If you are using a hormonal birth control method, like the birth control pill, patch or Nuva Ring, determining if you might be pregnant can be difficult. Side effects of these medications can mimic symptoms of pregnancy. While hormonal birth control is extremely effective, a small percentage of women do become pregnant. Take a pregnancy test if you experience these symptoms while using hormonal birth control.
Whether you are on the pill or not, a missed period is typically one of the clearest symptoms of a possible pregnancy. While periods become lighter on most types of birth control pills, unless you are on a continuous pill, you should experience some bleeding during the week of sugar or spacer pills taken from day 21 to day 28 of your cycle. If you do not experience bleeding during this off week, you should take a pregnancy test. Women who are taking a continuous birth control pill or routinely taking pill packs back to back without allowing for a week off for menstruation will not experience this pregnancy symptom.
Morning sickness or nausea is a common symptom of early pregnancy. If you have just started taking birth control pills, it can also be a side effect of your pills. Typically, pill-related queasiness will abate after a week or two on a new pill. If this symptom continues, you may want to change your birth control pills. Unexplained nausea that appears once you have been taking the pill for awhile can be a sign of pregnancy, especially if you have missed pills recently or started your pills late.
Bloating and Breast Tenderness
Bloating and breast tenderness can be signs of pregnancy, pre-menstrual syndrome or simply a side effect of the estrogen in birth control pills. If these symptoms have appeared consistently while you have been on the pill and you have not changed pills, disregard them as a potential sign of pregnancy. If you have changed pills recently, but the symptoms are new, they are most likely a side effect. On the other hand, if these symptoms have suddenly appeared, you may want to consider taking a pregnancy test, especially if you miss your period or use a continuous pill regimen.