Birth Control Pills

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Birth control pills are prescription oral contraceptives that help prevent pregnancy. This form of birth control uses hormones to block the ovaries from releasing eggs (ovums), thereby preventing fertilization. Birth control pills also alter cervical mucus so that it is more difficult for a male's sperm to inseminate an ovum. They also cause the uterine lining to be less receptive to implantation of a fertilized egg, providing yet a third barrier to reduce the chances of impregnation. Birth control pills are about 97-98% effective when taken as directed.[1]

Side effects of birth control pills include menstrual irregularity, weight gain, headaches, upset stomach, and sore breasts. In severe cases, birth control pills can cause serious cardiovascular issues.[1]

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Birthcontrolpills.jpg
Flickr: Gnarls Monkey
Types Combination estrogen and progestin pills, progestin-only pills[1]
Manufacturer Various
Prescription only? Yes
Uses Preventing pregnancy, regulating periods, reducing period cramping, other uses[2]
Administration Oral
Disclaimer The information provided by PharmacyDrugGuide is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Do not take any action based on the information on this page without consulting a physician.
Author Laura Acevedo
 
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Contents

About Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills may contain the hormones estrogen and progestin (these are called combination pills), or just progestin. They are generally taken in 28 day cycles. Pills containing hormones are taken for 21 days, and then inactive pills are taken for 7 days to help patients keep up the habit of taking a pill every day. Some brands of birth control pills do not offer the placebo pills and no pills are taken during the 7 days period.

Birth control pills are considered a reversible form of birth control, as it is possible to become pregnant again once the user stops taking the medication. In some cases, it may be possible to use standard birth control pills as an emergency contraceptive. The instructions for doing so may be provided by a qualified physician. There are also pills formulated specifically for emergency contraceptive, like Plan B® and Ella®. These do not replace regular birth control pills, and are only to be used in special circumstances.[3]

In addition to the standard 28-day cycle pills, some pills effectively stop or minimize menstruation cycles for several months and result in only 4 menstrual cycles yearly. Brand name examples of these types of birth control pills are Seasonale® and Seasonique®.

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Birth Control Pill Side Effects

Side effects of birth control pills can vary from woman to woman, and can include nausea and vomiting, weight gain, breast sensitivity and bleeding or spotting in between periods. In addition, combination birth control pills can cause more serious side effects on rare occasions. These can include increased risk of heart attack, stroke and blood clots. Cardiovascular risks are increased among user who smoke cigarettes.[2]

Effectiveness and Safety of Birth Control Pills

When birth control pills are taken as instructed, they are up to 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. Among those who do not follow instructions precisely, they are about 91% effective. Users are directed to take one pill each day. Obese women may have a higher risk of becoming pregnant while taking birth control pills. In addition, users who throw up or experience diarrhea may be more likely to get pregnant on the pill. Women who feel that the effectiveness of the pill has been compromised may use backup birth control methods such as diaphragms, condoms, or emergency contraception.[2]

Birth control pills are less effective when taken along with other medications or supplements, such as the antibiotic rifampin (other antibiotics are okay), oral yeast infection drugs, some HIV drugs, and St. John's Wort.

The pill is not safe for certain women. This includes:

  • Those who are confined to bed rest for extended periods of time (combination pill only)
  • Those with blood clotting issues (progestin pill only)
  • Past or present breast cancer patients
  • Pregnant women

The birth control pills Yasmin® and Yaz® are not recommended for women with history of liver, adrenal gland or kidney ailments. These pills can elevate potassium levels, leading to dangerous heart issues and other maladies.[2]

Birth control pills do not provide any protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Doctors recommend latex condoms (worn by the male) for protection against STDs.[2]

Also See: Ella Emergency Contraception, Yaz Side Effects, Beyaz Side Effects, Plan B Side Effects, Mirena Coupons, Birth Control Coupons, Plan B Coupons, Mirena Side Effects, Gardasil Side Effects, Beyaz Side Effects

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007460.htm
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/birth-control-pill-4228.htm
  3. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/birth-control-pill/WO00098