side effects

Last reviewed 03/2021

Those associated with oestrogen may include:

  • weight gain*, fluid retention
  • headache
  • nausea and vomiting
  • increased menstrual flow
  • venous thrombosis
  • increased cervical secretion / cervical erosion

Those associated with progestogen may include:

  • breast fullness
  • decreased libido, dry vagina
  • reduced menstrual flow, disturbance in menstrual cycle
  • acne
  • premenstrual depression

There is a higher incidence of adenocarcinoma of the cervix in women taking oral contraceptives especially if they are taken for longer than 12 years.

* although changes in body weight are stated as possible side effects when using a combined pill (1), a systematic review concluded that available evidence was insufficient to determine the effect of combination contraceptives on weight, but no large effect was evident (2)

Reference:

  1. BNF 7.3.1
  2. Gallo MF et al. Combination contraceptives: effects on weight. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2006;(2):CD004002