Birth Control Pills: The Benefits and Risks

Health and Fitness

If you need to buy birth control pills, you have many options to choose from. You may prefer to pick the one you have seen on TV or settle upon the one which is easily available at your nearby medical store. However, before heading to the chemist’s, don’t forget to dig up a little about these pills.

This article is based on what birth control pills are and how they work. You will also get to know their types and whether or not they are safe for you.

What are Birth Control Pills?

Birth control pills are like a medicine with hormones, which are taken orally to avoid pregnancy. Also known as oral contraceptives, they are an affordable, safe, and effective way of birth control as long as they are consumed on time. In addition to preventing pregnancy, these pills have various health benefits as well.

What are the Types of Birth Control Pills?

Birth Control pills are broadly divided into two categories:

  1. Combination Pills

These pills contain man-made or synthetic forms of hormones like estrogen and progestin. Some of these pills contain hormones while others do not. The following are the types of combination pills:

  • Monophasic Pills: are used particularly in one-month cycles, and they provide the same dose of hormone in each pill. When it’s the last week of the cycle, the inactive (no hormone) pills have to be taken to have the period.
  • Multi-phasic Pills: are also used in a one month Different levels of hormones are provided during the cycle. When it’s the last week of the cycle, the inactive pills are to be taken to have the menstrual period.
  • Extended-cycle Pills: are specifically used in 13-week cycles. Active pills are taken for 12 weeks and when it’s the last week of the cycle, the inactive pill is to be taken to initiate the period. The women on these pills have their period only 3 to 4 times a year.
  1. Progestin-only Pills

These pills only contain progestin and are also known as the mini-pill. These pills are suitable for women who are advised not to take estrogen due to medical or any other reasons. As all the pills contain the hormone, there are no inactive pills, i.e. all pills are active. Women on mini-pills may or may not have their periods every month.

A number of brands offer both combination and progestin-only pills. The choice is yours as you know your needs the best. Just consult your doctor before taking any birth control pill.

How do Birth Control Pills Work?

Most women have one question ‘how do birth control pills avoid pregnancy?’ The answer, in simple words, is that these oral contraceptive pills stop a sperm from meeting the egg, preventing fertilisation.

One needs to consume these pills on a daily basis, so that the hormones in the pill can timely prevent ovulation.

This means there isn’t any egg waiting for a sperm to fertilise it. So, there is no chance of pregnancy.

The hormones in the pill thicken the mucus on the cervix, which, in turn, prevents the sperm from reaching an egg. So you can say that the thickened mucus acts as a strict security guard in there.

Benefits of Birth Control Pills

As mentioned above, birth control pills are an effective way to avoid pregnancy. These pills also have other benefits, such as they make your periods regular, ease menstrual cramps and reduce acne.

  • The pill is a great way to avoid pregnancy only if you take it regularly and on time. Make sure to consume one pill every day on the same time. Missing even one day defeat the whole purpose of birth control.
  • The combination and progestin-only pills are known for reducing menstrual cramps and lowering the risk of ectopic pregnancy.
  • Most women prefer these pills because they regularise and lighten their periods.
  • At any time, you can stop taking your pills if you wish to conceive.

Side-effects of Birth Control Pills

It may not be simple and easy for every woman to remember to take a pill every day. Also, some women feel side-effects and don’t want to continue, which can be troublesome. Some of these side-effects or disadvantages of birth control pills are:

  • In order to avoid pregnancy, you have to take a pill every day. If you forgot to take a pill on a particular day, you might get pregnant.
  • The hormones in these pills might affect your sexual desire. Or, you may also bleed between your menstrual cycles, which can happen in case of progestin-only pills. However, these issues usually go away after 2 to 3 months.
  • While side-effects may vary from one woman to another, they may be very uncommon in some women. Pills that have estrogen (such as combination pills) can cause serious issues but they are quite rare.

How to Take Birth Control Pills for Best Results?

There have been times when women who used to take pills got pregnant; it may be because they forgot or lost the pills or did not refill their packs in time. It is recommended to keep a track of your pills to make sure you get the intended result. Here are some ways you can remember taking your pills every day:

  • You can set a reminder or an alarm on your mobile phone to remind you of your pills.
  • If you are working, then you should keep your pills in your bag so that they are always with you.
  • You can keep your pills next to something that you use every day.
  • Ask your partner to remind you daily on the same time.
  • Apply a sticky note on the refrigerator or wardrobe to remember your pills

You can use whatever way you want to remember your pills. If you want to be extra sure you don’t get pregnant, ask your partner to use a condom while having vaginal sex. Condoms can also protect you against STDs (sexually transmitted diseases).