7 Spooky Side Effects of Birth Control

This Halloween we thought we’d get into the spooky spirit, but instead of giving time to ghouls or pondering over pumpkins, we’ve decided to take a look at something a bit more close to home: birth control, and, more specifically, it’s side effects. While many may not experience any negative side effects, for some they are a scary reality all year round. Join us as we take a look at both hormonal and non-hormonal methods and uncover 7 spooky side effects of birth control.

"Mood changes" written in a light, dripping, spooky-style font against a dark purple background

Before we start our list, we just want to highlight that everyone has a different experience on birth control. There are no wrong or right methods, just the method that works for you. There are benefits and disadvantages of every option - but if you’re suffering from birth control side effects, you don’t have to continue to put up with them. Read up on your options, and talk to your doctor to find out more. Now… let’s look at some spooky side effects!

1. The amount you bleed changes

Let’s kick off the list with a bloody important topic! Hormonal birth control often changes the way you bleed. Some methods like the mini-pill or the birth control shot may cause only light spotting or may make vaginal bleeding stop altogether. Whereas those on the non-hormonal copper IUD might get heavier bleeding than they did before. 

Keep in mind that hormonal birth control methods work by stopping ovulation, which means pressing pause on the menstrual cycle. This can have an impact on your periods too, and if you’re on the birth control pill you’ll likely experience what’s known as withdrawal bleeding in between pill packets. This is simply caused by a change in hormones and isn’t the same as the bleeding you get on your period.

2. You feel cramping and pain

While many types of birth control can stop menstrual cramps altogether, some birth control is reported to make it worse. Users of the copper IUD sometimes experience heightened period pain alongside heavier periods. 

It’s also common to experience some pain, cramping, or discomfort during the fitting of both types of IUD. This pain is usually said to be mild and the good news is that it shouldn’t last for long either.

3. You notice a change to your sex drive

Certain types of hormonal contraception, such as the birth control shot, are known to have an impact on our libido or sex drive. Our desire for sex usually fluctuates throughout the cycle as we experience natural hormonal changes. Increased amounts of the hormone progesterone (whether synthetic or natural) can make us feel more sluggish and less in the mood.

Keep in mind that it’s not just hormones that can kill the mood. There are many things that can affect our sex drives outside of birth control. Stress, tiredness, and experiencing pain during sex can all have a knock-on effect on our libidos. Having sex when you’re not into it can stop you from enjoying sex - so make sure you tell your partner how you’re feeling.

4. Your breasts are feeling tender

The sensitivity of our breasts also changes throughout our cycle. Again, this is caused by progesterone, and you may notice your breasts are particularly tender in the days before your period. However, some forms of hormonal birth control can also cause increased breast tenderness. 

It’s important to regularly carry out a self-breast check to look and feel for any irregularities, and if your breasts suddenly become painful, it’s best to speak to a healthcare professional to get them checked out.

5. Your moods are changing

We all experience changes to our mood from time to time. However, if you’ve noticed any drastic changes to how you’re feeling, it might be caused by your birth control. Low mood, anxiety, and depression have all been reported side effects of hormonal birth control. 

Conversely, some may choose to use birth control to stabilize their moods, as hormonal conditions such as PMDD (a severe form of premenstrual syndrome) can cause depression toward the end of the menstrual cycle.

6. You’ve got a headache

Unfortunately, when it comes to birth control, pain doesn’t just happen in the uterus. For some of us, birth control becomes a literal headache. It’s worth noting that migraines and headaches are different - although migraines can also be affected by the hormonal changes caused both in the body and in hormonal birth control.

Some migraine sufferers have noticed an increase or decrease in headaches depending on their birth control method. It’s worth keeping in mind that those who get migraines ‘with aura’ (that means seeing flashing lights or having another symptom aside from the classic headache) are not advised to take any birth control containing synthetic estrogen.

7. Your skin is different

Last but not least, the biggest organ in the body, our skin, can also be altered by the birth control we use. While some methods may cause skin to become more oily or greasy, some birth control methods (such as the combined pill) are actually prescribed to treat skin conditions such as acne. 

As with many other side effects on this list, changes to skin are a natural part of the menstrual cycle. When we choose to come off hormonal birth control, it’s common to see a time where the hormones are more imbalanced and it can be most obvious with skin and acne flare-ups. Generally, these tend to calm down as hormones rebalance - but it’s worth keeping in mind that our skin and hormones are firmly linked.

Birth control without side effects

Phew! That’s it! Here at Natural Cycles, we know a thing or two about birth control side effects. Our founder Elina, created Natural Cycles when she was looking for a hormone-free method after struggling herself with unwanted side effects. Today we have more than 2 million registered users worldwide. Completely free from side effects, Natural cycles is FDA cleared in the US and certified in Europe.

Natural Cycles uses the basal body temperature method combined with an algorithm that learns the pattern of your unique cycle to work out your fertile days. Why not find out if Natural Cycles could work for you? 

Discover Natural Cycles today

Jen on the roof terrace at Natural Cycles headquarters.

Written By

Jennifer Gray

A writer with a passion for women’s health, Jennifer Gray has years of experience writing about various reproductive health topics including birth control, planning pregnancy, women’s anatomy, and so much more.

Jack in a suit and tie holding a microphone and giving a presentation.

Scientifically Reviewed

Jack Pearson

With 10 years of experience working in the field of fertility, Jack Pearson is Natural Cycles’ in-house expert. As Medical Affairs Manager, he dedicates his time to conducting groundbreaking research and educating healthcare professionals.

Want to learn more about a hormone-free future?

Subscribe to our newsletter for access to our latest articles, exclusive promotions and more.