Birth Control Pills – Oral Contraception Overview
The use of hormones such as birth control pills, or progesterone pills, not only provide an effective manner in which to prevent pregnancy, but can make periods lighter, more predictable, and less painful for some patients. However, many women are unable or do not desire to use this option due to side effects, risks associated with hormones, or other medical conditions that inhibit hormone use. Newburgh gynecologists, Dr. Basinski and Dr. Juran, can guide and counsel women on the pros and cons of birth control pills and help them decide if the pill is the most effective choice for them.
Benefits of Birth Control
- Preventing unintended pregnancy
- Decreasing cramping pain with periods
- Decreasing blood flow and clots during periods
- Decreasing risk for uterine cancer
- Decreasing risk for ovarian cancer by up to 75%
- Helping with mood changes during the menstrual cycle
- Controlling the timing of cycles
- Decreasing facial and body acne
How effective are birth control pills?
When taken every day, birth control pills are very effective. For maximum effect, the pill needs to be taken once a day and at the same time every day. If the pill is taken as directed, there’s a 99% effective rate. However, if the pill isn’t taken correctly, the incidence of pregnancy is about 9 out of 100 women.
What are the side effects?
While most women have no side effects from birth control pills, some can experience irregular periods with spotting or light bleeding within the first few weeks of starting the pill. Nausea, headaches, fluctuations in weight, and sore or enlarged breasts are also common side effects.
What if I forget to take a pill?
If you forget to take your birth control pill, you should take it as soon as you remember. In some cases, this means that you can take 2 pills in 1 day. You should have a back-up form of birth control, such as condoms, available in order to reduce the rate of pregnancy.
- Birth control pills do not cause or increase risk for breast cancer
- Birth control pills do not cause weight gain
- Birth control pills do not cause abortion
- Birth control pills prevent ovulation
- Birth control pills do not prevent all cyst formation on ovaries
- Birth control pills do not encourage sexual activity
- All birth control pills are relatively the same. All do the same job, but different formulations may work better for some individuals.
When starting birth control pills, you may experience nausea or abnormal bleeding during the first 3-6 months of use until your body gets used to the medication. If these symptoms do not resolve after 6 months, call our office and we can consider a different pill that will work better for you. If you skip a pill or take a pill late, you may experience breakthrough bleeding or bleeding in the middle of your cycle. This does not indicate an underlying problem and can be resolved by taking your pill at the same time each day.
Some women will not experience any periods at all during pill use. This is also very safe and represents a good balance of estrogen and progesterone to prevent period bleeding. However, if you have bled on a pill before and suddenly stop having periods, it is usually recommended you take a pregnancy test.
All birth control pills can be safely used in a continuous manner for 3 to 4 months. This method of use would therefore produce a period only every 3 or 4 months.