Imagine that taking hormones is like a cavemen getting clubbed over the head. . . . the hormones have to take over the body’s hormone system. Here are some side effects to expect. . .and a hint of how long to give them to resolve.
Examples of hormonal contraception are combined (estrogen and progesterone) birth control pills, progesterone-only birth control pills, Depo-Provera shot, Implanon rods, Nuvaring, Ortho Evra patch, and Mirena intrauterine device.
Good news! Side effects from hormonal contraceptives usually decrease with time. Most resolve within three to five months. I urge my patients to be patient for 3 months when starting on a hormonal type of contraception.
Anticipating side effects may make them more tolerable in the short-term. Changing from pill to pill to other hormonal contraception without waiting for symptoms to stop is counterproductive.
Anticipated symptoms are
- breast tenderness,
- irregular bleeding, and
It takes a few months for the hormone to dove-tail with your own hormones.
Weight gain has been found in studies to occur with the injectable depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (“Depo shot”), no other hormonal forms. Most women start “the Pill” after high-school and, we know, most grown women do not maintain their 16-year-old weight. (Sadly, enough.)
There are some reasons that women should not start on certain hormonal contraceptives. Tell your doctor if you have had breast cancer, liver cancer, a misshapen uterine cavity (like fibroids), blood clotting problems, pelvic infections. This will help your doctor pick an appropriate form of contraception.
If you are a “DIY”er you can check the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals website. It has an interactive tool to help choose an appropriate method. http://www.arhp.org/methodmatch/
Hope this helps.