How To Tell If The Daily Pill Isn't Right For You

Birth control can be a hot-button issue, either in politics or just in general. As The Daily Beast reports, the Supreme Court's decision to overturn "Roe v. Wade" in the summer of 2022 led at least one contraceptive manufacturer to lobby the Food and Drug Administration to allow its pills to be sold over the counter. Many wanted to make sure they were covered in case abortion was truly lost or hard to access in certain states, and others were worried that birth control would be next on the chopping block — which is still a valid concern, according to NBC News.

For people who rely on birth control to manage their periods, stop pregnancy, or allow themselves personal agency, this time has been scary. If the daily pill is something you're on, it's possible you've also looked into more long-term contraceptives, also called long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) per the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. If something happens legally, not having to worry about gaining access to daily pills might be helpful. But aside from laws and a potential loss of agency, taking pills every day so you don't get pregnant might just not be for you in general. How are can you determine if that's the case? We've got some reasons that the daily pill might not be the best form of birth control for you.

You're constantly missing days of pills

Taking a daily pill for birth control is one of the most common forms of contraceptives. But it does, of course, require you to take the pill at the same time every day, which many can miss sometimes. Self reports that forgetting to take your daily pill is fairly common. In fact, the publication notes that data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2017 showed that 15% of women aged 15 to 44 missed one oral contraceptive pill within a month-long period, and 16% missed two or more pills. Many people taking the pill know that they can just take the one they missed the next morning. However, missing more than that means that using a backup contraceptive method is a good idea until you've taken your pills regularly for a full week. And if the latter is something that happens often, that's a lot of stress on your body and peace of mind.

Dr. Samantha M. Dunham, clinical associate professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Langone Health, told Self that a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) is all about the "set it and forget it" course of action. "It may require more effort to start up, but requires less effort over time," she said. If you're not good with remembering or setting alarms, for your sanity's sake, a LARC could be the right move.

Some side effects might not be worth it

There are side effects for any medication you take, especially when it comes to birth control. But sometimes the pill's side effects aren't worth the benefits of birth control. If you haven't adjusted well after a few months and you're still having adverse or abnormal reactions like heavy bleeding, non-stop bleeding for months, or severe depression, it might be time to switch. Dr. Cybill Esguerra, an assistant professor of gynecology and obstetrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told WebMD that these reasons are what cause most people to search out other forms of contraceptives. "It's either unscheduled bleeding or pain," she said. "Other things that people discuss include weight gain, skin changes, or mood changes."

Again, side effects come with all birth control types, and some forms cause more intense ones than others. With that said, Dr. Susan E. Pesci, a gynecologist, clinical instructor, and family planning specialist in the Montefiore Health System, told Insider that patients should be careful about switching and should only do so if the side effects are "intolerable." Birth control isn't a walk in the park, but being miserable isn't normal either. Open a discussion with your doctor and advocate for yourself and your discomfort and see what your options are.

Your family-planning goals have shifted

Dr. Nerys Benfield, a gynecologist and director of the division of family planning at the Montefiore Health System, told Insider that the pill, patch, or ring are perfect for people who want to "conceive in less than a year." But if you realize that you don't fit that plan and aren't happy with any of those three methods for other reasons, switching to a long-lasting contraceptive could be a good plan. And on the opposite side, Benfield said that going through the process of getting an IUD—which can last from three to 10 years—or using the birth control shot (most commonly known by the brand name Depo-Provera) might not be worth it if you do want to conceive sooner than a year.

In fact, if you are using or thinking of using the injection and also want to get pregnant within a year, that's not a great method for you. Benfield said that it can take up to a year to regain fertility after stopping the shot. "For most women, it's going to run out at the 3-month interval, as it should, but for some women, it can continue to have a suppressive effect," she said. "So if someone's looking for less than a year [of contraception], I would not recommend the injection."

You want to limit or eliminate your periods

Birth control isn't just for, well, controlling birth. You can actually control if you do or don't have periods at all on certain forms of contraceptives. People who don't even need to worry about pregnancies—either because they're in a same-sex relationship or with a partner who can't get them pregnant—sometimes take birth control to do just that. Conditions like endometriosis, PCOS, or just immensely bad periods can make birth control a necessary form of healthcare to control or even stop periods altogether. 

As Insider reports, implants, IUDs, and injections can completely make periods vanish. For instance, Healthline notes that after a year of using the birth control injection, almost half of users no longer had periods. This is "safe and common" on the shot, and even lighter bleeding or spotting can be a welcome change to some people with heavy, painful periods.

Several types of birth control besides the pill, like the ring and the patch, can also lessen intense cramps and pain, which is a godsend for those who have more severe pain during their period (per Insider). However, not every birth control affects everyone's period the same. If this is the reason you want to switch, talk to your doctor about your desired results first. 

Your health issues have changed

Again, birth control can be risky, but the risks can be even worse if you have certain health conditions. If you develop a health issue while taking the daily pill, it might be a good idea to see if the condition impacts your current contraceptive. If it does or if it now poses higher risks to you, switching might be a good idea.

For example, according to Self, people older than 35 years old who smoke shouldn't use the pill "due to the changes increased estrogen levels can make to your blood." Also, people who have migraines with aura are advised not to take birth control pills with estrogen because of an increased risk of an ischemic stroke, according to Healthline. Plus, contraceptive pills have been known to make migraines worse or more frequent for those who suffer from them, not just ones with aura. This is why birth control such as the progestin-only "mini pill," condoms, or an IUD are the best options if you get migraines with aura. Another method, the copper IUD, is not a good option for those who have uterine fibroids, per Mayo Clinic.

Other health issues that will dictate which birth control you can use because of higher risks include a history of high blood pressure, blood clots, or cancer, per Self. Again, speak to your doctor soon after your health situation changes to see if the daily pill is still your best option.