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100 million women worldwide use "the Pill", either as a form of contraception or to control their menstruation. But, for some, it can cause difficult side-effects. Here, we examine them.

Approximately one-third of women of childbearing age use the contraceptive Pill. It's a good, reliable method of contraception, and has been around since 1960, making it one of the first truly dependable, reversible forms of contraception available for women. It truly revolutionised the lives of women, making it possible for women to control their own sexuality, and allowing women to not be forced to have families their could not afford. It freed women from the ramifications of enjoying sex. Besides freeing women from the risk of pregnancy 99% of the time, it also has a number of other potential benefits for the women who take it.

Other Benefits of the Pill

  • Reduced risk of Ovarian Cancer: Taking the Pill for five years or more reduces the risk of Ovarian cancer by 50%. This benefit continues even after stopping the Pill.
  • Reducing dysmenorrhoea:  By tricking your body into thinking you're pregnant, it reduces the painful cramps women with dysmenorrhoea suffer.

  • Easing endometriosis: Endometriosis is a severe gynaecological condition that causes very severe, heavy and painful periods. By balancing the hormones and keeping the womb lining thin, the Pill can improve symptoms.
  • Stabilising PMS: PMS can be very severe in some women. Taking the Pill can reduce the mood swings associated with PMS, and even ease symptoms of a severe variety of PMS called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
  • Less acne: Male hormones can cause acne. Taking the pill reduces the amount of male hormone in the body, clearing up the skin.
  • Prevent hormone-related migraines: Migraines can be triggered by a drop in oestrogen. Taking the contraceptive pill prevents this sudden drop, helping to prevent these migraines.

So, What's the Bad News?

Many Pill-users take the contraceptive pill for years without complaint. However, there are some sad instances where it can cause problems. Here, we'll examine some of the most serious problems, the most common problems, and try to find out just what the deal is with the Pill and breast cancer.


This is the most serious potential side-effect of the Pill, and it is potentially fatal. Thrombosis is a deadly blood clot that could lead to a Deep Vein Thrombosis, a heart attack, or a stroke.

Thrombosis most commonly occurs in women who:

  • Are obese
  • Are smokers
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Are over 35 years old

If you meet these risk factors (and especially if you are a smoker) ask about going on the Mini-Pill. While the Pill has oestrogen and progestogen, the Mini-Pill only has progestogen. This makes it less risky for those who are more likely to suffer Thrombosis. However, the Mini-Pill has a lower effectiveness rate to the Pill, so ask for advice.

Signs the Pill Isn't Right for You

If you start taking the Pill, watch out for signs that the Pill isn't right for you. These signs below are serious warning signs. If you experience them seek immediate medical attention, from either your doctor or your Accident and Emergency Department/Emergency Room:

  • Abdominal Pain (stomach pain)
  • Chest Pain
  • Headache (severe)
  • Eyes (vision problems; blurred vision)
  • Swelling or aching in the legs or thighs

So remember, if you're on the Pill, see a doctor if it ACHES.

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