The Pill

What is The Pill?

“The Pill” is the common name for oral contraception. Combination pills are made of hormones like those made by a woman’s ovaries — estrogen and progestin.

How Does the Pill Work?

Combination pills prevent pregnancy in at least three ways:

  • by suppressing ovulation
  • thickening cervical mucus prohibiting the sperm from entering the uterus
  • thinning the lining of the uterus causing it to be unsuitable for a fertilized egg

How Effective is The Pill?

Perfect use failure rate in first year: 1%
Typical use failure rate in first year: 5-8%

Advantages of The Pill

  • nothing to put in place before intercourse
  • periods become more regular and lighter
  • decreases menstrual cramping, acne, iron deficiency anemia, premenstrual tension, menstrual flow and endometriosis
  • may protect against ovarian and endometrial cancers, pelvic inflammatory disease, non-cancerous growths of the breast, ovarian cysts, and osteoporosis (thinning of the bones)
  • fewer tubal pregnancies
  • simple and convenient
  • pills are relatively inexpensive
  • protects fertility

Disadvantages of The Pill

  • must be taken correctly and consistently to be fully effective
  • does not protect against sexually transmitted infections
  • must take a pill everyday
  • possible side effects include spotting in between periods, breast tenderness, mood changes, breast enlargement, mild headaches, and decreased libido (not everyone experiences all or any of these possible side effects)

Who Should Take The Pill?

  • women who can take a pill everyday
  • women who prefer not to get a shot, such as Depo-Provera
  • women that would like to become pregnant in the near future, but not right now

There are many benefits of taking the pill. The following are some reasons why a woman would take the pill:

  • to regulate periods
  • to decrease menstrual problems (like cramping, heavy flow, irregular cycles)
  • to decrease acne

Who Should not Take The Pill?

There are certain medical conditions that should be monitored while taking the pill. They may also be indicators that a woman should not take the pill. These medical conditions include women who:

  • smoke and are 35 or older
  • have high blood pressure
  • have had blood clots in the leg or lung
  • have unexplained bleeding from the vagina
  • have had an abnormal growth or cancer of the breast or uterus
  • have very high cholesterol levels
  • have a severe liver disease or have had growths of the liver
  • think they might be pregnant
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