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What are the Common Levonorgestrel Side Effects?

Autumn Rivers
By
Updated Jan 27, 2024
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One type of contraceptive is levonorgestrel, which typically works by making the cervical mucus hostile to sperm and inhospitable to a fertilized egg trying to implant in the uterine wall. It tends to display many of the same side effects of other types of hormonal contraceptives, including weight gain, breast tenderness, and mood swings. More serious levonorgestrel side effects might include stomach pain or particularly heavy vaginal bleeding. Other serious side effects that may call for emergency treatment include the signs of a stroke, blood clot, or heart attack.

Many contraceptives that include hormones of any kind carry side effects that are similar to the symptoms of pregnancy or premenstrual syndrome. For example, nausea and vomiting are often combined with back pain and sudden headaches when patients take this type of birth control. The breast tissue and skin are often affected, as well, since breast tenderness and acne may occur. The libido is usually lowered while the weight often rises, which are two well-known complaints about hormonal contraceptives. Most women taking this medication have learned to deal with such levonorgestrel side effects, as they are not usually considered serious.

Of course, there are some levonorgestrel side effects that are in fact harmful to women. For instance, while a change in menstrual flow is quite common, excessive bleeding that seems to last longer than normal should be mentioned to a doctor. The extreme loss of blood can lead to dizziness, which may be accompanied by confusion and a severe headache. Unfortunately, pain during intercourse may also be present, which is one side effect that few other contraceptives seem to have. Finally, stomach pain and particularly uncomfortable cramps can also occur, and should be mentioned to a doctor.

Additionally, there are some long term risks that come with this medication. For instance, blood clots may develop in different parts of the body, with a clot in the lung leading to chest pains and difficulty breathing. Clots can also show up in the legs or arms, with symptoms that include swelling, redness, and pain in the affected limbs. Heart attack symptoms may include chest pain and pale, sweaty skin, while stroke symptoms typically include sudden difficulty speaking or feeling one side of the body. These levonorgestrel side effects are most likely to occur in women who are older or who smoke, which is why this type of birth control is not ideal for everyone.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Autumn Rivers
By Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for WiseGeek, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
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Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for WiseGeek, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
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