Oral Contraceptive fact sheet

Possible Benefits of Oral Contraception
1. 95-99.5% effective at preventing pregnancy if used correctly
2. Regulates menstrual cycle, less bleeding, less cramping
3. May decrease risk of: ovarian cyst, ovarian/endometrial cancer, pelvic infection, ectopic pregnancy,
PMS/PMDD symptoms, menstrual migraines, benign breast conditions, excess body hair growth,
anemia, symptoms of endometriosis, uterine fibroids.
Possible Minor Side Effects (Should resolve within the first three months)
1. Spotting or break-through bleeding
6. Nausea
2. Breast Tenderness
7. Missed periods
3. Changes in vaginal discharge
8. Changes in acne
4. Fluid retention (3-5 pound water weight gain)
9. Mild headache
5. Mood changes
10. Change in libido
Possible Major Side Effects
1. Hypertension
2. Heart Attack
3. Gallbladder disease
4. Stroke
5. Blood clots in legs or lungs
6. Liver tumors
1. Abdominal pain, severe
2. Chest pain/severe cough/shortness of breath
3. Headache, severe
4. Eye pain/visual changes
5. Severe leg pain in calf or thigh and/or swelling, heat or redness
If you experience any of the above symptoms, you need to be evaluated by a health care provider and
inform the provider you are on hormonal birth control.
Return to clinic if you develop severe mood swings or depression, become jaundiced (yellow-colored
skin), miss 2 periods, or have signs of pregnancy.
Stop the pill if you develop, jaundice, breast lump, fainting attacks or collapse, seizure, difficulty
speaking, blood pressure > 160/95, or severe allergic skin rash.
Stop the pill if you become immobilized (wheelchair or bedridden) after an accident or major
Division of Student Affairs
Student Health Services
400 Patroon Creek Blvd, Suite 200, Albany, NY 12206
Phone: 518-442-5454 Fax: 518-442-5444
Contraindications/Risk factors
1. Smoker (especially if > 35 years of age)
2. Migraines with auras
3. Hypertension
4. Heart disease
5. Rheumatoid arthritis
6. Unexplained breast mass
7. Gall bladder disease
8. Liver tumor
9. Obesity
10. Deep vein thrombosis/pulmonary embolism
11. Prolonged immobilization
12. Systemic lupus erythematosus
13. Cervical cancer
14. Breast cancer
15. Cirrhosis of Liver
1. You may start taking the pills according to several different schedules: no single way is best, and you
should follow the advice of your provider.
a. Start on the first day of your period. (No back up method needed)
b. Start on first Sunday after the period begins (need back up method for 7 days)
c. Quick start – starting on day of office visit (must verify no pregnancy and also must use 7 day
back up method)
2. If starting birth control the day after emergency contraception is taken, then must use back up method
for 14 days.
3. Take one pill daily, at the same time every day (3-4 hour window)
4. After finishing the pack, continue with the next pack on the next day without skipping any days.
1. If you miss one pill: Take the forgotten pill immediately. Take your next pill at the usual time, even if it
means taking 2 pills in one day. Use back up method for 7 days.
2. If you miss 2 pills in a row (more than 48 hour late) anywhere in pack: Take both missed pills as soon
as you remember. Then continue taking rest of the pack as usual. Use back up method for 7 days.
3. If you miss 2 or more pills during the third week of cycle or 3 pills in a row at any time of the month:
Take 2 pills immediately then finish rest of active pills (1 daily), skip placebos and start next pack. Use
back up for 14 days.
There is an increased risk of spotting/break through bleeding any time pills are missed or taken late. This
bleeding can continue for the rest of the pack. Nausea may also occur when taking more than 1 pill at a time.
1. The pill does not prevent sexually transmitted infections or HIV. In addition to the pill, condom use is
strongly recommended.
2. Some drugs can decrease the efficacy of the pill, or vice versa. (i.e. antibiotics, anticonvulsants, tricyclic
antidepressants, antipsychotics, ace inhibitors, potassium sparing drugs, St. John Wort). Always inform
your health care provider that you are on hormonal birth control.
3. If no menses occurred during the pill free week and you have taken the pills correctly, continue with
the next pack as scheduled. If no menses after next pack, then you will need to have a pregnancy test.
4. You will need a pregnancy test if you had not taken your pills correctly and you do not get a menses
during the pill free week.
5. Women who use contact lenses may note some visual changes or change in lens tolerance with pill use
due to dry eyes. Normal saline drops may help.
6. If scheduled for major surgery, you must stop pills 1 month prior to surgery.
7. Repeated vomiting or diarrhea can decrease absorption of the pill. Treat it as if you had missed pills
and use back up for at least 7 days.
Call the University at Albany Health Center if you have any questions, concerns, or unsure what to do.
(revised 3/5/13)dw