Can Birth Control Pills Cause Pain in Chest?

Birth control pills are a common contraceptive method used by women worldwide in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies. However, birth control pills are associated with various side effects such as nausea, weight gain, menstrual cycle changes, breast tenderness, etc. Some of these side effects tend to go away after a certain period of time, while others can be signs of serious side effects and complications, even life-threatening medical conditions. Is it possible to have chest pain due to the use of birth control pills?

Can Birth Control Pills Cause Chest Pain?

Yes, chest pain may occur when using birth control pills. Birth control pills can lead to a formation of a blood clot in the blood vessels connecting the heart to the lungs, medically known as pulmonary embolism which is characterized by sudden severe chest pain, shortness of breath, faintness, etc. This is a serious and life-threatening medical condition requiring emergency medical help.

However, blood clots can get formed in other parts of the body as well, usually on the legs, a condition medically known as deep vein thrombosis. Deep vein thrombosis is characterized by a cramping pain on the affected leg, swelling of the leg, etc.

Researchers have found that:

  • Combined contraceptives are associated with a smaller risk of blood clots.
  • The risk of blood clots depends on the type of progesterone combined contraceptives contain,
  • Combined contraceptives that contain certain types of progesterone such as norgestimate, norethisterone, or levonorgestrel are associated with the smallest risk of blood clots.
  • The risk of blood clots increases in certain situations such as prolonged immobilization, obesity, age, smoking, a family history of blood clots, surgery, etc. In these cases, the use of birth control pills is not recommended and other contraceptive methods might be a better option.

When to Seek Emergency Help?

You should seek immediate medical help if you are using birth control pills as a contraceptive method and are experiencing any of the following:

  • Severe leg pain and swelling
  • Sudden severe chest pain, breathlessness, rapid breathing
  • Sudden chest pain, a discomfort, and a pressure sensation in the chest which spreads to the jaw, neck, back, and upper arms
  • Sweating, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, etc.
  • Numbness and weakness affecting one side of the body, difficulties speaking, sudden confusion, blurred vision or vision loss, severe headache, etc.

Should You Switch Your Birth Control or Stop Taking It Completely?

There is no need to worry about taking birth control pills as a contraceptive method if you are healthy and don’t have other risk factors that could lead to side effects and serious medical complications. According to many studies, the risk for various complications is higher during the first year of using birth control pills, as your body is adjusting to the new hormonal levels.

But, in cases when you are obese, smoke, have had blood clot problems in the past or have a family history of clots, have cardiovascular diseases, migraine, and if you are over the age of 35 years old, then perhaps you should consult your healthcare provider to check if birth control pills are the right contraceptive method for you. All of the above-mentioned factors will increase your risk of blood clots, even though these aren’t all signs that you can’t take birth control pills.

If there is more than one risk factor present, then perhaps the risk of blood clots is higher than the benefits you will have from taking birth control pills as contraception. As long as there are other contraceptive methods that might be safer for you than birth control pills, you should choose what is safer for you, don’t you?

Get to Know More About the Side Effects of Birth Control

In general, most women have no side effects at all when taking birth control pills as a contraceptive method. However, as everyone is unique, some women may experience various side effects such as a headache, irregular menstrual periods, weight gain, etc., especially during the first year after starting birth control pills.

  • Irregular periods – Spotting is common especially during the first few weeks of starting birth control pills, as well as in cases if you miss a pill. If the bleeding lasts more than a couple of days or if the bleeding gets heavier, you should continue taking the pill but you should also consult your healthcare provider,
  • Nausea – It usually occurs during the first few days after starting the pill, but it tends to go away within a couple of days. Nausea is less likely to occur if you take the pill with food.
  • Headaches – They are also a side effect of birth control pills. In certain cases, the pill will make the headaches get better. In cases when your health care provider thinks that your headaches are related to birth control pills, you can change into a pill with a lower dose of estrogen or you will need to completely stop taking the pill for a certain amount of time. This is especially true in cases of suffering from a migraine.
  • Mood changes – In certain cases, mood changes can be related to the pill. In these cases, consult your healthcare provider on how you feel.
  • Sore breasts – Enlarged breasts are common when taking birth control pills. This is a rare side effect, as in general, the breasts will stay the same. Breast tenderness tends to go away within a couple of months after using the pill.
  • Weight change – It is also possible, either weight gain or weight loss, even though in most cases you will probably stay the same. As long as you watch what you eat, exercise regularly and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, you will not have any problems regarding weight. A good thing to know is that there are no calories in birth control pills so there is no need to worry.

In general, the side effects mentioned above are mild and tend to go away within a couple of days, weeks and sometimes months after starting the pill. If the side effects are concerning you, then you should consult your healthcare provider.

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