Birth control is one way to prevent pregnancy. There are a variety of contraceptive methods, including hormonal contraceptives such as pills.
Birth control pills (BCPs) contain artificial forms of two hormones called estrogen and progestin. These hormones are made naturally in the female ovaries. BCP can contain both hormones and just progestin.
Have you ever thought about how oral contraceptives work?
When an egg released from the ovary (an organ containing the egg) is fertilized by sperm, it becomes pregnant. The fertilized egg attaches to the inside of the uterus, where it grows into a baby. Hormones in the body control the release of eggs from the ovaries, called ovulation, and prepare the body to accept fertilized eggs during the menstrual cycle. They do this by changing the levels of natural hormones that the body produces. The progestins also make the mucus around the female cervix thick and sticky. This prevents sperm from entering the uterus.
Some people take oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy, but when taken correctly, they can be very much effective. However, pills do not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Latex condoms used to cover the penis provide the best protection against most sexually transmitted diseases. Other types of hormonal contraceptives that combine estrogen and progestin include patches and vaginal rings.
All hormone contraceptives (pills, patches, and vaginal rings) contain small amounts of artificial estrogen and progestin hormones. These hormones work in a variety of ways by inhibiting the body’s natural hormones to prevent pregnancy. Hormonal contraceptives usually prevent the body from ovulating. It also alters the cervical mucus, making it harder for sperm to pass through the cervix and find the egg. In addition, changing the inner wall of the uterus can prevent pregnancy and reduce the chance of implantation of a fertilized egg.
Did you know there is more than one type of pill?
Most people in the U.S. who are on the pill take what`s called the combination pill. Estrogen and progesterone stop your ovaries from releasing eggs, and they make changes in your cervix and uterus that lower your chance of pregnancy. If used as directed, the chances of getting pregnant are very less. That means you take your pills every day. Those effects can be easily undone. If you want to become pregnant, stop taking it. It is possible to get pregnant immediately. If you miss two of these tablets in a row, you usually need to use extra contraceptives for a week. The combo pill has advantages over contraception. It helps regulate menstruation and relieve cramps. They can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. You can get rid of your acne. Two brands (Beyaz and Yaz) are approved for the treatment of severe PMS.
The minipill uses only progestin. It works mostly by causing changes that keep sperm from reaching eggs. They are estrogen-free and can be prescribed for lactating people, nausea, or other estrogen-related side effects. Mini Pill thickens cervical mucus and prevents sperm from reaching the egg. The hormones contained in the pill also alter the lining of the uterus, reducing the chances of implantation of fertilized eggs. In some cases, minipills prevent the release of eggs. You take mini pills daily. When used consistently and correctly, minipills are less effective than traditional oral contraceptives.
People who have unprotected sex or who think their birth control method may have failed can use levonorgestrel or ulipristal, which are emergency birth control pills that work with or without hormones to prevent pregnancy.
Extended cycle pills are complex pills that reduce the number of menstrual periods from 13 to just 4 times a year. This means that people taking this pill will have menstruation only once per season. This pill uses a combination of two hormones commonly used in contraceptives. However, the pill is taken continuously for 12 weeks, after which the 1-week inactive pill becomes the menstrual cycle.
Levonorgestrel and ulipristal: Unlike other tablets, these are not intended for regular contraception. Levonorgestrel (Fallback Solo, Next Choice One dose, Opcicon One-Step, Plan B One-Step) and Ulipristal Acetate (Ella) have had unprotected sex or are concerned about normal contraceptive methods. If you are not working, you can significantly reduce your chances of getting pregnant.
Levonorgestrel is about 88% effective when used as directed. It should be taken as soon as possible within 3 days of having sex. Ulipristal is about 60% to 70% effective when used correctly. It should be taken as soon as possible within 5 days of having sex.
When to start birth control pills and how long before their effects subside:
Make sure you talk to your doctor about when to start oral contraceptives. If you are still menstruating on the day you are told to start the pill pack, start it anyway. Approximately 25 days after starting the pill pack, the next period will begin. It is best to take the medicine at the same time every day. You can take it at any time of the day, but it will be easier to remember if you take it before breakfast or before bedtime. The Extended cycle pill works as well. Start taking the pill on the first Sunday after the onset of menstruation. If menstruation begins on Sunday, start on that day. You take 1 active tablet daily for 84 consecutive days. Then, depending on the type of pill you are taking, you have 7 days to take one placebo or estrogen pill daily.
Start taking new packs of oral contraceptives on the same day that you first started. If you have been taking pills for 21 days, start packing new pills 7 days after finishing packing old pills. If you are taking 28 days of pills, start the new pack after taking the last pill from the old pack.
Start your new drug pack on time, whether you are on your period or not on your period. If you forget to take oral contraceptives, take them as soon as you remember. If you do not remember by the next day, take 2 tablets that day. If you forget to take the pill for 2 days, take 2 tablets the day you remember and 2 tablets the next day. Then return to the schedule. If you miss more than one pill, contact your doctor.
It does have a few side effects too:
All forms of hormonal contraception can have many side effects. Most are mild and may disappear after the first few months of taking the pill. These include acne, bleeding or spotting during menstruation, bloating, blood pressure above the normal range, depression, malaise, dizzy feeling, fluid retention, headache, increase in appetite, insomnia, melasma (black spots on the face), mood swings, nausea, tenderness, or pain in the breast, vomiting, weight gain, etc.
Talk to your doctor if you have trouble getting used to the pill or if you have side effects that last for more than 3 months. They may suggest switching to another pill or contraceptive method. If you decide to stop taking the pill, be sure to use contraceptive alternatives such as condoms to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
Almost all forms of contraception that use estrogen can increase the risk of certain health problems. Some of the more serious side effects of oral contraceptives are blood clots, gallbladder disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, liver cancer, stroke, etc.
If you smoke or are over 35 years old, you are at increased risk of these more serious side effects. Your doctor might suggest you other methods if you are planning surgery that will limit mobility during recovery, developed jaundice during pregnancy or while taking pills, have migraines with auras, have a history of very high blood pressure or stroke, elevated BMI, or are considered obese, have chest pain or have a heart attack, have diabetes-related complications that affect blood vessels, kidneys, nerves, or vision, had uterine cancer, breast cancer, and liver cancer, have heart or liver disease, have an irregular period of breakthrough bleeding or if you have had a blood clot before.
You can get birth control pills only with a doctor’s prescription. You will receive a set of tablets packed in a thin box. Regular oral contraceptive pill packs contain 21 or 28 tablets. The 21-day pill pack contains 21 active pills. The 28-day pill pack contains 21 active pills and 7 inactive (placebo) pills. The pill pack is marked with the day of the week and encourages you to take the pill daily. Seven inactive pills included in the 28-day pill pack will be added and you will be notified to start a new pill pack after 28 days. Some new tablets have only two or no inactive tablets. It is important to always take all pills to make sure you are protected from pregnancy.
Make sure to tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding, taking epilepsy medicine, feeling depressed or are diagnosed with depression, have diabetes, high cholesterol, have kidney, liver, or heart disease, have a new-born baby, had a recent miscarriage or abortion, take herbal supplements, or think there are lumps or changes in one or both breasts, to decrease the risk of side effects.
Can you get pregnant even if you are on the pill?
Now, this must be a question many of you ask yourselves when you decide to try contraception, or even when you are on it. The answer is YES.
The pill does assure you will not get pregnant 99.9% of the time when taken correctly. But there is still that 0.1%, and you may get pregnant on that. The pill may not be the best contraceptive method for everyone. But of course, it is very effective, cheap, and easy to use. It is one of the best options for women trying to not get pregnant. Some women do not use pills because of incorrect information. It is always best for all women to discuss their contraceptive options with their doctor.
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