Birth control pills and patches, when used correctly, are very effective in preventing pregnancy. They’re safe for most healthy women and can even be used to treat a few health problems. However, as with almost all drugs, there are also some potential unwanted side effects and risks.
Effects of Birth Control on the Body
Hormone-based contraceptives are available in many forms, including pill form (oral contraceptives), as a patch that is placed on the skin, implantable preparations, and others. They each have about the same benefits and risks. To be effective, hormonal birth control use must be consistent. Skipping a day increases the chances of pregnancy.
Birth control pills and patches are dispensed only with a prescription. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, with typical use, about 8 percent of women will become pregnant in their first year of taking the pill. If the pill is used perfectly (defined as the pill being taken every single day at the same time), the rate falls to only 1 percent. That potentially makes the pill a very reliable method of birth control for very diligent women.
Neither the pill nor the patch protect against sexually transmitted diseases. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you’re a healthy non-smoker, it’s unlikely you’ll have serious side effects from oral contraceptives.