Birth Control Pill- Is it a Safe and Reliable Method of Contraception?

Birth Control Pill- Is it a Safe and Reliable Method of Contraception?

There are different types of contraceptive methods available in the market, providing you with a variety of options to choose from. If you are a sexually active female, using birth control pills might be the most convenient one.

Birth control pills are also known as oral contraceptives and are medicines that you take via oral cavity to avoid getting pregnant. These pills constitute a reliable and effective way of contraception.

Keep reading to find out how these pills work, what side effects might occur due to them, and what are the other factors to consider while choosing birth control pills as your preferred method of conception.

What are Different Types of Birth Control Pills?

Combination Pills

Combination pills consist of two basic types of hormones; progestin and estrogen. Most of the pills in every cycle are active, meaning they consist of hormones. The rest of the pills are in an inactive form which indicates that they do not contain any hormones.

Combination pills are further divided into several types:

  • Monophasic pills utilized in one-month cycles. Each monophasic pill provides you with the same dose of hormones. You are required to take inactive pills during the last week of the cycle and have your normal period.
  • Multiphasic Pills are another type of birth control pills which provide hormones to your body in varying quantities. Similar to monophasic pills, you have to take inactive pills during the last week to experience normal menstruation.
  • Extended-cycle pills which follow a 13-week cycle. You are required to consume active pills for over 12 weeks followed by one week of inactive pills to experience menstruation. This means that you only experience your normal period 4 to 5 times every year.

Some common examples of brand-name combination pills are:

  • Beyas
  • Azurette
  • Loestrin
  • Estrostep Fe
  • Kariva
  • Ocella

Progestin-only Pills

As the name indicates, progestin-only pills only consist of progestin. Completely devoid of estrogen, these pills are also known as minipill. Progestin-only pills are the most suitable form of contraception in women who are unable to take estrogen because of any underlying health issue.

All the pills in the cycle are in active form so, you may or may not experience a normal menstruation while consuming them.

Some of the examples of progestin-only pills include:

  • Errin
  • Nor-QD
  • Heather
  • Camila
  • Jencycla

Choosing a Birth Control Pill

Not every type of pill is suitable for every woman. It is important to consult a doctor about which pill should you take. Some of the factors that may influence your choice of birth control pills include:

  • Your cardiovascular health
  • Your menstrual symptoms
  • If you are lactating
  • Your prescribed medications, if any
  • Other chronic health problems, if any

Mechanism of Action for Birth Control Pills

There are two mechanisms of actions for combination pills. First, these pills inhibit your body from ovulating. This indicates that your ovaries would not be releasing an egg every month.

Second, combination pills thicken your cervical mucus. This mucus normally aids the sperm to travel all the way to your uterus to fertilize the egg. Thickening of mucus stops the fertilization by preventing sperm to reach the uterus.

RELATED: Are Your Birth Control Pills Causing Depression?

Progestin-only pills primarily work by thickening the cervical mucosa and thinning down the endometrium. The endometrium is the lining of the uterus and a site for a fertilized egg to get implanted. Thinning of endometrium makes it harder for the egg to implant. In this way, the pregnancy is halted.

Progestin-only pills may also work to inhibit ovulation.

How Should You Use Birth Control Pills?

Combination pills are available in different forms such as monthly packs for 21-, 24-, or 28-day cycles. Extended birth control pills may also follow 91-day cycles. For all of these formats, you are required to consume 1 pill per day.

Combination pills are to be taken at the same time every day but you normally have a window of 12 hours, making this method of contraception highly convenient.

Progestin-only pills are usually available in the form of 28-day packs. Just like combination pills, you are required to take one pill each for this type. To make the best use of progestin-only pills, take them within the same three-hour time duration each day.

Are Birth Control Pills Effective?

Most of the women are not clear about the effectiveness of birth control pills. The truth is, birth control pills are one of the most effective methods of contraception if taken correctly. CDC has reported a small failure rate of 9 percent only with both types of birth control pills. This means that out of 100 women using these pills, only 9 will get pregnant.

Why Should You Use Birth Control Pills?

Choosing birth control pills as the prime method of contraception have numerous benefits including:

  • These pills provide protection all the time
  • They are highly effective and usually better than other methods of contraception
  • They regulate your menstrual cycle and are of particular benefit in women with irregular menstruation
  • They provide reversible effects. Your normal cycle will be restored shortly after you stop taking them

Additionally, consumption of combination pills may also prove beneficial against:

  • Bone thinning
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Acne
  • Non-cancerous growths of breasts
  • Heavy periods
  • Anemia
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Severe menstrual cramps

Are there Any Disadvantages of Birth Control Pills?

There are no serious disadvantages of birth control pills. Birth control pills do not provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases, so you might need to use condoms.

RELATED: How To Use A Condom Safely?


Moreover, it is important to take the pill every day and make sure that you have a fresh pack ready to be used when you finish an older one. Missing a dose can increase your chances of getting pregnant.

Side Effects of Birth Control Pills

Despite great efficacy, birth control pills do have certain side effects. These can be:

The side effects are likely to improve after a few months of using birth control pills.

Should You be Worried about Risks?

A serious risk associated with birth control pills, especially the combination pills, is a high risk of blood clots. This can eventually lead to:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Pulmonary embolism

However, it is important to know that the risk of developing blood clots due to birth control pills is quite low. As per the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, less than 10 out of 10,000 women develop blood clots due to combination pills every year.

Consult Your Doctor

Birth control pills are undoubtedly a good contraceptive method. There are a lot of options available in reference to birth control pills. The choice of the best birth control pill can vary from person to person and depends on different factors.

To find the most suitable type of birth control pill, talk to your doctor. Be sure to inquire about all the questions you have in mind. Some of these questions that might help you include:

  • Which kind of birth control pill will suit me more?
  • Am I taking any medications that may interfere with the working of a birth control pills?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose?
  • Am I at a risk of developing blood clot due to birth control pills?
  • Should I consider other methods of contraception?

Birth control pills are miraculous and a convenient way of preventing unwanted pregnancies with minial side effects. Get a consultation with your doctor today to choose a suitable type of birth control pills and make your life a lot easier!

Nancy Walker

Nancy holds a Medicine degree and a Masters of Science MS in Infectious Disease and Global Health (MS-IDGH) from Tufts University. She worked as a lecturer for three years before she turned towards medical writing. Her area of interest are infectious diseases; causes, mechanism, diagnosis, treatments and prevention strategies. Most of her writings ensure an easy understanding of uncommon diseases.

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