Oral contraceptives pills, commonly known as birth control pills, are medications taken orally to prevent pregnancy. They’re an effective means of birth control.
Combination pills are made of synthetic (that is, man-made) forms of oestrogen and progestin hormones. Combination pills are made up of active pills (which contain hormones) and inactive pills (which do not contain hormones). There are a couple of types of combination pills:
Progestin-only pills contain only progestin, no oestrogen. This type is also known as the mini-pill. Progestin-only pills serve as a good option for women who can’t take oestrogen for health or other reasons. In progestin-only pills, there are only active pills in the cycle. So menstruation may or may not occur while taking progestin-only pills.
Contraceptive pills come in a variety of formats, which follow either 21-day, 24-day or 28-day cycles monthly packs. Extended regimens may follow 91-day cycles. For all of these formats, it is one pill per day, at the same time of day.
However, progestin-only pills only come in packs of 28. But usage is sane, one pill per day, at the same time every day.
For combination pills, there are two ways to it. First, they prevent the body from ovulating. This means that ovaries won’t release an egg each month. Second, they cause the body to thicken the cervical mucus. This prevents sperm from reaching the uterus.
For progestin-only pills, there are also a few different ways it works. However, they mainly work by thickening the cervical mucus and thinning the endometrium. The endometrium is the lining of the uterus where the egg implants after fertilization. If the lining becomes thinner, it becomes harder for an egg to implant in it. This prevents a pregnancy from growing. Also, progestin-only pills may prevent ovulation from occurring.
When taken correctly and continuously, oral contraceptive pills are highly effective in preventing pregnancy, as high as 99%. According to the Centre for Disease Control, both types of oral contraceptive pill have 9% failure rates with typical use. This means out of 100 women using the pill, only 9 would get pregnant.
Certain medications may, however, make either type of the oral contraceptive pill less effective. These include:
How do I decide on the oral contraceptive pill type to use?
Not all types of pill are a good fit for every woman. The following factors should be considered when thinking of oral contraceptive pill use:
What benefits do I get from using an oral contraceptive pill?
The following are some of oral contraceptive pill advantages:
Combination pills may offer some protection against:
Progestin-only pills offer other benefits also. For instance, it is safer for women who:
What are the downsides of using an oral contraceptive pill?
Are there any side effects from using the oral contraceptive pill?
While oral contraceptive pills are safe for most women, they come with some side effects. Each woman reacts differently to the hormones in oral contraceptive pills. Some of the side effects are:
Is the use of oral contraceptive pill associated with any complications?
A severe complication of using oral contraceptive pills, especially combination pills, is the increased risk of blood clots. This has the potential of leading to:
This risk of blood clot formation is higher for certain women.
Can I get pregnant after I stop taking an oral contraceptive pill?
Yes. One can get pregnant as soon as she stops taking a contraceptive pill.
Who can use an oral contraceptive pill?
Any healthy woman can use it, especially non-smoking women.
However, it should not be used by: