Birth control methods are put in place to help men and women prevent pregnancy.
Traditionally, there were very few successful options when it came to birth controls but today, there are different methods of birth control with high success rates.
The most common methods today are:
Hormonal contraception with pills, barrier methods such as condoms, and eventually methods that prevents implantation but allows ovulation – such as intrauterine device (IUD).
In this short brief, we are going to cover what you should know about birth control pills, including helpful videos and insights from medical experts.
Types of Birth Control Pills and Brands
There are two broad types of birth control pills but tens of brands.
Birth control pills are available as either combination pills or progestin-only pills.
- Combination pills: These pills have two combined hormones: estrogen and progestin. As a matter of fact, this type of birth control pills is the most common.
- Progestin-only pills or mini pills: These pills only have one kind of hormone – Progestin. To be fully protected using these pills, you must take them the same three hours every day.
Most common brands that you should be watching for include:
Apri, Alesse, Arenelle, Desogen, Beyaz, Caziant, and many more.
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In this video, Dr Anne-Marie Aimes Oelschlager talks about the proper usage and effectiveness of several short term birth control options, such as pills, condoms, depo provera shot, vaginal ring, and the patch:
Contraceptive Pills Effectiveness
Over the time, people have discussed heavily the effectiveness of these birth control pills. Although these pills were not very effective years back, today you can get a higher guarantee.
With correct and consistent use, birth control pills give you 99% assurance that you will not get pregnant, according to World Health Organization.
This means about 1% of all women that try these pills will get pregnant, even when they are using them correctly.
This is a clear indication that when these birth control pills are used correctly every single day, they are very effective at reducing pregnancy.
However, in case of missing pills or even in the case of certain medications, their effectiveness may be compromised. The effectiveness to prevent pregnancy is around 92% as commonly used.
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In this video, an Advanced Nurse Practitioner elaborates more on the how to take birth control pills, their effectiveness, menstrual cycles, and much more:
How To Use / Take Birth Control Pills
Take one pill daily, at the same time each day.
If you have a 28 day pack, then take one pill for the four week and eventually start a new pack on day 29.
Here are some of the tips that you can follow when taking birth control pills:
- Use a Birth control app: The best thing to do is to use a good and a reliable birth control app that can help you remember when to take your birth control pills.
You can check out Bedsider Reminders or this MyDays X app for free download.
- Stay on track no matter what: Losing track is one of the things that lower their effectiveness significantly. Even when travelling, make sure you have your medication with you.
- Don’t lose hope when you miss a pill: There are some of the instances when you may lose track. Even in such situations you don’t have to beat yourself. Just take the pill as soon as you remember.
Nurse midwife Christina Cameli elaborates on how to start the birth control pill in the video below:
It recommended to check out this useful birth control guide that addresses some other common questions like:
- What if I miss a dose?
- At what temperature should I keep my birth control?
- I do not want my period during a special event. How do I skip it?
- Is it normal for discharge to change when starting birth control?
- I don’t know what birth control option to order. How to choose?
How Do Birth Control Pills Work?
Birth control pills are effective pills that prevent the sperms from joining the woman egg for fertilization. The pills usually contain hormones that work to stop ovulation. Upon taking these pills, the egg will not be released for sperm to fertilize. This means there will be no fertilization and eventually no pregnancy.
The hormones they contain also thicken the mucus on the cervix which later blocks the sperms from swimming to the egg. This is what people calls in simple language ‘sticky security guard’.
With that said, birth control pills prevent pregnancy in two ways:
- Birth control pills control the release of egg from the ovary. These birth control pills contain some amount of man-made estrogen and progestin which are the hormones that controls the process of ovulation and sustaining a pregnancy.
What these man-made hormones do is that they interfere with the body’s natural cyclical hormones and hence interferes with the whole process of ovulation and fertilization.
- The other way they help to prevent unwanted pregnancies is through preventing sperms from swimming to fertilize the eggs. They form what we have already called sticky security guard by changing the cervical mucus.
Other Birth Control Pills Benefits
Every birth control method has its own benefits, but birth control pills offer benefits that go beyond pregnancy prevention:
1. Prevents unwanted pregnancies
This is the first and the main benefit of birth control pills. If used correctly, they can reduce your chances of getting pregnant by almost 99%.
However, there are things you should do to increase their effectiveness. For examples, you should ensure you are not taking certain medications especially the ones listed down:
- Carbatrol, Epitol, Equetro,Tegretol.
- Dilantin, Phenytek.
2. Banishes hormonal acne
While some people may experience hormonal acne that can be problematic, there are some studies that have supported the likelihood of birth control pills in controlling hormonal acne.
According to WebMD, dermatologists have been using birth control pills to treat acne in women for decades, with the following 3 types of pills are approved by the FDA for acne treatment:
Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Estrostep, and YAZ.
Taking birth control pills that contain progesterone and estrogen may lower the androgens level in the body, and this results in less sebum and less severe acne.
3. Regulates menstrual cycle
Birth control pills balance the hormonal fluctuations and for this reason they may regulate your menstrual cycle. This means that they can really help with some of the menstrual cycle including irregular menstrual cycles and heavy bleeding.
4. Make periods less painful
Birth control pills interferes with the natural hormonal cycle of the body. For this reason, a significant number of women reported that they experience less painful periods.
Potential Side Effects and Risks of Taking Contraceptive Pills
Birth control pills have a lot of benefits but at the same time have some side effects.
Some of the most common side effects are:
- Breast tenderness
- Weight gain
- Mood change
- Missed periods
- Headaches and migraine
- Decreased libido
In video below, Dr. Josh Vogel further elaborates on the other rare health risks of birth control pills – such as elevated blood pressure and deep venus thrombosis.