Birth Control Pills
The birth control pill, “the pill”, is the most common method of hormonal contraception. The birth control pill is taken daily and most pills use a combination of estrogen and progestin hormones.
How Do Birth Control Pills Work?
Understanding how birth control pills work can be pretty confusing. Basically, birth control pills are made of hormones, and hormones are chemicals made in our bodies. Our hormones control how different parts of our bodies work. Birth control pills contain a small amount of man-made estrogen and progestin hormones, which work to prevent eggs from leaving the ovaries. If there is no egg to join the sperm, there is no pregnancy. Birth control pills also make the cervical mucus thicker, which keeps sperm from joining with the eggs.
Side Effects of Birth Control Pills
Some women have side effects with the birth control pill, but their bodies are usually able to adjust over time. Common side effects of birth control pills include the following:
- Bleeding between periods
- Breast tenderness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Change in sexual desire
Birth control pills rarely cause serious problems, but here are a few health problems caused by birth control pills:
- Blood clots
- Increased potassium in your blood
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Liver tumors
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes
Remember, these serious side effects are extremely uncommon.
Types of Birth Control Pills
There are two types of birth control pills, combination pills and the minipill. Combination pills contain both estrogen and progestin, and the minipill contains only progestin. The amount of estrogen in combination pills can vary. Depending on the type of combination pills, there may be 21 active pills and seven inactive pills or 24 active pills and four inactive pills. The minipill only comes in one formula, and all pills in the pack are active.
How Effective Are Birth Control Pills?
- Typical use: 91% effective
- Very effective
- May reduce menstrual cramping
- May lead to lighter periods
- Cost may be covered by your health insurance
- Doesn’t interrupt sexual activity
- No STD protection
- Cost is $15 to $50/month, if not covered unde your health insurance
- Requires a doctor visit and prescription
- Side effects
- Must be taken daily