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Do Birth Control Pills Cause Nausea?

Medically Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on August 14, 2020

Birth control pills are one of the safest and most effective ways to prevent pregnancy. They are simple to take, affordable, and usually make periods lighter and improve acne. They may help prevent certain types of breast disease, anemia, ovarian cysts, and ovarian and endometrial cancers. But there are also drawbacks, and nausea can be one of them.

Antacid tablets can help treat nausea caused by the pill, but you may be able to prevent it altogether with a few lifestyle and diet changes.

Nausea and the Birth Control Pill

Most birth control pills are combination pills made up of two hormones: estrogen and progesterone. The hormones work together to stop the release of an egg during your monthly cycle. The pill also helps thicken cervical mucus, which makes it hard for sperm to reach the egg. That’s what prevents pregnancy.

But one of the hormones that prevents pregnancy can cause you to feel nauseated and dizzy, especially during your first 3 months of taking the pill.

What Causes Nausea?

Estrogen may be to blame for the queasiness and dizziness you feel after you take a birth control pill. The hormone can irritate the lining in your stomach. When that happens, you might have symptoms like:

If you vomit within 2 hours of taking a birth control pill, your body hasn’t had time to absorb the contraceptive. So, you’ll need to take another pill right away. If you start to feel better, your body has absorbed the pill, which will do its job to prevent pregnancy. If you don’t, your body may not be protected against pregnancy, so talk to your doctor about other types of pills or birth control methods. Be sure to rest, drink clear liquids, and avoid solid foods until the vomiting has passed.

How to Prevent Nausea From the Pill

There are several things you can do to prevent nausea after you take a birth control pill. You can take the pill with a meal or use antacids and anti-nausea medications. You can also help prevent and treat nausea if you:

  • Take the pill at the same time every day. Try taking it at night before you go to bed.
  • Eat light, bland foods, like saltine crackers or plain bread.
  • Drink cold liquids.
  • Eat smaller meals slowly.
  • Avoid activity after you eat.
  • Avoid spicy foods.

If you’re can’t seem to prevent nausea, talk to your doctor about whether a different birth control pill might help, or about other types of contraceptives.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “Combination birth control pills,” “Gastritis.”

Medical University of South Carolina: “Gastritis.”

KidsHealth: “Birth Control Pill.”

National Health Service (U.K.): “What if I’m on the pill and I’m sick or have diarrhea?”

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: “Birth Control Pill.”

Colombia University (Go Ask Alice): “Side effects of birth control pills.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Nausea & Vomiting: Care and Treatment,” “Birth Control: The Pill.”

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