The Birth Control Pill

The Oral Contraceptive Pill (OCP) or Birth Control Pill (BCP) is a hormone, or combination of 2 hormones that comes in a pill form and is taken every day at the same time.

How does the birth control pill work?

The oral contraceptive pill works to stop pregnancy in 3 ways:

  1. Stops the ovaries from releasing an egg.
  2. Decreases the lining of the uterus so that it is difficult for a fertilized egg to implant.
  3. Thickens the cervical mucus so that it is difficult for sperm to get to the egg.

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How effective is it?

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How do I use it?

  • A pill is taken at the SAME time every day for 21 days, and then depending on the type of pill packaging, reminder pills are taken for 7 days, or no pills are taken for a week.
  • A new package is started after this 7-day period.

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Where can I get the birth control pill?

  • A prescription is needed from your doctor or at Sexual Health Clinics.
  • Using the birth control pill may not be suitable for women who:
    1. Smoke and are over age 35 years
    2. Have depression
    3. Get migraines with auras
    4. Have high blood pressure

Talk to your doctor about any other conditions you have that may interfere with the use of the birth control pill.

  • The pill is not recommended for women over 35 who smoke.
  • Doctors may not prescribe the pill to women who think they may be pregnant, have unusual vaginal bleeding, or have ever had blood clotting problems, heart disease, liver disease, cancer of the breast, or uterus.

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What is the cost?

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What are the advantages and disadvantages to using the birth control pill?

Advantages:

  • When used correctly, the pill is very effective against pregnancy.
  • Very safe to use--for majority of women.
  • May decrease menstrual cramps.
  • May decrease length of period.
  • Prevents some types of cancer of the reproductive system.
  • May improve acne.
  • Less likelihood of developing pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • Does not interrupt sex (vaginal).
  • Allows the female to be in control of her reproductive health.

Disadvantages:

  • The pill does not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Has to be taken every day at about the same time.
  • May cause some light bleeding in between periods in first 3 months.
  • May cause nausea or vomiting during the first few cycles.
  • May cause headaches.
  • May cause an increase in depression.
  • There is a risk of cardiovascular disease associated with the use of the birth control pill (mostly for women who are overweight, have a history of heart disease, are over 50, have high cholesterol, or are smokers).

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