All About The Pill

Image courtesy of inquisitr.com

In my work as a sexual health educator, I often take for granted that people know what I’m talking about when I discuss the pill. However, I’ve learned that there’s a whole lot about contraceptives that people don’t know, so I thought I’d write a bit of a tell-all. I’m starting with oral contraceptives, as it seems to be the post popular form of birth control. Here are some specs about “The Pill”:

  • The birth control pill is comprised of estrogen and progestin. These hormones are found naturally in your body, but the pill contains artificial versions of these hormones that regulate your body’s natural hormone levels in order to prevent pregnancy.
  • Different brands of the pill contain varying levels of estrogen and progestin. It’s important to ask your doctor which levels are best for you.
  • The pill is taken once daily, at the same time every day. This is very important as it keeps your system on a regular pattern. During the week of your period, the pills found in the package are usually a different color. These pills are usually sugar or iron pills- they do not contain hormones.
  • With perfect use, the pill has a 99.7% success rate. With typical use, it has a 92% success rate. It’s important to double up on your birth control (oral contraceptive + barrier such as a condom) to fully avoid unwanted pregnancy.
  • The pill DOES NOT prevent against STIs. This is another reason that it’s important to double up!
  • The pill can cause some unwanted side effects. The most common of these are spotting, headaches, nausea, depression, weight gain/loss, and an increase in breast size.
  • The pill isn’t just to prevent pregnancy! It can also be used to help with problems related to menstruation, such as unbearable cramps, excessive bleeding, and migraines.
  • You might be prescribed the pill without even needing it. Many medications come with an FDA mandated prescription for the birth control pill (such as Accutane, as it is known to cause birth defects).
  • Risks: Those on the pill have a slightly greater risk of blood clots, heart attack, liver tumors, and stroke. Death can occur in extremely rare cases.
  • Don’t take the pill if you have a history of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, angina, problems with the heart valve, lupus, blood clots, diabetes, liver disease, breast/liver cancer, or are pregnant. That last one may seem redundant, but it’s very important!

Stay posted for more info on other types of birth control.

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About Michaela

Michaela

Michaela is a recent Seven Sisters graduate with a self-designed degree in Sexuality Studies. When she's not blogging, you'll find her teaching Health and Wellness and A Cappella to high school students, helping women find properly fitting bras, and working as an editor on a documentary. She hopes to continue her education one day with a PhD in Feminist Anthropology.