The Benefits And Demerits Of The Pill

Everyone knows that The Pill is darned good at what it does. But just how effective is this oral contraceptive? Are different types better or more effective than others? These are some of the questions you may have about birth control pills.

It is estimated that for every 100 women who use combination birth control pills containing both estrogen and progestin for one year, 8 will become pregnant. Between 1 and 13 women out of every 100 taking the mini-pill for one year's time will become pregnant. The rate of conception with the mini-pill which contains a low dose of progestin is higher than for that of other contraceptive methods based on hormones, especially in women who are very fertile.

Of course, you can heighten the effectiveness of oral contraceptives by taking them the right way. That means taking them at the same time, every single day. If you should miss taking an active pill from your combination birth control pack, take it the minute you remember. This advice holds true even if you end up needing to take two active pills during the same 24 hour span.

Breakthrough Bleeding

Next, continue taking the pills in the pack as per usual but use a second, backup method to prevent pregnancy for the course of one week. It's possible that if you missed a pill, you will experience some breakthrough bleeding. If you find you've missed more than just one active pill, take only one pill right away. Use the rest of the pills as you normally would and use a second method for preventing pregnancy for one week.

With the mini-pill, timing is much more important. If you take the mini-pill even three hours later than you usually do, either abstain from sex, or use a backup contraception method for the next two days. Meantime, do take the missed pill as soon as you remember to do so, even if that means you wind up taking two pills within the same 24 hour span.

Whenever you miss taking your birth control pills and have had unprotected sex, it's urgent that you contact your physician for advice about emergency contraception.  

Here are some pros and cons of the combination birth control pill:

Plummeting Risks

*Pros—your risk for endometrial and ovarian cancers plummets, as do your risk for tubal pregnancy, anemia, and ovarian cysts. You should find some relief for premenstrual symptoms and menstrual cramps. Your period will be lighter and more predictable. If you use extended cycle pills or continuous dosing, you'll have fewer periods. Acne improves, as does your risk for postmenopausal hip fractures.

*Cons—Offers no protection from STD's. Increases your risks for cervical cancer, stroke, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, and DVT's. May cause high blood pressure or cause any of the following: breakthrough spotting or bleeding, changes in your ability to wear contact lenses, increased vaginal secretions, loss of libido, headaches, mood swings, tender breasts, bloating, and nausea.

Here are some pros and cons of the mini-pill:

Restored Fertility

*Pros—You can use it while breastfeeding. Carries none of the side effects of estrogen use. Can be taken even if you have a high risk for heart disease or blood clots, high blood pressure, or migraine headaches. Fertility is easily restored when you go off the mini-pill.

*Cons—No protection from STD's. May cause irregular menses, depression, ovarian cysts, changes in weight, reduction in libido, nausea, headache, tender breasts, acne, or fatigue. If you should find you're pregnant while on the mini-pill, you have a higher risk for a tubal pregnancy.

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