Is the pill dangerous for your health?

La pilule est-elle dangereuse pour la santé ?

When was the contraceptive pill invented?

In 1956, American doctor Gregory Pincus developed the contraceptive pill. In 1967, it was authorized for use in France. Its arrival on the market was a veritable revolution for women: synonymous with sexual liberation, since at the time illegal abortions were still commonplace (before they were legalized in 1975).

At first, the pill was not reimbursed by social security (it was not until 1974 that it was). In 1999, the morning-after pill was introduced. The pill became the most widely used form of contraception, offering many advantages: it's very easy to take, and if taken correctly, is around 99% effective.

First-generation pills were the first to appear. Highly dosed in estrogen, they had many side effects, including nausea, headaches, swollen breasts and vascular disorders. A few years later, 3 new generations of pills appeared on the market. The aim was to minimize the side effects of the first-generation pill. Nevertheless, every generation of the pill carries a risk of venous thrombosis, and this risk is even higher with 3rd and 4th generation pills.

Why is the contraceptive pill controversial?

It was in late 2012, early 2013 that the pill (particularly the 3rd and 4th generation pills) came under a great deal of controversy, following a complaint from a user who suffered a stroke.

Between 2000 and 2016, pill use in France fell by 20%*. Among the reasons why women stop taking the pill are, for some, the constraint of having to remember to take medication every day, but also the benign side effects that prove restrictive on a day-to-day basis, such as headaches, weight gain, mood swings, spotting etc... Decreased libido is also a frequent side effect, prompting many women to stop taking the pill. The aforementioned side effects are the most common, occurring in an estimated one in 10 women.

For others, it's simply the desire to get back in touch with their natural cycles, no longer ingesting hormones, that pushes them to change their contraceptive method. In fact, reconnecting with your natural cycle gives you the opportunity to get to know yourself, to know when you're most productive, when you're best suited to a particular activity. Because our emotions and energy vary according to our cycle.

Is the pill really dangerous?

With the controversy surrounding 3rd and 4th generation pills, the French National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSEM) advised all healthcare professionals to prescribe 2nd generation pills as a priority, except in special cases. If a 3rd or 4th generation pill is prescribed, personal and family history must be examined to assess any potential risks. In January 2013, the French social security system stopped reimbursing certain 3rd and 4th generation pills.

Although the list of undesirable effects of the pill is long, and mild side effects are common, it should be noted that the risk of thrombosis (a rare serious side effect) is only 0.06%*. The French national drug agency estimates that there are 2,500 thrombo-embolic accidents per year. The benefits (contraceptive efficacy of 99.7%) far outweigh the risks, but the cardiovascular risks must be taken into account when taking the contraceptive pill, and it's important to have all the information you need to make an informed choice.

Which contraception is right for you? How do you choose your contraception?

The aim here is not to put the pill on trial, but rather to provide information on the advantages and disadvantages of the little pill swallowed by thousands of French women every day. Contraception is a personal matter: the pill may be just right for you, with no major side effects, while your sister may prefer an IUD! It's up to you to choose what you prefer! The best contraception is the one that's right for YOU! To discuss your choice of contraceptive method, talk to your partner: it's a choice that's made by both of you. Don't hesitate to ask a health professional - doctor, gynecologist or midwife - about the various alternatives available. Today, there are many alternatives to the pill, including hormonal contraceptives such as the implant (which may be particularly suitable for those who tend to forget to take their pill), the patch, the vaginal ring, the hormonal IUD and so on. There are also non-hormonal methods such as the copper IUD, various cycle observation methods, symptothermia and condoms (male and female)..... Male contraceptive methods are also appearing on the market: it may be worthwhile finding out more about them.

It's up to you to decide which criterion is most important to you, as each contraceptive has its own advantages and disadvantages:

  • effectiveness rate
  • frequency of use
  • price (reimbursed or not)
  • hormones or not
  • duration of use
  • protection against STIs and STDs

To find out more

Sabrina Debusquat - J'arrête la pilule", 2017

For all non-menstrual losses and the untimely, Elia accompanies you with a collection of comfortable menstrual briefs in organic cotton, invisible under clothing.

Back to blog

Our best sellers

1 of 8

The information contained in the articles on is general information only. Although reviewed by health professionals, this information is not error-free, does not constitute health advice or consultation, and is not intended to provide a diagnosis or suggest a course of treatment. Under no circumstances may this information be used as a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.