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As with any medicine, side effects are possible with birth control pills. However, not all women who use them will experience side effects. In fact, most women tolerate them quite well. If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or can easily be treated by you or your healthcare provider. Serious side effects are less common.
Common side effects include but are not limited to:
- Breast tenderness
- Breakthrough bleeding or spotting between periods
- Acne, although many pills actually improve acne (see Birth Control Pills and Acne)
(Click Side Effects of Birth Control Pills to learn more, including potentially serious side effects that you should report immediately to your healthcare provider.)
Birth control pills can interact with a number of other medications (see Birth Control Pill Drug Interactions).
You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to using birth control pills if you have:
- A history of heart attack or stroke
- A history of blood clots or a clotting disorder
- Chest pain
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Liver disease, such as liver failure, cirrhosis, hepatitis, or liver tumors
- Cancer (or if you have had cancer in the past)
- Yellowing of the eyes or skin during a prior pregnancy or oral contraceptive use
- High cholesterol
- Gallbladder disease
- Heart valve problems
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding
- Any allergies, including allergies to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you:
- Will be having surgery
- Smoke cigarettes
- Are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant (see Birth Control Pills and Pregnancy)
- Are breastfeeding (see Birth Control Pills and Breastfeeding).
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
(Click Birth Control Pill Warnings and Precautions to learn more, including information on who should not take this form of contraceptive.)