The Birth Control Pill
The birth control pill, when used properly is a highly effective contraceptive
method (success rate of about 98%). While there are many different brands
of pills, all have one thing in common: one pill must be taken daily in
order to provide maximum protection against pregnancy. You may have friends
who have said, “Don’t worry if you forget to take a pill,
you can double up the next day.” Yes, while it is possible to take
the forgotten pill the next day, it should never be done more than 3 times
in any given month because you will be putting yourself at a high risk
of becoming pregnant.
The birth control pill does not prevent STD’s including
HIV/AIDS. Used correctly, a condom is the only method
of birth control that can provide significant protection against STD’s.
pills (the most commonly used) contain two hormones that work
together to prevent pregnancy: Progesterone and Estrogen. This type of
pill usually comes in a 28 day cycle pack that consists of 21 “active”
pills containing hormones, and 7 pills of another color called “spacers”
that do not contain hormones.
- Blocks the release of eggs from the ovaries to prevent ovulation
- Increases the amount of mucus around the cervix making it more difficult
for the sperm to enter the uterus.
There are always potential side effects to any medication. Side effects
related to the birth control pill are usually minimal if you experience
any at all. Unless your discomfort ranges from moderate to severe, your
doctor will most likely encourage a 3 month trial before changing the
prescription in order to allow your body time to get accustomed to the
Possible Side Effects
- fluid retention
- tender breasts
- missed periods
- spotting between periods
- vaginal infections
- weight gain
- mood changes
- blood clots
Besides protecting you from an unplanned pregnancy, the birth control
pill can promote the following advantages:
- helps to regulate menstrual periods
- helps to control acne
- lessens menstrual pain
Research has indicated that using the birth control pill over a number
of years increases the risk for some types of cancers including cervical
and liver cancer. On the positive side, it decreases the risk for certain
other types of cancers such as ovarian and endometrial cancer. Experts
are not all in agreement about whether the birth control pill contributes
to breast cancer. Decades ago, prescribed pills contained much higher
levels of hormones than today, which has produced conflicting results
in recent studies. Today’s birth control pills have many experts
in agreement that the benefits outweigh the risks.
If you would like to use the pill as a means of birth control, you should
consult with a doctor who will assess your physical condition and health
history to determine if you are a good candidate. Should this method not
be suitable for you, the doctor can recommend another type of contraception
that would work best for you.
The cost of birth control pills varies
between $20 - $50 a month and can be purchased
at your local drug store.