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Everyone I know is on the pill. Is it safe?

Today's pills have lower doses of hormones than ever before. This has greatly lowered the risk of side effects. But there are still pros and cons with taking birth control pills. Pros include having:

  • More regular and lighter periods
  • Fewer menstrual cramps
  • A lower risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), noncancerous ovarian cysts, and iron deficiency anemia

Cons include a higher chance, for some women, of:

  • Heart disease, high blood pressure, and blood clots
  • Nausea, headaches, sore breasts, and weight gain
  • Irregular bleeding
  • Depression

Many of these side effects go away after taking the pill for a few months. Women who smoke, are older than 35, or have a history of blood clots or breast or endometrial cancer are more at risk of bad side effects and may not be able to take the pill. Talk with your doctor about whether the pill is right for you.

Office on Women's Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, womenshealth.gov (or girlshealth.gov)


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