Side Effects of Junel

Problems With "The Pill" and Clinical Studies

In the United States, medications must undergo clinical studies before they are approved for use. For most medications, these studies are "placebo-controlled," which means that one group of people is given the actual medication, while another group is given a placebo (a "sugar pill" with no active ingredients). The people are not usually told if they were given the real medication or the placebo (this is known as "blinding").
The side effects in both groups are carefully documented and compared. This way, it is possible to see what side effects occur, how often they appear, and if they are actual side effects of the medication. However, it is not possible to use a placebo in clinical trials for contraceptives, as this would lead to many unintentional pregnancies.

Common Side Effects of Junel

Since studies for birth control pills do not usually use a placebo, only vague information is available about Junel side effects. In fact, the side effects listed in the prescribing information for Junel are actually side effects of all birth control pills in general. Some of the common bothersome (but not usually dangerous) side effects of birth control pills include but are not limited to:
  • Breakthrough bleeding and spotting between periods (especially for the first few cycles)
  • Nausea and vomiting (this can be improved by taking Junel with food)
  • Breast tenderness and swelling
  • Headaches (although birth control pills can improve headaches in some women)
  • Acne (although birth control pills can also improve acne)
  • Changes in your eyes that make it more difficult to wear contact lenses
  • Bloating
  • Changes in sex drive (typically a decrease in sex drive).
Women are often concerned about weight gain due to birth control pills, but recent research suggests that birth control pills probably do not cause weight gain for most women (see Loestrin and Weight Gain).
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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