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Oral contraceptives have been available to women since 1960. The convenience and effectiveness have made it the primary choice of birth control for 17 percent of women aged 15 to 44. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, oral contraceptives have a failure rate of 8.7 percent during the first year of use, second only to injectable forms of birth control. The study identified failure to take oral contraceptives as directed as one of the primary causes of unintended pregnancies.
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The pill however, is not with its side effects that may affect whether it is the best choice for you. Some women may experience nausea, dizziness or headaches while on the pill. Other may gain weight. Other factors may influence your decision to take the pill, including the oral contraceptive complication complication statistics.
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One of the most serious areas of concern is blood clots. Use of oral contraceptives doubles your risk to 2 in 10,000. If you have cardiovascular risk factors such as a history of strokes, you should opt for another form of birth control because of the increased risk.
When taken as directed, the pill is up to 99 percent effective. However, if pregnancy should occur, fetal abnormalities may result. Current statistic place this risk at 7 in 10,000 cases. Malformation of sex organs occurs more frequently at a rate of 3 per 1,000 cases. However, a definitive connection between oral contraceptive use and pregnancy complications has not been established.
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An unexpected complication of birth control use has been documented in women undergoing dental procedures to remove impacted molars. A 2003 study by the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain found that women on oral contraceptives were nearly three times more likely to experience greater postoperative pain than women not taking these medications.
In addition, similar statistics involved the incidence of dry socket in participants taking birth control. Dry socket is a common complication of these types of dental procedures when a clot fails to form, delaying the healing process. Normally, dry socket only occurs with 0.5 to 5 percent of tooth extractions. The 2003 study reported an incident rate of 11 percent.
Any medication carries a certain measure of risk. With oral contraceptives, the complications range from uncomfortable side effects to more serious conditions such as clots or pregnancy issues. Discussing your medical history and lifestyle with your doctor can help you decide if your risk for complications outweighs the benefits of this form of birth control.
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American Pregnancy Association: Oral Contraceptives: Birth Control Pills americanpregnancy.org
Animated Teeth: Dry Sockets (Alveolar Osteitis): What Are They? - Symptoms and Treatments animated-teeth.com
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Use of Contraception in the United States, 1982 – 2008 cdc.gov
A. Garcia, et al. Does oral contraceptive use affect the incidence of complications after extraction of a mandibular third molar? British Dental Journal, April 2003; 194(8):453-455.
Photo by Tijmen Van Dobbenburgh, stock.xchng