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any long term risks of taking the birth control pill?

By February 3, 2016 - 5:34am
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I'm 22, and considering taking the birth control pill, for contraceptive reasons. I'm also hoping it'll help me with my period pains as they are quite painful each month. My period is regular, but the cramps are terrible, and most painkillers I've used stop working after a while, so I always have to be searching for something new. I've never had sex before, and I want to take all necessary precautions against pregnancy with my boyfriend (who's really understanding).
However, I was talking with my mum about the pill - she used it for a while years ago - admittedly she doesn't know that I want it for something more than period pains. She warned me that my paternal grandmother (I never met her, she died before I was born) had had to have a breast removed due to cancer, and that certain BC pills can increase risk of breast cancer, as well as other health problems. My mom's good friend also has thrombosis now, which she isn't sure is a result of the pill.

That honestly worries me. Are there a lot of long term risks of taking the pill? Plus I always hear things about young girls dying and being rushed to hospital with life-threatening conditions because of the pill - is this common or just hyped up to scare people away from it?

I guess my question really is - "Is the pill safe to use?"

Add a Comment3 Comments


Hello RK,

I applaud you for your effort and forethought in making this decision.

Citing the article,"Oral Contraceptives"
By Laura Sech, Penina Segall-Gutierrez, MD, MSc; Emily Silverstein; Daniel R. Mishell, Jr., MD

"Current use of OCs does not increase the risk of breast cancer, nor does former use in women aged 35 to 65. Also, risk is not increased in high-risk groups (eg, women with certain benign breast disorders or a family history of breast cancer)."

"The incidence of deep venous thrombosis and thromboembolism (eg, pulmonary embolism) increases as the estrogen dose is increased. With OCs that contain 10 to 35 mcg of estrogen, risk is 2 to 4 times the risk at baseline. However, this increased risk is still much lower than the risk associated with pregnancy. A wide variety of progestins in combination OCs may also affect this risk. OCs that contain levonorgestrel appear to lower this risk, and OCs that contain drospirenone or desogestrel may increase it. Risk is probably increased because production of clotting factors in the liver and platelet adhesion are increased. If deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism is suspected in a woman taking OCs, OCs should be stopped immediately until results of diagnostic tests can confirm or exclude the diagnosis. Also, OCs should be stopped as soon as possible before any major surgery that requires immobilization for a long time. Women with a family history of idiopathic venous thromboembolism should not use OCs that contain estrogen.'

Merck Manual Professional Version

RK, smoking cigarettes during the use of oral contraceptives has been found to greatly increase the chances of benign (not cancerous) liver tumors, liver cancer, or blood clots or related problems, such as a stroke. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of serious cardiovascular side effects from oral contraceptive use.

I do hope this information is helpful.

February 3, 2016 - 9:36am
(reply to Maryann Gromisch RN)

Hi Maryann, thanks for responding and for the article!
Okay, so I basically do not have much to worry about when it comes to risks with OC pills? I never smoke, and I only drink socially, which isn't very often.
So if I take them correctly according to instructions and such, I should be okay?

February 3, 2016 - 11:51am
Guide (reply to RK)

Hi RK,

I think you should be just fine. Discuss all available birth control options with your gynecologist and choose the one that will work best for you.

In the last 20 years, more research has been done and more options are available.


February 4, 2016 - 9:25am
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