The Pill- Birth Control Pill
Information here is general in nature. Over time information may get changed, contradicted or added to. You should always consult a medical practitioner or pharmacist for up to date and comprehensive information.
The Pill, or Birth Control Pills
Cost: Can range from a few dollars to $50.00/month so shop around
Approximate effectiveness: 98 - 99%
No protection against STDs
Can be made ineffective by antibiotic use; consult your doctor or pharmacists if you are taking antibiotics
Birth control pills are one of the most popular methods of contraception and, when used properly, are almost always effective. They do not have any protection against STDs. And they must be taken by the female.
Birth control pills generally come in a month's supply of pills individually wrapped. The hardest part about using them is remembering to take them every single day that you are supposed to. Some come in 28 day packs, and some come in 21 day packs. Birth Control Pills are hormones, or substances like hormones called Estrogen. Some have a mixture of Estrogen and another hormone called Progesterone. The way the Pill works is that these hormones, which occur naturally in a woman's body, will prevent her from ovulating, which is when an ovary releases an egg (also called an "ovum"). So if there is no egg because the hormones trick her body into not releasing one, then there is no egg to get impregnated by a sperm cell!. The Pill is also popular because it means you can get in the mood quickly and not have to stop for one or both of you to go get some other form of birth control device. But remember that it doesn't give a female any protection against sexually transmitted diseases, so a quick hook-up is not the greatest idea. At the very least, also use a condom.
Afraid how it might make you look to be carrying a condom? Would you prefer to look pregnant or diseased? ASHA (American Social Health Association) is a great site with STD information, and has a page to help you be ready for that conversation about using a condom. Click here to open that page.
The Pill - too good to be true?:
Do birth control pills sound too good to be true? Well there can be problems and side effects. If a woman forgets to take a pill one day, she should take two the next day. If she forgets two days in a row, she should take two as soon as she remembers, then two more the next day. Then back to her normal one-a-day. Since missing the pills can cause the hormone levels in her body to drop, an ovary might also drop an egg for fertilization by any sperm cell that happens to be around after intercourse. So if she's missed two days, she should use another method of birth control for the rest of her monthly cycle. In fact, some couples will always use two types of birth control, often the Pill, plus condoms, to increase their odds of not getting pregnant.
If she has missed taking her Pill for three or more days, she should use another contraceptive for the rest of her cycle and either follow the instructions that come with the pills or talk to her doctor. Any time she has missed any days, she can start over at the beginning of her next cycle, using the backup method until then.
If she is just starting out using birth control pills, she should not rely on them at all for the first month, but should use another contraceptive for the whole month. And remember, these pills must be taken every day as directed, not just when she's going to have sex!
There can also be side effects for some females. Also, like with the Patch, and the NuvaRing, females who smoke, or are over 35 should not use the Pill. Any user of the Pill may get some, all, or none of these symptoms:
nausea, tender or sore breasts, bloating , or a rash. She can also gain or lose some weight, have "spotting" which is slight bleeding from her vagina, or get headaches. If she has some of these side effects, especially spotting or headaches she should see her doctor. There may be vomiting, and increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, or blood clots. It may not be suitable for you, depending on your medical history.
What about good side effects?
Some research says that Birth Control Pills may reduce a woman's risk of cancer of the ovaries, endometrial cancer (which develops in the lining of the uterus), cysts on the ovaries, benign (not cancerous) lumps in her breasts, and PID. PID is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which is infection and inflammation of a woman's upper genital tract, including the uterus and Fallopian tubes. Sometimes you will hear of other research which says that there are no benefits and maybe even other dangers. Your doctor or gynecologist would be the best person to ask about the latest research and how reliable it is.
The list of possible side effects above is not a complete list. You are basically changing your body's chemistry so you need to consult with your doctor. And don't be embarrassed about asking any question; do you really want to come back later? Write down questions before going in.
Birth control pills, at least in North America, can be gotten from most doctors and medical clinics. Often the Health Services at Universities will also provide consultation and prescriptions. Please, do not use someone else's birth control pills! It's your body, not theirs, and you need to talk to your doctor.