Long-term effects of birth control: Is it safe to use indefinitely?

Some people take the birth control pill for much of their adult lives without a break. Others use long-term hormonal contraception devices, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs), that can stay in place for several years.

The safety of using long-term hormonal birth control may depend on a person’s risk factors, age, and medical history.

Read on to find out the short-term and long-term effects of birth control.

Short-term side effects

Hormonal methods of birth control contain artificial progesterone or estrogen and progesterone. They affect the hormone levels in a person’s body, so many people experience side effects shortly after taking them.

Not all people will experience side effects. Some side effects will go away within several months as the body adjusts to the hormones. Other side effects may develop after taking hormones for some time.

Possible short-term side effects of birth control include:

  • bleeding between periods, or spotting
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • breast tenderness
  • weight gain
  • mood swings

There are several long-term birth control options. All hormonal methods of birth control, including the pill, patch or implant, may cause similar side effects and long-term risks.

There is no one “best” method of birth control. The best option depends on a person’s lifestyle and medical history.

Most long-term birth control options involve the use of hormones. The hormones work in two main ways: stopping ovulation and thickening the cervical mucus, which makes it difficult for the egg and sperm to meet.

Long-term non-hormonal options are also available, including the non-hormonal IUD.

Long-term contraception methods include the following:

  • Birth control pills: Contraceptive pills often contain both artificial progesterone and estrogen. People can also use progesterone-only pills.
  • Contraceptive shots: Contraceptive shots contain progesterone and prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation. A doctor can give a contraceptive shot every 3 months.
  • Contraceptive implants: An implant is a small, thin rod that a doctor inserts under the skin in the arm. It releases hormones that prevent ovulation. The implant protects from pregnancy for up to 4 years.
  • Vaginal ring: A person inserts a vaginal ring inside their vagina. The person leaves the ring in for 3 weeks and then takes it out for 1 week. The ring releases hormones, which prevent ovulation.
  • Contraceptive patch: The patch contains hormones that prevent pregnancy. A person sticks the patch on their back, bottom, or arm. The person changes the patch weekly for 3 weeks then takes the fourth week off. They must repeat this every month.
  • Intrauterine device (IUD): An IUD is a small device that a doctor inserts in the cervix. Currently, IUDs last anywhere from 3 to 12 years. People can get hormonal or non-hormonal versions of the IUD.
  • Surgical Sterilization: Options are available for both sexes. However, these are permanent methods. They are completely hormone-free.


Using hormonal birth control is safe for as long as you need, provided that a doctor has given the okay. People should discuss their individual needs and risk factors with a doctor when deciding whether to stay on hormonal contraception for an extended period.

Consider all the options and discuss all possible health risks and benefits with a healthcare provider.

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Number of Opioid-Addicted Women Giving Birth Quadruples

THURSDAY, Aug. 9, 2018 — The number of pregnant women addicted to opioids as they give birth has more than quadrupled since 1999, a disturbing new report shows.

In 2014, for every 1,000 hospital deliveries, 6.5 were mothers who arrived at the hospital with opioid use disorder, up from 1.5 per 1,000 in 1999, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers found.

This increase is likely linked to America’s ongoing opioid epidemic, said study co-author Jean Ko, an epidemiologist with the CDC’s division of reproductive health.

“With the opioid overdose epidemic, it’s natural to see increases in opioid use disorder among the general population,” Ko said. “Our data tell us that women presenting for labor and delivery are no different.”

Opioid use during pregnancy has been tied to maternal death during delivery, stillbirth and preterm birth, the CDC researchers noted.

Even babies born healthy might have to go through opioid withdrawal, a condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

Babies with NAS can experience tremors, convulsions, seizures, difficulty feeding, breathing problems, fever, diarrhea and trouble sleeping, according to the March of Dimes.

The CDC study used data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, focusing on 28 states with at least three years of data available for analysis.

Between 1999 and 2014, all 28 states saw significant increases in opioid-addicted pregnant women entering labor.

Vermont and West Virginia had the most cases of opioid-affected pregnancies in 2014. Vermont had 48.6 cases for every 1,000 deliveries; West Virginia had 32.1 cases per 1,000. On the low end, Nebraska had 1.2 cases per 1,000 and the District of Columbia had 0.7 per 1,000.

The average annual rate increases were highest in Maine, New Mexico, Vermont and West Virginia. Those states all had growth of more than 2.5 cases per 1,000 each year — six times higher than the national average of 0.4 cases per 1,000.

The states with the lowest increases were California and Hawaii, with fewer than 0.1 new cases per 1,000 each year.

The new information “is very alarming and is a call to arms regarding this national health crisis,” said Dr. Mitchell Kramer, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y.

“We are well aware of the association of opioid exposure and abuse with adverse pregnancy outcomes including preterm labor and delivery, stillbirth, neonatal withdrawal syndrome and maternal mortality,” he said.

But Ko said concerns about babies with NAS should not dissuade pregnant women from taking medicines appropriately prescribed to treat chronic medical disorders, or from taking medications like methadone or buprenorphine that aid in addiction treatment.

The CDC recommends a number of strategies for countering this dangerous trend:

  • Making sure opioids are prescribed appropriately.
  • Strengthening state-level prescription drug monitoring programs.
  • Requiring substance abuse screening at the first prenatal visit, as recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
  • Ensuring that pregnant women with opioid use disorder have access to addiction therapy, and that new opioid-addicted mothers receive postpartum care that includes mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Kramer pointed out that “the implications of this startling CDC data are that coordinated national, state and provider efforts are necessary to prevent, monitor and treat opioid use disorder among reproductive-aged and pregnant women.”

The report was published in the Aug. 10 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

More information

The March of Dimes has more about neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Posted: August 2018

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To Combat Childhood Obesity, Start at Birth, or Even Before

TUESDAY, Aug. 7, 2018 — Efforts to prevent childhood obesity probably should begin at birth to have any hope of success, according to new results from a pair of clinical trials.

First-time moms taught good nutrition strategies during their baby’s first year wound up with 3-year-olds who were less likely to be overweight or obese, a Pennsylvania-based clinical trial discovered.

But a Nashville clinical trial — focused on kids between 3 and 5 years of age — failed to change the kids’ risk for excess weight, even though the program was a much more rigorous effort to stem childhood obesity.

“When you look at prevention, you need to start really early,” concluded Dr. Shari Barkin, lead researcher in the Nashville trial. She is chief of general pediatrics at the Monroe Carrel Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University.

“Prevention isn’t something you do for a short period of time, and it isn’t something you do right before you become obese,” she said. “It’s something you need to start early and sustain.”

About 20 percent to 25 percent of children ages 2 to 5 in the United States are overweight or obese, said Dr. Ian Paul, lead researcher of the Pennsylvania study. He is a professor of pediatrics at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey.

“Once a child becomes overweight or obese, they’re more likely to stay that way across the life course,” Paul said. Because of that, it’s critical to head off excess weight in children and teach them healthy life lessons.

For the Pennsylvania study, Paul and his colleagues recruited 279 first-time mothers and their infants shortly after delivery at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey.

Half of the mothers received four hour-long in-home lessons during the child’s first year of life, teaching them how to recognize and respond to a child who is drowsy, sleeping, fussy or alert.

The lessons focused on using methods other than food to deal with sleepless or fussy babies, and to recognize and respond to hunger appropriately, researchers said.

“Food is for hunger. Food is not for other things. Food should not be used to soothe. Food should not be used to reward,” Paul said. “Food will work to make people happy or calm or quiet, but it shouldn’t always be the response.”

By age 3, toddlers whose moms received these lessons were less likely to be overweight or obese than those whose moms didn’t get such guidance (the “control” group), researchers found.

Among the toddlers of trained moms, 11.2 percent were overweight and 2.6 percent were obese, compared to 19.8 percent overweight and 7.8 percent obese in the control group.

The Tennessee clinical trial focused on 304 low-income parent-child pairs, half of whom received ongoing counseling for three years when the kids were 3 to 5 years old.

The counseling began with 12 weekly 90-minute skill-building sessions that taught good nutrition, physical activity habits, engaged parenting, healthy sleep and reduced media time, researchers said.

After that, parents received nine months of monthly coaching telephone calls, followed by two years of texts, personalized letters and monthly calls reminding them of neighborhood opportunities to keep their kids healthy and active.

Even though this program involved a lot more time with parents, the kids were just as likely to be overweight or obese as children in a control group, the researchers found.

Parents did change their behaviors, resulting in a 100 calorie-per-day difference between the two groups, but that wasn’t enough to stem average weight gain, Barkin said.

“Achieving sufficient amounts of behavior change might not be feasible for these extremely low-income minority populations,” Barkin said.

The people Barkin’s team focused on were much more economically disadvantaged than Paul’s group, and this may have made some difference, the researchers said. Toxic stress and food insecurity can influence a person’s risk of obesity in fundamental ways, Barkin noted.

Dr. Claudia Fox, co-director of the Center for Pediatric Obesity Medicine at the University of Minnesota, agreed that the Tennessee families’ hardscrabble lives could also contribute to their obesity challenge.

“You’re worried about getting food on the table for your kid, and we know stress can lead to obesity in the parents,” she said. “It’s likely some of that stress is transmitted to the kids as well.”

But the programs’ timing also could have been key, Barkin and Paul said. The earlier you teach parents these skills, the better for their children.

“We felt strongly about early intervention, before these parenting behaviors became entrenched,” Paul said. “Some would argue to intervene even earlier, during pregnancy or pre-conception.”

It also might be that the Pennsylvania trial’s strategy of interactive one-on-one home visits was more effective than the community-based program used in Nashville, said Dr. Victor Fornari, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y., and Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

“It appears that home visits may have more of an impact than educational strategies to build skills,” Fornari said. “More research is needed to understand how to minimize obesity and improve health in these young children.”

Fox had another theory, noting that moms in the Pennsylvania study were closer to normal weight than those in the Tennessee trial.

“That might be why they didn’t do as well, because their moms are a little bit bigger,” she said of the Tennessee kids. “Maybe they are just genetically different from the beginning.”

The clinical trials were published Aug. 7 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about childhood obesity.

Posted: August 2018

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Snezana Markoski And Sam Wood Have Welcomed Their First Child

Snezana Markoski and Sam Wood have announced the birth of their first child together, a healthy baby girl.

The former Bachelor stars shared the news on social media today, revealing they’ve named their gorgeous bub Willow Wendy Wood.

Sam shared a video with his ’28 by Sam Wood Member Community’ writing:

“Good morning 28 family. I apologise for being so quiet for the last couple of days (my phone has not fallen into the toilet). I have fallen in love with the most perfect little girl and fallen further in love with the most incredible Mum. I also haven’t been able to stop crying.”

The personal trainer has since taken to Instagram to pen an adorable tribute to their new addition, penning:

♥️ Willow Wendy Wood you make our hearts explode. Mumma you were amazing and I love you more than ever. Eve, you look so natural holding your little sister. Dad – stop crying 😭🙈 Willow you are simply perfect ♥️”

The couple, who met on the third season of The Bachelor, announced the pregnancy back in May on Mother’s Day. 

“We weren’t trying for too long,” Sam revealed on the Kyle and Jackie O show. “It wasn’t super, super planned but it wasn’t a surprise either.”

Willow is the first child the couple share, though Snezana also has her 12-year-old daughter Eve from a previous relationship.


Sam previously spoke to Women’s Health about his excitement for impending fatherhood.

“My friends all say it’s just the best thing that’ll ever happen to me and to enjoy it. I know that’s pretty simplistic but that’s just my attitude – I’m not scared about being a dad, it’s all excitement,” Sam said. “I love kids and I’ve always wanted to be a dad. I’m kind of glad I haven’t become one until now because it wasn’t the right time and definitely wasn’t the right person. Yeah I can’t wait; it’s just excitement.”

RELATED: Snezana Markoski Reveals How She Lost 10kg

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Facebook Doesn’t Want You To See This Incredible Birthing Photo

Julie Bell, a registered nurse, certified doula and herbalist, shared a photo of a newborn baby resting on his mother’s chest, and when doing so she didn’t even question whether or not to post the remarkable photo to Facebook. 

We are dead-set serious about challenging the double standard on social media, discriminating against normal birth, breastfeeding and motherhood: . . . . "When registered nurse, certified doula and herbalist, Julie Bell from Victoria shared a photo of a newborn baby resting on his mum's chest, she never dreamed that she might be breaching any kind of guidelines on Facebook. But, shortly after posting the beautiful image, Julie's account received a seven-day ban and a warning that her account would be unpublished for any further breaches. "There's no adult nudity whatsoever in this photo, the only nudity is the baby's bottom," Julie told Kidspot. The image was sent to Julie by one of her Blissful Herbs clients, a mother who had previously experienced a traumatic birth and who was celebrating the beautiful peaceful birth she had with her second baby. “My dad who is blind as a bat managed to snap a few photos with a flash," the mum explained. "He never looked at the photos and after the baby arrived. He said, 'Honey sorry – I don't think I got anything on the camera. I couldn't see what I was taking photos of!' So a few days later I had a look and was blown away when I saw this image." It was a beautiful moment and one that was soured when the photo was deemed to violate the community standards of Facebook. Not long after the Facebook ban, Julie's Instagram account was removed for a birth photo which contained no nudity. Julie, who has been working as a doula for more than 20 years is fed up. "We get dismissed and fobbed off when we protest accounts and pages that are blatantly violent, pornographic and misogynistic," she said. "We are censored and censured when we seek to educate and empower women about our bodies in ways that have nothing to do with sexually servicing men. "We experience the loss of business and revenue as a result of this apparent discrimination against normal healthy womanhood, birth and breastfeeding." Julie's account was reinstated after a number of influencers within the birth community stepped in and helped her get the attention of Instagram, but the problem isn't limited to Julie's account." . . Contact me if this has happened to you!

A post shared by Julie Bell (@blissful.herbs) on

Shortly after posting the powerful image though, Bell received a seven-day ban from Facebook and was sent a warning that her account would be unpublished if she breached the social networking sites guidelines again. 

Julie spoke to Kidspot and said, ‘There’s no adult nudity whatsoever in this photo, the only nudity is the baby’s bottom.’ 

Bell also explains that the image was incredibly significant for the mother, as she had previously experienced a traumatic birth experience and was now celebrating the successful and beautiful birth of her newborn. 

‘We get dismissed and fobbed off when we protest accounts and pages that are blatantly violent, pornographic and misogynistic,’ Bell said. ‘We are censored and censured when we seek to educate and empower women about our bodies in ways that have nothing to do with sexually servicing men.’

‘We experience the loss of business and revenue as a result of this apparent discrimination against normal healthy womanhood, birth and breastfeeding.’ 

Julie isn’t the only woman experiencing the ‘community standard’ guidelines though.

Lacey Barratt, an award-winning photographer from Victoria, has received two 30-day Facebook bans as the result of the images she posts of women’s birthing experiences. 

Barratt claims that she doesn’t post photos of birth to be confronting or provocative, but rather believes it is one of the most raw and powerful moments a person can undergo in their lifetime. 

She says, ‘I never post anything just for the sake of it, there’s always an underlying message to my image.’ 

Lacey regularly posts images that advocate for the Stop Censoring Birth movement, a social media campaign that encourages women to post their raw and incredibly intimate birthing pictures. 

STOP CENSORING BIRTH // If you do a hashtag search for #stopcensoringbirth, you will see the message in the image above. @bumpbirthandbeyond is currently serving a 7 day ban on FB for posting a birth video, after a 3 day ban for a post on cervical mucus. Far too many women enter motherhood underprepared for the life changing journey ahead. Far too many mothers start their journey burdened by a traumatic birth experience. This is unacceptable. Women deserve access to childbirth education from the time they are able to conceive, to have a positive attitude towards birth, supported by a positive birth culture, armed with all the information necessary to make informed choices about the care they desire. The double standard with nudity on social media needs to end. Birth is not pornography. Birth is a normal physiological process that occurs approximately 300,000 times EVERY day! 2018 will be the year birth is embraced on social media and no longer censored. #bumpbirthandbeyond PC @karynloftesnessphotography @ellianagilbertphotography @katiemurray.birthandlife @tampabirthphotographer @catfancote.capturingbirth @mamamistica

A post shared by BUMP, BIRTH & BEYOND (@bumpbirthandbeyond) on

Angela Gallo is also a well-known doula, photographer and educator who is fighting for uncensored birth images to be allowed on social media. 

She said, ‘The core of it is that birth, on Instagram and Facebook is viewed as pornographic, crude, offensive material, and as such it is constantly being reported.’ 

‘We are trying to furiously improve birth-culture in a positive way,’ Angela continued. ‘These accounts are being shut down for no good reason, such as a nipple or a buttcrack.’ 

Angela claims there has been some progress with women getting their accounts reinstated by Instagram after a ban. She also says Facebook are also listening and trying to improve their policies to help empower the birthing community. 

This article originally appeared on New Idea.

RELATED: This Woman Has Shared A Powerful Message For Mums-To-Be Fearing Childbirth

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Is There Such A Thing As Being On Birth Control For Too Long?

Birth control is a great thing. Not only does it help prevent unwanted pregnancies, but depending on what kind you use, it can cut your odds of ovarian and endometrial cancers, clear up acne, and ease super-painful period cramps (to name just a few of the benefits). So in anticipation of Thanks, Birth Control Day on November 10, we partnered with Bedsider.org for a series all about contraception. You can join in on the birth control celebration by using the hashtag #ThxBirthControl.

Earlier this week, gynos shared some of the most common misconceptions about birth control they’ve heard from patients. One of the biggies? Many women think contraceptives can affect your ability to get pregnant if you stay on them for too long.

RELATEDYour Complete Guide To Quitting Your Birth Control

But is there any truth to this idea? Experts say absolutely not.

“There are no birth-control methods that cause infertility,” says Colleen Krajewski, M.D., ob-gyn in Pittsburgh and Bedsider.org adviser. “Most methods have a very rapid return to fertility. I have seen many women who miss their [birth control] shot by a week or two and conceive, so I wouldn’t recommend relying on the delay if you’re trying to avoid pregnancy.”

And what about those rumours you’ve heard that prolonged use of the Pill causes cancer? Leah Torres, M.D., ob-gyn in private practice in Salt Lake City, says that’s not the case.

That being said, a 2014 study published in the journal Cancer Research did point to a slightly increased risk of breast cancer for women taking oral contraceptives—but ob-gyns say that for most women, the benefits outweigh the potential risks. And a study published this summer in The Lancet actually found that the longer women took the Pill, the lower their risks for developing endometrial cancer.

Previously, there were concerns about using Depo-Provera (the birth control shot) long-term due to the risk of bone loss, but Torres says the most recent research suggests it’s safe to use for an extended period of time, too.

So there you have it. No matter what form of pregnancy prevention you’re a fan of, know that you can use it for as long as you’d like. Now go on—have some (safe) sex!

RELATED: Could This One Habit Quadruple Your Risk For Getting An STD?

This article originally appeared on Womenshealthmag.com.

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This Woman Gave Birth On The ER Floor And A Photographer Captured It All

After welcoming five children to the world already, Jess Hogan thought she knew exactly what to expect from childbirth.

But it turned out her “last baby” Max was intent on making a memorable entrance… on the floor of the emergency room.

“It was my craziest birth, but also, the most perfect, it was not at all what I had planned,” Jess shared in a blog post.

She’d been having contractions on and off for days when her water broke at home in the middle of the night. 

“The pain wasn’t troubling me too badly, I kept telling myself I would just ‘know’ if this was the real thing,” she explained.

“About 1 hour later I woke to a strange, long contraction. It wasn’t incredibly painful, but it caused me enough discomfort that I felt around in the dark for my husband and said ‘Travis, I think this is it.’” 

From there, things moved quickly.

The couple raced to the car before Jess even had time to put her shoes on. However, she did get a chance to fire off a text to her birth photographer, Tammy Karin, to let her know the baby was coming. 

“I vaguely remember [Travis] mentioning to me we passed a fox and that he had to run two red lights. Luckily for us, it was 3am and the roads were empty our entire drive,” Jess recalled. 

“As we neared the last turn to the hospital I began screaming that baby was coming,” she recalled. “Travis honked the horn rapidly as I screamed through the contractions and he pulled quickly into the ER drive.”

She had just made it through the front door of the hospital when Max made his move.  

“I then started to take my pants off because I could feel my body pushing the baby’s head out. I reached down and could feel his head crowning with my hand.” 

“I looked at my husband and said, ‘Travis catch him!’ Without any hesitation, he did just that as I felt my body involuntarily pushing his head the rest of the way out.”

Incredibly, Tammy arrived at the exact same moment – just in time to see the birth unfold.  

“He arrived on the floor just inside the entrance of the emergency room at 3:38am,” Jess penned. “Less than 25 minutes from the time my water broke at home, and only a few moments after we stepped inside the hospital.”

And although Max was bruised from the speedy delivery, he arrived happy and healthy.  

“I was also totally in love with the little person laying on me, and even more completely in love with my husband who didn’t miss a beat and kept his word that we would, in fact, make it to the hospital.”

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