Birth control pills are oral contraceptives that inhibit the body's fertility level through chemical means. The oral contraceptive contains synthetic hormones that alter the woman's hormonal system so that ovulation is prevented. The birth control pill has been around since the 1960s and is popularly used even today. The modern combination pills are popular on account of the fewer side effects and high success rate. But the birth control pill does not offer any protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or HIV and AIDS.
Estrogen and progesterone are the key hormones that keep a woman's menstrual cycle going. The contraceptive pill contains both these hormones, which go into making a hostile environment for an embryo to develop. Modern pills contain less estrogen than their earlier versions. The birth control pill works as a contraceptive by blocking the release of an egg. While a woman is on birth control pill, the brain no longer signals the ovaries to produce an egg each month. In this way, the contraceptive pill seeks to block ovulation so as to prevent a pregnancy. The cervical mucous becomes thick and unreceptive to sperm thereby making its progress through the fallopian tubes difficult. The endometrium also becomes unreceptive to receive the fertilized egg.
Your doctor or health provider will conduct a pelvic examination, check your blood pressure and examine your medical history to see if you can start on contraceptive pills. Women using the contraceptive pill usually have lighter periods, reduced cramps and other premenstrual symptoms. The birth control pill is not advised for women who have a history of heart attack or liver disease. Those suffering from blood clots or suspected cancer are advised not to go in for the pill as a contraceptive measure.
Women with unexplained vaginal bleeding or history of migraine headaches are also advised not to take contraceptive pills. Some women experience side effects such as nausea, weight gain and breast tenderness when they start on the Pill. This is caused due to hormonal changes. Usually these side effects disappear in a few months. Some women experience bleeding between periods and dizziness when taking the birth control pill. If you experience symptoms such as blurred vision, severe headaches and unusual swelling or pain in the legs, you must consult your doctor immediately. If you are going in for any major surgery, it is essential to tell your doctor that you are on oral contraception.
Type of Birth Control Pill
The combined birth control pills contain both the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Combination pills prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs. The progesterone-only contraception pills thicken the cervical mucus making it difficult for the sperm to travel. Combination pills are more effective than progesterone only pills. The success rate of birth control pills is about 97 - 99%, if taken correctly. The pill is an easily reversible method of contraception. If the woman is also taking antibiotics such as rifampin or anti-seizure medications, the birth control pill may not be as effective. Some anti-HIV protease inhibitors and anti-fungal oral medication may also affect the efficacy of oral contraceptives.
The combination type of birth control pill offers benefits against acne and protection against cancer of the ovaries and ectopic pregnancy. Irregular spotting and bleeding is more frequently noticed with progestin-only pills than with combination pills. The progesterone only pill or the Minipill is taken on all days. Combination pills usually come in packs of 21 or 28. The first 21 pills are a combination of estrogen and progesterone hormones. A pack of 28 pills usually contains 7 pills that are placebos but are taken to keep up the daily habit of taking the pill. Combination pills can be monophasic or triphasic. In monophasic type of birth control pills, the same dosage is found in all the pills. The triphasic pills are spread over 3 weeks, each week having different amounts of hormone. If you forget to take a pill on some days, it is advised to take other contraceptive precautions for the rest of the cycle.