Contraceptive Pills are very common. Know more about them and see for your yourself if this is your preferred method of contraception.
Is the Pill safe?
The pill is basically safe but rarely can it have serious side effects. Research has shown that woman who use pills have a 12% reduction in their risk of developing certain cancers. You should consult your doctor before starting pills. Your doctor will examine you to rule out if you have any ‘risk factors’ that increases your risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), heart attacks or strokes.
What does the Pill contain?
Oral contraceptive pills or tablets contain the two female hormones – estrogen and progestogen. The pills may differ in the type and amount of estrogen and progestogen that they contain. Several brands of pills are available in India. The hormones in the pill prevent ovulation (production of an egg) each month. And since you don’t ovulate, you do not become pregnant. Besides this, the cervical mucus is also thickened and this makes it harder for sperm to enter the uterus. The changes in the lining of your womb make it less receptive to an egg.
After I start the Pill, what then?
Consult your doctor regularly after starting pills. Your doctor will advice you on how frequently do you need to come for follow up. During the follow up your doctor will ask you whether you’re having any problems with the pill and will check your blood pressure (and possibly weigh you). He or she will examine to rule out if you have developed any ‘risk factors’ that increase your risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), heart attacks or strokes.
Is the Pill the same as the Mini-Pill?
No, the two are not same. The standard Pill contains both the female hormones estrogen and progesterone whereas the mini-Pill contains only one hormone. Although mini-Pill has fewer side effects, it is less effective as compared to the standard Pill.
[Read: How do birth control pills work?]
How effective is the Pill?
It’s a very effective means of contraception if you take it as prescribed. The efficacy is almost 100 per cent if you use the pill as prescribed. After sterilisation it is the most effective method of contraception.
How is the pill taken?
If you have a pack that contains 21 pills, you have to take one pill every day for three weeks. Then you take a break for a week during which you’ll have your period. Start the next packet after the week’s break. Take the pill regularly everyday and if possible at the same time of the day.
What are the advantages of the Pill?
The Pill has several health advantages:
- It makes the period pain free.
- The periods become shorter and lighter, hence you are less likely to develop hemoglobin deficiency or become anemic.
- Your acne may reduce.
- If needed you can delay having a period for a special occasion, such as a holiday.
- It decreases the risk of certain cancers (though it increases the risk of some cancers).
Are there any side effects of the pills on starting it?
Yes some women many have minor, passing side effects, such as
- Nausea, vomiting
- Breast tenderness or fullness
- Weight gain
- Minimal ‘spotting’ in between the periods
In most women the side effects resolve after the first few packs. If the conditions presist, then consult your doctor or switch to another brand.
Do the pills have any serious side effects?
The ‘risk factors,’ which increase your risk of these problems areIs age a worry for taking pills?
In some women the Pill can occasionally cause serious problems such as:
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or clotting of blood in the veins
- Heart attacks
However these side effects are very rare.
- Family history of DVT or some similar illness (like if your mother had heart attack or DVT at young age)
- High blood pressure or hypertension
- Increased level of blood cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia)
- Past history of phlebitis (vein inflammation) or thrombophlebitis
- Surgical operation
The risks of complications increase as you get older.
Yes as the risks of complications increase as you get older. OCP are very safe for young women (teens -20s without any risk factors such as smoking). The risk of DVT increases as you get to the age of 35 or 40. Some women of 40 take the pill, but it is preferable to switch to the mini-Pill, or to some other method of contraception, such as sterilisation.
What is effect of Pill on cancer?
The risk of certain cancers is increased with use of pill whereas the risk of certain other cancers is reduced. Consult your doctor regarding it before you start the pill.
The Pill reduces the risk of
- Cancer of the ovary
- Cancer of the uterus (endometrium)
- Bowel cancer—some research has shown a 60 per cent reduction in risk but it is still not conclusively proven
The Pill increases the risk of following cancers
- Breast cancer—you should check your breast regularly for lumps or anything unusual. This is especially applicable for women who approach middle age, the age when breast cancer starts becoming common.
- Cancer of the cervix
- Very rarely liver cancer
Read more articles in Sex & Relationships.
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