Have you ever read the side effects sheet that comes with every pack of birth control pills?
Like, ridiculously long...
Not to mention, it can actually be kind of disturbing at times.
Sometimes, those side effects can be rather unexpected and kind of life-changing.
One TikTok user teamed up with her roommate to put their boyfriends’ birth control knowledge to the test. In the now-viral TikTok, the women had their boyfriends read over the long, long list — seriously, that thing is the very definition of fine print — and they were appropriately horrified.
The entire TikTok is both wildly funny and pretty illuminating when it comes to exactly how shocking some of the possible birth control side effects can be.
Mia, the creator who posted the TikTok, said that she and her boyfriend had been discussing hormonal birth control pills when she decided to show him the side effects page.
From their sheer disbelief when they realized their girlfriends have two different brands of birth control with completely separate side effects, to the fear in their voices as they read about angina pectoris (which are severe chest pains, btw), the video illustrates what birth control users everywhere have been thinking about for, well, pretty much forever: the potential side effects of birth control are no joke.
While some people find major benefits from taking daily birth control pills, others have dealt with some pretty intense side effects ranging from elevated blood pressure to nausea, headaches, and an increased risk of depression. And if you’re at risk for certain conditions like blood clots or liver disease, birth control pills have the potential to make that worse.
To get the scoop on the severity of the side effects, I reached out to Dr. Jessica Ritch, a minimally invasive gynecologist at the Florida Center for Urogynecology in Hollywood, Florida and a medical advisor for Elix Healing, a menstrual wellness brand that creates personalized herbal relief treatments for hormonal health.
Dr. Ritch explained that the side effects sheet is so long because pharmaceutical companies need to cover all of their bases when it comes to any potential issues.
Even though the risks from birth control aren't necessarily all that different from the possible risks that come with any other type of medication, Dr. Ritch believes people tend to view them differently.
To figure out the best birth control method for you, Dr. Ritch recommends sharing your medical history with your doctor to identify potential risks, and having a discussion about the possible side effects. "Birth control is safe, effective and tolerable for most people, but as with any medication or supplement, it's not a one-size-fits-all approach," she said. "Women with certain medical conditions, or who are taking certain other medications, should not be on combined hormonal birth control as the risks may outweigh the benefits."
Dr. Ritch emphasized that while it is important to know the potential risks that come with birth control pills, the side effects likely won't be an issue for most users. And if your birth control throws you off? Good news: Many of the most common side effects tend to resolve themselves once your body gets used to your new birth control.
So, do we all need to go brush up on our side effects knowledge? "Reading about what you're putting into your body — whether it's medicine, food, or supplements — is always a good idea, but people considering birth control should seek a medical provider to help interpret the potential risks and side effects for them and also to discuss the benefits, which may not all be listed in the package inserts," Dr. Ritch explained.
Although Mia was not expecting her TikTok to go viral, she's glad that it might prompt some men to learn more about the effects birth control may have on users.
I am here for this way of normalizing talking about women’s health. Heck, there are probably a lot of birth control users out there who haven’t even read over that side effect sheet (no shame!), so to have men reading it and learning exactly what birth control users are potentially subjecting themselves to? Kind of a power move, tbh.
Should learning about women’s health become the big new TikTok trend?
If you want to learn more about Dr. Ritch and her approach to minimally invasive gynecology, check out this interview.