- With Mayo Clinic obstetrician and medical editor-in-chief
Roger W. Harms, M.D.read biographyclose window
Roger W. Harms, M.D.Roger W. Harms, M.D.
"Nothing helps people stay healthy more than the power of real knowledge about health." — Dr. Roger Harms
As medical director of content, Dr. Roger Harms is excited about the potential for Mayo Clinic's health information site to help educate people about their health and provide them the tools and information to live healthier lives.
The Auburn, Neb., native has been with Mayo Clinic since 1981 and is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Harms is a practicing physician and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and his specialty areas include office gynecology, high-risk obstetrics and obstetrical ultrasound.
From 2002 to 2007, Dr. Harms was director for education at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dr. Harms was the 1988 Mayo Medical School Teacher of the Year and served as associate dean for student affairs and academic affairs. He is the co-author of the "Mayo Clinic Model of Education." In 2008, Dr. Harms was presented the Distinguished Educator Award, Mayo Clinic, Rochester.
Dr. Harms is vice chair of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and medical editor of the Pregnancy section on this website. In addition, Dr. Harms is editor-in-chief of the "Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy" book, a month-by-month guide to everything a woman needs to know about having a baby.
"My medical education experience has grown out of a love of teaching, and that is what this site is about," Dr. Harms says. "If any visitor to this site makes a more informed and thus more comfortable decision about his or her health because of the information we provide, we are successful."
Healthy pregnancy (19)
- Flu shot in pregnancy: Is it safe?
- Leg cramps during pregnancy: Preventable?
- Vaccines during pregnancy: Are they safe?
- see all in Healthy pregnancy
First trimester (3)
- Nausea during pregnancy: A good thing?
- Implantation bleeding: Normal in early pregnancy?
- Birth control pills: Harmful in early pregnancy?
Second trimester (1)
- Fundal height: An accurate sign of fetal growth?
Third trimester (1)
- Hypnobirthing: How does it work?
Pregnancy problems (9)
- Low amniotic fluid: How is it treated?
- Cervical length: Why does it matter during pregnancy?
- Diastasis recti: How does pregnancy affect stomach muscles?
- see all in Pregnancy problems
Birth control pills: Harmful in early pregnancy?
Do birth control pills cause birth defects if taken during early pregnancy?
from Roger W. Harms, M.D.
Taking birth control pills during early pregnancy isn't thought to increase the risk of birth defects.
A 2009 study suggested an association between the use of birth control pills during the time of conception and an increased risk of low birth weight or preterm delivery. Also, older research suggested that use of certain birth control pills during pregnancy could pose a risk of developmental problems with a female baby's sexual organs — such as enlargement of the clitoris. Generally, however, these concerns haven't been observed in clinical experience.
It might be difficult to recognize the signs and symptoms of pregnancy if you become pregnant while taking the minipill (progestin-only birth control pill) because nausea, breast tenderness and irregular menstrual bleeding — common signs and symptoms of pregnancy — are also possible side effects of the minipill. In addition, if you do conceive while taking the minipill there's a slightly higher chance that the pregnancy will be ectopic — when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube.
As a precaution, stop taking birth control pills if you suspect you're pregnant. Until the pregnancy is confirmed or ruled out, use another method of birth control — such as condoms. If you're concerned because you took birth control pills before you knew you were pregnant, be assured that there's little risk. It's always important to discuss any medication use during pregnancy with your health care provider, however.Next question
Fundal height: An accurate sign of fetal growth?
- Waller K, et al. Use of oral contraceptives in pregnancy and major structural birth defects in offspring. Epidemiology. 2010;21:232.
- Chen X, et al. Recent oral contraceptive use and adverse birth outcomes. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology. 2009;144:40.
- Oral contraceptives. In: Briggs GG, et al. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation: A Reference Guide to Fetal and Neonatal Risk. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Wolters Kluwer Health Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008:1371.
- Ahn AK, et al. Pregnancy outcome after exposure to oral contraceptives during the periconceptional period. Human & Experimental Toxicology. 2008;27:307.
- Raymond EG. Progestin-only pills. In: Hatcher RA, et al. Contraceptive Technology. 19th ed. New York, N.Y.: Ardent Media, Inc.; 2007:181.
- Kaunitz AM. Progestin-only pills (minipills) for contraception. http://www.uptodate.com/index.html. Accessed May 23, 2011.
- Harms RW (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 25, 2011.