Side Effects of Taking Birth Control While Pregnant


Many women continue to take birth control before they realize that they are pregnant, sometimes for months. For many of these women, this is a scary thought and raises many questions about the health of the baby, miscarriage and missing essential prenatal care. Birth control pills work by preventing an egg from being released or by hindering the egg from moving through the fallopian tube and thickening the cervical mucus to prevent the sperm's journey to the egg.

Miscarriage Concerns

The use of oral contraceptives during early pregnancy typically does not cause miscarriages. According to "Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology," between 1996 and 2002, a large study was conducted of nearly 100,000 pregnant women and no correlation between artificial hormones, like those in birth control, and increased rate of fetal death in babies.

Birth Defects

According to the Mayo Clinic, women have accidentally continued taking birth control pills while in the early stages of pregnancy for many years and it has yet to have a scientific link to birth defects. The hormones that are in birth control—estrogen and progesterone—have not been linked to any specific birth defects. While there has been no specific birth defects connected to birth control pills, progesterone only pills have an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy.

Pregnancy Symptoms

Pregnancy symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headaches, breast swelling and breast tenderness are not masked by the hormones in birth control. Many of these symptoms can be associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and your normal menstrual cycle. Women who have these symptoms without a period should have a sensitive pregnancy test done. Some birth control pills are designed to allow you to only have four periods a year and some birth control pills can completely stop periods in some women as long as they are on the pill. If you miss a period while you are on the pill, and you have taken it right you are most likely not pregnant. You should continue to take your birth control pill. You can also take an at home pregnancy test to make sure that you are not pregnant. Birth control hormones do not hinder pregnancy tests, because pregnancy test are looking for the hormone hCg, which is not found in any birth control pill.

Mother's Side Effects

Women who take the birth control pill while pregnant typically have more nausea, vomiting, bloating and fatigue than other women who are not taking birth control while pregnant. Many women dismiss these symptoms because they coincide with many premenstural symptoms.

Ending a Pregnancy

You cannot accidentally end a pregnancy by taking a normal dose of birth control pills. According to the South Carolina Emergency Contraceptive Initiative, taking a large dose of birth control can be used as an emergency contraceptive, but it is only likely to work a few days after having unprotected sex, not after a pregnancy test has come back positive. If you plan to use a large dose of birth control as an emergency contraceptive, talk to your doctor or pharmacist to make sure the dosage is right.

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