9 Signs Your Birth Control Is Not Right For You

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woman holding up birth control pills

As a society, we’ve pretty much come to accept the common side effects that come along with taking birth control, such as weight gain and mood swings.

But is it possible that some of these “normal” side effects are actually signs your body is rejecting birth control?

“Birth control methods come with certain side effects, but most of them vanish within 2 to 3 months of starting it,” according to Dr. Veena Madhankumar.

If they don’t, however, it may be because that specific type of birth control method isn’t right for you. 

While rare (“less than maybe 1 in a 1,000,” according to Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones), it is possible that your body could reject or even be allergic to birth control.

“An allergy, or an allergic reaction, is where your body recognizes a substance as foreign, makes an antibody to it, and that causes a process, an allergic reaction, that can cause itching, hives, can cause swelling of your throat, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure and passing out,” Dr. Jones explains in an interview with the University of Utah Health

RELATED: My Birth Control Pills Almost Ruined My Relationship

However, she notes that the hormones in birth control are natural things that your body already makes, so it’s unlikely that you’ll be allergic to that aspect of your birth control. 

Instead, you may have reactions to how that specific form of birth control is made. 

“Sometimes birth control pills have dye, have colors in it, so you know when you open your pack there some blue ones or pink ones, so some people are allergic to the dye, probably not so much the hormones,” she explains.

So how do you tell your birth control is bad for you?

These adverse symptoms may be signs your body is rejecting birth control:

1. You're experiencing depression.

Mood swings are caused by a hormonal imbalance, so it’s no surprise that they could be a side effect of birth control thanks to the influx of hormones your body is experiencing. 

However, subtle mood swings are different than sinking into a severe depression.

“Our body absorbs and responds to every single thing we put into it, including hormones and those hormones can directly affect your mood,” says Sydney Golden, owner of Modern Health Guide who has had personal experience with birth control rejection.”

2. Abnormal bleeding

Some spotting between periods is normal with hormonal contraceptives. However, heavy bleeding between periods or periods that never seem to end may signal an issue, such as fibroids.

According to USA Fibroid Centers, birth control can contribute to uterine fibroids, which Golden experienced.

“Instead of taking me off birth control I had to have 2 surgeries to remove uterine fibroids that were painful and caused bleeding for 2 months straight,” she recounts. “Removing the inflamed fibroid fixed the symptom at hand, endless bleeding, but it didn't get to the root cause! Getting off birth control could have drastically improved my uterus.”

3. Nausea

Hormones such as progesterone and estrogen are known to cause nausea and vomiting.

If you’re starting a new birth control method, it may take time for your body to adjust to the higher hormone levels. 

But being constantly nauseous can severely affect your life, so if this symptom doesn’t subside, you should see a doctor to discuss a birth control method with a lower dose of hormones.

4. Abdominal cramps

Many times, birth control is prescribed to treat painful abdominal cramps. So if you suspect your birth control is actually causing them, it may mean that it's not right for you. 

A 2013 study found that some women experienced severe pelvic pain when they started taking low-dose birth control, and researchers theorized that could lead to cramps.

RELATED: Taking Control Of My Body: Why I Quit Birth Control After 12 Years

5. Hair loss

It’s thought that birth control pills can lead to hair loss and thinning by causing the hair to stay in the resting phase for too long, meaning more hair falls out than grows back.

Progestin-only pills can also lead to increased hair loss. Progestin is a synthetic version of the male hormone progesterone and can lead to high androgen levels. 

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Though androgens are found in women in small amounts, they can cause effects similar to that of male-pattern hair loss when levels are too high.

6. Increased acne breakouts

Higher progestin levels can also make your skin oily thanks to increased sebum production. The oilier your skin is, the more likely it is to break out.

7. Frequent UTIs

While a study conducted in 2000 found that oral contraceptives aren't likely to increase your risk of contracting a urinary tract infection, certain birth control methods such as diaphragms or spermicides can disrupt the bacteria levels in your vagina, leading to more frequent UTIs.

8. Burning or itching in the vagina

A hormonal imbalance can lead to issues like yeast infections and Bacterial Vaginosis which can both cause uncomfortable symptoms like burning and itching in the vagina.

Because birth control affects your hormone levels, if your body is sensitive to those hormones it may lead to a yeast overgrowth or other vaginal infection.

9. Gum bleeding or inflammation 

Birth control that contains progestin are known for causing swollen and even bleeding gums. If these symptoms dont' subside, it could seriously affect your oral health and lead to increased plaque and eventually gum disease.

If your body is rejecting birth control, there are some alternatives to oral contraceptives and hormonal birth control methods.

“Some birth control methods alternative to contraceptive pills include intrauterine devices without hormones, condoms, spermicides, diaphragms, cervical caps, sponges, timed intercourse, or the rhythm method,” Dr. Madhankumar suggests.

Your best option is to take note of your specific symptoms and talk to your doctor so you can narrow down what may be causing them and find a different birth control method that works for your body.

RELATED: 3 Simple Tips For Talking To Your Partner About Birth Control (And What You Need To Know Before You Start)

Micki Spollen is a YourTango editor, writer, and traveler. Follow her on Instagram and keep up with her travels on her website.