What are the risks of taking birth control?

Last updated on October 29, 2020

The risks from using the pill, the patch and the ring are extremely low. However, birth control methods that contain estrogen (such as combination pills, the ring and the patch) can slightly elevate your risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and liver tumors. Having high blood pressure and taking birth control further increases these risks, and estrogen-containing contraceptives are not advisable for people with this diagnosis, which is why we ask everyone for a blood pressure reading before prescribing birth control. If you’re concerned about any of these risks, please let us know.

Progestin-only pills generally do not carry the same risks as birth control methods that contain estrogen. That being said, if you become pregnant while taking progesterone-only pills, your risk of an ectopic pregnancy increases slightly. Also, due to the lack of estrogen, progesterone-only pills are more sensitive to missed or late doses. Because of these risks, it’s extremely important that you adhere to your schedule and take your pill on time every day, to maximize its effectiveness.

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