Scary New Side Effect May Make Many Women Rethink the Birth Control Pill

Say What!? 6

birth control pillsMost women I know are pretty grateful that modern medicine has afforded us the miracle of birth control, because it affords us a level of control over our bodies and destinies that our grandmothers and previous generations of women didn't have. But unfortunately, hormonal birth control comes with certain risks, and we're learning more of 'em every day! Get this -- now researchers are saying that birth control pills could make you go blind!

Okay, not directly. A new study shows that women who have used birth control pills for more than three years are twice as likely to have glaucoma -- a leading cause of blindness. Faaaantastic!

The researchers looked at data from over 3,000 women 40 years old and older -- and even took into consideration other risk factors for glaucoma. Nonetheless, they say that there's no reason to freak out and this doesn't mean there's a direct link between birth control pills and the eye disease. But women who have been on the pill long-term and have a family history of glaucoma and/or are of older age may want to consider getting screened for it earlier.

This is a reminder for women consider all of our options. Considering how birth control pills have been linked to heightened risk of breast cancer, blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, gallstones, chronically lowered sex drive, etc., doctors need to come clean about all the risks before prescribing pills like candy, and we need to be taking personal responsibility to investigate.

We need to research what's best for us personally and what pros and cons we're comfortable with. A pill that works like a charm for one woman may be a complete disaster for another. And for some of us, hormonal birth control is an altogether no-no -- which is fine, because there's always Paragard (the copper-T IUD) and other forms of nonhormonal birth control -- which, in light of recent findings, are looking more and more attractive!

How do side effects and risks weigh into the form of birth control you use?

Image via nateOne/Flickr

birth control, general health, drugs, obgyn


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work4... work4mickey

And of course there is always abstinence. I'm not anti birth control, but I wish advocates would stop acting like, without it, women would have no choice but to have baby after baby.

BeccaLS BeccaLS

There are risks to everything.

You should always research any medications you take and not just blindly trust your docoter but often the benefits outway the risks for a lot people.

nonmember avatar Betsy

I have taken birth control for a good many years with the indended results. Now, at 35, after about 12 years of consistenly being on birth control (minus when I intentionally got pregnant with my son), I find out I have tumors on my liver that have most likely been caused by taking the hormonal contraception. I have since discontinued and hope they will shrink, but in talking with my Dr. about BC options and risks, this was never brought up. He said that most women may have these and never know, I just happened to have symptoms (pain). I think that BC is a great option for family planning, but feel that the risks are poorly explained to young women. We need to know ALL of the risks associated. I don't know if it would have changed my (younger selves) mind, but I may not have taken it as long as I have.

BeccaLS BeccaLS

Betsy, that's a very unfortunate situation.

I agree that the risks are poorly explained - I started birth control when I was very young and my doctor didn't tell me any of the risks. I didn't find out about most of them until 3 years later when I went to Planned Parenthood to get different pills (no insurance at the time) and the nurse there gave me print outs with the information.

I've found doctors rarely talk about the risks of anything unless specifically asked and a lot of young women don't even think to ask. I know I didn't.

work4... work4mickey

Many doctors will even brush off your concerns when you ask directly. At least most of mine did. It often felt like they were trying to push them on me. I agree it is important to avoid unwanted/unplanned pregnancy, but many doctors act like bc pills are the only way to do it. They seldom want to discuss other methods (barier methods, spermacide, abstinence, ect.).

nonmember avatar Miriam


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