Let's face it, birth control can be intimidating. There are so many different options, a ton of medical jargon, and maybe even some whispers from your friends that aren't quite accurate. 

This blog is here to answer everything you ever wanted to know about birth control but were too afraid to ask. We're tackling the most frequently asked questions, from the nitty-gritty details of different pills to navigating side effects and choosing what's right for you before you book a consult with an OBGYN.

Can birth control pills affect your mood?

Taking oral contraceptives may in fact change the natural level of hormones in the body but the short answer is, there is no conclusive evidence that it will affect your mood for better or for worse. Some users are not as tolerant of birth control pills when it comes to their moods, possibly because they may be new to the pill and are still adjusting to the levels of hormones. Because everyone reacts differently, consult with an OBGYN if after some time your mood hasn’t improved to find a more suited contraceptive for you.

All birth control pills contain synthetic hormones like progestin (a synthetic form of progesterone). These can affect neurotransmitters in the brain that are responsible for communicating with other organs in the body, including the brain itself, even if combined-hormonal birth control pills contain progestin and a form of estrogen. 

Because everyone’s bodies and brain are unique, their reactions to birth control pills may differ on their mood or mental health. Mood and mental health outcomes are difficult to measure. Some women notice their moods stabilizing on the pill, especially when they have severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). On the other hand, it can’t be denied that others have had negative reactions to oral contraceptives––although there are no definitive predictors for exactly what will happen or to whom it will happen to. 

Certain factors may put you at greater risk for having an adverse reaction to birth control pills: 

  • Taking progestin-only pills
  • Age (being 19 and below)
  • Family history of mood-related effects to birth control
  • History of mental illness

What to do if you are new to birth control pills?

Keep a journal to track how you feel everyday and pay attention to patterns in your mood. If you notice that you have more off days than good ones, book a consultation with a doctor to discuss this. A professional can help you get to the bottom of this, or recommend a new pill or birth control method that works for you.

Why do I need a prescription for birth control pills?

Birth control pills are regulated by the FDA. Taking birth control pills without supervision can put you at greater risk of its side effects. Sexual and fertility health checks by your doctor can help determine the best contraceptive for you. Controlled access is more effective in long-term care for consistency in taking the pill.

Can I change the time I take my pill?

Taking your birth control at the same time each day increases the consistency and effectiveness of the pill. All hormonal agents (other than pills) must be taken at the same time everyday so that hormones released in your system are consistent everyday. 

If you take combination pills, you’re good—these work as long as you take them everyday, even if it’s not at the same time. To change your usual time of taking the pill, simply reset your alarm to whenever you want. 

For those on the mini pill, note that these have a shorter window of time to adjust than combination pills. If you want to shift your usual schedule, you need to make small adjustments per day (by taking it 1–2 hours earlier or later) until you’ve reached your desired time.

Does birth control affect sex drive?

While it’s not a common side effect, birth control pills can still sometimes affect your sex drive. Combination pills (pills that contain both progesterone and estrogen) may prevent ovulation, which might mean less hormones that fuel libido.

However, studies have shown that most people taking the pill do not experience a change in libido while on the pill.

What if you take your last week of combination pills in the opposite order? (Placebo before remaining active pills)

If you use a 28-day combination pill pack and you accidentally take an inactive pill instead of an active one, it will still be a problem. It’s the same as missing a pill if you take an inactive medication when you needed to take an active one.

Take your active medication as soon as you recall, followed by your subsequent medication at the scheduled time. This can include taking two medications in a single day. If you miss two or more pills in a row, it’s possible to become pregnant if you have vaginal sex during the seven days that follow.

Can I get pregnant after stopping the pill? 

After stopping a combination pill, which is the one that contains both estrogen and progestin, you might be able to conceive within one to three months. However, most women can become pregnant in under a year. Most women can also become pregnant within a few months of ceasing hormone-based birth control. However, your health, including your genes and lifestyle choices, affects how long it takes. Consult an OBGYN to discuss both your short- and long-term goals when it comes to birth control.

Does birth control cause weight gain?

While it’s possible to gain weight while taking the pill, it’s unlikely that birth control pills are the cause. Both hormonal and non-hormonal birth control pills no longer contain enough estrogen to cause weight gain. Recent studies have shown that there are no linkages between weight gain and hormonal birth control. However, it is possible for progestin and estrogen to store excess water in your body, leading to bloating. To get the full picture of possible side effects of the pill, book a consult with our OBGYNs.

In conclusion

This blog post has hopefully answered some of your pressing questions about birth control. Remember, every body is unique, and what works for your friend might not be the best fit for you. Don't hesitate to schedule a consultation with your OBGYN. They can provide personalized guidance, address any specific concerns you may have, and help you choose the birth control option that empowers you to take charge of your reproductive health.