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Contraception health centre

Side effects of the pill

NHS ChoicesMedical Reference

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The combined oral contraceptive pill (the pill) is generally well tolerated, but there are some possible side effects.

Breakthrough bleeding and spotting is common in the first few months of taking the pill.

Other temporary side effects may occur after first starting the pill, including:

  • breast tenderness and breast enlargement
  • mood changes
  • an increased or decreased libido (sex drive)
  • fluid retention
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • rise in blood pressure

If these do not stop within a few months, changing the type of pill may help.

There is no evidence that the pill causes women to gain weight.

Medical Review: May 09, 2010

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