What are birth control pills?
Birth control pills are a kind of medicine with hormones. They are used in preventing pregnancy. Birth control pills can also help with irregular, painful, or heavy periods, endometriosis, acne, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
The specific side effects of birth control pills vary widely among individuals, and different pills cause different side effects. Some common side effects include spotting, nausea, breast tenderness, and headaches.
There are two main types of birth control bill. Combination pills contain estrogen and progestin, which is a synthetic form of the natural hormone progesterone, while the mini pill contains progestin only.
How do birth control pills prevent pregnancy?
The birth control pill works by stopping sperm from joining with an egg. When sperm joins with an egg it’s called fertilization. The hormones in the pill safely stop ovulation. No ovulation means there’s no egg for sperm to fertilize, so pregnancy can’t happen.
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 — kind of like a sticky security guard.
How do I make the pill work best for me?
Forgetting pills, losing the pack, not refilling your prescription on time — these are the main reasons why people might get pregnant when they use the pill. It’s good to plan ahead and think about the best way for you to use the pill correctly.
Does the pill protect against STDs?
Nope. The pill is really good at preventing pregnancy, but it won’t protect you from sexually transmitted infections. Luckily, using condoms every time you have sex really lowers your chances of getting or spreading STDs. Condoms also protect against pregnancy so using condoms + birth control pills together gives protection from STDs AND awesome pregnancy-preventing power.
How Long Does It Take For Birth Control Pill To Work?
Experts say it can takes up to seven days for the pill to become fully effective in preventing pregnancy. During this time, you should use another form of birth control. If the pill is used to control symptoms such as acne or abnormal bleeding, it can take three to four months to see true benefits.
How soon are you safe after starting birth control pills?
You will be protected from getting pregnant after 7 days of consistent use of birth control pills. Consistent use means that you’re taking the pill every day at the same time (plus or minus 2 hours). So basically, one week of birth control pills is enough to put the ovaries to sleep and keep you from getting pregnant.
However, having the phrases “protected sex” and “without using another form of birth control” in the same sentence can be risky. It is important to note that, birth control pills (or patches or shots or IUD’s) only protect you from getting pregnant. They do NOT protect you from contracting sexually transmitted infections such as HIV, syphillis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, HPV, etc. So please, please, please make sure that you are using other forms of barrier protection (condoms, dental dams) to protect yourself from contracting an STI.
What should I do if I miss a pill?
Take the missed pill as soon as you remember. Then take your usual daily dose as planned. You should also use a backup form of birth control until you have your period. Call your healthcare provider if you miss several days of the pill. Your provider can discuss pregnancy test and emergency contraception options. It is helpful to keep the package inserts of the pill, most will give specific instructions on what to do if there is a missed pill.
Should I avoid certain medications while taking the pill?
You should always check with your healthcare provider before taking any new medications or herbal supplements. Certain drugs can make the pill less effective and increase your chances of getting pregnant. These products include:
- Antiseizure medications.
- Herbal supplements, such as St. John’s wort.
- Medications used to treat HIV.
Can I take the pill while breastfeeding?
The combination birth control pill contains estrogen, which can decrease milk production. If you are breastfeeding, your healthcare provider may recommend taking the progestin-only pill instead. However, some women may use estrogen-containing pills once milk supply is fully established, and a woman’s risk of blood clots is minimized.