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Remembering to take a pill every day can be hard. And some people get side effects that bother them (but they usually go away in a few months).

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You have to take the pill every day.

It’s really important to take your birth control pill every day, or you might not be protected from pregnancy. Using reminder apps, setting an alarm, or keeping your pill pack next to things you use every day (like your toothbrush or phone charger) can help you remember to take your pill.

If you have a really busy life and think you might not remember to take a pill every day, check out other birth control methods like IUDs or implants that are almost impossible to mess up. Take our quiz for help finding the birth control method that’s best for you.

There can be negative side effects.

Like most medications, birth control pills can have side effects. But most usually go away after two or three months. Many people use the pill with no problems at all.

The hormones in the pill can change your level of sexual desire. You may also notice bleeding between periods (most often with progestin-only pills), sore breasts, or nausea.

You may have spotting or bleeding between periods, sore breasts, nausea or headaches. These usually go away after 2 or 3 months.

Birth control shouldn’t make you feel sick or uncomfortable. Luckily, you have many birth control options. If you keep having side effects that bother you after using the pill for 3 months, talk with your nurse or doctor about finding another brand of pill or another birth control method. Just don’t stop taking the pill before you start a new method or you’ll be at risk of pregnancy.

Some side effects of the pill are serious.

Serious problems from taking the birth control pill are very uncommon. People using birth control that has estrogen, like combination pills, have a slightly higher chance of having a few rare but dangerous problems than people who don’t use birth control with hormones. Read more about birth control pill safety.

Check out the package insert that came with your pills or talk to your nurse or doctor for more information about side effects.

More questions from patients:

What are the side effects of stopping birth control pills?

The side effects of stopping birth control pills are different for each person, just like the side effects of using them.

The hormones in the pill leave your body in a few days. That means any side effects you experienced while using it will go away pretty quickly. Yes, this includes the positive ones like clearer skin and lighter periods. However, it can take a few weeks to several months for your regular menstrual cycle to return.

Here are some side effects you might experience:

  • PMS symptoms come back

  • Mood changes, including a change in sex drive

  • Changes in vaginal discharge

  • Change in your periods

  • Skin changes, like more acne if you had that before taking the pill

Your ability to get pregnant returns as soon as you stop the pill, so if you don’t want to get pregnant right away, keep using your birth control (or use a different method like condoms) until you can get to a doctor or nurse. They can help you make a plan for switching to a new method.

Your periods might be irregular for a while. If you don’t get your period within 3 months after stopping birth control pills, check in with your doctor or nurse to rule out any problems.

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The Pill

  • 91% effective

  • Costs up to $50, but can be $0

  • Prescription required

  • Take once a day

The pill doesn’t protect you from  STDs. Use a condom with your pill to help stop pregnancy and STDs.
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