Contraception: Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills revolutionized the way women approach sex in the 1960s, and they remain one of the most popular forms of contraception. In the United States, birth control pills can be obtained only via prescription, and there are many different varieties to choose from. Most birth control pills come in a package that holds 28 pills. 21 of these are pills that have hormones in them, and the other seven are generally sugar pills. Sometimes the other seven have iron in them too.
What They are Made Of, and How They Work
Birth control pills are generally a combination of two hormones that already occur naturally in your body: estrogen and progestin.
The estrogen prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs. The progestin changes the mucus in your cervix to make it harder for sperm to reach the uterus. If there is no egg, and the sperm can’t get to the uterus, there is no chance of becoming pregnant. Some types of birth control pills also change the uterine lining to make it harder for a fertilized egg to implant.
Things to Keep in Mind
Birth control pills are the most effective if they are taken at the same time every day. A lot of people make sure of this by carrying around their pills (a lot of pills come in a nice case for them), a bottle of water, and setting an alarm on their phone that goes off every day.
If you ever miss a pill, check the insert that should have come with your prescription. It will tell you what to do when you have forgotten to take a pill.
There are certain medicines that will make birth control pills less effective, especially antibiotics. If you are sexually active, taking birth control pills, and you are also on antibiotics, you should use a second form of birth control (like a condom) to make sure you do not get pregnant.
Birth control pills will only prevent you from getting pregnant. Unlike condoms, they will not give you ANY protection against STIs. If you are sexually involved with someone, and you do not know their STI status, you should use a barrier method as a second form of contraception to ensure that you do not contract an STI.
The Bottom Line
There are many different types of birth control pills, with different levels of hormones in each one. Sometimes one pill will give you side effects that you don’t like, and it is perfectly okay to talk to your doctor about these side effects and request to change to another type of pill. Every body is different, so it may take some time to find one that works the best for you.
The wide availability of birth control pills made it possible for a woman to have a satisfying sexual life without worrying about becoming pregnant. If you are thinking about becoming sexually active, you should talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for a contraceptive.