Contraceptive side effects, uses, by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
May 1 2015


Oral contraceptives were introduced in the late 1950s, and their use has altered society and has led to radical changes. Combined oral contraceptives are considered the most acceptable, effective, and most easily reversible method of contraception. Hormonal contraceptive is available in oral pills and in newer formulations, including the transdermal patch, the vaginal ring, subcutaneous implants, and IM injections.


Pregnancy prevention with contraceptives
Prevention of pregnancy is achieved by inhibiting ovulation, fertilization, and/or implantation of an egg. Hormonal contraceptive provides effective, tolerable, and reversible prevention of pregnancy. Efficacy and safety profiles are similar for different formulations and administration routes. Lowest expected failure (i.e., method failure) rates for hormonal contraceptives, regardless of formulation, are less than 2%. Typical failure rates for oral formulations range from 3% to 5% due to failures in compliance.


Side effects from Hormonal Contraceptives, bad reactions
In the early 1960s an association between venous thrombosis and pulmonary emboli and oral contraceptive use was identified. In response, the amount of estrogen used in these products was decreased.
   The most commonly reported adverse effects from hormonal contraceptives are weight gain, nausea, variations in menstrual flow, breast changes such as tenderness, discomfort, or swelling, depression or mood disturbances, decreased sexual desire or response, and acne. Rare but serious potential effects include cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke, and an increased risk for breast cancer, liver tumors, and gallbladder disease. Hormonal contraceptive use should be avoided in women at risk for blood clots, by heavy smokers, and in women with breast or other cancers. Use in adolescents requires special consideration, in part because of decreased compliance.


Contraceptives made available past few years
Seasonique (levonorgestrel/ethinyl estradiol tablets 0.15 mg/0.03 mg and ethinyl estradiol tablets 0.01 mg, Barr/Duramed) Extended-cycle oral contraceptive has been approved by the FDA for the prevention of pregnancy. Seasonique became available in 2006.



Certain third-generation progestins in low-estrogen preparations increase the risk of venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Also, the realization that genetic factors play a role in the degree of thrombosis risk led to insights into the hemostatic changes that occur during oral contraceptive use and that predispose women to thrombosis. Known risk factors for venous thromboembolism-inherited thrombophilia, a personal history of venous thromboembolism, and obesity-pose varying degrees of concern for both women and their physicians regarding the safety of oral contraceptives. In order to prevent venous thromboembolism, prudence is required when prescribing oral contraceptives to women who have an increased risk of that condition.


Femcon Fe Chewable contraceptives
The first chewable contraceptive, a tiny, spearmint-flavored tablet that also can be swallowed without chewing, hit pharmacy shelves in 2006. Femcon Fe, which contains the same hormones as standard oral contraceptives, offers a new option for women who don't like swallowing pills and want to take their birth control with them, according to Carl Reichel, president of drugmaker Warner Chilcott of Rockaway. Warner Chilcott, which makes prescription dermatology and women's health products, officially launched the product aimed at women who sometimes forget to take their pills.