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Birth Control Pill

How Does it Work?

  • A pill is taken once a day
  • Comes in 28 days packs (21 days of hormones and 7 days of reminders) or 21 day packs (21 days of hormones)
  • Contains the female hormones progestin and estrogen
  • Stops the ovary from releasing an egg (ovulation)
  • Changes the lining of the uterus and makes it difficult for the egg to attach to the wall of the uterus
  • Thickens the cervical mucus and makes it more difficult for the sperm to travel into the uterus

Advantages

  • 92-99.7% effective
  • Menstrual periods may be shorter in length and lighter in flow with less cramping
  • Regulates periods
  • Can be taken by healthy, non-smoking women of any age
  • May reduce the risk of some cancers of the reproductive system
  • May improve acne
  • Easily reversible
  • Allows for unplanned sex

Disadvantages

  • No protection against STIs, including HIV
  • Should be taken about the same time every day to keep a steady level of hormones in the body
  • Some side effects (stomach upset, breast tenderness, bleeding between periods, headaches)
  • Women with certain conditions may not be able to take the pill due to increased risk of blood clot (for example, smokers over the age of 35 years, or women with high blood pressure)