Side Effects (see Managing Any Problems)

Some users report the following:

  • Changes in bleeding patterns, including:
    • Lighter bleeding and fewer days of bleeding
    • Irregular bleeding
    • Infrequent bleeding
    • No monthly bleeding
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Breast tenderness
  • Weight change (see Question 6)
  • Mood changes
  • Acne (can improve or worsen, but usually improves)

Other possible physical changes:

  • Blood pressure increases a few points (mm Hg). When increase is due to COCs, blood pressure declines quickly after use of COCs stops.

For definitions of bleeding patterns, see “vaginal bleeding.”

Known Health Benefits

Known Health Risks

Help protect against:

  • Risks of pregnancy
  • Cancer of the lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer)
  • Cancer of the ovary
  • Symptomatic pelvic inflammatory disease

May help protect against:

  • Ovarian cysts
  • Iron-deficiency anemia


  • Menstrual cramps
  • Menstrual bleeding problems
  • Ovulation pain
  • Excess hair on face or body
  • Symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (irregular bleeding, acne, excess hair on face or body)
  • Symptoms of endometriosis (pelvic pain, irregular bleeding)

Very rare:

  • Blood clot in deep veins of legs or lungs (deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism)

Extremely rare:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack

See also Facts About Combined Oral Contraceptives and Cancer.