Signs of pregnancy on birth control

Pregnancy Symptoms on Birth Control Women's Health
December 16, 2022
6 minutes Read
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Did you know that about 45% of pregnancies worldwide are unplanned?

This statistic indicates that despite more birth control options available, several factors are at play. 

For instance, taking certain medications, having excessive diarrhea, or being ill and vomiting a lot can cause the pill to become less effective. 

Therefore, even if an individual takes proactive contraception measures, impregnation can still occur.

Early signs of pregnancy on birth control

According to Planned Parenthood, pregnancy symptoms can mimic pre-menstrual syndrome or side effects of hormonal birth control.

For example, hormonal contraception can induce breast tenderness, menstrual shifts, or mood changes. Thus, signs of pregnancy can be mistaken for PMS or a mild reaction to the pill, IUD, or patch (etc.).    

Staying in close contact with a trusted medical professional, tracking your period, and paying close attention to bodily changes are essential to sexual health. 

Also, it’s beneficial to be aware of signs of pregnancy while on birth control so you’ll recognize them if they occur.

Pregnancy symptoms on birth control can include the following:

Bloating: A bloated belly may happen because of hormone changes, which can also slow down the digestive system. You might feel constipated or blocked up. Constipation can also escalate the discomfort of abdominal bloating. 

Fatigue: Fatigue may develop during pregnancy at any time. However, tiredness is commonly expected during early pregnancy. Progesterone levels skyrocket, which can cause sleepiness. 

Frequent need to pee: Early gestation boosts your body’s blood volume. This increased blood flow means the kidneys work harder to process more fluid, leading to more liquid in the bladder. Also, hormonal shifts can mean more trips to the loo. 

Mood changes: Estrogen and progestin levels rise during pregnancy, affecting your mood. The altered hormones can cause a person to feel more reactive than usual. Heightened emotions can be upsetting, so getting support from a therapist can remind you that you’re not alone.

Nausea: Oddly enough, what causes morning sickness still needs to be fully understood. But experts believe AM nausea could arise because of a hormone called HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) that appears after impregnation. Staying hydrated and snacking on saltines can subdue morning sickness, but ensure you contact your MD if you can’t keep fluids down. 

If you notice nausea more often than normal, consider it one of the most indicative signs of pregnancy on birth control (or in general). But double-check with appropriate testing and medical care.

Spotting: Light spotting or bleeding can transpire when an egg binds to the uterine lining. When spotting happens outside your normal menstrual cycle, it could signify pregnancy. 

Tender or swollen breasts: The estrogen and progesterone boost during early gestation can trigger breast tenderness. Some individuals can also encounter breast fullness, heaviness, or tingling. 

Important note: If you’re concerned about birth control and pregnancy, speak with a doctor to explore different possibilities and to be prepared. 

Dr. Michael Green, an OB-GYN and founder of the Youtube series Med Twice, explains that birth control and pregnancy are more common than we might realize.

However, he clarifies that the kind of birth control used makes a difference. 

For example, Green strongly suggests removing an IUD as soon as possible if you find out you’re pregnant. He also explains that an individual should immediately contact a healthcare professional if pregnancy symptoms on birth control occur. 

Lastly, Green indicates that birth control effectiveness is greatly improved when used correctly and all directions are followed. 

What if I’m not pregnant but showing signs of it?

You’re exhausted, your breasts are sore, and you’re ravenous.

In this case, it’s natural to assume you might be pregnant. 

But sometimes, you might encounter pregnant-like symptoms without being so for the following reasons:

  1. You’re experiencing side effects. Hormonal birth contraception, like the pill, can contain low doses of either progestin or estrogen (and sometimes both).

While side effects should subside once your body acclimatizes to the hormones, you might feel initial breast tenderness, slight nausea, or more emotions. For those concerned, non-hormonal birth control methods are often a practical alternative.

Similarly, fertility treatments can elevate certain hormone levels and imitate PMS and pregnancy symptoms.    

  1. Your body is ovulating.

Typically, ovulation occurs halfway through a cycle and doesn’t include as many common symptoms with pregnancy as menstruation. But you still might experience achy breasts, cramps, and nausea. 

  1. Your period is just around the corner.

Enhanced progesterone levels during PMS can generate pregnancy-like symptoms, such as extra hunger, cramping, and fatigue. 

Taking a pregnancy test

Because signs of pregnancy while on birth control can be mistaken for PMS, it’s important to rule it out. 

According to Planned Parenthood, store-bought tests are convenient and highly accurate. They work 99 out of 100 times and offer you fast results. 

That said, there’s a caveat.

For your store-bought test to be correct, you must follow the directions to a T. Also, it’s best to take the test after you’ve missed your period so your pee has enough HCG to detect.

Here’s a snapshot of how an at-home test works:

  • Most pregnancy tests check the urine for HCG. 
  • The body only produces HCG when pregnant. 
  • This hormone is released when a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining, which is when pregnancy starts. 
  • If the test results are positive, it can mean you’re pregnant. If they’re negative, it can mean you’re not pregnant. But double-check with a follow-up test and physician appointment. 

You can also visit your local doctor’s office for a clinician to perform a pregnancy test. 

Questions about sexual health?

We’re here to help!

Get in touch with one of our board-certified physicians by downloading the Ravkoo Health app.

Once the app is downloaded, you can schedule a remote doctor’s appointment. 

Should your consultation result in a prescription, use Ravkoo RX to order your medication and have it discreetly delivered to your doorstep. 

Book an MD visit from the comfort of your home today! 

And remember, your particular needs are unique, so your birth control should suit you. Working with a  healthcare provider to find an appropriate solution is ideal.

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