decreased libido
- vaginal discharge
- changes to eyesight for those using contact lenses
We will look at each of these side effects in detail below.
1. Intermenstrual spotting
Breakthrough vaginal bleeding between expected periods is normal. It typically fixes within 3 months of taking the drug.
The drug is still safe during spotting, as long as it has been administered properly and there are no missing doses. Anyone experiencing 5 or more days of bleeding while on active drugs, or 3 or more days of heavy bleeding should contact a health care provider for advice.
This bleeding can occur because the uterus adjusts to having a thinner endometrial lining or because the body adjusts to varying hormone levels.
Many people get slight nausea while taking the pill first, but symptoms generally subside after a while. It can help to take the pill with food or at bedtime. If you experience extreme nausea or continue for more than 3 months, you should seek medical advice.
3. Breast tenderness
Birth control pills can cause an enlargement or tenderness of the breast. It usually fixes a couple of weeks after the pill begins. Anyone who discovers a lump in the breast or has constant discomfort or tenderness or serious discomfort in the breast should seek medical assistance.
Tips for breast tenderness relief include reducing the consumption of caffeine and salt, and wearing a supportive bra.
4. Headaches and migraine
The hormones in the birth control pills will make headaches and migraine more likely.
Pills with different hormone types and concentrations can cause different symptoms.
Using a low dose pill can reduce headache incidence.
Symptoms usually improve over time but you should seek medical help if serious headaches start when you start taking the drug.
5. Weight gain
Clinical trials have not found a clear correlation between the use of birth control pills and changes in weight. Fluid retention, however, may occur especially around the breasts and hips.
According to one study , the majority of research of progestin-only birth control showed an average weight gain of under 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms) at 6 or 12 months. Research of other forms of birth control have shown the same benefit.
Many types of hormonal contraception have been linked with a reduction in lean body mass.
6. Mood changes
Research show that oral contraceptives can influence the mood of the patient and increase the likelihood of depression or other changes in the emotions. Someone who reports changes in mood during use of the drug should contact their health care provider.
7. Missed periods
A duration can often be skipped even with good use of the pills. This can be affected by factors such as stress, sickness, travel and hormonal or thyroid abnormalities.
If a period is missed or is very light while using the pill, a pregnancy test is recommended before starting the next pack. It is not uncommon for an occasional flow to be either very light or skipped entirely. When the need arises, seek professional advice.
8. Decreased libido
For some people the hormone or hormones in the contraceptive pill can affect sex drive or libido. When reduced libido continues and is embarrassing, this should be discussed with a health care provider.
For certain cases , for example, the birth control pill will raise libido by eliminating pregnancy issues and reducing the debilitating effects of menstrual cramping, premenstrual syndrome, endometriosis and uterine fibroids.
9. Vaginal discharge
After taking the pill, changes in vaginal discharge can occur. There may be an rise or decrease in vaginal lubrication, or a change in the discharge character. If this results in vaginal dryness, added lubrication can help make sex more comfortable.
These variations are typically not harmful but color or odor alternations may indicate an infection. Those worried about these changes should speak to their healthcare provider.
10. Eye changes
Hormonal changes caused by the birth control pill are related to corneal thickening in the eyes. A greater risk of eye disease has not been linked with oral contraceptive use, but it could mean that contact lenses no longer fit comfortably.
Wearers of contact lenses should check with their ophthalmologist if they notice any changes in vision or lens resistance during use of pills.
The pill should not be taken by:
- women who are pregnant
- smokers over the age of 35 years, or anyone who stopped smoking within the last year and is over 35 years old
- anyone with obesity
- those who are taking certain medications
- anyone who has or has had thrombosis, a stroke, or a heart problem
- anyone with a close relative who had a blood clot before the age of 45 years
- people who have severe migraines, especially with an aura as the warning sign
- anyone who has or had had breast cancer or disease of the liver or gallbladder
- anyone who has had diabetes for at least 20 years or diabetes with complications
If any of the following occur, the user should see a doctor.
- abdominal or stomach pain
- chest pain, shortness of breath, or both
- severe headaches
- eye problems such as blurred vision or loss of vision
- swelling or aching in the legs and thighs
- redness, swelling or pain in the calf or thighs
They may indicate a more serious condition.
Birth control pills may be used to raise the risk of long-term health issues.
Combination pills will increase the risk of cardiovascular side effects, such as heart attack , stroke and clots of blood, slightly. Any of those can be deadly.
For certain drugs the risk is greater. A doctor will advise you on the correct choices.
Those with uncontrolled high blood pressure or a personal or family history of blood clots, heart attack, or stroke should seek alternative approaches from their medical provider.
Normally occurring female hormones, such as oestrogen, are believed to affect a woman’s risk of developing those forms of cancer. Therefore it is likely that the use of a birth control method based on hormone may have a similar effect.
Ovarian and endometrial cancer: Clearly both are less common in women who use the medication.
Breast cancer: There seems to be a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer in women who have been taking the contraceptive pill lately, and particularly if they began taking it during their teen years. Nonetheless, after 10 years of not taking the drug, the risk appears to be the same as with those who never used it.
Cervical cancer: Long-term use of the drug was associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer relative to those who never used it. Some forms of cervical cancer are therefore caused by the human papilloma virus ( HPV). It is yet to be verified that HPV is related to the use of oral birth control pills.
Liver cancer: Oral contraceptives have been linked with a greater risk of developing benign tumors in the liver, but these rarely become cancer. Several reports have shown that, after using oral contraceptives for at least 5 years, the risk of liver cancer is higher but other reports have not had the same findings.
There are other choices available for those who can’t use the birth control pill or don’t want it.
This is a birth control barrier method which prevents sperm from getting into contact with egg cells. Male condoms are sheaths placed over the penis. A female condom, at either end, is a pouch with a ring. This is placed inside the vagina.
Condoms are commonly available but are mostly made from latex, but in certain individuals can cause an allergy. Alternatives are polyurethane or lambskin.
The chance of it not working with all forms of condoms is 18 percent or more in a year.
It is a dome-shaped, shallow rimmed cup that is positioned in the vagina to protect the cervix. Using with spermicide, it prevents meeting of the sperm and egg.
Disadvantages involve possible urinary tract infections and vaginal irritation. The discomfort may be due to a reaction to the material from which the diaphragm or the spermicide is made.
In every 100 women who use it, between 6 and 12 pregnancies occur annually, because of human error.
NuvaRing (vaginal ring)
A plastic ring is inserted into the vagina, and hormones are released to prevent ovulation. It is inserted for 3 weeks per month, and removed for 1 week, during which menstruation takes place. These hormones are somewhat similar to the pill and there could be similar side effects.
In every 100 women who use it, between 6 and 12 pregnancies occur each year because of use errors.
The vaginal ring may have similar side effects to the pill as a hormonal birth control device, including intermenstrual bleeding, headache and diminished libido.
Intrauterine devices (IUDs)
In the doctor’s office a small tool made of plastic and copper is inserted into the uterus. IUDs can be hormonal or non-hormonal in nature.
Hormonal IUDs thicken the cervical mucus and suppress ovulation. Non-hormonal IUDs produce an inflammatory response that is harmful to sperm in the uterus.
This lasts up to 10 years and is effective at avoiding pregnancy by almost 100 per cent.
Adverse effects include intermenstrual bleeding and menstrual irregularity. With exacerbated cramps some IUDs can lead to heavier periods.
Surgery is performed in the man, blocking or cutting the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the penis. Surgery blocks the Falopian tubes inside the woman.
Possible men’s complications include cancer, hematoma, swelling, and the development of sperm granulomas, lumps that grow in the tissue around the vas deferens where sperm leaks.
This is normally permanent.
The shot versus the pill
Taking a shot of contraceptive hormones can be a more effective way to avoid pregnancy than using a pill as the patient doesn’t have to recall taking it every day at the same time.
Nevertheless, these may also have adverse effects, being hormonal birth control methods.
Injections like Depo-Provera suppress ovulation and thicken cervical mucus to reduce sperm chances of entering egg cells, much as the birth control pill does. This is a solely contraceptive progestin (POC).
The downside of the shot is that you don’t have to take it every day, but you need to consider taking another shot every 3 months, and that’s what the doctor’s office wants to do.
When used correctly, it is more than 99 per cent successful. And, as women often fail to take another shot, by doing it, about 6 out of every 100 women will become pregnant each year. This makes it reliable in contrast with oral contraceptives.
Some side effects from the shot are similar to those of the birth control pill.
Oral contraceptives are related to cardiovascular issues. Some research related the shot to thrombosis, or blood coagulation, but others did not.
The Mayo Clinic states that in people with a history of heart disease, diabetes, or stroke, some providers may discourage use.
Possible side effects that should be reported to a physician include:
- vaginal bleeding that is heavier or lasts longer than usual
- jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes
- Pus and pain around the injection site
Other effects that tend to pass within a few months include:
- abdominal pain and bloating
- decrease libido
- weakness and fatigue
- weight gain
Depo-Provera was also related to a loss of bone mineral density, which in later life raised the likelihood of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
And when used correctly, the shot will trigger pregnancy. It can take up to 10 months to conceive after it has been stopped.