The Five Serious Side Effects of Oral Contraceptives

birth control pills.jpg

While there are many common side effects from taking hormone-based contraceptives like the birth control pill, most of them—including breast tenderness, nausea, spotting or irregular bleeding—tend to resolve themselves after a few months on the pill.

Serious Side Effects

However, there are five established side effects of oral contraceptives that are much less common, but are serious enough as to warrant contacting one's physician immediately. If you can't reach your doctor, it is recommended that patients seek emergency medical help

They have been molded around the acronym ACHES so that they can be remembered more easily. They are:

Abdominal pain (stomach pain)

Chest pain

Headaches (severe)

Eye problems (blurred vision)

Swelling or aching in the legs and thighs

ACHES Consequences

The reason these side effects are considered especially serious is because they could be symptomatic of a much more serious health crisis, including but not limited to:

  • Stroke
  • Blood clot
  • Liver disease
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease

Again, should you experience any of the ACHES side effects contact a health professional immediately.


The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational purposes and does not constitute the practice of medicine. We encourage all visitors to see a licensed physician or nutritionist if they have any concerns regarding health issues related to diet, personal image and any other topics discussed on this site. Neither the owners or employees of nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

Login or Sign Up