Can you overdose on birth control? This oral contraceptive question and others such as “Can birth control kill you”? Or “What happens when you overdose on birth control pills”? are often questions that trouble a suicidal heart (Someone wanting to poison their body system to take their own life.)
However, this doesn’t take out the fact that there are cases where one can accidentally overdose on oral contraceptive pills. Whichever be the case, this article tends to provide answers to the questions hovering around these topics, so you know what to do whenever such questions are recalled to your memory.
What is a birth control pill?
Birth control pills are prescription medicines used mainly by women to prevent pregnancy. It is also referred to as the “oral contraceptive.” Aside from ending a pregnancy, thoughts of suicide and a substitute for emergency contraception may be other reasons people take oral contraceptives. And when this be the case, they intentionally overdose on these pills; otherwise, they seek immediate remedy on what to do next if they have accidentally overdosed on birth control pills.
What is birth control pill overdose?
Birth control pill overdose is a scenario where someone intentionally or unintentionally takes an overdose of the birth control medicine against and above the recommendation of their healthcare specialist. Overdosing on a birth control pill is synonymous with taking more than one pill a day or taking more than the recommended dose for your routine cycle.
Like we’ve previously said, research has proven that it is not uncommon for one to overdose on birth control accidentally. After much daily work, one can likely not remember taking a dose already while taking another same day.
Overdosing on birth control pills or oral contraceptives isn’t life-threatening either. Nevertheless, when you accidentally double up these pills for the day, you will most likely not experience any chronic side effects. But you don’t need to make it a habit; else, your body system may start experiencing minor side effects. We shall discuss the minor side effects later in this article, but first, How do you prevent yourself from overdosing on oral contraceptives?
The best approach to prevent you from overdosing on oral contraceptives are:
- Set a daily reminder (alarm) on your best time to take a dose of OCP. Make this a daily routine.
- Make sure that when your alarm rings, you drop all you are doing for the pill.
- It might be more convenient to take your pill first thing early in the morning after your shower. Doing this will enable you to maintain focus and never get distracted by the other routine works of the day.
- Most times, some people get confused about whether or not they have taken the pill. So they would rather skip for the day than take an extra unknowingly. Missing a day may reduce the efficacy of the birth control pill against pregnancy. So instead of skipping, confirm from your healthcare professional if you could take an extra in a case like this.
- Ask your husband or any close family friend who stays in the same house to help you with a daily reminder to take your pills at a specific time on a routine.
- Get yourself a notebook, and every morning after taking your pill, write on the notebook the date and time you took your dose for the day. Making this a point of duty and a daily routine will act as a point of order for you anytime you feel confused about whether or not you have taken your daily OCP pills. This is because you have made it a point of duty that you can’t take a medication without keeping a record of it in your notebook; So whenever you check your book and cannot find a record for the day, it then means you have missed your dose on the birth control pill, then you take action immediately.
- Another way to keep a perfect record of your OCP routine is to record your start date and expected date to finish all doses. This method may work best for OCPs on a daily routine. So, for example, if the pill should last for 30 days, and you started taking it from the first day of the month, anytime you feel confused about whether you have taken your daily dose or not, all you should do is to count the number of pills remaining and subtract it from the total days (30 days). The days left should be the same as the total number of OCP pills left untaken. For this method to be accurate, you must insist on never taking a day off your routine.
- You can as well ask your health specialist to guide you properly on how not to miss your OCP dose and what you should do if you miss a day. Feel free to ask a specialist any question that may trouble your heart during the routine process so that you will have all questions pre-answered even before a similar scenario occurs.
Point to note: According to a report by the National Health Service – NHS 1 “when you accidentally overdose on birth controls or oral contraceptive pills (OCP), there is no need to worry, be concerned or seek medical attention immediately. Just make sure that you don’t skip a dose from your routine; it will only force your pack to finish one day earlier, but you’ll still be protected against pregnancy.” This report remains the standing order unless your health professional instructed otherwise.
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11 Symptoms You may experience when you overdose on birth control pills (Side effects of Oral contraceptive)
Do you wonder if oral contraceptive pills have any side effects? When you overdose on birth control pills, either intentionally or not, here are 11 most relative symptoms you may likely experience:
- heavy vaginal bleeding or discharge ( between 24 to 72 hours after the overdose depending on the type of OCP taken).
- Incessant nausea.
- vomiting (Not on all occasions).
- tenderness of the breast.
- discolored urine.
- minor or severe head pain (Headache).
- unusual rashes of the skin (on rare occasions).
- feeling slightly sick and dizzy.
- changes in your mood or emotions.
- facial swelling, hives, or any other signs or reactions of allergy.
Having listed most of the significant symptoms that may occur after an overdose OCP is observed. Now, let us briefly explain why most people overdose on birth control pills and possible treatments or actions (solutions) to remedy the situations.
Individuals may overdose on birth control if:
- they are having thoughts of suicide.
- they need an emergency contraception.
- they want to end an unwanted pregnancy
When an individual is having thoughts of suicide
It’s often sporadic to have someone thinking about suicide to share their secret thoughts with another. Yes, we know how frightening and difficult it may feel to consider telling someone else that you have some suicidal thoughts often and on. But the truth remains that prompt support from a second person or a professional in crisis management can make a big difference in returning your feelings to normal.
Most birth control pills contain one of the following combinations of progestin and estrogen hormones:
- Ethinyl estradiol and Norgestrel.
- Norethindrone and Ethinyl estradiol.
- Norethynodrel and Mestranol.
- Mestranol and Norethindrone.
- Ethynodiol diacetate and Ethinyl estradiol.
- Levonorgestrel and Ethinyl estradiol.
- Ethinyl estradiol and Norethindrone acetate.
- Ethynodiol diacetate and mestranol
While Norethindrone and Norgestrel OCPs contain only progestin, other birth control pills may also have these ingredients. These combinations are Poisonous Ingredients and may often cause severe damage to the body system when abused. Check the pack for a list of ingredients used for the OCP brand you took.
From a research study 2 carried out by Flemming Konradsen , Manjula Weerasinghe, Frederikke Storm, Michael Eddleston , Thilini Agampodi, Melissa Pearson, and Suneth Agampodi and published on the National Library of Medicine (NLM) on the 22nd of March, 2016 proved the fact that majority of those who abuse birth control pills or take an overdose of them, do it intentionally as a way of self-poisoning (Suicide attempt).
According to the 2016 research, 54 teenagers and young adults (comprising 52 women and 2 men) were admitted to one of the surveyed hospitals in Sri Lanka for intentionally attempting to poison themselves by Overdosing on oral contraceptives.
However, the study reported that most of the victims left the hospital within just a day. None became severely ill after experiencing the most common side effects, such as vomiting, nausea, and severe headache.
Do not take or even overdose on a birth control pill if you are thinking about suicide; here are the things you could do instead:
Reach out to a trusted friend or family member
When you confide with a friend or family member, let them know everything about your current state.
- Tell them that you have some suicidal thoughts.
- That you don’t want to be left alone.
- That you would love their support and companionship more now, till you get all eased off completely.
- Tell them if you have taken any medications already and how it’s reacting on you at that point in time. If you haven’t taken any medication at all, let them know if you have any medication at home or any potential weapon at home or your place of relaxation.
- Play kinds of music and catch fun together to ease your thoughts. You can take some days of work and go on a bit of vacation or visit the beach to enjoy the rest of the days with the person you love.
Research has proven that thoughts of suicide drastically reduce when a victim shares their feeling with a close relative who listens with compassion and they spend some time together, offering emotional support 3
Visit the Emergency room (ER) or seek other psychiatric care measures
If the crisis passes, there might be no more need to visit the emergency room or seek other psychiatric care measures if you’ve returned to your sound state after talking with a friend or family. But it is often advised that you check in with a therapist or other mental health professional to give you some professional ethics to maintain a good state of mind always.
If you don’t have a therapist or mental health professional to call or feel exhausted or stressed to search your state for one, please consider asking your friend or family member to help you out. As soon as possible, consider making an appointment to talk with a therapist.
Talking about suicide with people that matter in your life may be frighteningly difficult. However, you can still get alternative support by texting or calling a crisis helpline or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL).
To reach out with the NSPL from the United States, call them on 1-800-273-8255 or visit their official website at suicidepreventionlifeline.org
All calls with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) are toll-free, highly confidential, and available 24/7 to assist those in distress and offer the best professional practices for you and your loved ones.
Crisis management professionals are made up of trained counselors who derive pleasure in offering supports for feelings of sadness, overwhelm, and other feelings of emotional distress.
What do these trained counselors help you do to manage your crisis?
First, they listen to all you have to say without offering advice, judging your thoughts, or interrupting your flow.
When you say everything in your mind, they find a perfect peace to help you explore many options to stay safe.
And finally, helping you find positive coping techniques to manage your thoughts in case of next time.
When you are the caregiver (as a friend or family), and your care receiver has already overdosed on birth control pills and is experiencing top symptoms as listed above, please consider rushing such a person to the Emergency Room to meet with an experienced person professional in the field of self-poisoning.
Before rushing to the Emergency care unit, you may place a direct call to Poison Control (National Capital Poison Centre) for further guidance. This is for those in the United States of America.
The call number for the Poison control helpline is 1-800-222-1222. The calls are toll-free and confidential where necessary. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. Your case does NOT need to be an emergency for you to call. You can call for any reason related to poisoning, either for you or your loved one, any day, and time for the day (24/7).
Alternatively, Call 911 right away if the individual collapses, has a seizure, has severe trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened. Calling 911 for an emergency is also toll-free.
The Emergency room
If you go to the emergency room, here are the few things to expect from the care team specialist:
- They may ask you the type of medication you took—the name of the medicine, strength, and ingredients. You need to go with the pack if available.
- They may ask for samples of blood, urine, or both.
- They may check your blood pressure, pulse, and other vital signs.
- They may ask about your age, body weight, and other conditions.
- They may need to know the time you swallowed the OCP.
- They might also insist on knowing the exact amount of birth control pill you swallowed at a time.
- They may ask to know if the medicine and dosage were prescribed by a specialist and may demand to know the specialist’s name and an address to their place of work.
- They may monitor symptoms that you experience; symptoms include vomiting and nausea if applicable.
- They may also ask questions about your mental wellness and refer you to a mental health professional on staff as fast as they should for necessary checkups.
It would be best if you answered these likely ask questions above and even more as you visit the ER (Emergency room).
Point to note: If you intentionally took birth control pills (oral contraceptives), or any other type of medication, to attempt suicide or as a means of self-poisoning, you need to be honest about how you feel while being attended to by the healthcare professional or any of your loved person. Doing this will enable you to get the proper support and quick intervention that you deserve. Also, let them know when you no longer feel in crisis.
When an individual requires an emergency contraception
Most individuals often use oral contraceptives in place of emergency contraception. They call it the PLAN B or alternative to emergency contraception. While old research published in 1998 on NCBI confirms that the Yuzpe method as an approach to emergency contraception 4 often works, they are considered less effective than every other type of emergency contraception.
As with other types of emergency contraception, you need to take the pills within 72 hours of having unprotected intercourse. If you’ve already taken several oral contraceptives in the hopes of preventing pregnancy, you need to take a second dose after 12 hours.
To prevent feeling sick or throwing up, you may consider taking an anti-emetic (anti-nausea medication).
How many birth control pills should you take per dose? This depends on your specific OCP brand.
We suggest that you seek the counsel of a health professional before taking any pill as emergency contraception or trying the Yuzpe method. Your health professional will help you monitor side effects and offer alternative options if your plan fails to work.
It is not advisable to overdose on OCP even as you want to take it as an alternative to emergency contraception. Always speak with your healthcare specialist for proper guidance.
When an Individual wants to end a pregnancy
Overdosing on birth control pills does not terminate a pregnancy and may not always prevent ovulation. Instead, you risk experiencing severe symptoms that might result in self-poisoning and hence needing emergency care.
When you are exposed to unprotected sex and think that you might be pregnant (maybe you experience some early pregnancy symptoms), why don’t you go for a pregnancy test? And even test for STi (Sexually transmitted infections) as early as possible.
There are now several at-home pregnancy test machines or test tubes that you can use for your examination, or you may visit a primary care physician or clinic to get tested for both early pregnancy and STi.
There are also several options for ending an unwanted pregnancy, although your options may vary depending on which state you live in. For those on lockdown due to pandemics, you may talk with your local Planned Parenthood about telemedicine abortion services 5. This will aid you in getting your abortion pill delivered to you by mail in certain states.
Treatment of Overdose birth control
In most cases, individuals rushed into the Emergency room (ER) due to an overdose of birth control are often treated with activated charcoal, which helps keep the victim’s body from absorbing the OCP medication. Read WebMD 6 on the use of activated charcoal and its risk in the treatment of drug overdose and poisoning.
The Final Takeaway (Can you overdose on birth control?)
You can overdose on birth control or oral contraceptive accidentally, but it shouldn’t become a habit. Birth control pills may affect other medications’ metabolism, hence resulting in other, more severe side effects or symptoms.
When you accidentally overdose on these pills, there is no need to worry or show troubling concern unless you start to experience severe symptoms like heavy vaginal bleeding, constant nausea, vomiting, or any other unusual signs or reactions of allergy.
If you intentionally overdose on these pills as a means of self-poisoning, reach out to your healthcare professional and discuss your symptoms with them to offer you some professional intervention and compassionate guidance.
See a therapist or other mental health professional if you feel depressed or notice some suicidal thoughts recalling in your head. These professional caregivers would help you explore several options for support.
Do not forget to have the following questions pre-answered as you visit the emergency room (ER):
- Your Age and body weight
- The name of the OCP medicine you took and its ingredients.
- The amount of dose you swallowed, the time you took them, and if a specialist prescribed them.
- All necessary information concerning your mental health and the things you love most.
If you find out that an individual has overdosed on oral contraceptives and is in critical condition, please help them by calling the Poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) at 1-800-273-8255 or reach out to Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
If your loved one is nurturing suicidal feelings and confiding with you, help them overcome them by showing compassion. Also, try to keep their mental challenge confidential unless otherwise, they permit you to share with another.Verifiable References
- report by the National Health Service
- 54 teenagers and young were admitted to one of the surveyed hospitals in Sri Lanka for intentionally attempting to poison themselves with by Overdosing on oral contraceptives
- internationalSOS on emotional support.
- 1998 Report on NCBI about Yuzpe Method as a better approach to emergency contraception
- Planned Parenthood on ways to get abortion pills for your state
- The use of activated charcoal and risk implications in the treatment of drug overdose and poisoning