Birth Control Pills: Facts You Should Know

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Table of Contents

Introduction

The combined oral contraceptive pill has been an approved form of contraception since 1960 in the United States. Birth control pills, or ‘The Pill’, as it’s commonly called, is developed for women to take orally, primarily to prevent pregnancy.

Birth control pills are incredibly popular around the world. It comes in a blister pack that has a round or rectangular shape. Usually, these packs contain 28 pills, one for every day of the month, but it can also contain 21 pills if you are taking one week off in a cycle.

Preventing pregnancy is just one of many uses the Pill has. Birth control pills lower hormone levels and regulates the menstrual cycle.  This means that they are also used by adolescent or younger women that struggle with things like irregular menstrual periods, PMS, acne, or menstrual cramps.

Birth control pills are easy to use and can enhance your lifestyle significantly. Keep reading to learn more.

How Do Birth Control Pills Prevent Pregnancy?

Your monthly menstrual cycle is a physiological process, regulated by chemicals in your bloodstream called hormones, that prepares your body for pregnancy. An increase in these hormone levels cause ovulation, allows sperm cells into the uterus, and prepares the uterus to sustain a fertilized egg.Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills prevent pregnancy in three ways. It contains estrogen and progestin, a man-made variation of progesterone. Drinking these pills every day keeps your hormone levels high to prevent ovulation, which is the release of an egg cell into the uterus.

Progestin also thickens the mucus between the vagina and the uterus to prevent sperm cells from entering the uterus. Thirdly, progestin thins the lining of the uterus, making it inhospitable for a fertilized egg.

How Can the Pill Work Best for Me?

To maximize a birth control pill’s effectiveness in preventing pregnancy, you have to make sure that you take the pill every single day. It is estimated that a day’s forgetfulness can increase your chances of getting pregnant by up to 7%.

Luckily there are tons of things you can do to ensure that you won’t forget to take your pill. Set a reminder on your phone, keep the pills in your handbag, or fasten the blister pack with a rubber band to your diary.

Does the Pill Protect Me Against STD’s?

No, birth control pills do not offer you protection against HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. Using a condom in combination with the pill, however, can protect you against STD’s and reduce your chances of getting pregnant even more. The only other form of contraception to protect you against STD’s is abstinence.

How Effective is the Birth Control Pill?

Birth control pills are one of the most effective forms of contraception. There are two uses of birth control pills: perfect and typical. Perfect use is when you take one pill every day at exactly the same time. When you never forget to take your pills, your chance of getting  birth control pillspregnant is 1 in 100. This means a perfect use of birth control pills has a 99% success rate.

Typical use is when you tend to play fast and loose with taking your birth control pills. When you sometimes forget to take your pills, your chances of getting pregnant increase to 8 out of 100. If you make use of a backup contraceptive method like a condom, however, chances are you won’t get pregnant, even if you are a little negligent.

How long do birth control pills take to work?

This depends on the type of birth control pills you take. There are two types: combination pills, and progestin-only pills.

You can start taking combination pills at any time of the month. They take 7 days to work, so you will have to make use of some other form of contraception during this time. If you start taking them within 5 days after your period starts, however, you are protected from pregnancy from the start and good to go.

You can start taking progestin-only pills at any time as well. These pills take two days to start working and you will have to wait 48 hours or use another form of contraception like a condom.

What lowers the pill’s effectiveness?

Apart from typical use, there are other factors that may have a negative influence on the birth control pill’s effectiveness. Here is a list of medication that can lower birth control pills’ effectiveness:

–    Rifampicin, an antibiotic used to treat leprosy, tuberculosis, bacterial infections, or Legionnaire’s disease.

–    Griseofulvin, an antifungal medication used to treat different types of dermatophytosis.

–    Certain antiretrovirals used for the treatment of HIV

–    St John’s wort, a herb that is believed to treat mild depression

–    Liver-enzyme inducing drugs that are used to treat epilepsy

There are also certain conditions that can lower the effectiveness of your birth control pills. If you are severely overweight, or if you had been vomiting or had diarrhea for longer than 48 hours, use a condom in addition to birth control pills.Here is a video about the effect of birth control pills.

How Safe is the Birth Control Pill?

Modern birth control pills underwent a complete transformation from what it was back in the 1960’s. Back then, they contained high levels of estrogen and women ran the risk of getting blood clots and deep-vein thrombosis. Today’s birth control pills have been researched extensively and are found to be safe. You can take the pill for years on end without experiencing any problems with your health or your ability to get pregnant should you wish to do so at some point in your life.

Risks and warning signs

No prescription drugs or medicines that you get over the counter will ever be guaranteed to be without side-effects. Mild side-effects of birth control medication can include a little mood fluctuation or weight-gain.

More serious side-effects that can happen in extreme circumstances are forming of blood clots in the heart or lungs or getting a stroke. Take note, however, that when a general practitioner examines you and prescribes birth control medication that is right for you, this is highly unlikely to happen.

Your physician will take into account if you are overweight, smoking, diabetic, or strugglehow effective is birth control pill with migraines and prescribe a pill that is safe for you to use. If you have a family history of heart disease, make sure that your prescribing doctor knows about it.

It is generally important to go for regular check-ups. Knowing your health status can prevent medical complications. If you suddenly experience the following condition, seek medical attention right away:

–    Severe pain in your chest or stomach

–    Jaw or back pain together with nausea or disorientation

–    Trouble breathing

–    A severe headache

–    Pain and swelling in your lower limbs and if your legs are warm

–    Yellowing of your skin and eyes

Severe conditions like these typically have other causes, but you have a risk of complications, it is important to adjust your birth control prescription accordingly.

Is it safe to take birth control while breastfeeding?

Many women have questions about birth control when they are breastfeeding. It is not only important to know which methods effective but also which methods are the safest for you and you baby.

LAM

Many women believe that they cannot get pregnant while they are breastfeeding. This may be true, but only when there are three conditions that applies to your situation. These conditions are:

  • You have to breastfeed your baby exclusively and often. This means that you are breastfeeding at least 4 hours per day and 6 hours during the night. Your baby should also not be consuming any other liquids or solids during this time, apart from your breastmilk.

If your baby consumes any other liquids or solids, it can reduce the amount of breastmilk they take from you. This will, in turn, reduce your milk supply and increase your fertility.

  • The second condition is that you have not restarted your period.
  • The third condition is that your baby is younger than 6 months old.

If these three conditions exist, you are making use of a birth control method called the lactation amenorrhea method or LAM. Exclusive breastfeeding can reduce fertility and can, as a method of birth control, have a success rate of up to 98%, but, again, it is important that all three of these conditions exist.

If you are not sure if this method applies to you, make an appointment top consult with your healthcare provider to ensure that this method will be an effective one for you.

Other Forms of Birth Control

If you are not sure that the three conditions exist, you may want to consider other forms of birth control. Barrier methods like condoms do not interfere with breastfeeding. Condoms are affordable, easy to use, effective, and widely available. You can also use them in combination with spermicidal jelly or foam that kills sperm.intrauterine device

An intrauterine device or IUD is a small plastic device that contains copper and that can be inserted into your vagina by your doctor or healthcare provider. This device can stay there for up to 5 years, but you can take it out at any time you want to get pregnant again. This device causes changes to your uterus that prevents sperm from fertilizing an egg. An IUD can be inserted into your uterus six weeks after the birth of your baby and, like condoms, does not interfere with the birth of your baby.

Progestin-only birth control

There are a number of birth control methods that rely on the hormone progesterone. These include the intrauterine system, or IUS, the progestin-only mini pill, and the progestin-only injectable Depo-Provera.

The progestin-only mini pill has to be taken at the same time every day and can become less effective if you take the pill late or if you go for an entire day without taking the pill.

Depo-Provera is injected every three months and cannot be reversed during this time. A negative side effect of Depo-Provera is that it decreases bone density. Progestin-only pills are completely safe and you can use them without fearing changes in the quality of your breastmilk. They are, however considered to be a second choice as they can lower your milk supply.

If you want to use progestin-only birth control, wait six weeks after the birth of your baby to give your milk supply a chance to become established. It may be worth your while to consult with your healthcare provider about your specific needs and situation before deciding on a particular birth control method – especially if you are breastfeeding.

Estrogen and combination pills

Combination pills are pills that contain estrogen and they can have an influence on the supply and nutritional value of your breastmilk for the first 3 weeks of breastfeeding. It is otherwise safe, but nonetheless advisable that you switch to another form of birth control for at least 6 months after your baby is born.

When your baby reaches 6 months and start on solid foods, your reduced milk supply will be sufficient.

Methods that contain estrogen and progesterone include the birth control pill, the patch, and a vaginal ring. These methods prevent ovaries from releasing an egg, they thicken the mucus between the vagina and uterus to prevent sperm cells from entering, and they make the cervix lining inhospitable for a fertilized egg.

Estrogen typically reduces milk supply and it is important to make an informed decision when it comes to birth control while breastfeeding. When you use birth control that contains estrogen it may cause you to ween sooner than you had planned.

It can be difficult to see signs of fertility when you are breastfeeding as you may not have had your period yet. When you wait until your period is established and regular, these forms of birth control will be more reliable. Until then, barrier forms of birth control can prevent pregnancy effectively.

Discuss these options in detail with your healthcare provider and take your needs and lifestyle into account when planning a family.

How Do I Use the Birth Control Pill?

When you are ready to start your birth control pills, choose a time of day that is convenient for you and that will be easy to remember. Identify which are the hormone pills, and which are the placebo pills. The first pill is usually the one on the top left in a rectangular blister pack or the top one in a circular blister pack.

Take a one pill per day, no matter what, and never skip a pill. When you are finished with the hormonal pills, you can start with the placebo pills to get your period. When your placebo pills are finished, start with the next blister pack the following day.

How do I use the pill to stop my period?

One of the perks of birth control pills is that you can use it to decide when you want to have your period. Normally, you would take your hormonal pills for 21 days. Then, you would move on to your placebo pills which will start your period.

When you want to stop your period from happening, don’t start on your placebo pills. When you are done with your hormonal pills, throw the rest of the pack containing placebo pills away, and start with the next pack of hormonal pills. This will postpone your period without compromising the contraceptive integrity of the pills and without causing harm to your health.

I missed a pill, what can I do?

When you pick up your sleeve and realize that you forgot to take yesterday’s pill, you should take the pill you skipped right then and there. When you’ve done that, take today’s pill as well.

When you skipped more than one pill in a row, again, take yesterday’s pill and after that, today’s pill. Leave the pill from the day before yesterday in the blister pack. Don’t take it.

When can I start taking my birth control pills?

In terms of age, it is best to wait until a girl’s menstrual cycle is established. If you are 16 years old, chances are you can start taking birth control after consulting with your doctor. If you are younger and you are experiencing menstrual cramps or acne, birth control can to lower your hormone levels and regulate your menstrual cycle. Pay a visit to your doctor to make sure that this is the best option for you.

When you start your birth control pills in the middle of your cycle, it will take seven days before that start being effective and you should use alternative forms of birth control during this time.

In terms of day of the month, you can start any time, as long as you know that you are not pregnant. For many women, this is at the beginning of their menstrual cycle. If some time went by since your last period, and you had unprotected sex since then, do a pregnancy test and start your pills only when your pregnancy test is negative.

How Do I Get Birth Control Pills?

There are a lot of places where you can get your birth control pills. These places include your local pharmacy, Planned Parenthood health centers, health clinics, or drug stores.

Remember that you need a prescription for birth control pills. Schedule an appointment with your general practitioner or visit your nearest health clinic to get one. It is important for the person who writes the prescription to examine you and make sure that the birth control pills will not be harmful to your health in any way.

Birth control pills can cost anything from $15 to $50 per month, depending on your health insurance and the type of pills.

Benefits of the Birth Control Pill

There are many benefits to using birth control pills. Primarily it prevents pregnancy. Being intimate with your partner without fearing that you will become pregnant can be beneficial to your relationship in many ways.

Many teenagers struggle with hormone-related difficulties like acne, menstrual cramps, and irregular periods. Birth control pills lower your hormone levels and regulate your menstrual cycle. This can significantly improve the lifestyle and overall wellbeing of someone that struggles with these types of conditions.

Birth control pills can also prevent or reduce thinning of your bones, cysts in the breasts and ovaries, endometrial of ovarian cancers, iron deficiency, and PMS. Taking birth control pills is also convenient. It comes in small packaging that is discreet and easy to carry around.

Long-term use of birth control pills doesn’t have an influence on your ability to get pregnant when you eventually decide that it is time for a little pink foot. It isn’t addictive or detrimental to your health in any way.

You can also use birth control pills to control your period. If you want to go on holiday for a week and you don’t want to get your period during this time, you can use your birth control pills to postpone your period.

Disadvantages of the Pill

You have to take the pill every day. If you forget one day, there is a chance that you can get pregnant. Find ways to remind yourself to take the pill and when you do remember, take the pill immediately. Don’t think that you will remember later the same day. It can also help to keep the pills with you or in your handbag at all times.

For the first 2 to 3 months, you may notice negative side-effects like a decrease in your sexual desire, headaches, sore breasts, and nausea. Write down the negative side-effects of birth control pills when you experience them, and if they still bother you after 3 months, pay your doctor a visit.

Conclusion

Common birth control pills are still a work in progress. They have been improving since they first saw the light in 1960, and today they are closer to perfection than ever. You have a responsibility to make sure that your health enjoys a high priority in your life. This includes the way you take your birth control pills.

Don’t buy birth control pills online without a prescription. If you have any problems with your birth control pills, consult your doctor. Otherwise, remember to take your pills every day and enjoy all the benefits like easy and regular periods as well as your clear skin!

Relevance:

IUD Birth Control: The Best Contraceptive Devices

How Soon Can You Get Pregnant after Stopping Birth Control?

Birth Control Implant – Effects, Advantages, and Disadvantages

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