Guide to Birth Control Methods & Side Effects


Editorial Team


May 28, 2024

Image of a woman looking out a window considering birth control options

Medically reviewed by Andrea Eisenberg, MD


  • Birth control comes in various forms, but understanding the common side effects of both hormonal and non-hormonal methods is essential for informed decision-making.
  • Hormonal contraceptives, administered in various formats, may lead to hormonal changes, mood swings, migraines, and many other side effects.
  • Non-hormonal methods, such as condoms, diaphragms, and spermicides, offer benefits like no hormonal side effects, but may have drawbacks like lower effectiveness when compared to their hormonal counterparts.
  • Managing side effects involves adopting a healthy lifestyle and recognizing when symptoms require medical attention, especially in cases of blood clots.
  • When considering birth control, it’s crucial to consult healthcare providers for personalized advice and consider individual health factors like lifestyle, tolerance to side effects, and health history.

Common birth control methods & side effects

Birth control is a necessary reality for many individuals to better manage their reproductive health. However, with several options and methods to choose from, it can often lead to an overwhelming amount of information to explore. In this guide, our focus is on understanding the common side effects of both hormonal and non-hormonal birth control methods, backed by peer-reviewed facts, to ensure you feel confident to make informed decisions.

Overview of birth control methods

There are several types of temporary birth control methods which vary in invasiveness and duration of effectiveness. Some common forms of contraception are:The seven most commonly used reversible birth control methods are:

  • Intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Implant
  • Shot
  • Ring
  • Patch
  • Pill
  • Condoms

It’s crucial to understand these choices and ensure the type you choose is right for you and your lifestyle. Most birth control methods fall into either the hormonal or barrier categories, but other methods include copper IUD, tubal ligation, vasectomy, withdrawal, natural rhythm methods, lactational amenorrhea method, and abstinence.

Common side effects of hormonal birth control

Hormonal contraceptives, while highly effective, may introduce side effects. These vary from person to person and over time.  Some side effects can affect women in a positive way such as lighter flow, less cramps, improved acne, more regular periods, while others may experience stronger or more uncomfortable side effects. It’s important to understand the risks prior to committing to a certain type of birth control.

Hormonal birth control is typically administered as a:

This are common the common ways that these hormonal methods can prevent pregnancy:

  1. Preventing the ovaries from releasing an egg each month
  2. Thickening the cervical mucus, making it more difficult for sperm to reach and penetrate the egg
  3. Thinning the lining of the uterus so a fertilized egg cannot implant in the uterus wall

Common side effects of hormonal birth control include:

  • Acne (reducing or increasing)
  • Mood swings or changes
  • Headaches
  • Sore Breasts
  • Weight gain
  • Nausea
  • Impact to your menstrual cycle, including flow change and irregular periods
  • Cramping
  • Blood clots (very rare unless a woman is predisposed due to a genetic condition)

Non-Hormonal birth control benefits and side effects

For those that prefer non-hormonal methods, potential side effects can differ. Non-hormonal birth control comes with its own set of benefits and drawbacks to consider.

Typical non-hormonal methods are a type of “barrier” that physically prevent viable sperm from reaching an egg. A few examples of non-hormonal birth control methods are:

  • Condoms
  • Diaphragm
  • Spermicide or contraceptive gel
  • Cervical caps
  • Copper IUD

Non-hormonal birth control methods  do not produce effects from hormone changes, such as weight gain, acne, or fatigue. You can use condoms, as needed, or as a backup method. Condoms can also mitigate the risk of some STIs. For individuals who know they may want a family in the future, non-hormonal methods can be attractive as well because they don’t impact your fertility cycle.

The effectiveness of non-hormonal birth control varies from 72% to 98% depending on usage. 

Some forms of non-hormonal birth control still runs the chance of some side effects such as:

  • Irritation or allergy to spermicides or gels
  • Increased chance of urinary tract infections (UTIs) (cervical cap)
  • Cramping (copper IUD)

Managing side effects

Temporary side effects are part of the birth control journey, but practical lifestyle tips can help manage them effectively. For instance, adopting a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced diet, can positively impact the overall well-being of individuals on birth control. 

However, recognizing when side effects require medical attention is crucial. Severe or persistent symptoms, although rare, should never be ignored and could indicate more severe side effects such as 

  • Blood clot
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

If you experience any of these symptoms, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room immediately. 

Your path to choosing the right birth control

In the era of digital healthcare, virtual consultations provide a convenient and accessible platform for addressing concerns. While we encourage self-education, it’s equally vital to consult healthcare providers for personalized advice. 

Lemonaid Health is an easy way to get the answers you need while on your reproductive health journey. Our U.S.-based medical team is ready to review your health history, answer questions, and help you make an informed decision through our easy three-step process. 

Considering individual health factors

Choosing the right birth control involves considering individual health factors. It’s incredibly important to have an open line of communication with your healthcare professional to ensure you receive information tailored to your lifestyle, ensuring you’re empowered to make the right decisions for your health.

Things like what you do for work, whether you smoke or drink, how often you exercise, and so many more factors may affect what type of birth control will be most effective for you. Plus, your health history and tolerance to certain side effects may also come into play when making that decision.

It’s essential that you navigate your birth control journey with informed confidence. Understanding the side effects, considering individual health factors, and leveraging the ease of virtual consultations empower you to make choices aligned with your well-being. Remember, your reproductive health is a personalized journey, and Lemonaid Health is here to support you along the way.

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  3. Cooper DB, Patel P. Oral Contraceptive Pills. [Updated 2024 Feb 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from:
  4. (n.d.). Contraception and Birth Control. NICHD – Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Retrieved May 23, 2024, from
  5. NIH – National Library of Medecine (2023, October 23). Condoms – male. MedlinePlus. Retrieved May 23, 2024, from
  6. (2024, May 10). Birth Control From the FDA Office of Women’s Health. FDA – US Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved May 23, 2024, from


Editorial Team


May 28, 2024

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.