Oral contraceptives are most commonly used by women in the United States as a method of birth control. There are three types of birth control pills currently on the market and these include the constant-dose combination pill, the multiphasic pill, and the progestin-only pill.
Three Types of Pills
The constant-dose combination pill came to the market in early 1960s and is the most common birth control pill used by women in the United States. The pill contains two types of hormones, estrogen and progestin which deliver a constant dosage of hormones throughout the menstrual cycle.
The multiphasic pill came to the market in 1984. The pill works by delivering fluctuations dosage of estrogen and progesterone during the menstrual cycle. The purpose of the fluctuations is to reduce the hormone dosage and side effects while at the same time maintaining the effectiveness of the pill.
The progestin-only pill came to the market in 1973. The pill contains only progestin and contains no estrogen. It works like the combination pill which delivers a constant dosage of hormone throughout the menstrual cycle.
Estrogen and progestin pill are classified into monophasic, biphasic, or triphasic. Monophasic pill deliver the same amount of estrogen and progestin in each active pill. Biphasic pill contain different dosages of progestin and estrogen that are deliver in 2 phases. During the first phase of the cycle the progestin/estrogen ratio is lower where as during the second phase of the cycle the progestin/estrogen ratio is higher. Triphasic pill contain both the same or different amount of estrogen and different amount of progestin in each active pill.
There is no evidence indicating one type of pill is superior to the other in terms of effectiveness in preventing pregnancy. It’s best to consult with your physician with regards to choosing the type of pill that is effective for you based on your age, medical history and cost.
How it Works
The combination pill and multiphasic pill work by preventing the body from releasing egg. The estrogen in the pills prevents conception by inhibiting ovulation from occurring. The progestin in the pills alters the cervical mucus to thick consistency blocking sperm from entering into the uterus. Progestin also alters the uterine lining preventing fertilization from occurring. The progestin-only pill also works by altering the cervical mucus to thick consistency to effectively block sperm from entering into the uterus and it also alter the uterine lining to prevent fertilization from occurring.
Birth control pill is meant to be taken every day at approximately the same time each day during the cycle for maximum effectiveness. Forgetting to take one or more pills or taking pill at different time rather than the usual time each day can reduces the effectiveness of the pill. If you missed a pill, try to take the next pill as soon as you remember than take the next pill at the regular time.
It is crucial to follow instructions given by the physician as to how the pill should be taken and if you missed more than one pill it’s best to consult with your physician and also use back up method such as condoms for the remaining of the cycle if you missed more than one pill.
There are several advantages of using oral contraceptives. The use of pill allows for sexual activity at unpredictable times and places and the pill can be taken at separate time from sexual activity. The pill is reversible, if a woman decides not to use oral contraceptives or if she decides she wants to get pregnant she can simply stop taking the pill and be off the cycle.
The combination pill has been known to reduce menstrual cramp and premenstrual tension symptoms in some women. Oral contraceptives also help to relive endometriosis and reduce the risk of benign breast disease, endometrial, and also reduce ovarian cancer by half. Some women also experience breast enlargement and a decrease in acne from the use of oral contraceptives. Woman who experience estrogen related side effects can switch to progestin-only pill, the use of this pill also reduces progestin related side effect because of the low dosage use.
The use of birth control pill does not provide protection against AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Some women may experience serious problems associated with the use of birth control pill and these include severe abdominal pain, severe headache, severe chest pain, vision problem, and severe leg pain. Some women who use estrogen–progestin pill experience lack of vaginal lubrication during arousal and others who use progestin-only pill experience more frequent irregular bleeding that normally stop after two or three months.
The benefits from the use of oral contraceptives outweigh the risks for most healthy women that do not smoke. However, there are several medications that can reduce the effectiveness of birth control pill and these include ampicillin, antihistimines, barbiturates, dilantin, tetracycline, tegretol, rifampin, and phenylbutazone. It is important to let your physicians know of other medications you are taking that can reduce the effectiveness of birth control pill and use a backup method such as condoms for the extra protection.
Some of the other side
effects that maybe experience by some women include depression, acne,
nausea, fluid retention, increase appetite or irregular bleeding. This
problem can be reduced by switching to the type of pill that works well
for her with minimum side effects. Women with certain condition such as
strokes, circulation problems, blood clots, jaundice, heart problems,
cancer of the uterus, breast cancer, and undiagnosed genital bleeding
should avoid using birth control pill. Women with liver disease and
women who are pregnant should also avoid using the pill.
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