Taking Birth Control While Unknowingly Pregnant: Symptoms and What to Do

Many women rely on birth control to prevent pregnancy. But even with birth control, there’s a small chance of becoming pregnant unintentionally. If you suspect you might be pregnant while taking birth control, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms and take the necessary steps.

Can You Get Pregnant While on Birth Control?

Yes, although birth control methods are highly effective, pregnancy can still occur. Effectiveness rates vary depending on the type of birth control used. For instance, the birth control pill, when taken perfectly, has a very low failure rate (around 1%), but missing pills can increase the risk.

Symptoms of Pregnancy While on Birth Control

Some common symptoms of pregnancy can occur whether you’re using birth control or not. These include:

  • Missed period: This is often the first sign of pregnancy, but some birth control methods can cause irregular periods, making it easy to miss one.
  • Nausea and vomiting (morning sickness): This can be a telltale sign, but birth control can also cause nausea.
  • Breast tenderness or changes: Breasts may feel swollen, tender, or tingly.
  • Increased urination: You might find yourself needing to pee more frequently.
  • Fatigue: Feeling more tired than usual is a common pregnancy symptom.
  • Implantation bleeding: This is light spotting that can occur when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus, but it can also be confused with breakthrough bleeding caused by birth control.

Factors to Consider

Here are some additional points to keep in mind:

  • Type of birth control: Different birth control methods have varying effects on pregnancy symptoms. For example, hormonal birth control like the pill might mask some early signs.
  • Consistency of use: Taking birth control exactly as prescribed reduces the risk of pregnancy. Missed pills, for instance, can increase the chance of conception.

What to Do if You Think You Might Be Pregnant

If you’re experiencing pregnancy symptoms while on birth control, the best course of action is to take a home pregnancy test. These tests are readily available at drugstores and most supermarkets. Early detection is crucial for prenatal care.

If the Test is Positive

A positive pregnancy test while on birth control warrants a visit to your doctor or gynecologist. They can confirm the pregnancy, discuss the potential effects of birth control on the fetus (research suggests the risk of birth defects is very low), and guide you through your options.

If the Test is Negative

Even with a negative test, persistent symptoms or concerns might require a visit to your healthcare provider. They can rule out other potential causes and ensure your overall well-being.

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