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Birth Control Pills

Are Birth Control Pills Right for You?

Birth control pills, also known as oral contraceptives and commonly referred to simply as “the Pill,” are prescription medications that can be used to prevent pregnancy. Read on to learn more about how birth control pills work and other considerations if you are thinking about using this form of contraception.

Birth control pills, which are made to be taken daily, contain hormones called progestin and estrogen. These hormones affect the release of an egg from the ovaries each month. Some types of pills also thicken cervical mucus so that if an egg is released, sperm cannot reach it. By preventing an egg from being accessible, pregnancy is prevented.

When taken as directed, birth control pills are a very effective form of contraception; less than 1 in 100 women will get pregnant each year with perfect use, and 9 in 100 women with flawed use of the pill (for example, occasionally missing a dose). Most types of birth control pills have 21 “active” pills with hormones, followed by 7 “placeholder” pills that are taken on the days you can expect to have your period.

In addition to its high level of effectiveness, many women find that birth control pills are both convenient and easy to use. Some also find that their periods are lighter and shorter when taking the pill; in fact, there are certain types of birth control pills that allow you to safely skip monthly periods for several months at a time. It’s also cost effective, ranging from between free to $50 per month depending on your health insurance coverage.

Side effects of the pill are typically minor, but can include bleeding between periods, change in sexual desire, mood changes, nausea and vomiting. Talk with your doctor if these symptoms persist after you’ve been on the pill for several weeks.

While birth control pills are generally safe, it’s important to talk with your doctor about whether this form of contraception is right for you. Some conditions may make you more prone to side effects when taking the pill, or rule out safe use of the pill completely. If you’re interested in taking the pill, talk with your primary care physician or gynecologist.

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