The Pill

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Easy to use, doesn’t interrupt the heat of the moment, and can have positive side effects

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The pill is an oral contraceptive that you take every single day at the same time. There are lots of different kinds of the pill. They all work by releasing hormones that keep your ovaries from releasing an egg each month and thicken your cervical mucus to block sperm from getting to an egg.

Pros
  • Easy to use – just swallow with water
  • Doesn’t interrupt the heat of the moment
  • Might give you lighter, predictable periods
  • Give you control over when you have your period
  • Some pills may clear up acne
  • Can reduce menstrual cramps and PMS
  • Offers protection against some health problems like endometrial and ovarian cancer, iron deficiency, anemia, ovarian cysts, and pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Can be used with barrier methods
Cons
  • Doesn’t protect against STIs, including HIV
  • Can be difficult to remember
  • Takes discipline
  • May cause bleeding in between periods, sore breasts, nausea and vomiting
  • May change your sex drive

Types of Pills

Combination

Combination pills use an estrogen and progestin combo. A monthly pack contains 3 consecutive weeks of hormone-based pills (also known as active pills) and a week of placebo pills. The placebos are sugar pills that help you continue to take the pill every day as well as help bring on your period. Combination pills can either be monophasic (have the same hormone levels each week for the active pills) or multiphasic (hormones levels change each week in the active pills).

Progestin-Only

Progestin-only pills are also known as the mini-pill. They have no estrogen in them and are often prescribed if you’re sensitive to combination pill and have side effects. These release a small amount of progestin every day of the month and don’t give you a period during a set week. It can also be prescribed when you are breastfeeding.

How to Use

All you have to do is swallow a pill every single day at the same time. The pill comes in monthly packs. If you forget to take your pill, take it once you remember or double up on the next day. If you miss your pill two days in a row, you will need to start a new pack. You can also skip your period if you are taking a monophasic pill. Since monophasic pills have the same hormone levels, you can skip the placebo pills and continue with a new pack. Skipping your period is completely safe! But you may experience some break through bleeding.

Effort

The pill takes discipline. You must remember to take your pill at the same time every day. No matter what.

Effectiveness

The pill is really effective if taken perfectly, but most don’t take it perfectly. With perfect use, it is 99% effective, but with typical use it is 91% effective. It is a good idea to use a backup method when using the pill, such as a condom. For those times you forget to take your pill, you can always keep a box of emergency contraception on hand just in cases.

Side Effects

The most common side effects with the pill include bleeding in between periods, sore breasts, nausea and vomiting. But usually these side effects are temporary while your body adjusts to new hormones. If you still feel uncomfortable after 3 months, talk to your healthcare provider about trying a different pill or switching methods. If you are over 35 and a smoker, you have increase chance for certain side effects.

Pregnancy

You will be able to become pregnant a few days after stopping the pill. If you stop using the pill and are not ready to become pregnant, use another method right away.

How to Get

The pill requires a prescription from a healthcare provider. If you don’t have a healthcare provider, find a family planning clinic near you.

Cost

You may qualify for free or discounted costs. To find out if you qualify, find a healthcare provider near you.


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