Most non-hormonal contraceptives have no side effects. So you can track your fertility, use a condom, and have your dude pull out nicely with no effect on your body. Unless you have a latex allergy, all will be well for you.
The other forms of contraceptives, because they are altering the menstrual cycle in one way or another (I said a bit about this in my previous post), will give you some side effects. Some are mild, some rather annoying, and some, are downright bad.
I will say a bit about the most common side effects for each and give my thoughts on who should use the types of birth control underneath.
Again, I will say this does not take the place of your healthcare practitioner’s advice and is only enough information to allow you to start a conversation with your doctor/nurse.
The possible side effects are:
- changes in mood, mood swings and depression
- breast pain or tenderness, breast enlargement
- fungal infections and cystitis
- a migraine or a headache
- feeling nauseous and vomiting
- stomach problems and diarrhoea
- irregular bleeding
- skin rash and acne
- hair loss
- changes in body weight
- high or low blood pressure levels
- low libido
A rare but pretty dangerous side effect for those who are at risk is the risk of developing blood clots with the combined oral contraceptive pill. Make sure you get a full history from your doctor if you are worried about anything.
They usually should get better within three months, as your body gets used to the hormones. If you have a history of migraines, high blood pressure, or blood clots, or are over 35, do not take the pill.
- Weakness or fatigue
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Hot flashes
- Leg cramps
- Joint or back pain
- White vaginal discharge
- Redness, irritation, swelling, burning, or itching of the vagina
- Cold or flu-like symptoms
- Pain, redness, irritation, lumping or scarring at the site of injection
- Delayed return of fertility
If you don’t have children yet and are planning on having kids, don’t use Depo-Provera as your first contraceptive. Because of its side effect that some take a long time to get pregnant, if you don’t know you’re fertile, it’s better not to go for something that’ll delay things.
Along with the common side effects, the headache, PMS, discharge, change in libido, it also causes:
- irregular menstrual bleeding (heavy bleeding, extremely light bleeding, the absence of menstrual periods, infrequent periods, spotting, shortened cycles)
- application site reactions
- pelvic pain
- urinary tract symptoms
Another thing to take note of is that it’s a pain to remove because the body forms scar tissue around the rod, so when you get it removed, make sure you’re not in a hurry.
These side effects last only a few days and include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- A headache
- Breast tenderness
- Bleeding between periods or heavier menstrual bleeding
- Lower abdominal pain or cramps
This is not meant to be a long-term contraceptive, just for one of those “oopsie” days. If you want to have unprotected sex regularly, look for something a bit more regular.
Depending on which one you have, Copper T or Mirena, the side effects differ slightly.
- pain when the IUD is put in.
- cramping or backaches for a few days after the IUD is put in.
- spotting between periods.
- irregular periods.
- heavier periods and worse menstrual cramps.
Another thing one is asked is if your partner is faithful because it can cause problems if you get an STI.
Since it has a hormone, the side effects are a combination of the hormone-containing contraceptions and the Copper T side effects. They’re supposed to be milder, so they say since the hormones mainly affect the uterus.
That is it in a nutshell. If you are worried about how you’re feeling when you’re on a certain contraception, do not hesitate to ask your health-care practitioner. There’s also Population Services International, Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council and New Start Centres, whose main aim is counselling on and providing low-cost contraceptive.
Do you have any questions that I may not have answered? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me, I might do one more post answering all the questions.
Until next time… your Quarter Wife.