What are Contraceptive Pills?
Contraceptive pills are usually orally taken hormonally active pills. They either contain a combination of progestogen and estrogen or a single hormone, progestogen. A combined contraceptive is used to suppress ovulation.
Along with the suppression of ovulation, double hormone contraceptive pills also thicken the cervical mucus to block sperm penetration (low failure rate). Single hormone contraceptives thicken the cervical mucus but they are relatively less effective when it comes to suppressing ovulation.
How effective are birth control pills and what pill dosage to follow?
Studies have shown that oral contraceptive pills are around 90-99% effective based on different variables such as women’s health and sexual activity.
Once these variables are taken into account, it can be decided whether the pills are to be taken daily for 21 days with 7 days gap before starting a new package or following a continuous 28-day cycle. It is suggested that you take the pill consistently around the same time each day.
Another important factor to consider the effectiveness of contraceptive pills is any other medication that you might be on. Consult the doctor in case you are taking any other pill because they might lower the effectiveness of the oral pill.
A regular intake of the contraceptive pill, under a doctor’s supervision, can provide an individual with protection against pregnancy, and also ensure a healthy menstrual cycle. They also provide protection against ovarian and endometrial cancer as well as infections of fallopian tubes.
Myths and facts of contraception
MYTH 1. Birth control pills can prevent STI
Sexually transmitted infections like Herpes transfer through genitals or any other bodily contact. Any birth control that does not restrict tactile contact between people cannot prevent STIs. While condoms are considered to be a safer option to reduce the risk of STIs, even they are not 100% effective.
MYTH 2. A pill can cause cancer
Studies have shown that combined oral contraceptives contribute to reducing the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers. The use of the pills continues to have a positive effect even when you have stopped intake.
Effects of COC (Combined oral contraceptive) on breast cancer or cervical cancer are still being studied. However, whatever study has been done so far do not show any patterned effect of the pills concerning cancer, to make out any conclusions.
MYTH 3. Birth control pills can cause abortions
Several cases have been seen where people take contraceptive pills as a means to abort a conceived embryo. However, these pills don't work like that. They are more focused on manipulating hormones to delay or prevent ovulation so that conception doesn't take place in the first place. Abortions work differently and a gynecologist would be the best person to guide you with it.
MYTH 4. Contraceptive pills can affect your fertility
Contraceptive pills indeed affect your menstrual cycle, but studies show that no indications can be seen concerning their effect on fertility. The dosage is regulated in a way that when intake is stopped, the cycle adjusts to its normal course. There is no evidence of the pill having a long-term effect on your fertility.
MYTH 5. Contraceptive pills can impact your sexual desire and pleasure
Individuals tend to believe that a regular intake of pills can result in a loss of libido. However, there is no concrete evidence affirming this. In fact, contraception pills can ensure a healthy sexual indulgence. There will be no stress of unwanted pregnancy. To be double sure, you can use a condom and be stress-free.
Some women using the pill have reported that there has been a loss of sexual interests, but the reasons are not connected to the pill but rather other variables affecting life in general.
Other Myths Related to Birth Control Pills
- Myth 6- They can cause general health issues like asthma or hair loss: That's not true! COCs can only cause some short-term side effects like nausea, change in the menstrual cycle, or temporary headache.
- Myth 7- Women are confused about how often and when to take the pill: A woman can start using COCs any time she wants if she is well aware that she is not pregnant.
- Myth 8- COCs cannot be taken year after year: Oral contraceptives can be used safely for years without having to stop taking them regularly.
- Myth 9- Birth control pills can get soaked into the incorrect part of the body: After swallowing the pill, it dissolves in the gastrointestinal tract and the hormones in it are absorbed into the bloodstream. After the contraceptive effect, this hormone is metabolized in the liver and intestines and then excreted from the body. It does not accumulate anywhere in the body.
- Myth 10- COCs lead to weight gain: Most women do not gain or lose weight due to the consumption of oral contraceptives. A woman's weight can fluctuate naturally with changes in her age or other ongoing circumstances in life.
After the discussion of myths and facts, we must discuss some side effects that birth control pills carry with them. These can help avoid any allergies or will simply prepare you better.
#1. Headaches and migraine
Changes in hormones can trigger headaches. however, if a person experiences headaches as a part of PMS these might help in reducing the pain
Mild nausea is reported in people who are relatively new to birth control pills. With time this nausea does subside, so there is not much to worry about.
#3. Mood Swings
Any hormonal change can affect how you respond to your environment. This does get better with time, but if you think the effect lingers, consult your doctor and consider changing the pill.
Who Shouldn't Take Birth Control Pills?
Contraceptive pills might not be suitable for you if you have any of the following. It will be best to avoid birth control pills in case of:
- Blood clots or history of blood clots
- Occurrences of stroke or heart attack in the past
- Known or suspected breast cancer
- Known or suspected cancer of uterus, cervix, or vagina
- Jaundice during pregnancy
- Unexplainable issues during earlier use of the pill
- High blood pressure
Please consult a doctor on The Wellness Corner for further clarity or related doubts.
Some other side effects include missed periods, breast tenderness, weight gain or less, etc. These are considered normal by professionals and you needn't worry about them too much. However, observe your body and keep your doctor informed in case you feel in danger.