Contraceptive Pills (A Complete Guide) - How It Works, Effectiveness, Side Effects & More | POPxo

Are You Sexually Active? Here's EVERYTHING You Must Know About Contraceptive Pills

Are You Sexually Active? Here's EVERYTHING You Must Know About Contraceptive Pills

If you're someone who's sexually active, it is important to be aware of the various methods of birth control available to you in your country and find a one that works best for you. In India, you have access to a variety of options when it comes to birth control, namely male and female condoms, oral contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, diaphragm, contraceptive injection, contraceptive patch and vaginal rings, to name a few. 


However, the focus of this article would be on contraceptive pills as a method of birth control. Keep in mind that this article is purely for informational purposes. If you plan to start taking contraceptive pills, you need to consult a doctor and discuss which one is most suited for you. Please do NOT buy any contraceptive pills available over the counter, as they could have serious health repercussions.


Contraceptive Pill


How Does It Work


Effectiveness Of Contraceptive Pill


Side Effects Of Birth Control Pill


Alternatives To Contraceptive Pills


What Is A Contraceptive Pill?


A contraceptive pill is a method of birth control taken to regulate menstruation and avoid pregnancy. Known as a combined oral contraceptive pill, and often referred to as the birth control pill or simply as 'the pill', it is designed to be taken orally by women. It includes a combination of two hormones- estrogen and progestogen. The pills come in a daily pack and you are supposed to take one every day, at a fixed time for you. It is essential that you take the pill at that particular time every day, and make sure you never miss a dose. If you are forgetful about taking medication, it is advised that you set daily reminders on your phone so that you don't miss a dose. If you do happen to miss a dose, don't take a double dose--contact your medical practitioner instead.


How Does A Contraceptive Pill Work?


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Pregnancy occurs when a sperm manages to fertilise an egg. Oral contraceptive pills basically work by stopping the sperm from fertilising the egg, and thereby preventing pregnancy. This happens because the hormones in the pill stop the process of ovulation, which is when the egg is released, ready to be fertilised. So if there is no egg to be fertilised, there are no chances of pregnancy occurring.


The pill’s hormones also thicken the mucus on the cervix. This thicker cervical mucus blocks sperm so it can’t swim to an egg.


How Effective Are Contraceptive Pills?


According to medical statistics, use of oral contraceptive pills reduces the chances of pregnancy by 99%, which is an impressive feat. However, it is important to note that this is possible *only* if you take your pills regularly without missing a single dose, and also at the right time. If you re not regular with the pill, your chances of getting pregnant increase. So how do you make sure your pills are at their effective best? Follow these steps:


-Set up a daily reminder on your phone or use specific birth control apps, designed specifically for this task


-Keep the pills in an accessible location, so that you can always see them, like on the side table next to your bed or your bathroom sink next to your toothbrush


-If you are often out and don't have a set everyday schedule, make sure that you *always* carry the pills with you in your bag


-Coordinate schedules with a friend or relative who is also on the pill, so that you can remind each other


-If you have a partner, let them get involved in your schedule so that they can remind you in case you forget


If you're taking the pill on time and yet don't want to risk that 1% chance of getting pregnant, then you can also use a condom as an additional form of birth control. You can never be *too* cautious, right? Plus, it is important to remember that the pill does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases. So if you don't know someone's sexual history, it's best you use a condom, even if you are on the pill.


What Can Lower The Effectiveness Of Contraceptive Pills?


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The main issue that can affect the effectiveness of these pills is not taking them regularly and on time. However, certain other drugs and medications can interfere with the pill. Check with your medical practitioner to be sure, and always disclose any other medication that you are on before you zero down on a pill.


What Are The Side Effects Of Taking Contraceptive Pills?


Contraceptive pills are mostly safe to use. To find one that is safest for you, have a detailed conversation with your doctor about your medical history. Some people with certain health problems might not be a good fit for the pill. Avoid using it if you suffer from the following medical conditions:


-Extremely high blood pressure


-Liver disease or uncontrolled diabetes


-heart attack, stroke, angina, or other serious heart problems


-breast cancer


-blood clots, an inherited blood-clotting disorder, or vein inflammation


If you don't suffer from the abovementioned problems, then you ideally shouldn't face any issues with the pill. However, here are some warning symptoms to watch out for. If you face them, pay a visit to your doctor immediately:


-chest pain or discomfort


-achy soreness in your leg


-trouble breathing


-severe pain in your belly or stomach


-sudden, very bad headache


-yellowing of your skin or eyes


What Are The Alternatives To Contraceptive Pills?


If you feel like contraceptive pills are not the best option for you, talk to your medical practitioner about the options available in your country and which one would suit you. In India, you could try male and female condoms, intrauterine devices, diaphragm, contraceptive injection, contraceptive patch and vaginal rings, to name a few.


How Do I Get Off The Pill If I Want To Get Pregnant?


If you've regularly been using the pill but have decided to start a family, just stop taking the pill. Although keep in mind that you might not get pregnant immediately, because it will take a few weeks for your cycle to normalise again. However, it is not impossible to get pregnant immediately after stopping the pill.


Can I Use Contraceptive Pills While Breastfeeding?


If you've just had a baby, it is advised that you avoid taking contraceptive pills for at least the first three weeks of nursing, as it may affect the quality of breast milk. However, the pills will not affect your baby in any negative way. Talk to your medical practitioner if you plan to get back on contraceptive pills after giving birth.


Are Birth Control Pills The Same As Emergency Contraceptive Pills?


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No. People often get confused between oral contraceptive pills and emergency contraceptive pills, but they are *not* the same thing. Birth control pills are hormone supplements that you need to take every day in order to avoid pregnancy, while an emergency contraceptive pill is something you take if you had unprotected sex or your regular method of birth control failed. Remember, an ECP is NOT an alternative to birth control pills, and should NOT be taken often, as their job is to stop pregnancy from happening after the sperm has already been released into your body. If you have consumed an emergency contraceptive pill more than five times a month, please consult a medical practitioner immediately.


Is It Safe To Consume An Emergency Contraceptive Pill?


Yes, emergency pills are safe to consume as long as you're using them only in cases of an emergency, ie, your regular method of birth control fails. They are available over the counter and should be consumed within 72 hours of sexual activity. The earlier you consume it, the more effective it will be. If more than 72 hours have passed, there is no point of taking the pill. Visit your doctor instead to find out if you are pregnant.


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