Women who use oral contraceptives
swallow a pill each day to prevent pregnancy. Combined oral
contraceptives contain two hormones similar to the natural hormones in a
womans body---an estrogen and a progestin. Also called combined
pills, COCs, OCs, the pill and birth control pills.
How do they work?
-Stop ovulation (release of eggs from ovaries)
-Also thicken cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm to pass
-They do not
work by disrupting existing pregnancy.
Effectively as commonly used 6 to 8 pregnancies per 100 women in
first year of use (1 in every 17 to 1 in every 12).
Very effective when used correctly and consistently 0.1
pregnancies per 100 women in first year of use (1 in every 1,000).
Very effective when used correctly
No need to do anything at time of sexual intercourse
Increased sexual enjoyment because no need to worry about pregnancy
Monthly periods are regular; lighter monthly bleeding and fewer days of
bleeding; milder and fewer menstrual cramps
Can be used at any age from adolescence to menopause
Fertility returns soon after stopping
Can be used as an emergency contraceptive after unprotected sex
Can prevent or decrease iron deficiency, anemia
-Pelvic inflammatory disease
-Benign breast disease
Nausea (most common in first three months)
Spotting or bleeding between menstrual periods, especially if woman
forgets to take her pills or takes them late (most common in first three
Slight weight gain
Not recommended for breast feeding women because they effect quality
and quantity of milk
Very rarely can cause stroke, blood clots in deep veins of the legs, or
heart attack. Those at highest risk are women with high blood pressure
and women who are age 35 or old and at the same time smoke more than 20
cigarettes per day
Do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Starting Low-Dose Combined Oral Contraceptives
When to start?
The first day of the menstrual bleeding is best
Any of the first 7 days after her menstrual bleeding has already
stopped, some programs advise avoiding sex or using condoms or
spermicide for seven days
After she stops breast feeding or 6 months after child birthwhichever
3 to 6 weeks after childbirth. No need to wait for menstrual periods to
return to be certqain that she is not pregnant
Some important points for the user to remember
Pills can be very effective if taken regularly every day
Safe-Serious problems are very rare
Please come back or see another health care provider at once if you
have severe , constant pain in the chest, leg, or belly, or very bad
headaches, if you see flashing lights or zigzag lines, or if your skin
or eyes become unusually yellow (jaundice)
Pills do not prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including
HIV/ AIDS. If you think you might get an STD, use condoms regularly
along with your pills.
Suggested Reading -
- Deciding what method of birth control to use is
not easy. Here's and overview of the various methods available.