Birth Control Pills

Birth Control Pills

Table Of Contents

What are Birth Control Pills?

Birth control pills are medication that a women takes on a daily basis to prevent pregnancy. Sometimes they are referred to as oral contraception or “the pill.”

How Does the Pills Prevent Pregnancy?

It releases hormones just like any other birth control methods. These hormones are chemicals that control different parts of the body. A combination pill has both estrogen and progestin. Most women use the combination pill.

The progestin in the pill works by:

  • Making cervical mucus thicker in a woman which doesn’t allows sperm from getting into the eggs
  • Allowing eggs not to join the sperm by keeping eggs in the ovaries

What Are the Benefits?

The pill is safe, simple and convenient to use. Women say it increase sex lives because it does not interfere with having sex and makes them feel more spontaneous.

Sometimes women do not just only take the pill to prevent pregnancy. The combination and progestin pills offer other benefits such as:

  • Makes period light
  • Reduce menstrual craps
  • Protect against pelvic inflammatory disease

Some of the benefits of the combination that help protect against:

  • Acne
  • Irregular and heavy periods
  • Bad cramps
  • Headaches and depression (premenstrual symptoms)
  • Cysts in ovaries and breasts
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Bone thinning
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Serious infection in uterus, ovaries and tubes
  • Breasts growths (not cancer)
  • Ovarian and endometrial cancers

The combination pill can be used to how often and when you have your period. Some pills are made for women to only have a few periods a year and others to have continuous periods. These pills must be consumed on a daily basis in order for them to be effective.

It is normal to have spotting within the first 6 months of using the pill and will get less over time. Some women stop bleeding all together and this is normal. If you are unsure and think you may be pregnant, you should get a pregnancy test.

What Are the Disadvantages?

Many women adjust to the pill with little to no problems but some women do have an undesirable side effect. The most common side effect is bedding between periods (progestin pills), nausea and vomiting and breast tenderness. This usually occurs within the first 2 to 3 months of use.

Do not stop taking the pill even if you feel nausea and vomiting. You can put yourself at risk to pregnancy. This can be helped by taking the pill in near bedtime or in the evening.

Sexual desire may change because of the hormones in the pill.

It is important that you find a birth control method that doesn’t make you feel sick. If you continue to feel any of the side effects listed above after the three month period, another birth control method may be needed. Talk to your health care professional about other options or maybe change the prescription.

A woman’s period will return back to its regular cycle after one to 2 months of stopping the pill.  Within the next six months, a woman may experience irregular periods or no periods at all. This is likely to happen if a woman has irregular periods before the start of the pill.

Serious side effects are rare and do not occur often. Combination pills have a higher risk that progestin pills.

  • Progestin in YASMIN, Gianvi, YAZ, Ocella, Zarah, Syeda, Safyral and Beyaz may be linked to a higher risk than blood clots. An increase in heat and health problems can be caused by the increased level of potassium levels in the blood.
  • Combination pills have rare cases of stroke, heart attack, blood clots in brain, heart, lungs and lefts, gallstones, liver tumors, high blood pressure and yellowing in eyes and skin.

The higher the risk if you are/have:

  • Smoker
  • Are age 35 or older
  • Overweight
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Need prolonged bed rest
  • Inherited blood-clotting disorders
  • High blood pressure

The more serious side effects usually have warning signs. Contact a health professional if anyone of these symptoms/problems occur:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Bad aches (including aura – flashing zigzag lines, bright lights)
  • Soreness in the leg
  • No periods after having one every month
  • Yellowing in eyes and skin
  • Pain in chest and abdomen

This method has little to no risk of developing breast cancer. For more information about the side effects associated with the brand of medicine – check the inserts of the packaging.

How Effective are the Pills?

This birth control method is one of the effective ways to prevent pregnancy. It is more effective when you have it daily at the same time. It allows having the correct amount of hormones in the body.

  • If the pill is always taken on time, less than 1 out of 100 women get pregnant each year
  • If the pill is not taken daily, 9 out of 100 women get pregnant each year

If a woman is overweight, it might have less of an impact on the body. Talk to a health professional for further details and how it may work out for you.

Certain supplements and medicines can have lessened the effectiveness of this method. Some of these supplements and medicines include:

  • St John’s Wort
  • Anti-seizure medicines (certain)
  • HIV medicines (certain)
  • Antifungal griseofulvin
  • Antibiotics (rifampin and others)

Diarrhea and vomiting can lessen the effectiveness of this method. Talk to health care professional if this continues and use a backup method until you find the cause. Keep in mind that this birth control method does not protect against STIs.

How Safe are the Pills?

Most women can use this method safely without any problems or complications. Some conditions increase the risk of side effects and may rule out using this method. There are other birth control methods that you can use instead. Talk to your health care professional and see is best for you.

Do not consume any pills if you are pregnant or have breast cancer.

Do not take the combination pills if you need to be on bed rest (prolonged) or the following:

  • Serious heart problems, angina, heart attack
  • Being treated for vein inflammation or blood clots
  • Headaches (aura)
  • Inherited blood-clotting disorders
  • Smoke or have high blood pressure and 35 years or older
  • Organ transplant complications
  • Diabetes for longer than 20 years or bad case of diabetes
  • Lupus (certain conditions)
  • Heart valve problems
  • Liver cancer or liver disease

How do I use the Pills?

The pills come in 28-day or 21-day packs depending on if you are taking progestin or combination pills. Both sets of pills come with 21 “active” pills in which contain hormones and the last 7 days in the 28-day pack contains “reminder” pills in which contain no hormones.

In both cases, one pill is consumed on a daily bases (preferably same time each day) for the duration of three weeks. In the fourth week, no pill is taken and the cycle continues after the week is finished.

To reduce the amount of periods, the 21-day and 28-day packs have a few months’ worth of active pills. This reduces the amount of periods in a given year.

  • Progestin pills only come in 28-day packs and contain all “active” pills.
  • While taking combination pills, you will have your period during the fourth week (unless you choose the active combination method in which you won’t have your period).
    • May bleed on and off throughout the month
    • May get your period on the fourth week
    • May not get your period on the fourth week

Birth Control Pill Options