Birth control pills, also called oral contraceptives, are medications you take by mouth to prevent pregnancy. They’re an effective method of birth control. It is important to know that birth control pills do not protect against STIs.
APPOTEK can advise you on birth control pills. You can also renew prescriptions if you are already taking birth control pills.
There are two types of birth control pills – combined oral contraceptive pills and mini pills (which only contain progestin). Both types of birth control pills prevent ovulation and make your cervical mucus thicker.
Combination pills prevent your body from ovulating and thicken the cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching the uterus.
Minipills also are thickening the cervical mucus and thinning the endometrium to make it harder for the egg to implant. Minipills also prevent ovulation.
Combined hormonal contraceptives can cause venous and arterial blood clots. Because of that they are not recommended for smokers and women over 35. However, they can reduce the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer. Combined hormonal contraceptives can reduce menstrual bleeding and mеnstruation cramps. They aren’t suitable for breastfeeding mothers as they affect milk production. Estrogen can be also released from a vaginal ring.
Mini Pills, injections and IUDs don’t cause blood clots. Mini Pills can also reduce menstrual bleeding and mеnstruation cramps. They can cause irregular bleeding or you may have no periods at all. Mini Pills are suitable for breastfeeding mothers.
Combined birth control pills do not suit everyone. Most women can use some kind of birth control pills until they reach menopause. However, combined oral contraceptives are not recommended for smokers or women over 35. You should also avoid using combined birth control pills if you have or have had:
- severe heart or liver disease
- blood clots in arms, legs or lungs
- breast or uterine cancer
Some drugs, such as antibiotics and anticonvulsants, may reduce the effectiveness of the birth control pills. It is important that you tell your doctor which other medicines you take.
How to use
Usually birth control pills are packaged in 21- or 28-day units. For 21-day units, tablets should be taken daily for 21 days. Then you shouldn’t take birth control pills for 7 days, before the cycle repeats. In the case of 28-day units, tablets that contain hormones are taken for 21 days, then you will take placebo tablets (with no hormones) for 7 days.
You should use extra contraception for the first seven days of using birth control pills, if you start this method for the first time, because you may get pregnant during this period.
It is important to take your pills regularly. It is easier to remember to take them if you do it when you get up or go to bed. APPOTEK’s medicine reminder can also help you remember to take your birth control pill on time.
If you forget a pill…
If you have forgotten to take your pill, take the tablet as soon as you remember. But you may also need to use another method of contraception for some time.
- Combined pills. Take your birth control pill as soon as you remember. If less than 36 hours have passed between the tablets, you are still protected. If more than 36 hours have passed between the tablets, you need to use other contraceptives, such as a condom. When you forget to take your birth control pills, the risk of ovulation increases.
- Mini Pills. Take your pill as soon as you remember. If more than three hours had passed after you had taken it, you should use other contraceptives for the next two days.
Vomiting and diarrhea affect the effect of birth control pills
If you have vomited significantly or have had severe diarrhea within four hours after taking your pill, you need to take a new tablet, because your body was not able to absorb it. Use other contraceptives, such as a condom, the next week.
Emergency contraceptive methods
If you have forgotten to take your birth control pill several times and have had sex without using any other contraceptives, there are so-called emergency contraceptives.
While birth control pills are safe for most women, they do come with some side effects during the first three to five months. For example, you may feel:
- mood swings
- breast tenderness
- bleeding between periods
When to consult a doctor
If you experience any symptom of the following, you should immediately contact your doctor or seek emergency care:
- chest pain
- abdominal pain
- blurred vision
- swelling or pain in the legs
- severe headaches.
How APPOTEK can help
If you want to get advice and information about different types of contraception methods, APPOTEK can help you. A doctor will make an individual assessment based on your situation during the care meeting. If you have used birth control pills, we can renew your prescriptions and, if necessary, help with blood pressure measurement.