Oral contraceptive pills are a popular form of birth control. They are considered to be an empowering tool for females as they ensure the transfer of reproductive rights from the hands of men, to the hands of women. And yet, women face a lot of doubts when it comes to using these pills. So we bring to you an article that will tell you everything you need to know about oral contraceptive pills!
1. What are oral contraceptives?
Oral contraceptives or birth control pills are pills for women that inhibit their fertility to prevent pregnancies. They are consumed by mouth, unlike most other forms of contraception.
2. What do they contain?
Combination oral contraceptives contain synthetic versions of two female hormones- estrogen and progesterone. Certain progesterone-only pills are also used by some women, especially those who cannot take estrogen, like breastfeeding mothers.
3. How do oral contraceptive pills work?
Different hormonal pills can work in different ways:
They inhibit the body’s natural hormonal cycle to prevent ovulation.
They change the cervical mucus so that the sperm cannot pass through it to find an egg to fertilize.
They prevent the release of an egg.
They change the lining of the womb so that the fertilized egg cannot be planted in it.
When taken correctly, oral contraceptive pills are 99% effective! This means that they are more effective than condoms (98%)
5. How often should oral contraceptives be taken?
Combination contraceptive pills usually come in packs of 21 or 28 tablets. They should be consumed at the same time each day, and if you forget to take a pill for 21 hours or more, their effectiveness will be reduced.
A 21 pill pack will require you to have one pill each day for three weeks. A 28 pill pack has 7 ‘placebo’ pills - they don’t contain estrogen or progesterone but only serve as a reminder. Some placebo pills may contain iron.
If you forget to take your pill for that day, take it as soon as you remember! If you go one day without taking the pill, take two pills the next day.
7. Are there any side effects of oral contraceptive pills?
Although most women do not experience any major side effects from birth control pills, you may face some nausea, dizziness, sore breasts and mood swings.
8. Are birth control pills different from emergency contraceptives?
Yes. Emergency contraceptive pills like the i-pill should be taken very sparingly and within 72 hours of unprotected sex. Birth control pills should be taken as per the prescribed schedule daily. Emergency contraceptives should not be used as a substitute for oral contraceptives.
9. Who can take oral contraceptives?
Most women can take oral contraceptive pills safely without any issues. If, however, you are above 35 years of age and smoke, consult your doctor before starting birth control. You should also avoid birth control pills if you have, or have had, heart or liver disease, blood clots, cancer of the uterus or breasts and/or high blood pressure.
10. What precautions should you take while on the pill?
Do not forget to take your pill every day and stick to a schedule. If you forget to take a pill, use another form of birth control like condoms.
If you experience major discomfort, including but not limited to abdominal pain, blurred vision and chest pains, consult your doctor immediately. And, remember that unlike condoms, contraceptive pills do not protect against the spread of STDs.