How Effective Is The Pill
The pill has the potential to be 99% effective at preventing pregnancy if you take it without fail meaning you dont forget to take the pill for even a day or two. However, taking the pill perfectly can be difficult, which is why nine out of 100 women who use the pill will have an unintended pregnancy every year. The pill is most reliable when you take it consistently at the same time each day. Being consistent helps keep hormone levels from fluctuating.
Why Do Birth Control Pills Contain Estrogen
As Ive mentioned, combined birth control pills with estrogen and progestin, trick your pituitary gland into thinking you are pregnant. The constant doses of estrogen each day are pivotal to this trickery because of the estrogen:
Prevents your pituitary gland from producing the follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone so that ovulation doesnt take place.
Thickens the lining of your uterus, making the environment more hostile to conception.
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How Does The Pill Prevent Pregnancy
Birth control pills release hormones just like most other birth control methods. These hormones are chemicals that affect different parts of the body. Most women use a combination birth control pill, which contains both estrogen and progestin. However there are also Progestin-only pills available.
Birth Control Pills work by:
- Making cervical mucus thicker, which prevents sperm from getting to the eggs
- Stopping ovulation, so there is no egg for the sperm to fertilize
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Do Birth Control Pills Help With Irregular Periods
If youre someone who needs to carry a stash of just-in-case tampons around in the bottom of your purse, youre not alone. Its estimated that over 1 in 10 women experience irregular or abnormal periods between their first period and menopause.
Irregular periods are typically caused by hormone imbalances. Because birth control pills contain progestin and estrogen, theyre able to help balance your hormones and regulate your menstrual cycle.
Birth control pills can make your period more predictable, so you always know when its coming. The pill can also stop spotting between periods, help lighten heavy periods and even make you skip your period altogether.
Its About More Than Hormones
Sex isnât only about hormones. The person, place, and time matter.
If youâre just not feeling it, think about your relationship. No pairing is perfect, but things should be good most of the time.
Does your partner respect you?
Are you open and honest with each other?
Or do you argue a lot?
Do you fight about money?
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What You Need To Know About Progestin
Progestin is a synthetic form of progesterone, which is a female hormone found in a womans body. As a naturally occurring hormone, progesterone is released from the ovaries to prepare the body for pregnancy. Progesterone also plays an important role during pregnancy. It contributes to maternal breast tissue growth while also preventing lactation, and prepares the body for labor by strengthening the wall muscles around the pelvic area.
Some common uses for progestin in products outside of contraception include treating abnormal uterine bleeding, severe premenstrual syndrome , and postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy.
Do progestin products have any adverse side effects? When taking oral contraceptives that contain progestin, some women may experience side effects including ovarian cysts, breast tenderness, headaches, fatigue, nausea, and hair thinning.
Other studies analyzing other side effects, such as the impact on sex drive and development of mood disturbances, are limited in terms of evidence and may offer conflicting views.
If youre experiencing any adverse side effects when taking oral contraceptives, make sure to talk to your doctor.
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Were Often Told That The Pill Contains Oestrogen And Progesterone But No Pill Contains Either Hormone
Were often told that the pill contains oestrogen and progesterone. But no pill contains either hormone.
That is because, when taken orally, oestrogen and progesterone break down too quickly to be practical. Instead, the pill contains synthetic versions, which are built from more stable hormones that have been altered to mimic the hormones.
Every brand of combined pill on the market contains the same type of synthetic oestrogen, ethinyl estradiol, and one of eight synthetic progesterones, called progestins. Ethinyl estradiol prevents the body from releasing an egg every month, while progestins thicken the mucus at the entrance to the cervix and conspire to make the womb inhospitable. Even if an egg slips out and becomes fertilised, it wont be able to settle down and start growing.
So far, so good. But though the hormones are effective at preventing pregnancy, they arent perfect matches for our natural hormones. The end result is that these synthetic versions also have effects that you would never get from raw progesterone.
Because the contraceptive pill uses synthetic versions of female hormones, it can have side effects you might not expect such as facial hair
Find out more: eight women open up about the side effects they struggled with from the pill in our recent video, below.
The male hormone that these pills use is a close relative of testosterone called nandrolone. A potent androgen , it can lead to the development of typically male characteristics.
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Other Possible Benefits Of Birth Control
Birth control pills have benefits besides contraception. They lower your risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer and can help with acne. But itâs not clear if ultra-low-dose formulas do as good a job of providing these perks.
Birth control isnât one-size-fits-all, so you should weigh the pros and cons of going extra-low with your doctor.
Whats The Difference Between Progestin And Estrogen In Birth Control Pills
When considering which oral contraceptive is right for you, two medical terms you might come across are progestin and estrogen. These refer to two female sex hormones that are used in birth control products. Outside of their use in contraceptives, estrogen and progesterone are naturally produced in the female body and play key roles in regulating certain body functions in women throughout puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.
As two common hormones found in oral contraceptives, understanding the differences between combination pills and progestin-only pills can help you select one that fits your needs and lifestyle. In this article, we will look at the major differences between progestin and estrogen as it relates to birth control, and why the pill is not one size fits all.
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More Questions And Answers About Birth Control Pills
What is continuous use with combination birth control pills?
With continuous birth control pill use, you take an active pill every day and never have a period. You might have breakthrough bleeding, especially at first. You may want fewer periods or none at all, especially if you have problem periods. But you may wonder how youâll know if you get pregnant by accident.
If you think you could be, take a pregnancy test. They work even if you’re taking the pill. If the test is positive, stop taking your pills and call your doctor.
Do I have to get permission from my parents to go on the pill if Iâm younger than 18?
It depends where you live. In some states, you can get a prescription without permission. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the laws in your area. A sexual education counselor might be able to give you some ideas about how to bring up the subject with your parents. Even if you decide against that, they can talk to you privately if youâre confused, unsure, or just curious about sexual activity.
How old do I have to be to take the pill?
Thereâs no minimum age once you start to get your period, but some doctors suggest waiting until around 16 to give your body a chance to properly establish its cycle. Itâs a good idea to talk to your doctor, parents, or a counselor to make sure youâre physically and mentally ready, both for the pill and for sex.
Will it make my cycle more regular?
Will the pill make me gain weight?
Will the pill make my breasts larger?
Questions Were Here For You
We know it can be confusing to choose and use a method. We are here to help.
You can visit one of our Options for Sexual Health Clinics to speak with a health care provider. Our Sex Sense Team is available Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. by phone 1-800-739-7367 or by email at SexSense.org to answer your questions about birth control, or any other questions about sex, sexuality, or sexual health.
This fact sheet contains general information and should not be used in place of individual consultation with a qualified healthcare provider.
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Hormonal Birth Control Implants
A hormonal implant is placed under the skin by a health care provider in order to prevent pregnancy for up to three years. It releases a progestin-only hormone to stop ovulation from occurring and also thicken cervical mucus, similar to other hormonal options of birth control. The implant is highly effective at preventing pregnancy with efficacy of 99%.
Low Serotonin & Melatonin
When we think of hormonal health, neurotransmitter hormones like serotonin and melatonin usually dont take center stage. But they play an equally important role in keeping our body balanced as our main sex and thyroid hormones.
Serotonin helps to keep our moods balanced and regulating our appetite. Melatonin is the king of sleep. And without enough of these hormones, youll likely have trouble falling or staying asleep.
These two hormones also work together in the body. A process known as methylation converts serotonin to melatonin in the gut. When serotonin levels are low, youre more likely to also be deficient in melatonin.
Which is, unfortunately, often the case when it comes to hormonal birth control use.
The Pill has been shown to deplete levels of vitamins B12 and B6. Both of these vitamins are important cofactors in the production of serotonin.
Without enough B vitamins, you cant make enough serotonin. And without enough serotonin, you wont have enough melatonin. This leaves you more susceptible to feelings of anxiety, fatigue, and depression.
The connection between hormonal birth control and depression is real. And it goes far deeper than The Pills effects on serotonin and melatonin.
One study found that women who used hormonal birth control were 23% more likely to suffer from depression than women who didnt use The Pill.
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How Could Oral Contraceptives Influence Cancer Risk
Naturally occurring estrogen and progesterone stimulate the development and growth of some cancers . Because birth control pills contain synthetic versions of these female hormones, they could potentially also increase cancer risk.
In addition, oral contraceptives might increase the risk of cervical cancer by changing the susceptibility of cervical cells to persistent infection with high-risk HPV types .
Researchers have proposed multiple ways that oral contraceptives may lower the risks of some cancers, including
- suppressing endometrial cell proliferation
- reducing the number of ovulations a woman experiences in her lifetime, thereby reducing exposure to naturally occurring female hormones
- lowering the levels of bile acids in the blood for women taking oral conjugated estrogens
Burkman R, Schlesselman JJ, Zieman M. Safety concerns and health benefits associated with oral contraception. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2004 190:S522.
Are You Ready To Stop Taking Birth Control Pills
Going off the pill isnt necessarily a quick-fix solution. Some women experience a rash of symptomsincluding mood swings, anxiety, and depressionin the months following cessation of hormonal birth control. Some hormonal experts have started calling this effect post-birth control syndrome.
In addition, its important to remember that if you started taking the pill because you were experiencing irregular periods, bad cramping, or other symptoms, the pill doesnt actually address those issues. It only masks the problem. When you stop taking oral contraceptives, that original issue may return with a vengeance.
If you were experiencing menstrual Irregularities, take note that taking natural progesterone can be quite effective for some womenwithout any of the side effects of synthetic progestin in hormonal contraceptives. If youre concerned about pregnancy, there are other non-synthetic, non-hormonal birth control options available that you can discuss with an integrative physician.
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How Do I Change To A Different Pill
If you want advice about changing your contraceptive pill, you can visit a GP, contraceptive nurse , or sexual health clinic.
You should not have a break between different packs, so you will usually be advised to start the new pill immediately or wait until the day after you take the last of your old pills.
You may also be advised to use alternative methods of contraception during the changeover, as the new pill may take a short time to take effect.
When Hormones Arent An Option
According to the Nature commentary, about one-third of women globally discontinue hormonal birth control methods within the first year of taking them, often because of side effects.
That was the case for Lenise Sunny Wilson, who attributes severe depression to the birth control pills she had been taking.
It completely changed who I was as a person, said Wilson, 38, of Tucson, Arizona. It messed with my emotions and my mental health so intensely.
Wilson has since stopped taking the pill and, for the most part, she said, has returned to her sunny self.
Some women, including those with certain cancers and heart conditions, cant take hormonal birth control. Erica Twidle, 33, from Gallatin, Tennessee, was diagnosed with a rare heart condition called peripartum cardiomyopathy while pregnant with her daughter, Della. The condition made Twidles heart weak and enlarged, and although she eventually recovered, Twidles doctors told her she shouldnt take hormonal birth control, or get pregnant, ever again. Both would jeopardize her heart.
Twidle, whod had a bad experience with the copper IUD in the past, decided to track her cycle. But nine months after having Della, she was pregnant again. I cried when I found out, she said. I was terrified. I had a child I needed to stay alive for.
Twidle calls herself one of the lucky ones, since her heart stayed strong enough to support pregnancy. But had things taken a turn, Twidle was prepared to get an abortion to stay alive.
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Is The Birth Control Pill Safe
Birth control pills should not be used by women who have a history of:
- uncontrolled high blood pressure or heart disease
- liver tumors or liver disease
- increased blood clotting or stroke risk
- or if currently pregnant
Smoking increases the risk of serious heart side effects when using a combined estrogen and progestin birth control, including the ring or the patch. Combination estrogen and progestin birth control should NOT be used in women over 35 years of age who smoke due to an increased risk of rare but serious side effects, such as heart attack, blood clots, and stroke.
Women should talk to their healthcare professional about their individual risk profile before deciding which birth control method to use. Heart risks linked with the pill increase with:
- family history of heart disease
- number of cigarettes smoked per day.
Let your physician know if you have migraine headaches when discussing birth control options.
The birth control pill does not protect against any form of sexually transmitted disease , including HIV / AIDS. A male latex or female condom should be used in combination with any other form of birth control if protection against STDs is needed.
Does The Progesterone
Some women find the mini-pill has lots of advantages particularly if they experienced side effects when taking the combined pill. But unfortunately, progestogen-only pills havent been found to improve acne. Some women find taking the mini-pill actually makes their skin worse. This could be because the mini pill only contains progestogen, which may cause your skin to produce more pore-clogging sebum
Women who take the contraceptive injection or depot in the arm tend to also report worsening acne as these methods are also progestogen-only.
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How Does It Work
Most birth control pills are “combination pills” containing a mix of the hormones estrogen and progesterone to prevent ovulation . Pregnancy can’t happen if a female doesn’t ovulate because there is no egg to be fertilized.
The Pill also works by thickening the mucus around the cervix, which makes it difficult for sperm to enter the uterus and reach any eggs that may have been released. The hormones in the Pill can also sometimes affect the lining of the uterus, making it difficult for an egg to attach to the wall of the uterus.
How Can I Get Combined Birth Hormonal Control Pills
You can visit a clinic to get birth control pills or a prescription for them and talk with a healthcare provider about whether they are right for you.
- Must remember to take a pill every day
- Some users may experience mild side effects such as: spotting, nausea, breast tenderness, headaches or dizziness
- Possibility of high blood pressure
- No protection against sexually transmitted Infections
- Rare but serious complications of using the birth control pill include: blood clots, heart attack, stroke, liver tumours
- Risks increase with age when accompanied by certain other risk factors such as smoking, especially more than 15 cigarettes a day
- Some people cannot use the combined birth control pill such as people who cannot have estrogen. Be sure to let your health care provider know if you have any other medical conditions
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