If you’re a healthy individual and you don’t smoke, you can safely continue to take birth control pills for as long as you want, at least until a few years post-menopause. Oral contraceptives have been researched thoroughly, with over five decades worth of research supporting their safety.
Sometimes medical practitioners may recommend taking regular breaks from the pill, but the truth is that it doesn’t make a difference to your health, and it could also result in an unwanted pregnancy.
It’s simply not true that the pill causes infertility in the long term; researchers suggest that women who were on the birth control pill and discontinued its use to try to conceive are just as likely to become pregnant as women who have never taken the pill.
Birth control pills can actually preserve your fertility by reducing your odds of getting uterine and ovarian cancer. Oral contraceptives can also suppress the symptoms of endometriosis, wherein the uterine lining grows outside the uterus, resulting in fertility problems.
However, the birth control pill, like any medication, has its risks. Stroke or blood clots are potential but rare side effects, especially if you’re a smoker or have high blood pressure.
According to the National Cancer Institute:
• Some research suggests that present use of birth control pills may slightly raise the risk of breast cancer, particularly among younger women. However, this risk level goes back to normal 10 years or more after discontinuing the birth control pill.
• Women taking the birth control pill are at a reduced risk of developing ovarian and endometrial cancer. This protective effect increases with the duration of time oral contraceptives are used.
• Oral contraceptive use is associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer; although, this increased risk may be because sexually active women have a higher risk of becoming infected with HPV, which causes nearly all cervical cancers.
Ultimately, taking oral contraceptives is a decision you should make after consulting your doctor, and considering personal risk factors, lifestyle choices, and family history to decide whether it is the right method of contraception for you or not.