How to Prevent Nausea Caused by Birth Control Pills

Taking birth control pills, also known as oral contraceptives, is one of the most popular methods for preventing pregnancy. One of the reasons you may be inclined to take birth control pills is they are quite reliable.

When taken as directed, they can be over 99 percent effective at pregnancy prevention. However, they also have many potential side effects. One of those side effects is nausea. Nausea is a queasy feeling that often leads to vomiting.

One of the primary hazards of nausea while taking birth control pills is you may vomit soon after taking the pills. Then the pills may not have time to take effect. When you suffer from nausea leading to vomiting, other medical problems can arise, such as dehydration. Nausea is also an uncomfortable side effect that may make it difficult for you to concentrate on performing daily tasks. Therefore, preventing it is essential for your own comfort, as well as to make sure your contraceptive habits are effective. To prevent the nausea caused by birth control pills, you must understand how the pills work. Below is more information about birth control pills and nausea prevention.

Combination Birth Control Pills Are Most Likely to Cause Nausea

Combination birth control pills are pills that contain two hormones. One is progestin. The other is estrogen. They work together to prevent eggs from being released by your ovaries. When eggs are not released, pregnancy does not occur. Some birth control pills can also cause the lining of your uterus to become thinner than normal for your body. Thickening of the mucus at your cervix may also occur. Together, those changes inhibit the ability of eggs and sperm to meet, in the unlikely event eggs are released.

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When taking combination birth control pills, you may experience varying degrees of nausea. The estrogen is the primary source of nausea symptoms caused by birth control pills. To prevent nausea from taking such pills, you may need to take low-dose combination pills. Low-dose pills are those containing ethinyl estradiol doses of fewer than 50 micrograms per pill. However, high-dose pills produce more scheduled and predictable menstrual cycles. If you take low-dose birth control, bleeding between periods may increase.

Other Variations of Combination Birth Control Pills

In addition to low-dose and high-dose versions, combination birth control pills have other variations that may influence your odds of experiencing nausea when taking them. For example, they come in conventional and extended-cycle versions. Conventional birth control consists of 28 pills. Some conventional birth control prescriptions include seven inactive pills. Others only include four inactive pills. If one version causes you to suffer from nausea, switching to the other may help.

Continuous dosing birth control pills are also available. They are combination pills designed to reduce or eliminate menstrual cycles. Taking such pills means ingesting active pills for 12 weeks then stopping for one week by taking inactive pills. If you are susceptible to nausea from those hormone doses, low-dose versions are available.

Another variation of combination birth control pills is some are monophasic. Others are multiphasic. Monophasic prescriptions contain active pills with equal levels of hormones. Multiphasic prescriptions contain pills with varying hormone levels. If you are taking multiphasic birth control pills and experiencing occasional nausea, the changes in hormones may be too unpredictable for your body to make easy adjustments. Switching to monophasic pills may eliminate or reduce your nausea.

Limiting the Nausea Associated with Combination Pills in Other Ways

Changing your combination birth control prescription may not eliminate your nausea. However, adjusting how you take your birth control pills may get rid of your nausea symptoms. For example, it is essential you take your birth control pills exactly when they are due. Forgetting to take a dose on time makes you more prone to become pregnant accidentally. Doing so can also increase your nausea. If you forget a pill, you must take it as soon as you remember. That may mean taking it too close to the time of your next dose, increasing nausea risks.

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Nausea risks also increase when you take birth control pills on an empty stomach. That is because your stomach acids interact poorly with the medication. To avoid such problems, drink a glass of milk shortly before taking your birth control pills. If you do not like milk or do not have any on hand, take your birth control with a light snack. Other ways to limit the nausea associated with combination birth control pills include the use of traditional home remedies for nausea like:

  • Taking an antacid before taking your birth control pill.
  • Eating or drinking home anti-nausea remedies, such as ginger tea or crackers.
  • Avoiding foods that exacerbate nausea, such as fried foods and carbonated beverages.
  • Drinking peppermint tea or slowly sipping water.
  • Using a cool compress to lower your body temperature and sooth your symptoms.

Taking Minipills Instead of Combination Birth Control Pills

Combination pills are the most effective types of birth control pills. Therefore, it is essential to give them fair opportunities to work. Your body may adapt to the medication after several weeks. Then, the nausea may subside on its own. However, if you try several combination birth control prescriptions and still have nausea, you may need an entirely different form of birth control medication.

Minipills are alternatives to traditional combination birth control pills. They contain only progestin. Since no estrogen is present, nausea risks are lower. However, according to experts at the Mayo Clinic, minipills are less reliable for pregnancy prevention than combination birth control pills. You have approximately a 13 percent chance of becoming pregnant while taking minipills. Also, there is still a chance you may have nausea when taking minipills. Other side effects like headaches and depression may also occur.

If you opt to take minipills for birth control, you only have one formula to use. The pills come in a particular dosage. Also, all minipills contain active ingredients. Therefore, if nausea does occur, you do not have the option of changing your minipill dosage to try to decrease its occurrence or severity.

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