Can a contraceptive pill cause nausea?

The birth control pills, commonly known as “the pill,” is a female hormonal birth control method of preventing pregnancy. They are also called as oral contraceptive pills. It can also help resolve acne, painful or heavy periods, irregular menstruation, endometriosis, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

These pills are small tablets which you swallow on a daily basis. Mostly, these pills contain two types of synthetic female hormones: estrogen and progestin. These are like the estrogen and progesterone generally made by the ovaries. These pills are of many different kinds and are called “combination oral contraceptives”.

The hormones present in these pills helps to prevent pregnancy by suppressing the pituitary gland. It stops the development and release of the egg in the ovary (ovulation). The progestin also prevents the sperm from reaching the egg and changes the uterus lining.

There is another type of pill which contains only one hormone progestin. Therefore, it is called either the “progestin-only pill,” or the “mini-Pill.” This pill works by stopping ovulation and preventing the male’s sperm from reaching the egg.

Nausea and birth control pills

Since the introduction of the birth control pill, women rely on the pill as an active way to prevent pregnancy. Today, more than 25% of women who use birth control are on the pill.

The contraceptive pill is about 99% effective at preventing pregnancy when it’s taken properly. It can cause some side effects like other drugs. However, one of the most commonly reported side effects of birth control pills is nausea.

The nausea is the result of estrogen, which can irritate or disturb your stomach. Pills containing a high estrogen dose, particularly emergency contraceptive pills, are more possible to cause stomach upset than pills having a lower dose of this hormone. Moreover, queasiness is more common when you first start taking this pill.

How to treat nausea while you are on the pill

There is no definite treatment for queasiness caused by the birth control pill. But, you may find some relief from mild bouts of nausea with these home remedies;

  • Consume light, plain foods, like bread and crackers.
  • Avoid foods having strong flavors, are very sweet, or are greasy or fried.
  • Drink cold liquids.
  • Avoid any activity after eating.
  • Drink a cup of ginger tea.
  • Eat smaller and more frequent meals.
  • Take a series of deep, controlled breaths.

Moreover, applying some pressure to certain points on your wrist has also been found to relieve mild nausea. It is a traditional Chinese remedy which is called acupressure.

Queasiness caused by the birth control pill should resolve within some days. If it persists, make an appointment and consult your doctor. Nausea which doesn’t let up can have an effect on your hunger and weight. Hence, you may need to shift to another type of pill or a different form of birth control.

How to prevent nausea when you are on the pill

For the prevention of nausea, try to avoid the birth control pill when your stomach is empty. In its place, take it after your dinner or with any snack before bed. An antacid medicine can also be taken almost 30 minutes before taking this pill. It helps to keep your stomach calm.

Before using the emergency contraceptive pill, consult with your specialist to see if an anti-nausea medicine can also be used. They may prescribe you an anti-nausea medicine, particularly if this pill has made you feel sick in the past.

Progestin is the only emergency pills which are less probable to cause nausea and vomiting than pills containing both estrogen and progestin.

Hence, don’t stop taking the birth control pill just because of nausea. You could get pregnant if you are not using any other birth control method as a backup.

How do birth control pills work?

Contraceptive pills contain synthetic forms of the female hormones estrogen and progestin or progestin only. These hormones work by stopping the release of a mature egg from a woman’s ovaries, thus, preventing pregnancy.

These pills also thicken mucus around the cervix which makes it tougher for the sperm to fertilize the egg. The birth control pill also changes the uterus lining. If an egg is fertilized, the changed uterine lining will make it difficult for the egg to implant and grow.

Emergency contraceptive pills like Plan B hold a higher hormonal dose in the regular pill which can be hard on your body. Thus, emergency contraceptives should be taken if you didn’t use contraception during sex or you experienced birth control failure.

Birth control failure usually occurs due to a condom which broke or an intrauterine device (IUD) which fell out during sex. Therefore, emergency contraceptive pills can stop ovulation and prevent an egg from leaving the ovary. Pills can also prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg.

Though you can stop taking pills at any time, even in the mid of the pack. Thus, doing this could throw your cycle off and cause bleeding.

How to choose the right contraceptive pill?

When choosing a contraceptive pill, you must strike a balance. Enough estrogen is needed for the prevention of pregnancy but not as much to disturb your stomach. Your physician can help you find the right birth control pill which suits your needs.

While you are taking the birth control pill, follow the instructions given by your physician carefully. Take your pill on a daily basis. In case you skip a dose, you will need to take that missed dose as soon as possible. It means you may have to take 2 pills on the same day to make up. Taking 2 pills at the same time is more probable to cause nausea.

Other side effects of the birth control pill

In addition to nausea, a birth control pill can also cause many other side effects. The most common side effects include;

  • breast soreness, tenderness, or enlargement
  • Loss of appetite or weight gain
  • Mood swings, anxiety, nervousness or depression
  • Changes in vaginal discharge and vaginal infections
  • Headaches, dizziness, and fatigue
  • High blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Acne or permanent discoloration of the face
  • Fluid retention
  • Bone density loss
  • Hair loss or changes in hair growth
  • Enlarged ovarian follicles
  • reduced sex drive
  • spotting in between periods, or irregular periods

Most of these effects are not serious. They are generally mild which may vanish within a few months after you start taking the pill.

One unusual but serious side effect of contraceptive use is a blood clot in the leg that is called deep vein thrombosis. If left untreated, it can lead to a blood clot in your lungs (pulmonary embolism) and possibly death.

But, this risk is rare. However, your risk can be increased if you have used the pill for a long time, you smoke, or you are older 35 years.

Areeba Hussain

Areeba is an independent medical and healthcare writer. For the last three years, she is writing for Tophealthjournal. Her prime areas of interest are diseases, medicine, treatments, and alternative therapies. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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